East London Waste Authority
East London Waste Authority

Get ready to go veggie

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Whether you’re already a fully fledged veggie, trying to cut back or have never contemplated a life without bacon before, National Vegetarian Week has something for you.

From 15th – 21st May, the UK is celebrating the veggie life and showing that it is just as delicious as a life munching on meat.

So why bother?

A vegetarian diet is beneficial in a multitude of ways. It’s cheaper – vegetables cost less than meat so you can feed yourself and your family for less. It’s healthy – more vegetables equal more vitamins and fewer health problems, including heart problems and some cancers. It’s ethical – a lot of widescale farming these days treats animals really poorly, meaning their short life is often cramped, uncomfortable and unnatural. And the big one, it’s much better for the environment. This is a big one so let’s break it down.

Cow

Farting cows

The one that most people know about. Cows fart out dangerous greenhouse gases. This contributes to global warming. The fewer cows out there farting, the less damage to the environment. This is slightly downplaying the problem; however, the greenhouse gases produced by meat farming are a whole lot more than just wind. In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization stated that livestock farming worldwide generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, all of our cars, trains, planes and boats across the world account for 13%.

Wasted food

Growing grains to feed livestock takes up a whole heap of space, water and fuel. Each field needs to be prepared, sown, regularly watered, usually treated with chemical-ridden pesticides (which run off into our water system, rivers and seas) and then harvested. This grain has a high calorie value – it can feed a lot of people. But we don’t make full use of it. It’s fed to livestock and converted from lots of delicious calories, into a much smaller amount of calories as meat. If we ate the food that we currently grow, instead of giving it to animals, we would have around 70% more food to munch on. That’s enough to feed another 4 billion people – and that’s more than half the number of people alive today. As it is, 795 million people are facing hunger every single day. And we’re feeding animals rather than people.

Rainforest

Rainforest destruction

Meat production takes up room. A lot of room. Currently, one third of all the land on Earth is used for raising and farming livestock. We’re cutting down rainforests, kicking people off their native lands and destroying natural habitats so that we can grow more cow food. Rainforests are being cut down at a rate of 200,000 acres per day – the equivalent of 100,000 football pitches. In Latin America alone, it is estimated that 70% of former forest has been chopped down and is now used for grazing.

And on a lighter note…

Vegetarian food is delicious!

Vegetarian salad meal

So what are we asking you to do?

For the hardened veggies

Well done! Good job guys. Can you help us spread the good word and tell us your favourite veggie recipes so we can encourage people to give up meat, even if just for one meal. You might even discover a new, yummy meal to try. Only got secret, family recipes? Why not try growing your own vegetables. You don’t need a garden to germinate – you can grow your own on a balcony, a windowsill or in the kitchen. Check out Allotinabox for simple seeds and fantastic advice for small space growing.

For the meat reducers

Good on you for cutting back on the meat! Here is a whole wealth of yummy recipes, and a few more if quick meals are more your thing, to get you eating more and more vegetarian meals and maybe, just maybe, kicking the meat habit for good. *crosses fingers*

For the carnivores

Listen guys, it’s easy. It’s just one week. Seven short days of eating no meat. We’ve picked out a few simple recipes that we swear you won’t even notice are meat-free. And once the week is up, why not consider Meat Free Mondays. That way you can still get your frankfurter fix alongside your quinoa quota.

And as an extra special veggie treat, take your raw vegetables into any Franco Manca this Wednesday between 12 – 3pm and they’ll give you a free vegetarian pizza. Your donated veggies will be given to The People’s Fridge which will then go on to local foodbanks and charities. Everyone wins!

Let us know your favourite vegetarian recipes and we’ll share them on Twitter.

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