Author: Francesca - Mr Lee's Team
Today marks the first day of Vegetarian Awareness Month and we thought it would be the ideal time to explore this diet and its benefits in a bit more depth.
What is the vegetarian diet?
Vegetarians are those who remove meat, poultry and fish as well as other animal products such as gelatine, animal stock and fat from their diets. Currently, around 3.1 million adults in the UK are following a vegetarian diet, with it being one of the most common meat-free diets. A further 12% of Brits intend to adopt vegetarianism, veganism or pescatarianism at some point during 2021.
People may adopt a vegetarian diet for a range of different reasons. Animal welfare is the most popular one, with environmental concerns following shortly after. Health has also started to become more prevalent in recent years with many people choosing to cut out animal products for well-being and weight maintenance.
The vegetarian diet has many different variations due to people adapting it according to their dietary requirements and ethical views. Lacto-vegetarians follow a plant-based diet that includes dairy products while lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both eggs and dairy, pescatarians are those who have fish but no meat, poultry or eggs and flexitarians mainly eat plant-based but allow for some animal products occasionally. Finally those who define themselves as vegans are those who remove all animal products from their lifestyle, not only from their diet but also from what the clothes they wear and the beauty products they use.
What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
Following a well-balanced vegetarian diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, unprocessed grains, legumes, nuts and seeds comes with a number of health benefits.
Vegetarians may be less likely to die of heart disease. This is not only due to cutting out meat but also because they consume a lot of low-glycemic and high in fibre foods. The veggie diet also decreases asthma symptoms, prevents and treats type 2 diabetes and may also reduce the risk of cancer. Compared to other non-veggie diets, it’s higher in specific vitamins such as A, B2, C and E and calcium and it also promotes bone health.
Plant-based diets are also considered more positive for the environment. Both vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with lower green-house emissions and also have a smaller impact on carbon, water and ecological footprints than meat and fish eaters.
Following this type of diet will also help you reduce the cost of your weekly shop. Reports have found that meat-eaters in the UK spend an average £750 on meat a year. Finally, adopting a plant-based diet also represents a new challenge and can spark your creativity in the kitchen, pushing you to try new ingredients and experiment with new flavours and textures. If you like cooking, try our recipe for Shiitake Mushrooms with Fresh Noodles or our Khao Soi with Green Jackfruit Curry
How can I make sure I am following a vegetarian diet correctly?
In order to get the most out of being vegetarian and not miss out on essential nutrients, it’s important to make sure you are following a well-balanced diet.
- Include good sources of protein such as eggs, dairy or soya, pulses and beans
- Eat your daily intake of veggies and fruit and make sure these are varied
- Go for wholegrain options of bread, rice and pasta where possible
- Remember to choose mineral rich foods such as leafy greens, plant milks, lentils nuts and seeds to support iron levels.
Whether you are ready to commit to remove meat completely from your meals or not, cutting down on animal products once or several times a week can be very beneficial, not only for health reasons but also for the environment and your pocket.
Here at Mr Lee’s we have a range of products which are suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet. Our Dragon Fire Vegetables and Zen Garden Vegetables rice noodles as well as our Original Congee (savoury rice porridge) are perfect for a quick lunchtime meal and our range of breakfast porridges are all vegan and gluten-free.