Vegetarianism is the practice of deliberately avoiding eating meat. Historically and today, many people have been or are effectively vegetarian without intending to be, because of limited availability of meat, particularly in contexts of poverty and food insecurity. However, the term vegetarian generally refers to those who choose not to eat meat on an ongoing or indefinite basis, even though it is available to them. This is the meaning covered in this entry.

Vegetarianism is one of the most significant minority eating patterns around the world, with a history dating back thousands of years. It has links with religion, culture, health, identity, the environment, and the relationship between humans and nonhuman animals. The practice and meaning of vegetarianism are closely connected with their converse—practices of ...

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