Our world is full of bad news.  Locally, we are bombarded with stories on crime, accidents sickness, death and destruction.  Then the national news serves up a daily dose of reports on war, famine, poverty, climate change and politics.  I have decided that from this point going forward, I will continue to discuss topics important to the green movement, but I will reserve Mondays for good green news.  Monday subjects will range from people, activities, legislation and research aimed at improving our planet to inspirational stories, celebrations and community activities by people trying to make a positive difference.

My first good green Monday story salutes World Vegetation Day, which is celebrated today, October 1st, and kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month.  For those interested in improving their health through dietary measures, this is a great opportunity to investigate the benefits of a veggie-friendly diet.

It is important to note that there are several levels of vegetarianism, and they are summarized as follows:

  • Vegan:  One who abstains from the use of animal products;
  • Vegetarian:  One who excludes from his/her diet meat and slaughter by-products, fish, shellfish, other sea animals and poultry.
  • Pescatarian:  One who practices a diet that includes seafood but not the flesh of other animals.
  • Weekday vegetarian:  One who practices a diet of part-time vegetarianism, often called flexitarian, choosing what to eat and when, i.e., proponents of Meatless Mondays.

Research shows that a vegetarian diet is associated with lower blood pressures and cholesterol, better heart health and even lower rates of cancer.  The American Dietetic Association holds the position that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, naturally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”.  As a bonus, being vegetarian also may contribute to a sense of happiness and well being.  A 2010 study in the Nutrition Journal concluded that vegetarians report significantly less negative emotion than meat eaters.

So let’s celebrate World Vegetarian Day and Vegetarian Awareness Month on some level, ranging from incorporation of more vegetables into our diets to the elimination of meats on some days.  If you are feeling really bold, now may be the time to go cold turkey and eliminate meat.  Let’s celebrate green, live green, be green!