The first of October was designated World Vegetarian Day in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society. This kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to promoting the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle and sharing how delicious vegetarian and vegan food can be.
Why Go Veg?
There are many reasons to give the vegetarian diet a try during October-or any time! Studies have shown that eliminating meat and other animal products from the diet can lower cholesterol, dramatically reduce the risk of common killers such as heart disease and cancer, and even extend a person’s life span by six to ten years.
As long as a vegetarian or vegan diet is well-planned and includes a variety of whole, fresh foods, it is one of the healthiest ways to eat. Overall, vegetarians and vegans have stronger immune systems and lower instances of ailments that tend to plague the Western world. This is often credited to the lower-fat, higher-fiber nature of their diets. These and other dietary characteristics can also help to manage weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases.
Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles have a tremendous environmental impact. By reducing or eliminating animal products, resources such as land used to grow animal feed and the water used to irrigate that land are conserved. Buying fresh, whole foods over factory-farmed meats sends a message about what you will and won’t support. The more animal products you avoid, the stronger that message will be.
Where to Start
Vegetarian Awareness Month is a great time to give the vegetarian lifestyle a try. There are many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks out there, as well as websites like VegWeb, which is full of user-submitted vegan recipes for everything from breakfast to holiday feasts.
It’s not necessary to jump into vegetarianism all at once. Many people find it easier to transition from an omnivorous diet by incorporating a few meatless meals a week. The “Meatless Monday” phenomenon, where people pledge to eat meat-free once a week, has been catching on around the world. By going meatless a little at a time, you can explore new meal options, experiment with recipes, and smoothly move toward your personal veg goals.
Those who are already vegetarian or vegan may wish to get involved in a Vegetarian Awareness Month campaign in their area. Vegetarian and vegan organizations around the world offer outreach materials on their websites, some for free and some available for a small donation fee. If there are already events planned in your area, contact the organizers to see how you can get involved!
Other Fall Veg Events
Not only is October Vegetarian Awareness Month, it is also home to two other veg-related observances: World Vegetarian Day on October 1st, and World Go Vegan Week during the last week of the month. Many vegan bloggers also use October to participate in a sweeping blog event nicknamed “Vegan MoFo,” the Vegan Month of Food.
What does this mean for the veg-curious? It means a month where access to delicious, healthy, and nutrient-rich meal ideas is easier than ever. It means a great excuse to try new, meatless foods and consider going veg for longer than just a day or two. October is also a month full of mouth-watering fresh produce like apples and squashes, making meatless cooking that much more appetizing.