Celebrated each October 1, World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society. What was once considered a fringe diet now has, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, an estimated 16 million adherents in the U.S. – that's about 5 percent of the population, double the number in the last four to five years!
Not only have more people adopted a meat-free diet, the VRG's study also showed that, thanks to popular movements such as Meatless Monday, up to 33 percent of Americans now eat vegetarian or vegan meals more often … even if they don’t identify as vegetarian.
Even a single day of vegetarian eating can offer benefits. If Americans went meatless once a week, it would save an estimated 1.4 billion animals from being factory farmed each year. Aside from saving the lives of animals, it would also benefit human health. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consumption of 250 grams of meat, which is approximately three servings, per day (regardless of overall calorie intake) led to a five-pound weight gain over a five-year period. And the research keeps rolling in highlighting the health benefits of eating a vegetarian diet.
Here are some ideas to help your family and clients celebrate World Vegetarian Day today.
Start the Day Meat-Free
Whip up a hearty vegetarian breakfast featuring tofu or eggs as a scramble; use it as an opportunity to add in veggies such as spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Flavor Your Tofu or Tempeh
Some folks think they don't like them because of their bland flavor, but these versatile plant-based protein sources take extremely well to flavoring using herbs, spices and condiments. Experiment with the variety of textures ranging from soft and silken to extra firm.
Pack a Vegetarian Lunch
For your midday meal, eat a wrap or sandwich with hummus for added healthy fat, protein and fiber. If you prefer a salad, top it with chickpeas or black beans. Recent research observed that participants found equal satiety whether they consumed a bean dish or beef dish.
Host a Vegetarian Potluck
Make a sign-up sheet to create variety as you all share your favorite healthy dish ideas. Encourage people to bring salads, sides, dips, entrees and desserts featuring meat-free recipes.
What's for Dinner?
If today's weather supports it in your area, plan a meatless autumn barbecue! Marinate and skewer vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. For dessert, make grilled fruit kabobs with pineapple chunks. Or, go out and celebrate World Vegetarian Day at your favorite local restaurant. Use websites such as HappyCow.net or Yelp.com to find a delicious vegetarian dish at a restaurant near you.
More Vegetarian References