Vegetarianism, or even trialling vegetarianism for a week, can have tremendous benefits for the body, mind, and planet! So, what’s not to love?
National Vegetarian Week, organised by the Vegetarian Society, is a week once a year, (which this year lands between Monday 10th May - Sunday 16th May), where ditching meat and becoming vegetarian is encouraged.
Although the basis of National Vegetarian Week is to encourage vegetarianism, even if it’s only for one week, there’s also a lot of focus on educating people and in particular, school children, about the benefits of vegetarianism and the fun that people can have with vegetarian food.
Vegetarianism, or even trialling vegetarianism for a week, can have tremendous benefits for the body, mind, and planet! So, what’s not to love? If you’re still not fully convinced about giving it a go, in this article, we’re going to take a look at the benefits of going more plant-based and give you a simple, easy guide to quitting meat, whether you’re planning to be veggie for a week or forever!
As simple and small as making a switch from meat to veggies might seem, the benefits of going vegetarian are immense, and not just for you!
Vegetarianism can be said to have specific health benefits, and research has shown that having a vegetarian or fully plant-based diet benefits heart health, reduces the likelihood of heart disease, reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, prevents the likelihood of diabetes, lowers blood pressure, and supports bone health.
Mental Health Benefits
Although there are mixed findings, due to the fact that there hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of research done into the mental health of veggies versus meat-eaters, research does show that vegetarians tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression.
In 2012, a study was published showing that those on vegetarian diets scored much lower on depression tests in comparison to meat-eaters. Another study found that vegetarians and vegans have lower anxiety and stress levels.
One of the biggest reasons for people turning vegetarian, especially over the last few years, is because of the environmental benefits. By not consuming meat, you are obviously not only directly reducing the number of animals that are being killed, but you’re also reducing the amount of land, water, and food needed to rear animals. With animal agriculture being the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases, reducing the scale of agriculture has never been more important.
Research has shown that those following vegetarian diets have lower carbon footprints, roughly accounting for around half of a meat-eater’s diet. Although, those on vegan diets do have even lower carbon footprints if you want to go fully plant-based.
Going vegetarian might seem easy, and honestly, for a lot of people, it is, but for those of you that have meat with nearly every meal (if not all meals), it might be difficult. After all, even when you’re dropping meat and going veggie for one week, it’s a lifestyle change. So, we’ve put together a little guide to help you with going vegetarian!
Maybe Don’t Go Cold Turkey (Pun Intended!)
If possible, if you are aware of National Vegetarian week in time, if you’re planning to do it another week, or if you’re planning on becoming vegetarian long-term, try to ease into it. Although quitting meat instantly won’t be detrimental to your health, cutting down over time allows your body to get used to taking nutrients from our sources, and it allows you time to find vegetarian meals you want to try, find meat replacements, and prepare yourself for fully vegetarian life.
Don’t Become An Unhealthy Vegetarian
When you go vegetarian, it’s incredibly easy to become unhealthy - yes, surprising I know because you might think it’s all kale smoothies and quinoa, but it’s not! There are tonnes of unhealthy vegetarian options out there, especially when it comes to fast food or carb-heavy meals. So, make sure you focus on moving towards a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet, not just loading up on pasta and fries!
Plan Your Meals
Meal planning is always beneficial, and it’s especially beneficial if you are changing your diet from a meat-centred one to a more plant-based one! When you go veggie, planning your meals can help you to think about different parts of nutrition - it allows you to think about your protein, your carbs, vegetables, legumes, etc, to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients without meat being central to your meal.
See How Vegetarians Eat Out
Vegetarians don’t just hide inside their houses and cook all day, they eat out too! So, to experience what it’s truly like to be a vegetarian and to experience different types of vegetarian food, go out for dinner! Saying no to meat options when you’re out for dinner and looking at what tasty options you have as a vegetarian will also help you to understand if you’re suited to being a vegetarian in the long run.
Get Busy In The Kitchen
One of the fun parts about changing your diet is getting creative in the kitchen! It’s time to try out all of those vegetarian meals you’ve been wanting to trial, get inventive with veggies, and cook up a storm in the kitchen with a new meat replacement you’ve found.
Moving Forward After You’ve Been Vegetarian For A Week
If you do decide to get on board with National Vegetarian Week, (which hopefully you will after seeing the incredible benefits associated with a more plant-based diet!), hopefully, you’ll enjoy it and going forward you can incorporate more of a vegetarian diet into your life, or make the full switch to vegetarianism!