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Today is World Vegan Day and the start of World Vegan Month, an international recognition of a lifestyle free of animal products.
The Vegan Society, which first coined the term "vegan" 1944, kicked off the first World Vegan Day in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of its founding. The occasion is gaining worldwide momentum and can be celebrated in a variety of ways.
"You could host a vegan lunch at work or a vegan dinner party with friends; commit to taking part in vegan outreach in your local community; share your favorite vegan recipes on social media or even challenge your friends, family or work colleagues to go vegan for 30 days by taking our Vegan Pledge," the organizers tout.
While the vegan lifestyle might seem too extreme for some, there is a lot to admire about it. By now you probably know that eating less meat and skipping dairy, eggs and other animal products can be beneficial in many ways. It spares the suffering of animals, it can be great for your health (if practiced wisely, meaning more fruit, veggies and nuts—less deep fried potatoes), and is especially good for the environment.
Scientists behind the most in-depth study to date of the ecological footprint of agriculture determined that the best thing an individual can do to fight climate change, promote biodiversity and protect the environment overall, is go vegan.
"A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use," study leader and University of Oxford's Professor Joseph Poore told the Guardian. "It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car," he said.
The researchers even found that the least impactful meat and dairy products, including grass-fed beef, hurt the environment more than the most intrusive vegetables and grains.
"Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy," Poore added.
The percentage of Americans who have meat-free diets has not changed much in the last 20 years, according to a recent Gallup poll, in which 5 percent of respondents said they are vegetarian and 3 percent said they are vegan, a tiny uptick from 2 percent in 2012.
However, as EcoWatch mentioned on World Vegetarian Day last month, more people are adopting "flexitarian," "climatarian" and "reducetarian" diets that favor healthier, more humane and environmentally sustainable food products—and we couldn't be more in favor of that.
If you're interested in giving veganism a try—or need motivation to stay on track—The Vegan Society has launched a new app called VeGuide that features educational videos, recipes, a rewards program and more. The app is free and available on both Android and iOS.
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