Monday, 19 May 2014

National Vegetarian Week - What and Why

Along side my normal daily posts, this week I will be doing a post a day about all things vegetarian as it's National Vegetarian Week!
I've been vegetarian for almost a year now and have found the transition smooth and surprisingly easy. 
I feel so much healthier and have a lot more energy.
In today's post I thought I'd share exactly what being a vegetarian's all about and why I chose to adopt this way of life. 

Vegetarian Society
A great place for information first is the Vegetarian Society: They are very informative and have lots of great links to advice and recipes.

According to the Vegetarian Society's website:
"The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: "Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter." 

I think this definition is great. So many people don't know what it is or if they do just assume it means that the person doesn't eat meat and so just eats veg. But this isn't strictly true.

Say no to fish!
It includes fish and this is integral. A lot of people view fish as a sort of sub-animal. Yes, they're not mammals but neither are birds and they're still included. If you don't think that you could be a vegetarian at least try to give up all marine life. Anything that comes from the ocean has been harvested in a most brutal way and it is totally destroying our oceans. The scientific evidence is out there but not being communicated to the general public well enough. If you'd like links to some journal articles on this or a post with lay-man's summary about these truths, please feel free to comment.
There's a very good page on this on the Vegetarian Society's website:

More than just vegetables
Another thing this definition highlights from the beginning is that it is more than just fruit and vegetables so if you don't like these things there's still no excuse not to at least check it out. Particularly as there are many things you have the option of trying to replace your protein intake. Protein is an essential part of our bodies and helps us to heal but diet wise there are more than just animal proteins. There are plant based proteins, lentils are some of my favourites for example and these make a wonderful soup, or you have more processed options such as Quorn. You can find out all about Quorn on their website here: and go to their 'About' page for information on what it's made out of and how it's made.
I've found Quorn to be a big help for transitioning and highly recommend it for beginners and in general. They have such a wide range of products, all perfect imitations of your favourite processed meats. You honestly won't be able to tell the difference and for some things maybe even prefer it to regular meat. Some of these can be rather high in fat though to be sure to do regular exercise or monitor what else you are eating to keep healthy whilst these are included in your diet. They are perfect for coupling with salads to help with this.

Ultimately a lot of people ask why bother? It is effort making a lifestyle change and sticking to it. 
But, there are plenty of benefits. From personal and visible benefits for your own health, as well as global benefits.

One journal article from scientists at University of Oxford for example shows how vegetarians generally have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to non-vegetarians (Key, Davey and Appleby, 1999). They even suggest that if a vegetarian diet was widely adopted, around 40,000 deaths every year could be prevented in Britain alone (Key, Davey and Appleby, 1999) [Full reference available at the end]

There's also many science journal articles on the impact that our growing meat consumption is having on the world. In developing countries our world's vital ancient rainforests are being cleared to make way for grazing land and to grow grain to keep the livestock (Lewis, 1994). This also adversely effects the world's water supply too and the deforestation is contributing to global warming (Lewis, 1994) [Full reference available at the end].

The more obvious reasons is for animal rights. Many people don't like the idea that their meat actually used to be animals but further than that our farms are now so large and commercialised that most of the animals we are eating were reared in conditions you may not actually agree with. I won't go into it in detail here but I do recommend you do your research. Check out a documentary, YouTube video or website. I've personally experienced these processes and I know I've made an informed decision to know I disagree with it.

Great websites
Here are some great recipes to try and you can even take the vegetarian week challenge to see how easy and rewarding it is:
Other website's I've used in this post:
Vegetarian Society:
No to fish:

Timothy J. Key, Gwyneth K. Davey and Paul N. Appleby (1999). Health benefits of a vegetarian diet. 
      Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 58, pp 271-275.
Lewis, S. (1994). An opinion on the global impact of meat consumption. The American journal of clinical 
     nutrition59(5), 1099S-1102S.

Are you vegetarian or vegan?



  1. interesting post, it's always hard finding good information when it comes to health and nutrition, and it's great to hear it from a person who is actually following a vegetarian diet. we'd love to see what kind of vegetarian dishes you whip up!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! I really appreciate it :)
      I agree, it can be difficult to get the right information. And thank you for your recommendation, I'd love to post some dish ideas xoxo


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