DOLGEVILLE, N.Y., Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Vegetarians and interested individuals from around the globe will be joining with the North American Vegetarian Society on October 1st, 2013, for the annual celebration of World Vegetarian Day. Since its inception in 1977, the event has commemorated the health-supporting and life affirming benefits of vegetarianism. World Vegetarian Day is the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. There are many reasons people choose a vegetarian diet. It has proven health benefits, save animals' lives and helps to preserve the Earth. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131001/PH89187-a )(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131001/PH89187-b ) To encourage non-vegetarians to give meatless eating a try, the North American Vegetarian Society has developed a contest with cash prizes. Non-vegetarians who pledge to abstain from all meat, fish and fowl during Vegetarian Awareness Month (October) can enter in a random drawing for monetary prizes. The first-prize winner will receive $1000. One winner will be chosen in each of the following three categories: One day $250 -- One week $500 -- One month $1,000. People can enter the "Give Vegetarianism a Try" contest at worldvegetarianday.org Researchers at Harvard University say red meat can increase your risk of premature death. Eating one serving a day of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk in premature death; eating one serving a day of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk of premature death. According to a UN report a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to alleviating world hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.