Reasons to Celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month
Even for Non-Vegetarians
Taste! Vegetarian meals are delicious, fast and easy. Meatless food is far from boring; experimenting with antioxidant-rich herbs, spices and sauces for flavor can be fun for chefs and families alike.
Meatless Monday has gained national and worldwide attention. Gaining knowledge about meatless meals can help save money and time and increase dietary micronutrients and fiber for you and your family.
Save money. Meat accounts for an estimated 10 percent of American food-spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruit in place of the roughly 250 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each non-vegetarian eats annually could cut individual food bills by an average $4,000 per year.
Vegetarian diets are statistically higher in fiber. Though 25-38 grams of fiber per day is recommended, the typical American consumes only 12-15 grams. Increasing whole grains, legumes and fresh produce can easily help achieve the goal. For example, a pound of beef contains zero grams of fiber, but just one cup of lentils has 16 grams.
A love of animals. In the U.S., ten billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year. Some of these are factory-farmed and fed a diet tainted with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Help protect animals by going vegetarian during October.
Respect for the environment and sustainability. From water protection to soil and air quality, raising animals strains our natural world more than growing plants. Beef in particular is known for being environmentally taxing due to the quantity and types of feed consumed, as well as their methane production.
Health! Studies show that vegetarian diets are statistically higher in vitamins A, B2, C and E, beta carotene, calcium and folate than non-vegetarian diets. There is also recent research that indicates vegetarians experience a significantly lower overall incidence of cancer and a lower BMI than non-vegetarians.
Vegetarian Awareness Month Kicks Off with World Vegetarian Day
Carnivores are being challenged to lighten their diets and go meatless in October, which marks Vegetarian Awareness Month.
On October 1, World Vegetarian Day, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike have taken to social media channels like Twitter to promote the campaign and share their recipes for meatless meals.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who’s been a vocal supporter of the meat-free Mondays movement, offered up his top vegetarian recipes like Rigatoni with roasted tomatoes, Keralan veggie curry and Sicilian eggplant stew.
Originally started in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society, the movement grew into a global event when it was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union a year later.
During the month of October, carnivores are encouraged to make concerted efforts to eat meatless meals a few days a week or take up the full challenge and go meat-free for the entire month.
Those who take up the challenge can also register their efforts for the chance to win cash loot: $1,000 for those who go vegetarian for the full month; $500 for a week; and $250 for one day.
That means abstaining from meat, fish and fowl.
New research out of market research firm Mintel, meanwhile, found that the vegetarian market is on the rise around the world: in 2013, 12 percent of global food and drink product launches carried a vegetarian claim, up from six percent in 2009.
According to the North American Vegetarian Society, vegetarian diets reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
On a global scale, eating less meat also provides a viable answer to issues around global food security and shortages and is an environmentally friendly, socially responsible lifestyle.
Do Vegetarian’s Really Live Longer?
1. Low blood pressure: In the latest study, researchers found that not only do vegetarians have lower blood pressure on average, but that vegetarian diets could be used to lower blood pressure among people who need an intervention.
2. Lower risk of death: A 2013 study of more than 70,000 people found that vegetarians had a 12% lower risk of death compared with non-vegetarians. With none of the saturated fat and cholesterol that clogs arteries, vegetarians may be at a lower risk for chronic diseases overall.
3. Better moods: A 2012 study randomly split participants into a three diets: all-meat allowed, fish-only, and vegetarian no-meat. The researchers found that after two weeks, the people on the vegetarian diet reported more mood improvements than those on the other two diets.
4. Less chance of heart disease: Another 2013 study of 44,000 people reported that vegetarians were 32% less likely to develop ischemic heart disease.
5. Lower risk of cancer: Researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied different versions of the vegetarian diet and cancer risk among people at a low risk for cancer overall and discovered that a vegetarian diet may have protective benefits. Although the study is not the final say on the matter, vegans had the lowest risk for cancers, specifically cancers most common among women, like breast cancer.
6. Lower risk of diabetes: Studies have shown that vegetarians are at a lower risk for developing diabetes. While the diet won’t cure the disease, it can lower an individual’s risk by helping them maintain weight and improve blood sugar control.
7. Less likely to be overweight: Research shows that vegetarians tend to be leaner than their meat-eating counterparts, and that they also tend to have lower cholesterol and body mass index (BMI). Some data suggests that a vegetarian diet can help with weight loss and be better for maintaining a healthy weight over time.