October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, which also marks the launch each year of Vegetarian Awareness Month during October. This annual observance is popular among vegetarians and vegans alike, but on 1 October in spite of vegan-themed messaging you do not have to be strictly vegan to appreciate or participate.
World Vegetarian Day will be celebrated on Saturday, October 1, 2022.
Some food-based holidays have murky origin stories. They are sometimes either untraceable, or the origins have something to do with marketing and PR. In the case of World Vegetarian Day, there are actual names and dates that represent the origin story.
In 1974, the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) formed. It was originally created as an organizing body for the 1975 World Vegetarian Congress in Maine.
That event, spearheaded by the International Vegetarian Union (IVU), is noted as one of the most important happenings in the U.S. vegetarian movement from the 20th century. In 1977, NAVS created World Vegetarian Day, which found support from the IVU the following year.
As mentioned above, World Vegetarian Day is the starting event for Vegetarian Awareness Month. When that observance ends, it helps usher in another event on 1 November each year–World Vegan Day.
The organizers of World Vegetarian Day are clear in their purpose for October 1. You DO NOT have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to participate. The whole idea of the observance is to raise awareness of the health benefits of vegetarianism.
It’s a time meant for inclusion, and not exclusion of non-vegetarians. In fact, one of the selling points of the holiday is that it’s a time for the curious to give vegetarianism a try even if it’s just in the sampling of plant-based dishes popular amongst vegans and vegetarians.
Some people’s primary objection to a meat-free diet includes the notion that vegetarian foods are lacking somehow. There are the usual complaints of low protein, a lack of B vitamins, and other hoary old myths associated with a meat-free diet but October 1st is meant to answer those concerns and more.
If you have never tried a vegetarian meal or even a vegetarian side dish, doing so could erase some of your objections to an alternative lifestyle that simultaneously reduces your carbon footprint, offers a healthier set of eating choices, and helps support local businesses such as farmers’ markets and local growers.
One of the stated purposes of World Vegetarian Day is to support vegetarians and vegans, local farms and/or other affiliated groups. Another purpose is to inform people about the benefits of going meatless.
There are many ways to observe October 1st. If you take the “awareness raising” part of the holiday to heart, you could take some vegetarian food to share with coworkers on the job, you can invite family and friends to have a vegetarian potluck or come to your home for a vegetarian meal.
The World Vegetarian Day official site lists some other suggestions for this day, but many of them are a bit recruitment-oriented such as hosting a screening of a vegetarian documentary or asking local libraries to consider a vegetarian themed book display. The site even goes so far as to suggest a vegetarian day at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
That may be a bit too far for some folks, who prefer to simply enjoy the day or try a new type of eating they never considered before.
You don’t have to go out on the campaign trail for vegetarianism to support 1 October, it’s equally important to work within your comfort zone when trying out a new lifestyle choice. That said, it’s likely that some of the advice offered for 1 October is actually meant to extend into the rest of the month when vegetarian awareness campaigns kick off in earnest.
For some, participating in World Vegetarian Day is the first step into a different, healthier world while for others it’s simply another option in the “food palette” for those who might want to add some vegetarian considerations into their food choices without going fully meatless.