This November not only marks World Vegan Day on the 1st of November, but for the whole month people all over the UK are challenging themselves to go meat-free to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Not only is this contributing to a fantastic cause, but it’s also a great opportunity to add variety to your diet and strive towards a healthier lifestyle. We’ve provided our top tips to make this easier, including meat alternative recommendations, weekly delicious vegetarian recipes, and the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
– Jackfruit – this tropical fruit’s stringy shredded texture makes it great for mimicking pulled pork or chicken.
– Chickpeas – will take just about any amount of seasoning you can throw at them; a great, protein-rich filler to add to soups or stews, or try it crushed.
– Tofu – the most versatile of alternatives, tofu can be the perfect addition to curries, noodle soups, burgers or even pasta dishes and if you’re experimenting with vegan, can be a great alternative to eggs or even grilled halloumi.
– Seitan – this is a particularly convincing meat substitute if you’re looking for a direct replacement, and is best served fried, baked, or grilled, with heavy seasoning.
– Quorn – coming in all shapes and sizes, from chicken style chunks to minced meat, Quorn can be used as a direct swap and is easily used to recreate family favourites.
– Eggs, cheese and nuts – obviously eggs and cheese are still meat by-products so would only work for a vegetarian and not a vegan diet, but nuts are a great source of protein.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing…
If instead of going fully vegetarian, you decided to cut most meat out of your diet, and introduce more plant-based meals, that’s still an improvement! Some things will take longer to let go of, and some things you might want to give up. Whether it’s #meatfreemondays or eve #weekendcarnivore, find your own balance.
Go at your own pace…
You may find it difficult to go vegetarian all at once, and this could negatively impact your experience, making you resent your new diet. A gradual introduction of vegetarianism may create more of a positive relationship between you and meat-free food, increasing the chances of you sticking to it.
According to a recent survey, 86% of the UK population currently eat meat in their diet. Vegetarian diets are, however, becoming more popular. As of 2022, over 1.2 million people in the UK are vegetarians. There are many health benefits to a vegetarian diet: Vegetarian diets can reduce cholesterol, which could make you up to one third less likely to be hospitalised for heart disease, or other heart problems. Studies have also shown that vegetarians are at lower risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and can have better bone health. These diets can also help you to keep a healthy weight.
You’ve probably already noticed that meat products in the supermarket are more expensive than vegetables. Red meat, such as steak, is particularly pricey, as are certain kinds of seafood. Switching to a vegetarian diet can help you to save significantly on your weekly shopping bill. A recent survey found that people that have reduced their meat intake, saved an average of £209 each, per year.
You can save big money by growing your own vegetables, herbs and fruits. In fact, depending on the type and amount you grow, you can save a significant amount of money. If this interests you, allotments are a great place to produce a lot of vegetables.
Why not check out your local greengrocer or farm shop rather than the supermarket for your veg? Buying in-season produce is an easy way of maximizing the nutritional benefit of your food while minimizing the cost.
Seasonal fruit and veg tend to be fresh and therefore contain a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. It also tends to be locally produced, helping to support local and sustainable farmers.
- Produces fewer emissions – Like trees, crops produce oxygen, which is hugely beneficial for the planet. Animals, however, produce methane, nitrous oxide, and other gasses that pollute the air, warm the earth and accelerate climate change.
- Protects marine ecosystems – It is estimated that up to 2.7 trillion fish are caught each year across the world. If overfishing and pollution continues at its current rate, the number of fish in our oceans could decrease by up to 90%. By adopting a vegetarian diet, we are protecting a huge number of marine species.
- Reduces habitat destruction and deforestation – 30% of the earth’s land surface is needed for livestock, most of which is used for grazing, and the growing need for more grazing land increases deforestation. By decreasing the demand for meat, we are slowing down deforestation rates and protecting natural habitats.
- For some more environmental benefits, click here
Here at Tops, we encourage children and their families to reduce the amount of meat they eat by following vegetarian diets in our nurseries. We have found that meat-free meals give children the exact amount of nutrients and energy needed for a day of learning and playing at the nursery.
Click here to see some of our vegetarian recipes!