Vegetarian Fact-fileDemographics of the vegetarian community:It is notable that ”6% households contained at least one vegetarian member”¹ in 2003,according to the Food Standards Survey, which shows that within the UK, the number ofvegetarian consumers are on the rise, and people are open to admit that they live a meat-free lifestyle, consuming vegetable-based products primarily. Also, in 2001, England wasrecorded as having the highest number of vegetarian individuals within the UK, at the figureof “6%”¹ , which initially shows that Britain is becoming more „healthy‟ in a sense, diminishingthe reputation that it is a nation of binge eaters, fasting on takeaway goods, living a fruit-freelifestyle.Furthermore, it is important to state that this „stereotype‟ is often associated with individualswho earn under “£44,000”¹ per year, as discovered by the FSA (Food Standards Agency),where individuals who have a significantly higher household income are more likely to bevegetarian. This particular piece of information shows that demographics take a forefrontwithin the vegetarian community, where „middle class‟ individuals are more likely to adhereto a vegetarian diet, due to the fact that they can afford to purchase a high abundance ofgoods that are linked to the vegetarian way of life, (e.g. fruit, vegetables, gelatine and animalfat-free products). It is interesting how the income of a household can determine their eatinghabits, but it also strengthens the stereotype of the under classes indulging on unhealthyproducts, which is a form of injustice, as “2%”¹ of households that earn under £44,000, do infact live a vegetarian lifestyle.Vegetarian (definition):A „vegetarian‟ is an individual who adopts a lifestyle of consuming goods that do not containany animal remains, as it contradicts with their moral beliefs and ethical stance. It is notablethat they will not eat any meat products whatsoever, unless they are a pescatarian, whoconsumes seafood, but not any other type of meat. Also, a vegetarian can take many forms,with some eating meat on an occasional basis, who are labelled as „flexitarians‟, as well as a„lacto-ovo-vegetarian‟ , who does not eat any form of meat (including fish), but adds dairyproducts into their diet, such as milk and cheese.Furthermore, it is notable that this type of individual will stand up for animal rights, opposingto controversial issues such as fox hunting, as well as the badger culling, and are likely tohold strong opinions over the welfare of animals, as they refuse to consume them, due to thefact that they believe that it is cruel to slaughter an animal for mere consumption. They maysupport charities such as RSPCA, PDSA, and may be a member of PETA (People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals), which is an organisation that campaigns for animal rights, andprotests against the use of fur for clothing, seal hunting, as well as animal testing.Various reasons that individuals adopt a vegetarian lifestyle:Religion:Itis notable that various religious groups prohibit certain types of meat, forexample, in the Islamic culture, pork cannot be consumed at all, and only „halal‟ meat isallowed, where a prayer is performed before the animal is killed. Also, in Judaism, „kosher‟meat (also known as kashrut) is eaten, as it is in accordance with the Jewish dietary rules,where the meat itself is prepared in a specific way which meets the „halacha‟ (the laws ofJudaism).Health:In order to lead a significantly healthier lifestyle, an individual may adopt avegetarian diet, so that they can improve their overall well-being, as well as enhancing theireveryday diet, by adding a range of various vegetable-based dishes to their recipe list.Moral/ Ethical Stance:An individual may be opposed to the mistreatment of animals, andwill therefore adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, as they will be against animal slaughter forconsumption purposes. Also, it is notable that their beliefs may have been ingrained intothem from a young age, (if their family were also vegetarian) which means that they mayhave unknowingly adopted this particular way of life. The individual may also have concernsover how an animal, (which is being utilised as food) is being treated before their death,which may convince them to either become a vegetarian, or alternatively purchase free-range meat products, so that they can eat meat in the knowledge that the animal has notbeen confined to a small space, and has lived a good life, which will inevitably diminish anysense of remorse that the consumer may have inhabited beforehand.Companies that specifically target the vegetarian market:Quorn –This particular company tailors their products primarily to the vegetarian market,however, it is notable that this meat substitute (formed from a type of fungi) is also eaten bynon-vegetarian consumers due to its prevalence on the mainstream market. It has becomeincreasingly popular, and is now a household brand, that is bought by a variety ofindividuals, as opposed to a niche, strictly vegetarian audience. The website of the companyissues a list of several recipes, which can be shared, as well as printed by the consumer, sothat they can utilise Quorn products as a substitute to meat, which will in turn, make themsignificantly healthier as individuals.Redwood –This is a corporation which panders primarily to the vegetarian market, however,it also caters to the vegan market, distributing products that are strictly animal-free, with
dairy-free cheeses, which are constructed utilising soya as a substitute. Their key goal is toobtain all of their ingredients from a natural plant-based source, and to diminish anyhydrogenated fats, eggs, and artificial colours from their products, initially making theirproducts safe for consumption. Also, the company itself has been approved by the VeganSociety, which reinstates its authenticity as a legitimate corporation.The Vegetarian Society –This particular organisation is associated with individuals who liveon either a vegan or vegetarian diet, where it offers support for them, as well as listing awide range of recipes in which the consumer can view, and then perform for them. It alsoencourages the consumer to join the „community‟ of the organisation, contributing theiropinions, so that fellow vegetarians can read their views, and learn from them, which mayalso bribe them into publishing their views on the stated organisation. However, it is notablethat this specific website utilises emotive language such as “around two million land animalsare slaughtered every day in the UK alone, just so that people can eat their flesh”¹, in orderto make individuals who consume meat, feel a sense of remorse. It is notable that this is aform of propaganda, which is used to convert people into adopting the vegetarian lifestyle,and is a clever marketing technique which will initially give the organisation morerecognition, as they are „pioneering‟ the campaign against meat-consumption.The types of food that a vegetarian cannot consume:A vegetarian cannot consume any type of meat, even fish (otherwise, they would be classedas a pescatarian). As a vegetarian cannot eat any animal-based products, they are thereforeprohibited to eat products such as marshmallows, as they contain gelatine (which derivesfrom the fat of an animal). It is also notable that lacto-ovo vegetarians (a sub-form ofvegetarianism) can eat dairy products, as it does not involve the slaughter of an animal;however, they are restricted from consuming any meat product, as inevitably, that goesagainst their ethos as individuals, as well as contradicting their diet. Also, any fast-foodproduct, even if it is vegetarian, cannot be consumed in most cases, due to the hindering factthat the product itself is usually cooked in lard, which is a beef fat, and therefore, is notrecognised as a „vegetarian‟ meal.Furthermore, various canned products, especially soup, can contain animal fat, so that theycan be preserved for an extended period of time. The most common type of „fat‟ which isfound in these types of products is bouillon, which is a form of beef broth, and even thoughit is not a „proper‟ kind of meat, it is still something that a vegetarian should avoid, as itcontains the remains of an animal, which significantly contradicts with the ethos of thevegetarian lifestyle. Also, the most obvious type of product in which a vegetarian cannot eatis meat itself, as if a supposed „vegetarian‟ consumed this animal-derived product, theywould not be classed as a vegetarian, but a flexitarian, who occasionally dines on meat, butgenerally consumes vegetable-based produce.
References:¹ http://www.vegsoc.org/page.aspx?pid=755By Catherine Giggal and SanemKoyupinar