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Vegetarianism, in its broadest definition, is a dietary pattern where meat, fish, and poultry are excluded. Frequently, vegetarians will exclude dietary products that include animal by-products and derivatives; however, vegetarian is a broad term that can have varied definitions and meanings. Some self-defined vegetarians may include animal products ranging from eggs and dairy, to seafood, and even occasional meat. Vegetarian dietary patterns are found throughout the world today and are influenced by a myriad of factors ranging from religious beliefs, economic influence, meat availability, environmental beliefs, and ideological beliefs.

In less-developed nations, large populations have primarily vegetarian diets due to economic factors, not choice.

Broadly speaking, vegetarians can be broken into four primary groups: lacto ova vegetarians, lacto vegetarians, vegans, and fruitarians. Lacto ova vegetarians do not ...

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