October 1 is World Vegetarian Day: Why you should rethink your meat intake today

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Vegans unite! Today is the annual World Vegetarian Day. And it conveniently falls on the first day of the week this year, so that we can appropriately call this a Meatless Monday!

The event was founded by the North American Vegetarian Day in 1977. The celebration commemorates the proven benefits of vegetarianism. World Vegetarian Day is also the official kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. October is a time to reflect on the many reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet. It has proven health benefits, saves animals’ lives and helps to preserve the Earth.

Researchers at Harvard University say red meat can increase your risk of premature death. Eating one serving a day of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk in premature death; eating one serving a day of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk of premature death.

Cases of diabetes have reached epidemic levels, with nearly 350 million adults battling the disease worldwide. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health showed a strong connection between eating red meat and an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes. A daily 100- gram serving (the size of a deck of cards) of unprocessed – red meat increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19 percent. This effect is more pronounced when the meat is processed. A 50-gram serving (one hot dog or two bacon slices, for example) increased risk by 51 percent.

Meanwhile, a reduced consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change. That’s according to a recent UN report. The agency also says that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.

These are strong health and environmental reasons to consider a vegetarian diet.

And if you’re a meat-lover who just wants to give vegetarianism a try, the North American Vegetarian Society has developed a prize-winning contest just for you. Non-vegetarians who pledge to abstain from all meat, fish and fowl during Vegetarian Awareness Month (October) will be entered in a random draw for cash prizes. The top winner will get $1000 in cash.

People can enter the “Vegetarian Pledge” contest online at worldvegetarianday.org

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