Did vegetarianism become popular?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Did vegetarianism become popular?” and will discuss the history and benefits of vegetarianism.

Did vegetarianism become popular?

Yes, vegetarianism has become popular. Vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular as a lifestyle choice. Some people do it for their own health’s sake, while others do it to support animal rights or the planet’s long-term viability.

Studies have found that about a billion people worldwide are already vegetarians or vegans, in part due to cultural and religious factors. Germany currently has one of the highest proportions of vegetarians (11 %, eight million) and vegans (1 %, 870,000) in the Western world; roughly 9 % of Austrians follow a vegetarian diet, and in Israel approx. 13 % deliberately avoid meat, motivated primarily by health and ethical reasons (1). Vegetarianism has become more popular in recent years. Over the last half century, the number of individuals adhering to a vegetarian diet has greatly increased. In Western countries, the estimated prevalence of individuals following vegetarian diets oscillates between 1 and 10% (2).

According to a study conducted by Stanford University in the United States, a diet high in fresh produce benefits the earth in several ways. Producing produce requires less water and produces fewer carbon emissions than raising animals, therefore it has a lower impact on the environment. A vegetarian diet is a single primary factor that can reduce carbon emission on the earth. The FAO report in its study of 2016 estimated that the livestock sector is responsible for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emission (3).

The vegetarian diet is not a brand-new concept. It seems to have been widespread in India, Greece, and Southern Italy during the 6th century BC. Most of the time, it had something to do with not wanting to hurt animals. It was popular among religious and philosophical figures in ancient India.

What is vegetarianism?

vegetarianism is the belief or practice of consuming only plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts, with or without the inclusion of dairy and eggs, for moral, religious, environmental, or nutritional reasons (3).

Many vegetarian diets forbid all animal flesh (meat, poultry, and seafood), but many of these vegetarians consume milk and milk products. Vegetarians in the West usually consume eggs as well, but most vegetarians in India do not, as did those living along the Mediterranean coast in classical times (3).

 Vegans are vegetarians who abstain from eating any animal products (including leather, silk, honey, and wool). Dairy-eaters are known as lacto-vegetarians, whereas those who also consume eggs are known as Lacto-ovo vegetarians. Except for the wealthy classes, meat consumption has been rare among various agricultural peoples; these people have been mislabeled as vegetarians (3).

The various health benefits of a vegetarian diet have been demonstrated in both prospective cohort studies and randomized clinical trials. Preliminary evidence suggests that individuals adhering to a vegetarian diet (or a vegan diet) are more likely than omnivores to state that they are health-conscious (2).

History of vegetarianism

Exclusion of flesh-eating in ritual contexts is most likely where the practice initially emerged, whether temporarily cleansing or qualifying for priestly duties. People in India and the eastern Mediterranean started advocating a regular meatless diet about the middle of the first century BC as part of a philosophical awakening.

When Pythagoras of Samos (c. 530 BC) taught that humans should be kind to other species because of the kinship of all animals, the Mediterranean avoided meat-eating for the first time. Several pagan philosophers (such as Epicurus and Plutarch) and Neoplatonists (such as Aristotle and Aristotle’s followers) advocated a meatless diet after Plato. Pythagoras and his followers believed that animals as weH as humans have souls, and that after death, an animal may be reincarnated as a human and vice versa (5).

 This was in opposition to bloody religious sacrifices and was often tied to beliefs in reincarnation and the search for universal principles of harmony with which humans could live harmoniously. Buddhists and Janis in India refused to eat animals for ethical and ascetic reasons.

They held the view that humans should not injure any sentient creatures. Brahmanism and Hinduism both adopted this notion and applied it to the cow in particular. Because of this, the notion was frequently linked to concepts such as cosmological harmony, even though it condemned brutal sacrifices.

The history of vegetarianism on the Indian subcontinent and the Mediterranean Basin differed dramatically in subsequent decades. Despite the demise of Buddhism in India, the concept of ahimsa (harmlessness) and a meatless diet extended across the country in the first century until it was accepted by the majority of the higher castes and even some of the lower castes. It spread north and east with Buddhism from India to China and Japan. Adding fish to an otherwise meatless diet was common in several cultures.

The big monotheistic religions that existed west of the Indus were less tolerant of vegetarianism. However, according to the Hebrew Bible, people in the Garden of Eden did not consume meat. Some Jews have pointed out that a scriptural basis exists for a vegetarian philosophy. Other passages from Genesis suggest that animals possess souls, should be treated kindly, and should be allowed to rest, along with peopIe, on the Sabbath. Jews and early Christians who practiced asceticism disapproved of flesh-eating because it was considered gluttonous, harsh, and costly. Even for lay people, abstaining from meat-eating was penance and spiritual practice in several Christian monastic communities. During medieval times, several monastic orders, such as the Trappists, refrained from eating meat, as we saw earlier. There are about 3000 Trappist monks in the world today, and although vegetarianism is no longer mandatory, most continue to adhere to a meatless diet (5).

Vegetarianism was practiced by several saints, including St. Anthony of Egypt. Vegetarianism has a bad reputation among Muslims, yet some Muslim Sufi mystics advocate for a vegetarian diet for spiritual searchers.

What advantages does a vegetarian diet provide in terms of health?

When done properly, a vegetarian diet offers several advantages. Many of the health advantages of a vegetarian or vegan diet will be lost if you simply consume processed grains, sugar, and a small number of vegetables and fruits while abstaining from meat. Vegetarian diets are rich in essential nutrients, higher in dietary fibers, folic acid, vitamins etc. and provide less cholesterol and saturated fat to the body (3).

Healthy for the heart

One study suggests that vegetarians have a 30% lower risk of dying or being hospitalized from cardiovascular disease than meat-eaters do. Whether or whether you’re a vegetarian has a significant impact on your health. A study published in 2019 by Loma Linda University nutrition researchers found that vegetarians have significantly fewer cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular disease diagnoses than non-vegetarians (4).

Reduces the chance of cancer

Vegetarians may have a modest advantage over meat-eaters when it comes to cancer prevention, however, the difference is small.

 According to a study by a reputable source, vegetarianism lowers overall cancer risk in those at low risk. A side benefit of an animal-free diet was shown to be a lower risk of several forms of cancer. A healthy vegetarian diet may be a useful and nourishing alternative to meat consumption for those more vulnerable to cancer, those with cancer, and those simply determined to live a healthier life (4).

 Prevent Type 2 diabetes

Researchers analyzed seven cohort studies and found a 19% increase in risk of type 2 diabetes for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten per day. Type 2 diabetes and its consequences may be prevented and treated with a healthy vegetarian diet (4). Choosing low-glycemic meals like whole grains, legumes, and nuts helps control blood sugar levels.

Reduces blood pressure

People who don’t consume meat have been shown to have lower blood pressure, according to a study conducted decades ago.  Studies demonstrated that because vegetarian participants consumed more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than nonvegetarians, they had significantly lower overall cholesterol and notably lower systolic blood pressure by 3.3 mmHg (4). Vegans, in particular, have been shown to have a lower blood pressure than meat-eaters.

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

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In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Did vegetarianism become popular?” and discussed the history and benefits of vegetarianism.


  1. Stoll-Kleemann, S., Schmidt, U.J. Reducing meat consumption in developed and transition countries to counter climate change and biodiversity loss: a review of influence factors. Reg Environ Change, 2017, 17, 1261–1277.
  2. Brytek-Matera, A. Vegetarian diet and orthorexia nervosa: a review of the literature. Eat Weight Disord, 2021, 26, 1–11. 
  3. Goyal, Anjana, et al. Vegetarians, vegans and the carbon footprint: An increased environmental consciousness among the youths. In J Health Wellb, 2020, 11.
  4. Imhoff, Celia. Fueled by Plants: The Effects of Vegetarianism on Overall Health. Undergraduate Research, Georgia College & State University, 2021, 3.
  5. Amato, P.R., Partridge, S.A. 1989. The Origins of Modern Vegetarianism. In: The New Vegetarians. Springer, Boston, MA.