BY ALEJANDRO MEZA AGUILAR
October is vegetarian awareness month. The North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) states, “World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the NAVS and was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.” Vegetarianism is a lifestyle that follows the principles of not harming animals and preserving the earth. These principles are followed by diet and everyday life.
Vegetarianism has multiple forms that people can follow. There is lacto-ovo vegetarianism, the primary form that most vegetarians follow, which consists of plants, eggs and dairy. Then there is lacto vegetarianism which consists of plants and dairy. The final form is ovo vegetarianism which has eggs, fruits and veggies as the components of the diet.
The American Heart Association notes that vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fats, cholesterol and total fat. People who follow a plant-based diet tend to have a lower risk in diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and various forms of cancer. Any diet, according to health experts can be faulty without balance. A good plant-based diet with portion control and a good amount of calories distinguishes how healthy following a vegetarian diet can be to overall health.
Vegetarianism also goes into other daily used products such as make-up, cleaning products and clothing. Cruelty free make-up is mainly used by vegans and vegetarians. Some companies known to test on animals are Avon, Benefit Cosmetics, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Maybelline, and Victoria’s Secret. Apparently Victoria’s Secret is testing on animals. Products certified as cruelty free or non-animal testing have the leaping bunny logo which can also look like a bunny head. The main page to research whether a product is cruelty free is the Leaping Bunny site to find cruelty free products such as Lush, Queen Helene and Daily Defense for cosmetic and personal care products but the site extends its database to household products and pet care products . The site also has filters to search products that can be defined vegan through their ingredient use.
November is the National Vegan Awareness month and it follows the Vegetarian Awareness month. Vegans usually transition from Vegetarianism to Veganism and the chronological order of the events demonstrates how people can transition from one ideology to another one. The main reasons people switch to vegetarianism and veganism as stated by Oregon State University are health concerns with processed meats, to seek a healthy lifestyle and concern over the safety of animals. One Green Planet, a vegan and vegetarian forum, states the other reasons people switch to such a lifestyle. The reasons include environmental concern, morality for the well-being of animals and social justice towards the treatment of animals.
Penny Arriaga, a College of the Desert student, states that her overall experience as a vegetarian has been really beneficial. She adds,”I’ve lost over 40 pounds. I feel healthier.” Her most difficult experience is being the only vegetarian at her home and changing her eating habits. When Penny was asked if anyone should switch to vegetarianism she says, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid. Don’t listen to bad comments that people will make about the lifestyle switch.” Her words of advice are, “Make sure to wash your veggies well and leave them in cold water for five minutes with a little bit of white vinegar and re-wash them. It helps kill bacteria and keeps you healthy.”
Vegetarian Awareness month is dedicated to showing non-vegetarians how to making the lifestyle switch. Spreading the word can be done by having meat-less Mondays, offering vegan and vegetarian options to your co-workers or family members, and helping people stay informed on what the switch to vegetarianism is mainly about. Spread the word and help people make the switch to vegetarianism.