In October, meat eaters challenged themselves to adopt a meatless diet in celebration of vegetarian month. The month was started by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.
World Vegetarian Day is on Oct. 1 and kicks off vegetarian month, which goes through Nov. 1 on World Vegan Day.
Vegetarianism has been around as early as 3200 BCE in Egyptian societies and even earlier records exist of vegetarian diets in India. Many notable historic figures have been vegetarian including Pythagoras, a mathematician, philosopher and scholar, as well as Leonardo DaVinci, a scholar and artist.
Many of the early vegetarians were inspired to abstain from meat for religious or spiritual reasons. Many religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism encouraged nonviolence.
A Vegetarian Times study shows that 7.3 million Americans are currently vegetarians and an additional 22.8 million follow a vegetarian inclined diet. The number may be rising.
There are a number of reasons individuals are making the switch to become vegetarian. According to the ADA, vegetarians are at a lower risk for developing heart disease, hypertension, colorectal, ovarian and breast cancers, diabetes and obesity. This is mainly because a well planned vegetarian diet is low in saturated fats and high in fiber.
Others choose to go meatless for ethical reasons. Not only are animals severely mistreated in the meat industry, but many resources go into producing a small amount of food. It’s estimated that for every 13 pounds of meat, one pound of beef is produced. The amount of the world’s land cleared and used for farmed animals is approximately 30 percent.
American Vegetarianism is on the rise. Before the 1970s, most Americans knew little about vegetarianism. Most assumed that people were unable to survive on a vegetarian diet.
Over time, the awareness of meatless eating has dramatically increased. In 2003, sales of vegetarian products such as soymilk, tofu and textured vegetable protein had doubled since 1998 to $1.6 billion.
If you’re thinking about ditching meat, you won’t be the only one.
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