World Vegetarian Day is celebrated every year on 1 October. For those who are new to vegetarianism, the day aims to make them aware of all the benefits of moving towards a plant-based diet and make healthy, compassionate food choices. The day is also the first day of the Vegetarian Awareness Month.
According to the official website of the World Vegetarian Day, it was established as an annual celebration to promote the “joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism”. The day was originated by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.
As per the National Health Portal India, different people have varied reasons for turning vegetarian. While some believe in not killing animals for their appetite, others switch to a plant-based diet for health reasons as it is rich in fruit and vegetables and tends to be low in fat and cholesterol, which is good for heart.
As per the portal, vegetarian diets can broadly be classified into three types – vegan diet, which is only plant-based food and is bereft of any animal protein or by-product; lacto-vegetarian, which includes plant food and dairy but not eggs and lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes all three.
According to NHP, vegetarian diet lowers risk of major heart diseases and cancers as well as boosts metabolism and helps lowering body weight. It also states that a well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the nutritional requirement of people of all ages.
According to report in Harvard Health, compared to meat eaters, vegetarians tend to consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins C and E, dietary fibre, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids. This is likely to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure and BMI, all of which are associated with a reduced risk or chonic diseases and a longer lifespan.
The report also cites the American Dietetic Association which states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate and provide multiple health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.