Let's go veggie!

Wednesday 3rd May 2017
It's time to get stuck in to the annual celebration of meat-free eating

Let's go veggie!

May brings the Vegetarian Society's annual awareness-raising initiative, National Vegetarian Week. Running 15–21 May, this year's theme is all about encouraging people to give veggie food a try. 'We're asking everyone to get stuck in to some great-tasting veggie food and we'll be showing off the best veggie recipes out there, some brilliant bloggers, exciting videos and, of course, our favourite cookbooks,' says Vegetarian Society chief executive Lynne Elliot. 'We want everyone to get excited about how veggie food gets your taste buds singing, how colourful your plate can be and how happy your belly will feel afterwards!'
Lynne and her team are anticipating greater participation in this year's event than ever before, with more funding available to support events organised by community groups across the UK. 'Last year National Vegetarian Week trended on Twitter, BBC Countryfile ran a feature on it and hundreds of events took place up and down the country,' she says. 'We're all set to be bigger and bolder this year. We've been able to double our National Vegetarian Week grant pot to £30,000 thanks to donations – so a huge thank you if you've contributed. Last year we awarded 77 grants, while this year we've had over 200 organisations apply for funding for their community events for the week, with ideas ranging from a DIY pizza party in Wales, to food foraging followed by a feast of veggie delights in Scotland.'
With so many awareness-raising activities going on now, from Meat-free Mondays to Veganuary, people may wonder if a National Vegetarian Week is still needed, but Lynne points out that it's important to remember that despite the number of people who are meat-reducing or going 'flexitarian', if not fully vegetarian, is growing, it's still not seen as a mainstream choice in all parts of the UK. 'The data shows that more than half of meat-eaters are now cutting down on the amount of meat they eat and that has really helped to drive demand for better vegetarian choices and more vegetarian products,' she says. 'There is an increasing awareness of the animal welfare, health and environmental issues relating to our food choices, and that has resulted in a large number of people reducing the amount of meat they eat or cutting it out altogether.
'In fact, when we are out and about doing events and activities we find that everyone knows someone who is veggie now and many people are cooking for them and eating with them. So I think it's true that in general we accept vegetarianism as much more mainstream now,' says Lynne. 'But it's important not to underestimate how poor vegetarian provision is in some parts of the country, how much children at school still get teased about it, how difficult it can be to get veggie food if you are in residential care, and the lack of knowledge in the health and social care professions about what constitutes a healthy diet.'
It's been a busy year so far for Lynne and her team after launching the new Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark in response to popular demand, as well as running the Vegetarian Society Cookery School course programme, including promoting a new range of workshops for children and young people this summer. 'We've also just launched the first ever vegetarian and vegan lottery – Veggie Lotto. So if you're feeling lucky do join in; you could be a winner and the money from the lottery will help to support all our work.'

Use #nationalvegetarianweek on Twitter to keep up to date with events or go to www.nationalvegetarianweek.org to find out more.

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