National Vegetarian Week
National Vegetarian Week (16-22 May), aims to educate us about the benefits of going meat-free and including more vegetarian meals in our diets. Here are some reasons why you should consider taking part in National Vegetarian Week this year.
Why choose a vegetarian diet?
• It’s delicious!
If you are a meat-lover, this may be the time to discover some delicious vegetarian dishes and perhaps add them to your cooking repertoire. Try to make use of locally sourced seasonal produce for maximum flavour, nutritional value and lowest environmental impact! Some of the seasonal produce available at this time of the year in the UK include beetroot, artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, rhubarb, rocket, spring greens and strawberries.
• It’s healthy
High consumption of red meat and processed meat products is linked to poor health outcomes. This includes increased risk of cardiometabolic disease and certain cancers  . A recent study found that a by-product (trimethylamine-N-oxide) formed when bacteria digest red meat proteins, is linked to cardiovascular disease risk  . Consuming a wide variety of plant foods is also shown to improve gut microbiota diversity which is an indicator of a healthy microbiota  .
• It’s cost-effective
Vegetarian meals tend to be cost-effective when compared to meatier alternatives. Plant-based protein sources like dried lentils, pulses and beans are not only affordable but also tasty, planet-friendly and healthy. In addition, these foods also contain other essential nutrients like fibre, micronutrients and bioactive compounds that are good for the gut  .
So, by including some vegetarian meals in your diets, you can eat healthier, spend a little less on your groceries and diversify your diet!
• Try a few simple swaps, include a veggie meal a day or go veggie for the whole week! Check out the Love Your Gut website for some simple and delicious vegetarian meal ideas. You could even start the week with our Full English Vegan Fry Up – created for us by Dr Joan Ransley.
• See the Vegetarian Society website to Check out to find out more about their campaign, get involved and join the pledge.
References Battaglia et al. (2015) “Health risks associated with meat consumption: a review of epidemiological studies.” Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 85(1-2): 70-78.  Buffa et al. (2022) “The microbial gbu gene cluster links cardiovascular disease risk associated with red meat consumption to microbiota l-carnitine catabolism.” Nature microbiology 7(1): 73-86.  McDonald et al. (2018) “American gut: an open platform for citizen science microbiome research.” Msystems 3(3): e00031-18.  Tomova et al. (2019) The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets on Gut Microbiota. Front Nutr. 6: 47.