There are still a few more days to sign up for National Vegetarian Week, which this year takes place between May 15 – 21. The annual event organised by the Vegetarian Society is your chance to commit to a full 7 days of meat free eating! This is a great opportunity to take your omnivore or flexitarian diet a step further. Are you ready for the challenge? I certainly am.
Habits are hard to change, so don’t panic if you are feeling a bit daunted. It’s completely normal. The first time I signed up for National Vegetarian Week, I was sooo intimidated and unsure if I could make it through the week. But I stuck to it, which not only gave an enormous sense of achievement but also left me feeling healthier. Here are a few tips that helped me along the way.
Strength in numbers
Why not ask a partner, family member or friend to sign up for National Vegetarian Week too? You can be supportive of each other, exchange tips and enjoy the same food. When cooking at home, it can certainly make a difference if you have only one meal to prepare.
Fill up your pantry
To avoid temptation, keep your shopping list and fridge vegetarian this week. Swap meat and fish for wholesome plant-based proteins such as beans, pulses, tofu, Quorn, quinoa, nuts, seeds, wholegrain etc. If you are not sure what to buy, my flexitarian pantry is a good place to start.
Margarita pizza and fries might qualify as a vegetarian meal but it is not very healthy food. To reap all the benefits from National Vegetarian Week, make sure you eat a varied and balanced diet. Be adventurous! Vegetarian world cuisine is exciting. You could even try something new such as freekeh or chia seeds.
Planning ahead is the easiest way to make sure you stick to your vegetarian diet this week. Create a meal plan that covers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks (better be prepared for any impromptu craving!).
Make sure you vary your meal options. Think beyond salad and pasta, otherwise you will get bored. Here are my favourite sources of inspiration for fun and delicious vegetarian recipes:
- My weekly Meat Free Meal Plans
- National Vegetarian Week Recipe Collection
- Thrive’s Free Vegetarian Recipe Book
- Some cookbooks on my bookshelf
- Magazines such as Vegetarian Living, Veggie or Vegan Life.
Eating out can sometimes be challenging. Still, I find that more and more places offer decent vegetarian or even vegan options.
If you are afraid you could be tempted by a nice steak or fish fillet, why not dine at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant? Happy Cow has a comprehensive list to help you out. For lunch on-the-go in London it is worth checking out Pret A Manger as they have expanded their vegetarian and vegan menu.
What if you fall off the wagon?
National Vegetarian Week is there to entice us to go without meat or fish for the week. While you will feel fantastic if you manage to do so, there might be some hurdles along the way.
Don’t beat yourself up, even if your week is not “veggie perfect” it will still be an achievement. The best way to deal with a slip-up is not to give up but accept your limitations and get back on track straight away.
Everyone will take something different away from the experience. Over the years, National Vegetarian Week has helped me on my flexitarian journey from committed carnivore to very occasional meat eater. Who knows where it will take you? The most important thing, as always, is to enjoy it. Are you ready to get stuck in?