Vegetarian alternatives such as tofu are carried by most grocery store chains, and many fast-food restaurants feature vegetarian menu options. There are vegetarian and vegan restaurants, bakeries, health-food stores and even consulting firms helping people live healthy vegetarian lives.
Ron Farmer, former Carleton student and owner of the vegetarian Green Door Restaurant, says being a vegetarian is "socially responsible, less expensive, and [leaves] less of a mark on our ecological footprint."
He also claims his diet provides him with health benefits.
Vegetarians refrain from eating meat and animal by-products, such as lard and gelatin. Veganism is more strict and excludes dairy foods, eggs and honey, among other things.
The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) claims being a vegetarian can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, renal failure and stroke.
The TVA also says a meat-free diet can help people avoid things like saturated and trans fatty acids, while increasing their intake of vitamins and antioxidants — something many people want in their diet as obesity rates continue to climb in North America.
Rebecca Minish, a fourth year social work student and vegetarian for eight years, has other motivations for not eating meat.
She says she "disagrees with factory farming" and the ethical and environmental problems associated with it. Minish explains that "factory farming has turned animals into commodities" rather than living creatures.
This in turn leads to many cases of animal cruelty for human gain, according to Farm Sanctuary's website. Farm Sanctuary is an animal rights group founded in 1986 to raise awareness of issues related to farming.
The factory farming process consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels as well as water systems, while depleting vast areas of land and polluting water, according to Farm Sanctuary.
Vegetarianism and veganism have taken on a new life in the wake of diseases such as avian flu and mad cow disease.
The Toronto Vegetarian Association was founded in 1945 to inspire vegetarian living, and advocates becoming vegetarian to prevent such diseases.
Kathleen Farley, TVA's executive director, says "overall meat consumption has been a downward trend since the late '60s and early '70s."
She explains 15,000 people attend the association's Vegetarian Food Fair every fall, and while half of them do not identify themselves as vegetarians, 92 per cent say they are looking for vegetarian alternatives.
Adults and even seniors are looking into this trend, Farley adds, but students and youth seem to be the fastest growing group of vegetarians.read full article