Vegetarians of the world, rejoice! Today is #WorldMeatFreeDay, an entire 24 hours dedicated to the herbivores of society.
We had #NationalBurgerDay fairly recently, so it's only right we meatless folk get our own celebratory day as well.
By choosing meatless meals today, we are making a huge difference.
The official website for World Meat Free Day states if 10 million people choose meatless foods today, it would be the equivalent of reducing enough CO2 emissions to drive around the world 2,438 times.
Let that sink in for a second.
Unfortunately, it's safe to say vegetarians — and vegans — often get a bad rap.
People assume we are quietly judging them when they order steaks at dinner, or we are all blood-throwing members of PETA.
People often feel threatened by what they do not understand, and that lack of knowledge sometimes manifests into snark toward those who simply choose not to eat meat.
(If one more person asks me if plants have feelings, I'll scream.)
When it comes to being a vegetarian, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Some of those misunderstandings might even dissuade people from becoming vegetarians themselves.
So, in honor of #WorldMeatFreeDay, order a veggie burger with a side of FYI.
Here are four vegetarian myths and the truths behind them:
Myth #1: Vegetarians don't get enough protein.
This is usually the first question directed toward a vegetarian: "Where do you get your protein?"
Part of the problem is most people think humans need more protein than we do.
In actuality, protein should only make up between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calorie intake.
Of course, some people need more protein than others, and it varies depending upon weight, activity and age.
In general, we humans have a fixation with protein, and there's a tendency to believe we need to stock up on meat in order to get it.
If you think protein can only come from animal products, think again.
Vegetarians acquire protein from a host of places, including (but not limited to) leafy greens, legumes, nuts and tofu.
Myth #2: All vegetarians eat healthy foods.
It's easy to equate a vegetarian diet with health, but that's not always the case.
Allow me to remind you of some foods that are, technically, vegetarian: french fries, ice cream, Oreos, potato chips and pizza. Just because you're embracing a meat-free lifestyle doesn't mean you're always doing your body good.
Vegetarians have to work just as hard at maintaining health as their carnivore counterparts do.
We have to think about calorie content, fat content and carbs, sometimes even more than meat-eaters.
Myth #3: Vegetarian food doesn't taste as good as meat.
If you believe this, you've either been eating the wrong food or thinking with the wrong mentality.
There are countless restaurants, blogs and cookbooks available that are devoted to providing delicious meat-free food.
Another part of the problem with this particular myth is we consistently try to compare meat replacements, such as tofu or seitan, to meat itself. They are entirely different entities.
Yes, you'll never eat a piece of tofu and mistake it for chicken or vice versa. But, who says you have to?
Meat replacement items can be delicious in their own ways without being compared to animal products.
Myth #4: It's too hard to be a vegetarian.
Perhaps, the biggest misconception with vegetarianism is the idea it's a completely unattainable lifestyle.
Many people have the perception that in order to be a vegetarian, you must never touch a piece of meat again.
If you do, you are no longer vegetarian.
But, who is setting these rules?
If we look at vegetarianism with less of a black-and-white, all-or-nothing mentality, it might not seem as intimidating. After all, there is no one keeping score and no one making sure we are "good" vegetarians.
These limiting ideas are in our own minds.
In his book, "Eating Animals," Jonathan Safran Foer writes, “There is something about eating animals that tends to polarize: never eat them or never sincerely question eating them [...]"
He advises we look at each meal separately and realize each time we choose something else over an animal, we are making a difference.