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If you've eaten meat all your life you might think it would be a huge struggle to switch to a vegetarian diet. However, it's not as tough as you might think to become a vegetarian.
In fact, this year's National Vegetarian Week wants to prove that it's surprising how simple it is to make the move to a meat-free diet.
“Going vegetarian is fun, tasty and seriously rewarding, and there’s never been a better time to enjoy a meat-free lifestyle," said the Vegetarian Society's Liz O’Neill.
"Our world is complicated enough and this one surprisingly simple change will benefit your health, the environment and animals. It’s not rocket science, it’s just delicious.”
The week runs between May 20th and 26th and the Vegetarian Society has offered up some advice for anyone trying to switch to vegetarianism.
They suggest, for example, that people needn't be anxious about the idea that they have to swap meat for a 'substitute' because this isn't needed.
And they advise cooking-up veggie alternatives to favourite dishes, like spaghetti bolognese using quorn mince. Lentils or tinned aduki beans are both possible options to add to a bologneses too.
The society recommends chickpeas or quorn pieces for a veggie curry. Spinach and red pepper are two other suggestions it has made for this dish.
Recipes on the nationalvegetarianweek.org website include a 'Simple But Hearty Salad' which is the brainchild of Cordon Vert, the cookery school of the Vegetarian Society.
Earlier this year, Ms O’Neill from the society commented on new research which compared heart disease rates between people who were vegetarian and those who were not.
It discovered the risk of dying or being hospitalised as a result of heart disease was 32 per cent less for vegetarians compared to people who were fish and meat eaters, after things like smoking , how old people were, how physically active they were and how much they drank were accounted for.
The research, which the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published, tracked participants for more than 20 years.
"Health studies stretching back a generation have shown positive outcomes for vegetarians, and now we have a specific figure on the level at which avoiding meat reduces your risk of heart disease," commented Ms O’Neill.
“This isn’t a theoretical notion; it’s an epidemiological study that compares real outcomes from different groups of real people. We already know that vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, diabetes and many cancers but this study clearly shows that being vegetarian is, regardless of other factors, simply better for your heart," she said.
"If you are not a smoker, then eating meat may be one of the biggest risk factors in your lifestyle, whereas a balanced vegetarian diet is delicious, nutritious and sustainable.”
If you want to go for it, vegetarianism can be a good healthy living option if done in the right way. If you have a friend who is already on a meat-free diet, why not ask them for their tips on being vegetarian?