World Vegetarian Day: History, Facts And Trivia
World Vegetarian Day is celebrated on October 1. Established in 1977, the Day has been promoted by the North American Vegetarian Society and International Vegetarian Union. The Day has an official website -- www.worldvegetarianday.org where people can go to learn about vegetarianism, donate, read FAQs, subscribe to newsletters and shop for literature and DVDs on vegan lifestyle.
The official definition of vegetarianism is the lifestyle that involves eating plant-based foods and staying away from dairy products, eggs, fish and meats. The idea is to exclude all animal products. The philosophy behind vegetarianism is to avoid products obtained from killed animals for ethical, environmental, cultural, health or religious reasons. There are four different kinds of vegetarianism: lacto-ovo (no meat, poultry or fish), lacto (no meat, poultry, fish or eggs), ovo (no animals products but eggs and honey) an strict vegetarianism (no animal products, including honey).
There is an ongoing debate about the health effects of vegetarianism. The pro-vegan advocates claim raising farm animals for food consumption increases carbon footprint. They also claim bacteria, toxins, and radicals found in meat are dangerous for one's health. On the other hand, anti-vegetarian activists say people who do not consume meat are deprived of essential amino acids that can't be synthesized inside the body, but are necessary for normal development and life function. They are also minerals, like B12, vitamin D, iron and calcium, that are abundant in animal products, but are present in low percentages in plants.
It is estimated 7.3 million people in the United States are vegetarians, 6% of Europe's population identify as vegans, 40% of people in India are vegetarians too. There is no world stats of the number of vegetarians currently.
With more people refusing animal products, vegetarians are becoming a lucrative marketing demographic. Fashion labels are abandoning real fur and leather shoes; cosmetics manufacturers try to stay away from including animal derivatives into their formulas.
Every year about 41.8 million beef cattle, 115 million pigs, 8.8 billion chicken and 268 million turkey are slaughtered for human consumption in the United States.
Among famous vegetarians are Pamela Anderson, Jim Carrey, Shania Twain, Jacky Cheung, Brigitte Bardot, Russell Brand, George Harrison, and Stella McCartney.
As someone who is semi-vegetarian -- I still eat fish, eggs, cheese and milk, and even chicken (but very rarely) -- I have to say that I like seeing vegetarianism integrating into our society to the extent that it has. It is not strange anymore to just ask for a vegetarian option at a restaurant, hotel or airplane without even inquiring if they have one first. It is becoming common sense for any service involving food to also offer a veggie option. And, veggie options are becoming yummier too. Whereas before, vegetarians were limited to boiled asparagus and sugar-melon at most corporate events, dinners and parties, chefs around the world are starting to get more creative with their vegetarian ingredients. There are now entire restaurants that cater vegetarian food exclusively and cook using plant-based oil only.
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