National Vegetarian Week is organised by the Vegetarian Society and is dedicated to showing the British public that vegetarian food doesn’t have to be bland or boring.
Each year it has grown from strength to strength, with big name supermarkets and celebrity chefs all getting in on the action.
Now, much of the advocacy focuses around educating school children and families about the benefits of incorporating vegetarian meals into the diet. It encourages people to go vegetarian for the whole week, just to prove that it really isn’t that difficult!
National Vegetarian Week started off as just a single day in 1992, but quickly grew to incorporate the full week.
The public’s desire to know more about vegetarianism – and the rise in demand for vegetarian options in restaurants and supermarkets – has fuelled NVW's popularity. TV programmes have special features for the week, showing off easy vegetarian recipes, while shops run special promotions on certain items in support of the week.
There are events supporting NVW throughout the British Isles. From your favourite café in town, to your child’s school, even your workplace may be advocating to go vegetarian for the week.
As eating vegetarian is good for both the climate and for your health, events are heavily promoted by many companies, and so you’re sure to hear something about it wherever you go.
This year, the Vegetarian Society has come up with ’50 Veggie Things to do in May’ This list is a great way to get involved in vegetarianism, whether you are eating veggie for the whole week, a lifelong vegetarian, or just someone who’s a little curious.
Here are just a small sample of the great ideas that they have come up with:
Baking as a vegetarian is easy, and as everyone loves cake, it’s the perfect way to get people together and talk about the issues surrounding vegetarianism. A great community event, you could also share recipes with each other, and maybe even have a go at making a vegan cake!
Is there a greengrocer near you that you’ve never been into? When was the last time you actually bought an apple? Or some broccoli? Heading to the fruit and veg stall not only helps to support a local business, you can also rediscover the vast range of fruit and vegetables that are on offer.
The best thing about buying local is that it’s more likely to be grown locally as well. Asking where your food is sourced is a great way to learn more about the crops grown in your area.
This is one that they whole family can get involved in. There is amazing satisfaction to be achieved through growing your own food, and for herbs, all you need is a handy windowsill!
Soon you’ll be able to sprinkle your own home-grown basil into your veggie Bolognese and you just know that somehow, it will taste better than anything you’ve bought in a shop. If you have the room, why not go all out and try to create a vegetable patch?
There are a number of reasons why you might decide to go vegetarian or vegan, and even if it’s not something that you think you can commit to on a full-time basis, eating vegetarian a few days a week is just as valid, and can make in impact.
There are three main reasons that the Vegetarian Society talks about:
This is probably the first one that springs to mind when you think of why people decide to go vegetarian or vegan. Animals are as much a part of our world as we are and have intelligence and emotions just the same. Even the idea ‘fish don’t feel pain’ has long been discredited as a complete myth.
Not only this, but the conditions that animals are kept in before they are slaughtered is a cause of great concern.
Contrary to popular images of happy cows and pigs, many live in horrible, dirty, and cramped conditions, without adequate medical care. They are unable to live as they would naturally, which causes a life full of stress and fear, until they are ultimately killed.
Eating vegetarian is better for the environment. With our climate in its current state, we must do all that we can do reduce greenhouse gas emissions and look to sustainable resources. Intensive farming practices cause some of the highest production of methane in the world, directly contributing to global warming and the heating of our planet.
Deforestation is also caused in part from the need for more land for agricultural animals. This includes the food that the animals themselves eat. Instead of using valuable land to feed us directly, it is used to grow feed for animals – not a very sustainable use of our planet’s resources.
Not only this, but other resources such as water are used in farming. Much more water is used to rear an animal for meat purposes than is used to grow plant protein.
Eating a healthy diet is something that everyone is concerned about. Keeping your weight down and having a balanced diet has been proven to keep us healthier and living longer. Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, and this is directly linked to our weight and to our diet. Eating low saturated fat is a great way to stay healthy, and vegetarianism can help with that.
One of the major criticisms of vegetarianism is that people who don’t eat meat don’t get enough protein and other vitamins. Yet this simply isn’t the case. Of course, being vegetarian doesn’t automatically make you healthy, but you are getting your protein from much healthier sources such as beans and pulses, and more of your fats are likely to be healthy plant-based ones.
At LaBante, our founder Vanita had her own conversion to vegetarianism at the age of 18. she walked past a butcher shop every morning on the way to university. But this wasn’t the same shop that you may be imagining. Live animals were kept there, and the smell and sound of the slaughter, along with the cramped cages, was enough to make her vow never to eat meat again. Now, she is a great supporter of National Vegetarian Week, and her products also support this cause.
All of LaBante’s handbags are vegetarian friendly, using premium vegan leather in place of animal hides. Even the glue that we use is free from animal parts in order to ensure that we create a cruelty-free product.
In support on National Vegetarian Week, we also support looking after our environment. All of the linings of our handbags are made using recycled plastic bottles, which is just one of the ways in which LaBante strives towards creating fully sustainable fashion.
It’s easy to switch to eating vegetarian for the week. You’ll be able to give most of your tried and tested recipes a veggie upgrade, as well as try out some new ones.
The purpose of National Vegetarian Week is to show you just how straightforward it can be. You don’t need to go out and buy any expensive vegetarian products, in fact, you’ll soon see that you’ll actually save money by eating meat-free. If you are still having troubles, there are loads of easy recipes online for you to try out.
Foods like beans and nuts are staples of the veggie diet, and incorporating them into your meals will insure that you get enough protein.
Another interesting food to try is Jackfruit. Covered in BBQ sauce, this strange fruit has the same texture as pulled pork or chicken. You won’t even be able to tell the difference! The same goes for when you are making your signature chilli or Bolognese.
There are loads of meat-free mince alternatives that are even cheaper than the real thing. You might be surprised to find out just how good it tastes. Bulking these recipes out with red lentils can also make them go even further and add in more healthy vitamins.
Going vegetarian doesn’t have to be a decision for just one week, every little choice can help animals, our environment, and your health.
Trying Meat-Free Mondays is also a great way to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet and save you a bit of money at the same time. A great way to do meat free Mondays is to keep leftovers from the weekend and use them up. Make a vegetarian pie with leftover potatoes and veg for example. Quick and easy for that first day back at work, especially if you haven’t done the weekly shop yet!
Eating vegetarian shouldn’t be a chore, but an exciting challenge. Trying out new recipes and incorporating new vegetables into your diet will leave you feeling stronger and healthier, and your family can get involved as well. Not only this, but it is also a way that you can do your bit for the environment and decrease our carbon footprint.
Give it a try!
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