The week commencing 21st May worked to raise awareness of and encourage the vegetarian lifestyle and the benefits. So what are they? What sways an ever increasing number of people to turn against the norm and adopt a different diet? And lastly, could you go vegetarian, even for just a week?
Health benefits are increasingly persuading people to convert to the veggie lifestyle, with the Vegetarian Society claiming that a balanced vegetarian diet contains ‘less saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and more folate, fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicalsm and carotenoids’. In an ever health-conscious society even the meat supplement product Quorn has started tapping into this market and skewing its advertising towards notable health benefits. On its website the first reason given for using the product is ‘if you’re watching your weight’. Vegetarianism could be the way to go to shift a few pounds.
Vegetarianism is also a more sustainable option. The animals that are eaten have to be fed, plants have to be grown, but why not just cut out a step and eat vegetables ourselves? Overfishing is a huge problem; some marine species are verging on the edge of extinction and ecosystems are being massively affected. The Vegetarian Society claims that ‘Livestock farming is responsible for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities’ so if you’re conscious of the size of your carbon footprint, this change of diet could help to minimise it!
Lastly, and the basis of most vegetarian diets, is the cruelty to animals that the meat industry entails. We all know that the burger sitting before us on a plate comes from an animal, but the nice, clean package doesn’t portray its origins: a scared and suffering animal. Many people feed bread to cute ducklings and yet would tuck into a hearty Chinese dish of duck that same evening without a second thought. “But the animals are killed humanely!” I hear you cry! Yes, in today’s society, many methods are adopted to ensure that the animal dies ‘humanely’, but how humane can slaughter become? Like a friendly punch in the stomach or a motherly kick in the face, it is oxymoronic. However, it is not just the slaughter of the animal that is cruel. Some animals are kept in inhumane, cruel and cramped conditions where they cannot follow their natural instincts and behaviour.
So, with all the benefits of and reasons for vegetarianism taken into account, could you really say goodbye to that Big Mac forever? No more bacon for a breakfast treat, no more ham sandwiches, no more turkey at Christmas! Could you really do it? I am by no means trying to shove it down your throat, I have had enough people try to shove meat eating down my throat, sometimes quite literally (yes, I am vegetarian in case you hadn’t guessed). But why not give it a go? With the large variety of meat supplements and healthy, nutritious vegetarian food available on the market it is bound to be easier (and healthier!) than you think! Go on… why not just try it for one week?