The month of October begins with World Vegetarian Day on Sunday, October 1. That is the one day of the year that promotes awareness and known benefits of being a vegetarian. The day was organized by the North American Vegetarian Society because a lot of people throw the words vegetarian and Vegan around without really knowing the differences between the two or the benefits of each one. Even people who describe themselves as one or the other still have a lot to learn. About one million people become vegetarians in the United States every year for various reasons, and many more than that number become vegetarians all over the world.

Vegetarians or vegans?

First, let's define the difference between being a vegetarian and a vegan because a lot of people get them mixed up. To simplify the differences between vegetarians and vegans is to know what each one will eat and not eat.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and poultry. Vegans are vegetarians who do not eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products or honey. Vegans are defined by those who do not eat certain things as well as those who do not use certain animal products, such as silk, wool, beeswax, goose-fat shoe polish, or leather.

It might be easy to remember that all vegans are vegetarians, but all vegetarians are not vegans. In other words, vegans do not eat what vegetarians do not eat in addition to not eating additional things.

The word "vegan" is shorter with a longer list of restrictions. World Vegan Day is celebrated on Wednesday, November 1, exactly one month after the celebration for vegetarians.

Reasons to become a vegetarian

People choose to become vegetarians for many different reasons. Some choose to go that route because of concerns for their health, the environment, ethical concerns, religious reasons or personal preferences.

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Animals are saved when they are not killed so people can eat them. Not eating meat reduces the risk of certain diseases such as cancer, a stroke, and heart disease. Not eating meat also has an effect on the environment. A vegetarian does his part in protecting the planet when he gives up eating meat. Then, there are some people who just don't like meat.

In honor of World Vegetarian Day, become aware of what being a vegetarian really means and how it will affect the eating habits of those around you if you decide to become one. Remember that it will work for you only if you make that decision on your own instead of having it thrust upon you by someone else. Otherwise, you will find yourself doing it just to please others. If that's the case, you might end up cheating when no one is looking.