National Vegetarian week 2010

Filed in Blog by on May 24, 2010 10 Comments
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national vegetarian week 24th may

national vegetarian week 24th may

I’m not going to enter a debate about whether or not a vegetarian diet is better for the environment, but needless to say it is National vegetarian week this week and it happens to be my Birthday today as well!

I’m a pretty tolerant gal when it comes to the way people choose to live their lives. In our household we have Mr Green who eats a lot of meat in the winter, but switches to a high raw diet in the summer. Little Miss Green eats a bit of meat,but prefers fish and vegetables, while I have been vegetarian for 20 years…

I have had conflict with myself about this very topic quite a few times in the past couple of years. Since becoming more aware of the landfill issue and the environment at large, I question whether a vegetarian diet really is better for the environment. The argument goes something along the lines of the amount of resources and land required to breed animals for food vs the fact that the same amount of land could feed 100 times the people if it were used to grow grains (or something like that).

What I notice is that I can buy locally reared, organic meat around here yet my lentils and rice come from the other side of the world. I can buy naked products from my butcher, by my rice and lentils come wrapped in plastic…

So it’s not as clear cut as we might like to think.

Anyway, back to vegetarian week. If you’ve been toying with the idea of reducing your meat intake then here is the perfect opportunity to try.

If you’re worried about lacking energy levels, pasty skin and little protein, then fear not. Mr green is living proof you don’t need lots of protein to feel great. On his high raw diet he hardly eats any protein at all and he has MORE energy than he does when he eats it.

You can get protein from nuts, beans, eggs, soya products, pulses and dairy. Iron comes from wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables, molasses, pulses such as lentils and kidney beans and some dried fruit.

To get a complete protein (ie all the amino acids, which you would normally get from eating meat), you need to combine legumes or dairy with grains, nuts or seeds.

This isn’t as complex as it sounds.

For example chick peas with rice is legumes and grains. Noodles with sesame seeds (think Asian cooking) combines legumes and seeds. Macaroni cheese combines grains with dairy and good old beans on toast is the simplest example of combining grains with legumes!

Other simple ideas are hummous on pita bread, split pea soup with whole grain bread, or dahl and rice.

To help reduce packaging waste, you can buy rice in cardboard boxes, lentils from bulk buy bins or in polythene, tins of ready prepared beans such as chick peas or baked beans, and make bread and soup at home. Vegetarian style sausages and burgers are often found in cardboard boxes in the freezers in shops and of course you can buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market or via a box delivery scheme.

Maybe you fancy trying just one vegetarian meal this week – let me know what you’re going to eat and whether or not it is easy to get zero waste options! If you’re stuck for inspiration, there is a recipes section on the National Vegetarian Week websiteΒ  and you can find out if any events are taking place local to you with their events finder.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!

    have a great day with your family being spoilt

  2. Julie Day says:

    Happy Birthday Rae. I don’t eat a lot of red meat these days, more white. Red is usually once or twice a week. Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages really nice. I discovered them last year after I had an intolerance test that revealed I was intolerant to most meats. Although I do eat them still.

  3. Poppy says:

    Good afternnon Rae and Happy Birthday to you πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    As you may see elsewhere on site, I would quite happily join you in a vegeterian diet, but DH is a meat man and often comes home with reduced trophies from his latest hunting trip through the supermarket. I’ll make this latest trophy last a few days. DH and DS will have the majority of it.

    Lunch was a mix of salad leaves and coleslaw, with a few shavings from the cheese, so I hope that qulaified as vegeterian πŸ™‚

  4. Attila says:

    I’d love to eat more vegetarian food but my DH can’t eat cheese at all, we both can’t tolerate much wheat, and he has to avoid cow’s milk as much as possible. Also potatoes are suspect for him, especially fried. So we have a bit of a problem! I’d love some ideas for vegetarian food that avoids all these things!

  5. Sooz says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope you’ve had a beautiful day!

    I’ve been veggie since I was 12 and vegan for the last 3 years, I don’t have a problem with fake ‘meat’ products causing extra waste (I’m allergic to soya/tofu so the only things I can have are linda mc. sausage and sausage rolls which are in cardboard boxes) but I definately agree with you about legumes and grains coming from too far away and having too much packaging – I’m not too sure what I can do about that one though!

  6. Charity says:

    I’m vegetarian, and so, largely, are my family. I couldn’t bring myself to go into a butchers (the smell) let alone cook meat from scratch. Occasionally I have bought a ready-made plastic-packed organic item like breaded chicken fingers or bolognaise sauce to try out on the kids and prove I’m not “forcing” them not to eat meat, but neither of them like it and so I end up creating food as well as packaging waste. Veggie (except fish fingers) is definitely the best way here.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks Maisie; I had a wonderful day πŸ™‚

    @Julie Day: Thanks Julie; I’ve not tried Linda McCartney stuff, but LMG might like it.

    @Poppy: Your lunch sounded delicious, poppy – just the weather for that sort of thing. Thanks for the Birthday wishes!

    @Attila: Hi Attila, no problem! I would suggest Lunches: Humous on rice cakes, oat cakes or corn crisp breads. Cold rice salads using mixed peppers and sweetcorn for colour and vitamins. Vegetable soups served with rye bread (or you may be able to tolerate sprouted wheat bread). if you find a bread you like, then good old beans on toast is always great πŸ™‚

    For main meals: vegetarian curries, using chick peas served with rice or millet. Stir fry with a tin of beans such as black eye beans, served with salad. Rice pasta with veggie chilli. Home made pasties; you could use a variety of flours instead of wheat and onion bhajis are easy to make and use chick pea flour rather than wheat flour. Enjoy!

    @Sooz: Hi Sooz, well we just have to reconcile where we can and know that we are doing our bit in other areas…

    @Charity: It sounds like being a veggie family works out really well for you, Charity πŸ™‚

  8. Nienke says:

    I am so glad you mention the packaging issues of lentils and what not. It annoys me to bits I have to be so wasteful in order to eat vegetarian!
    I eat vegetarian five times a week. During the weekend I eat (mostly organic) meat and sometimes fish.
    Lately I find it hard to cook veg, because I started living with the hubs, who eats meat and isn’t keen at all at trying anything other than traditional (Belgian) dishes. I often find myself preparing a veg burger for myself, while I’d rather just make something out of the meat-mindset.
    I don’t see a simple solution, but I’ll just keep trying!

  9. Attila says:

    Thanks for the meal ideas – willhave a go!

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Nienke: Hi Nienke; you can work around this – in our house we have an eclectic mix and it works ok for us! Instead of making a meat and veg meal and finding a vegetarian substitute for yourself (or worse still, just missing out the meat part (which then becomes unhealthy and unbalanced) why not create a vegetarian main meal and simply add meat for your husband?

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