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World Vegetarian Day

World Vegetarian Day is celebrated annually on October 1. The day brings global attention to the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism and focuses on the ethics of following a vegetarian lifestyle.

Young children at a vegetable farm.

Vegetarianism is a philosophy that has compassion and nonviolence at its heart.

©bigstockphoto.com/famveldman

The observation kicks off World Vegetarian Awareness Month and is a way to encourage people to adopt an exclusively plant-based diet. World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society.

The Many Different Types of Vegetarianism

A vegetarian is a person who does not consume meat or products of animal slaughter due to ethical, moral, or religious concerns. There are many varieties of vegetarianism. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians, for instance, eat eggs and milk, but no other animal products. Adherents of more strict forms of vegetarianism, such as vegans, tend to abstain from consuming anything that may include any kind of animal products or may be made from animal labor, such as animal testing. Other types of vegetarians include raw vegetarianism, where followers only eat raw foods or products that have been dehydrated; and fruitarianism, where adherents only consume fruits and nuts, preferably obtained without any harm to the plant.

In India, members of the Jain religion follow a form of vegetarianism that not only prohibits eating animal products, but also restricts consumption of root vegetables like onions, potatoes, and garlic.

From Religion to Saving the Environment

In many cultures, vegetarianism is an integral part of religion. Many sects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism prohibit the consumption of meat and animal products, though the use of milk, honey, and sometimes unfertilized poultry eggs is acceptable.

Religious vegetarianism tends to be rooted in a philosophy of non-violence and compassion towards the natural world. Many other people follow vegetarianism as a way to protect the environment – they believe that raising and killing of animals for food negatively affects the environment, creates pollution, and contributes to climate change.

Many follow vegetarianism out of concern for animals and their treatment at farms where they are being raised for food. Others on the hand, adopt the vegetarian diet for its health benefits. Research has shown that a plant-based diet can help reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and some kinds of cancer.

What Happens on World Vegetarian Day?

World Vegetarian Day is not an official holiday, so businesses, schools, and government offices are open. Many vegetarian organizations and groups use this day to spread information about the benefits of vegetarianism and to educate people on how to switch to a vegetarian diet. Many food outlets and restaurants provide only vegetarian meals for the day, while schools and educational institutions may offer cooking classes using vegetarian ingredients for their students and the general public.

World Vegetarian Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015ThuOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2016SatOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2017SunOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2018MonOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2019TueOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2020ThuOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2021FriOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2022SatOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2023SunOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2024TueOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance
2025WedOct 1World Vegetarian DayWorldwide observance

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