Nov. 1 is World Vegan Day (WVD), an annual occasion that not only celebrates and promotes the vegan lifestyle, but commemorates the founding of the world’s very first Vegan Society. The first Vegan Day was observed on Nov. 1, 1994. Vegan Society Founder, Donald Watson, coined the term “vegan” by taking the first and last letters of the word “vegetarian.”
What is the difference between a vegan and vegetarian? While both are non-meat eaters, a vegan diet consists of only plant-based foods – no meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, cheese or honey. Vegans may also avoid all animal products including leather, wool or silk and are typically stricter than vegetarians. Vegetarians, on the other hand, are also non-carnivores, but do consume dairy and/or egg products. There are also different types of vegetarians, too.
Why do folks give up meat in the first place? While some choose a meat-free diet for health reasons, others do not eat meat due to food safety concerns, religious or environmental reasons. The United Nations has urged people to go to a meat and dairy-free diet to help save the world from the “worst impacts of climate change.” Besides reducing waste and methane gas from farm animals that contribute to global warming, many studies suggest a meat-free diet is good for you, too. Besides cardiovascular benefits, some research suggests vegans and vegetarians havereduced cancer risks as well. According to the study, “dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries.” Plus, vegetarians typically live longer than meat-eaters.
But many vegans/vegetarians do not eat meat due to ethical reasons and their love of animals. Many animals in our food chain often endure inhumane conditions, immense suffering and torture. If only people thought about how that juicy steak ended up on the dinner plate, perhaps more would give up meat? If you have been considering going meat-free, today is the perfect day to start.