Between May 21st and 27th the UK is celebrating National Vegetarian Week, a time when many choose to reconsider their lifestyle and whether a change in diet could help them with their healthy living targets.

This annual awareness-raising campaign is designed to promote inspirational vegetarian food and highlight the numerous benefits of a meat-free diet.

According to the spokeswoman for the Vegetarian Society, Su Taylor, there are many reasons people give for ditching meat, poultry and fish.

These include environmental, health and a concern for animal welfare.

Environmentally, she explained that farmed animals produce enormous quantities of greenhouse gases.

"By reducing your meat intake you can reduce your carbon footprint. Growing crops to feed people rather than animals uses less land, water and other resources."

Going even further and cutting out all products derived from animals to become vegan could have even further environmental benefits.
Health-wise Ms Taylor claims that there are numerous health benefits of a vegetarian diet.
"Statistics show that vegetarians are less likely than meat eaters to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and some other medical conditions," she argues.

"Eating a balanced vegetarian diet can bring blood pressure down, keep cholesterol in check and can really make you feel better inside and out."

Many vegetarians also choose to consumer nutritional supplements along with a balanced diet to ensure they are getting the right mix of vitamins and nutrients.

Cutting out meat can often mean that different sources of iron and protein are needed in the diet.

Protein-rich vegetarian foods include eggs, milk, cheese, tofu, most beans, and a wide variety of nuts and seeds, such as peanuts, almonds, cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.

Meanwhile in order to keep iron levels on track it is recommended that people eating a vegetarian or vegan diet aim to consume plenty of green-leafy vegetables - all known to have high iron content.

Posted by Matilda Jones