Turning vegetarian is a big commitment and lifestyle change if you have been brought up to believe that all square meals consist of ‘meat and two veg’. There are many hundreds of delicious fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains and sources of protein to choose from if you are considering making the change in 2020.
Vegetarian cooking can be an exciting adventure into colourful new culinary experiences instead of being the dull option. Almost every country around the world has interesting non-meat foods and recipes so variety can still be the spice of life as a vegetarian. Thousands of inspiring recipes are available online and cookery books are written in every language and can still be found in local libraries.
Around 10 percent of Europeans are vegetarian and India has the highest percentage of people with plant based diets at 38%. (1) People choose to opt to eat purely healthy plants, grains and diary products in order to avoid eating animals for lots of different cultural reasons including concerns for animal welfare, avoiding unnecessary chemicals, religious reasons, financial constraints, improving health and conserving the environment.
Remember to eat plenty of protein to make up for the lack of meat. Eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds are a good source. “Almonds, pistachios and cashews contain healthy fats too, and are perfect for snacking.” (2)
Iron is also important and can be found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and also in tofu, dark chocolate and sweet potatoes. Zinc is essential and can be consumed by eating eggs and dairy and nuts and seeds. Expert Georgia Kiely advises to “Learn to love substitutes like lentils for mince meat, Quorn fillets for chicken fillets and beans for burger mince.” (2)
Millions of young people globally are passionate about sustainability and are keen to do their part to make the world a better place for everybody. “10 percent of children aged 8 to 16 are now vegan or vegetarian because of their concern for the environment and animal welfare.” (3)
It is not hard to understand why when you consider that “It takes 15400 litres of water to make 1 kilogram of beef – with 99% of that related to animal feed.” (4) Conserving precious water resources is key to ensuring everyone has enough to eat and drink accross the world. “Of the less than 1 percent of freshwater available for human use, a whopping 70 percent goes toward growing food and raising animals.” (5)
Going vegetarian is good for the planet and massively reduces an individuals carbon footprint. There are also health and wealth benefits too. Many people believe eating as many different fruits and vegetables as possible can give you maximum antioxidants and therefore keep diseases like cancer away.
‘Meat free Monday’ is a campaign endorsed by meat alternative retailers as a way for traditional eaters to try one or more days a week to have meals without consuming beef, chicken or pork etc.
Although converting your favourite meat dishes to vegetarian alternatives can require a little extra thought and time, there are many real benefits to this green diet including a clear conscience, a slimmer waistline and a cheaper grocery bill.
WorldAtlas.com, 23 Oct 2019
BBC Good Food, Georgina Kiely 17 Oct 2019
Linda Mccartney Foods 23 oct 2019
The Guardian, Laura Paddison, 23 August 2013
(5) ‘Thirsty Food’
National Geographic 17 Oct 2019