Go Plant-Based this World Vegetarian Day
September 29, 2023
World Vegetarian Day is celebrated on the 1st of October every year to promote vegetarian diets and raise awareness about the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
The observance was established by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978, “To promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.”
The terms vegan and vegetarian are often confused or used interchangeably, in part perhaps since there are various types of vegetarians and the distinctions can be slim. Vegetarians will generally avoid meat, while ‘lacto-ovo vegetarians’ include eggs and other dairy products and ‘pescatarians’ still eat fish. The latter has been subject of much debate and fish as a healthy, sustainable food source is frequently called into question.
‘Flexitarian’ is another dietary type gaining in popularity, describing those who – while mainly plant-based – occasionally still opt for meat dishes. You may hear of flexitarians following what’s known as the ‘5:2 rule of thumb’, which is to say going plant-based during the week and limiting meat consumption to weekends only.
Vegans of course are those who do not consume animal products of any kind; even milk, fish or poultry, and are exclusively plant-based. Beans, pulses, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables have primacy on the vegan plate – and many vegans enjoy plant-based meat analogue products offered by companies like Urban Vegan, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, The Fry Family Food Co., On the Green Side, and others.
The market for meat analogues has grown considerably over the past decade and there are now more options available at mainstream retail chains than ever before. Checkers is ubiquitous throughout South Africa and even has their own plant-based range named Simple Truth, as does Woolworths, with Pick & Pay reporting growth in sales of over 25 percent for their plant-based offerings last year.
People become vegetarians for many reasons; including health, concerns about animal welfare, environmental impact and affordability. Becoming a vegetarian is appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce and more vegetarian dining and fast food options conveniently at hand.
For those who may be worried that they would struggle to get all the necessary nutrients from a plant-based diet, the American Dietetic Association has stated: “Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
How to Try Going Vegetarian
If you’re at square one not knowing where to start, sign up for the ProVeg Veggie Challenge which will guide you through 30 days of plant-based eating with tips, recipes and community support.
Download our plant-based recipe book or consult our recipe database that offers loads of dishes to cover your daily needs. Periodically we post new recipes on our ProVeg blog, and follow our Instagram account where we post a new recipe every week as part of the ongoing Green Monday campaign.