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World Vegetarian Day
Photo by Carolyn Fortuna/ CleanTechnica

Agriculture

Let The World Vegetarian Day Celebrations Begin!

Join in to celebrate citizen eaters, those folks who are actively engaged in food systems.

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, a time to laud vegetarian-friendly diets. In addition to its health benefits and its ability to save animals’ lives, eating a vegetarian diet is one of the best things you can do to stop climate change. Our planet is heating up. By replacing meat with vegetarian sources of protein like nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils, you can lower the footprint of the food production process — farm-to-plate impact totals 26% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

A veggie diet means 2.5 times less carbon emissions than a meat diet. If you go veggie for a year, you could save the same amount of emissions as a family taking a small car off the road for 6 months.

So You’re Thinking about Becoming a Vegetarian

October 1st is the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. The World Vegetarian Day commemoration was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS). It’s a month of parties, potlucks, presentations, food tastings, displays, and dialogue about what it means to eat meatless fare. For some people, it might mean trying a plant-based menu for a day as a way to figure whether it could become a habit. For others, it might be an attempt to learn about its many benefits.

For vegetarians like me and several others at CleanTechnica, it is an occasion to honor our healthy, compassionate food choices.

The NAVS website offers a series of reasons why vegetarian eating is the way to go. A vegetarian diet:

  • Reduces the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer while cutting exposure to foodborne pathogens
  • Provides a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops
  • Saves animals from suffering in factory farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter
  • Conserves vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil, and other precious resources
  • Preserves irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats
  • Decreases greenhouse gases that are accelerating global warming
  • Mitigates the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture

World Vegetarian Day is an opportunity to share information about the benefits of vegetarian diets with people in your local communities. 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.

Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues, argues that, whether we’re talking about food and farming, solving hunger, or diet-related factors like obesity and heart disease, we all must be citizen eaters. That’s a term coined by the Center for a Livable Future to describe folks who are actively engaged in food systems. As the climate crisis advances, we need to highlight the urgency of strengthening our food and agriculture systems, Nierenberg explains. “We need practices and policies that build resilience and ensure that everyone has access to healthy food, grown in a way that benefits both people and the planet.”

2022’s Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians

We who don’t eat flesh do still like to eat out, and visiting restaurants with an abundance of plant-based selections is fun. Of course, it’s helpful to live in a vegan and vegetarian friendly city so there are more than a few eating options.

Just in time for World Vegetarian Day (and World Vegan Day a month later on November 1), WalletHub has released its report on “2022’s Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians.” The full report reflects how vegan and vegetarian friendly various restaurants and other consumer options are for the 15.5 million US adults having a vegetarian or vegan diet. Considering both those criteria, here are the top cities:

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. Phoenix, AZ
  5. Austin, TX

How did different cities score when it comes to vegetarian options?

  • Plano, TX — tied with Chandler, AZ — has the highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options at nearly 64%.
  • Laredo, TX is the city with the lowest score at just about 3% — that’s 21.6 times lower than Plano.

Ever wonder which US city has the most vegan food?

  • Among the 100 largest cities in the United States, Scottsdale, AZ, ranks best for its percentage of vegan options at restaurants. Approximately 16% of restaurants in Scottsdale offer vegan options.
  • The cities that fill out the top 5 list of cities with the highest percentage of vegan restaurant options are St. Petersburg, FL (at nearly 14%); Washington, DC (13%); New Orleans, LA (12%); and New York, NY (12%).
  • The city with the lowest percentage of vegan restaurant options is North Las Vegas, NV, which had 20 times fewer offerings at 0.83%.

The results were determined by 3 key factors: affordability, accessibility and quality, and vegetarian lifestyle. These categories were evaluated by 17 metrics, including the cost of groceries for vegetarians, the number of restaurants selling vegetarian and vegan options, and the number of salad shops in the area. Each category was worth 33.33 points for a total score of 100.

Though Portland received the top spot in 2021 and previous years as the best in the world for vegans, the Chef’s Pencil’s 2022 ranking, however, shows the seaside town of Brighton, UK, is the new vegan capital of the world. It’s the first time that any city other than Portland or Bristol has taken the top spot.

Final Thoughts on World Vegetarian Day

There will be all kinds of activities to participate in World Vegetarian Day. Here are some suggestions on how you can join in.

Try the meatless option at a restaurant. Plunge in and try out a veggie or vegan menu item at your favorite restaurant. After all, you like everything else at this place — you’ll probably like how they design a meatless meal, too.

Shop at a farmer’s market. Some of the freshest and most delicious vegetables and fruits can be found at your local farmer’s market. The variety, colors, and textures may inspire you to create a meatless entree or side dish.

Substitute a meat ingredient for a plant-based selection. Take a look over your favorite recipes and see if you might not be able to cook them without meat. For example, make vegetarian chili by leaving out the ground beef and adding an extra can of black beans.

Be open-minded to vegetarian options. Research on the internet for vegetarian menus. Borrow vegetarian cookbooks from friends or the library. Check out restaurants with international themes and  sample new vegetarian cuisines. Bring variety to any vegetarian meal by trying out a new fruit or vegetable every week. Add in spices or flavorings like minced garlic, chopped basil, or one of the many fun hot sauces now available in the market.

Research reliable sources. The International Vegetarian Union has a new Vegetarian Nutrition Booklet for kids of 7–14-years-old, with basic, age appropriate information. They also offer a Vegan Nutrition Guide for Adults.

 
 
 
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Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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