Today marks the beginning of Vegetarian Awareness Month. Lovers of veggies & animals (but in different ways) are beginning their special month with a bang. Since 1977 vegetarians have celebrated World Vegetarian Day on October 1st.
Whether or not you permanently adopt the vegetarian lifestyle, you can participate in today’s bacon-shunning festivities.
It’s fitting that World Vegetarian Day falls on a Monday this year since it coincides with the ongoing Meat Free Monday. Paul McCartney created Meat Free Monday to help people save money, reduce their environmental impact and enjoy better health. He credits a 2006 United Nations report called “Livestock’s Long Shadow” for inspiring the idea. The UN’s research suggests that the livestock industry is responsible for a significant percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions.
So adopting vegetarianism, even if only once a week, is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Make sure that your stint as a vegetarian is as good for your body as it is for the environment. Don’t fill up on refined carbs or salty, fatty foods as your meat replacement. Aim instead for healthy proteins. If typical meat substitutes like tofu don’t appeal to you, amp up your intake of protein sources you already enjoy—like hummus, peanut butter and lentils.
Try a beans and rice burrito, an apple with peanut butter or red peppers dipped in hummus.
It’s natural to scrunch up your nose at unfamiliar or unusual foods, like tofurkey or faux bacon. But joining the fun on World Vegetarian Day does not mean you have to eat what you don’t enjoy.
Trying out a vegetarian diet may inspire you to explore new recipes. Sample veggies you’ve never had before, such as okra or kale. You may discover a new favorite dish, like eggplant parmigiana.
Vegetarianism can be a hot-button issue. Some vegetarians—Paul McCartney included—consider meat-free diets compassionate. On the other hand many meat lovers are more concerned with human rights than animal welfare. They assert that reasonable portions of meat are part of a balanced and healthy diet. Whatever side of the emotional debate that you fall on, participating in today’s World Vegetarian Day certainly wouldn’t hurt. Eat leafy greens today for your health, for the earth or even for animals.