World Veggie Day: Five random facts about vegetarianism

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day. Time to brush up on your knowledge about vegetarianism! But why stick to the “boring” facts that everyone knows anyhow? Here are some pretty random but fun facts about vegetarians and vegetarianism. Enjoy!

Number of Vegetarians
Well, maybe not so random, but still a cool thing to know: According to the 2014 Meat Atlas, published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth Europe, there are currently more than 400 million vegetarians and vegans living worldwide. The largest number lives in India (roughly 375 million). But in the States and Europe, there are also more and more vegetarians. The German Vegetarian Organization Vegetarierbund Deutschland (VEBU) estimates that about 7.8 million Germans are vegetarians, and around 900,000 are vegans.

Vegetarianism in Religion
Believe it or not, there are actually religions that promote vegetarianism or even make it mandatory! Most of them originated in India — no wonder more than 30 percent of their population is vegetarian. The strictest is called Jainism. Jains aren’t allowed to eat anything that contains a dead animal body. So no meat AND no eggs. In Hinduism and Buddhism there are some schools that don’t allow the consumption of meat. And there are even some Christian groups that encourage their members to be vegetarian. Which brings us to the next point…

The First Vegetarian Society
Yes, there actually is a vegetarian society! It was founded as early as 1847 in England, and is thus the oldest vegetarian organization worldwide. Many of its early members were inspired by Reverend William Cowherd, who belonged to the Bible Christian Church and promoted vegetarianism. According to their homepage, the Vegetarian Society aims to inform people about the vegetarian diet and help them to maintain it. Oh, and they even have a cookery school!

Famous Vegetarians
What do Einstein, Aristotle, Kafka and Gustave Flaubert have in common? Yup, they all were vegetarians. But it’s not just these “old souls” that did without meat. Apparently, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Paul McCarthy and Kim Basinger have dedicated themselves to vegetarianism. If you wanna find out if your favorite celebrity is one of the many vegetarians and vegans in the world of glitz and glam, here’s a full list.

Why Do We Say “Vegetarian”?
The word “vegetarian” is said to have been in use since the early 19th century and was probably hugely promoted by the Vegetarian Society. Some say it is a compound of vegetable and the commonly used suffix -arian — which actually seems pretty logical. But then there are some people who say it derives from the Latin word “vegetus” which can be translated as invigorating, lively, active and energetic. Where it actually comes from – oh well – we’ll probably never know. Maybe someone just woke up one day and thought the term “vegetable diet” sounded boring and then came up with a new word!

Text & picture: Nadine Ellinger

Dance with me!

If you think Germans are cold, rational and impassionate, think twice about the people in Augsburg, because if you’re out and about on a Saturday night, you might come across a mass of passionate salsa dancers, moving their bodies to the rhythms of Cuban music, sensually drawing close together in a bachata or dancing wild and carefree in a reaggeton.

Augsburg may not look like it, but it is one of the world’s salsa strongholds. Internationally-renowned salsa teachers, dancers and DJ’s live and work here, the salsa dance schools are numerous and the parties more popular than ever.

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If you feel like including Cuban dance moves into your life, Augsburg is the perfect location to do so. You might want to start by checking out one of the salsa parties that take place on the weekends. For a first taste of salsa, I recommend the Latin Black party at the KKlub every first Saturday of the month. With a salsa and a hip hop dance floor on two different levels you can move around freely, so in case you’re a bit overwhelmed by the Cuban rhythms you can always find refuge in some good old hip hop songs.

For those of you who prefer a location in the city centre of Augsburg, there is a salsa party every second Saturday of the month at Henry’s at the Rathausplatz, where you normally drink your coffee during the day. Another favourite location is the Capitol restaurant near the Moritzplatz, which opens its doors to salsa dancers every first Friday of the month. If you still don’t have enough of salsa parties, there’s always the Spirit Divan in Königsbrunn, where you can go every third Saturday of the month to enjoy the best of salsa.

If you prefer to learn the basics of salsa dancing first, instead of jumping in at the deep end, let me tell you about the different dance schools you can check out. Emilito’s Cuban Salsa PFacebook-20160519-054009ower offers not only salsa classes, but also classes of other Latin American dances such as rumba, reaggeton, bachata, kizomba and rueda de casino, which is salsa danced in a circle by several couples. The dance school also regularly offers special workshops and free practice parties. Another option is the Salsa Elegante dance school, which hosts the parties at Henry’s and the Capitol. They also offer rueda classes in addition to their salsa dancing lessons. Two other dance schools you might want to have a look at in order to find the right one for you are the Los Banditos and the Move Arts.

If you’re worried that you might not fit into a group of salsa dancers, let me assure you that you’ll find people from all walks of life at the salsa schools and parties. Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that salsa is something for everyone – no matter how old you are, which country you are from or whether you’ve danced before.
So, vamos a bailar, chicos!

Author: Noemi Hehl
Pictures: Noemi Hehl; Isabelle Zint

Ready to go crazy? The weirdest New Year’s Eve traditions

Germans like to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a sip of chilled sparkling wine, a rich fondue and the annual recurring appointment with the adorable Miss Sophie and her scatty butler James. However, apart from the widespread tradition of watching “Dinner for One”, we Germans don’t have any weird customs for the largest global celebration. But no worries – the rest of the world offers a wide range of strange traditions…

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First Stop: Ecuador

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It’s the end of December. The sparkling snow is falling and the air is cold but very refreshing. So it’s the perfect time to take your empty suitcase for a walk. No, I’m not crazy and I know that you can walk your dog, your cat and, okay, maybe your hamster, but your suitcase? Yes it’s true, at least in Ecuador. If the Ecuadorians are planning a trip sometime next year, they take their suitcases for a stroll. The tradition says that people who are dreaming of a holiday next year should take their empty suitcases for a little walk, so their dreams come true. But I’m not very convinced that this tradition could catch on in Germany. Nevertheless, please feel free to try it out: get your suitcase, go out, get some fresh air and try to ignore the gazing people.

Next Stop: Spain

You’re not a fan of fireworks at midnight and you really hate the emotion which comes with the New Year greetings? But what else could be done? Here’s the answer: just eat 12 grapes quickly, one with each chime of the bells at midnight. For the Spanish, each grape symbolises good luck for each month in the following year. And it wards off bad spirits! But be aware, it sounds easier than it actually is; some Spanish even practice beforehand. So let’s start practicing – New Year’s Eve is close. But don’t forget to chew – it might get a bit tight in your mouth.

Third Stop: Denmark

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If some of you would like to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Denmark, then please don’t call the police if your friends start throwing old dishes at your door. After all, they’ve been collecting Granny’s old china with difficulty all year. So please show a little respect and feel flattered! Why? Smashing old plates at your friend’s door is a special New Year’s Eve tradition in Denmark, and is a measure of your popularity. The more your door gets hit by a broken plate, the more likely friends enjoy being with you. There’s a heap of broken dishes at your doorsteps? Congrats, you’re a terrific friend!

Last Stop: Puerto Rico

A different kind of “bucket challenge” exists in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans throw buckets of water out of their window. And they clean their homes before the New Year arrives. In this way, they clean out the old year and all the evil spirits and welcome the New Year.

The end of the journey has arrived and I have to leave now. I’m very busy because I still have to walk my suitcase, eat some grapes and… well no, actually I’m just going to watch “Dinner for One”, enjoy the fireworks and drink some sparkling wine. Maybe I’ll try out some of the proposals next year, or maybe not, we’ll see! Cheers, Happy New Year to all of you!

Author & Pictures: Julia Huss