Top 4 Reasons to Eat Less Meat this National Vegetarian Week (May 21st-27th)

Going permanently meat-free is not for everyone, but even occasional forays into the veggiesphere could cut costs, boost your health and make you a better cook, claims Cook Vegetarian magazine. Urging non-veggies from all walks of life to experience meals without meat during National Vegetarian Week (21st-27th May 2012), Cook Vegetarian offers more than 500 free recipes on to inspire and delight meat-free cooks. Need convincing? Check out Cook Vegetarian's top

4 reasons to put more veggie dishes on the menu:

1 Every little counts for health
When it comes to the benefits of vegetarianism on your body, it isn't just acase of all or nothing. A recent Harvard study found that each extra serving of processed meat per day increased the chance of premature death by 20%*, while the World Cancer Research Fund has recommended people limit consumption to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week, avoiding processed meat altogether**. So, opting for vegetarian recipes just a couple of times a week in place of red meat could contribute significantly to a healthier

2 Money matters
With food prices still on the rise, where we spend our grocery pounds is more important than ever. While there's no denying that you can eat cheaply without giving up meat, an unprocessed vegetarian diet can't be beaten on cost per serving. Top-notch seasonal vegetables are available at a steal from markets (or you can grow your own for pence); combine with low-cost grains and dried pulses and you have seriously frugal food. For example, a scratch-cooked shepherdess pie made with lentils can cost just 47p per portion for a hearty, balanced meal.***

3 It's the future...
With the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation estimating that nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gases are caused by meat production**** – plus the swathes of rainforest and other rich ecosystems being cleared, and the water needed, to graze livestock and to grow crops to feed them – eating less meat offers one avenue to a more sustainable future. Simply eating less intensively farmed meat on fewer occasions can reduce your carbon footprint, while opting for an entirely plant-based diet (without dairy) is the gold standard of eco-eating.

4 Hugh can... so you can too!
But can a foodie really enjoy and savour vegetarian cuisine? Yes, says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall one of many TV chefs to champion the meat-free cause in recent months. The former king of carnivores claims that since launching his book River Cottage Veg Every Day, most of his meals contain 'little or no meat' but that he now eats 'better than ever'. Hugh even spent four months entirely without fish or meat to lend weight to his argument that vegetables deserve pride of place on everyone's plate, and was surprised just how much he got out of the experience. So why not take up the vegetarian challenge and expand your foodie horizons too? Anything Hugh can do...

*Harvard School of Public Health, published online in Archives of Internal Medicine.
**World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research’s
Continuous Update Project report on bowel cancer, 2001
***Calculated using ASDA prices on 20/04/2012, based on four portions
****Livestock's Long Shadow Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome 2006

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