World Vegetarian Day

Around the world, about one in ten persons identify as vegetarians. October 1 is a celebration of these people and their diet, as it’s World Vegetarian Day. The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) supported it in 1978 after the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) created it in 1977. The annual start of Vegetarian Awareness Month also occurs on October 1. Going vegetarian can greatly benefit both the planet and our physical and mental well-being. 

What is a vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, and fish at its foundation. It’s not a brand-new phenomenon or fad. There have been documented records of vegetarianism dating back to the sixth century AD in Europe, and it has been practiced for millennia in many different cultures throughout the globe. Even now, a vegetarian diet still predominates in many nations. There are several vegetarian diet variations that include extra allowances or limits. However, all of them tend to have the same foundational food items, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts. 

What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet for your body?

The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are real. Eating a plant-based diet is acknowledged as a technique to prevent many chronic diseases in addition to providing enough nutrients. It’s crucial to remember that, just as with any other diet, the key to a healthy vegetarian diet is to consume a variety of meals and limit your intake of sweets and fatty foods. Even if it’s technically vegetarian, eating only chips and soda doesn’t qualify as healthy at all!

Rich in vitamins and minerals our bodies desperately need

Vegetarian diets are meant to be abundant in beneficial vitamins and minerals. These include folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. These nutrients, some of which are not ingested in sufficient quantities, are essential for the health of our stomach, skin, muscles, heart, nerves, eyes, immune system, and other organs.

Lowers risk for cardiac issues

Research shows vegetarians are less likely to experience cardiac events (such as heart attacks) or pass away from cardiac reasons. One of the greatest studies in this field found that vegetarians had a 25% lower overall risk of dying from heart disease. The best foods for heart health are high-fiber whole grains and legumes because they digest slowly and have a low glycemic index. Nuts are also great because they are rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants.

What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet for your planet?

One of the best ways to combat climate change is to eat a vegetarian diet. This switch may seem insignificant, yet it has a powerful effect. For instance, eating vegetarian meals for a year can save the same amount of emissions as a family taking an automobile off the road for six months! Here are some more benefits of making the switch for the sake of the planet:

Reduces global warming

Currently, nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and are produced by humans come from the world’s food chain. Reducing meat consumption in high- and middle-income nations is essential for preserving the environment and climate. We can lower carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions by substituting vegetarian sources of protein (such as nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils) in place of meat.

Protects untouched lands from overgrazing and being lost to agriculture

50% of the livable area on Earth is agriculture, and the great bulk of that farmland is dedicated to raising animals and producing their feed. Natural habitat loss, which poses a grave danger to wildlife, is mostly caused by farming. The most significant contributor to the destruction of tropical forests is cattle farming. Therefore, more meat means more habitat loss and more upsets in the natural ecosystem. 

Saves large amounts of water

While a kilo of wheat requires 1,000 to 2,000 liters of water to produce, a kilo of beef might need anywhere from 13,000 to as much as 100,000 liters. To put that into perspective, it’ll take 38 SeaWorld tanks of water to produce enough beef to feed customers of a fast-food chain for just one day. Eating poultry is a little better, but not as ideal as adopting a vegetarian diet, which takes much less water to produce. Additionally, animal feces, antibiotics, and hormones that enter the water cycle, together with chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and pesticides sprayed on feed crops, are the main sources of pollution in our rivers. Turning to vegetarianism would also mean keeping our water bodies cleaner and pollutant-free.

How to enjoy a vegetarian diet

It’s easy to think that vegetarian diets can be as boring as eating rabbit food every day. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. You don’t have to sacrifice your joy of eating — if anything, that joy increases tenfold when you realize you’re eating delicious food while saving the planet, nourishing your body, and supporting local farmers. Here are some ways to go over and above the usual carrot-stick discourse of vegetarianism.

Experiment with farm-to-table dining

The phrase “farm-to-table” highlights the close connection between a farm and a dining establishment. This implies that there aren’t any wholesalers, intermediaries, or grocery shops involved. Your carbon footprint will be smaller since your food will be locally grown and obtained rather than traveling great distances. The farm-to-table movement has inspired a lot of individuals to organize unique events. The most popular of these are dining experience at the same farm that has grown your food, often accompanied by a farm tour and access to fresh produce to take home. 

Explore global recipes

There are thousands of delicious vegetarian recipes from all over the world waiting to be tried. Try cooking outside the box by choosing a recipe from a different global cuisine. Indian dishes make superb use of high-protein lentils and vegetables. Mediterranean diets are world-renowned for being chock-full of nuts, dried, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and vegetables cooked in ways that enhance their flavor. Many traditional Korean meals can be cooked without meat and still retain their taste and charm. Don’t let everyday recipes box you in — experiment!

The final word

Every year, hundreds of individuals change their lifestyles to one that is healthier, more ecologically friendly, and more socially conscious. Adopting a vegetarian diet reduces global warming, protects trees from deforestation, and gives you all the nutrients you need with no side effects or health issues. Why not use World Vegetarian Day as inspiration to take it one day at a time? Your body and planet will thank you for it.