I need to start this by saying I am not a vegetarian, I do mainly eat a vegetarian diet, as my wife is a vegetarian. I still eat meat a couple of times a week, but I wanted to write this blog to improve my own understanding eating a vegetarian diet, as well giving you a bit more insight into the ins and outs of not eating meat.
Happily for those of us living in Brighton, and wanting to follow more of a plant-based diet, the city is a veggie ‘mecca’, with more vegetarian and vegan eateries per capita than London and Manchester.
But why are more and more people choosing to go meat-free? Studies have shown that 29% of the British population are actively trying to eat less meat: you might even be one of them.
A vegetarian diet means eating no meat or fish, as well no products made from animal fat, gelatine or animal rennet. If you are trying to be vegetarian, you will need to check the ingredients of certain foods as things such as stock cubes as they can contain animal fat. You will also need to check your favourite sweets as they often gelatine* as an ingredient.
*Gelatine – is made from getting protein from bones ligaments and tendons of animals through boiling.
Vegans don’t eat meat or fish, but also don’t eat eggs, dairy or honey.
Pescatarians eat fish, but not meat.
Many people think that vegetarian and vegan diets are boring: lentils, lettuce… lacking in flavour and textures. But this isn’t the case at all! Eating a plant based diet can be just as diverse as one based around meat and fish.
What People Think Reality
Reasons for being a vegetarian or vegan
Environment – Over recent years, the impact animal farming has on the environment has been in the news a lot. Statistics show that eating a vegetarian diet can mean 2.5 times less carbon emissions than a meat diet and more agricultural land is used to raise cattle than domesticated animals and crops combined. Eating less meat can help save the planet!
Animals – many people choose to not eat meat due to the methods used to farm and slaughter animals for consumption.
Health – recent studies have shown that eating a diet mostly based in plants has health benefits: veggies often have lower BMIs than meat eaters.
What about missing out on macro and micro-nutrients?
You will need to be aware that, as a vegetarian or vegan, your diet can be lacking one of the main macro-nutrients the body needs, protein. Other micro-nutrients which may be lacking include:
If you’re thinking about switching to a more plant-based diet, it is worth investing in some vegetarian recipe books, to make sure that your dinners aren’t just lentils and lettuce. There are now loads of great cook books just for vegetarian cooking. A couple that we have in our house are Anita Bean; The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cook Book and What Vegans Eat.
The following link has recipes for Goats Cheese and Avocado on Toast, Smoked Aubergine Goulash, Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry and Vegan Orange Chocolate Mousse.