We’re delighted that Head of Communications at the Vegetarian Society – Liz O’Neill has taken part in UTCT Vegetarian week and has answered some of our questions in this exclusive Q&A.
Answering some hard hitting questions about becoming Vegetarian, health benefits and the one item you must have on your shopping lists for a veggie BBQ. As this week is national Vegetarian week these are some of the questions our readers were asking.
Liz O’Neill answers these exclusive questions for us below:
Q. ‘What would your advice be to a family who is venturing into Vegetarianism’?
A: “As a working mum with a completely vegetarian family, my main advice would be to enjoy it. Talk together about why you are making the change to ensure that you are all working together. Even the youngest child can understand the idea that you have decided not to eat animals anymore and if you share ideas and responsibilities your new veggie diet will become the perfect reason to experiment with new ingredients and cooking styles. There are hundreds of tasty recipes at www.vegsoc.org, alongside information about every aspect of vegetarian living.”
Q. ‘What are the health benefits of becoming vegetarian’?
A: “Going vegetarian reduces your carbon footprint and saves animals, but it can also be better for your own health and wellbeing. Vegetarians are less likely than meat eaters to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions. Vegetarians are also less likely to be obese and tend to have a lower average body mass index (BMI) so, although people choose to go vegetarian for many different reasons, a well planned vegetarian diet really can make you feel better inside and out.”
Q. ‘Do families need to take supplements to get what they might need for the body which they would normally get from eating meat’.
A: “A balanced vegetarian diet is suitable for all stages of life, including pregnancy, childhood, adolescence and later life. That balance is achieved in a slightly different way than with a diet focused on meat so it’s important to understand the basics, which are explained at www.vegsoc.org/basicnutrition but there shouldn’t be any need for supplements, unless somebody in your family has a particular health problem.”
Q. ‘Have you noticed more interest in becoming vegetarian since the horse meat scandal?’
A: “Recent events are shocking on their own terms, but they have also raised awareness of how meat actually ends up on people’s plates. Nothing prompts interest in vegetarianism as much as information about the meat industry and we’ve seen a 40% increase in visits to our main website (www.vegsoc.org) compared with the same period last year.”
Q. We have seen on your website, that food such as certain flavoured Walkers crisp have now added meat to them – how do you feel about this?
A: “This really is a backward step for Walkers crisps. I’m sure many veggies will be switching to more veggie friendly brands which not only value their custom but can produce a snack that doesn’t involve killing animals.”
Q. Do your readers/visitors who are parents bring their children up as vegetarian?
A: “Yes, and we have lots of free resources available for families. We’ve guides online for example – ‘Vegetarian Pregnancy, Vegetarian Babies’, ‘Young Veggie Guide’, a recipe booklet called Veggie Kids’Kitchen and our ‘Veggie Guide for Teens and Parents.’
Q. Do you feel supermarkets are lacking when it comes to vegetarian foods and ideas.
A: “Nowadays the major supermarkets have a much better range just take a look in the meat-free aisles and freezer sections. There’s always room for more choice though, but it’s great to see so many products with the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol on them.”
Q. With summer just around the corner, what one item would be a must have on your shopping list for a vegetarian BBQ?
A: “A really decent ready-made veggie burger – but make sure there’s fried onions, tomato ketchup and all the trimmings too. Or for an alternative halloumi for kebabs.”
Thanks once again to the Vegetarian Society and Liz O’Neill for answering our questions, we are sure not only will these give our readers who are looking to become veggie some food for thought, but will also put to rest some of the misconceptions behind going veggie!
Now let’s get that BBQ out as the veggie burger really does sound good!
For more fantastic information about Vegetarian issues and more please visit: www.vegsoc.org