The 1st October is World Vegetarian Day! Today we are celebrating the benefits of being a vegetarian and encourage you to reduce your meat consumption and try being vegetarian this month by sharing a few tasty recipes that the team here at ECSA love to get you started. A meatless lifestyle is good for our planet, healthy for our bodies and is actually really delicious! 

There are many health benefits from following a well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet, including a lower risk of of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, some types of cancer and high blood pressure. A vegetarian diet requires two and a half times less the amount of land needed to grow food compared to a meat-based diet, resulting in less deforestation globally to make room to raise cattle and other livestock. And most importantly, following a vegetarian diet is on of the best thing your can do personally to stop climate change. Here's how:

  • Eating meatless means 2.5 times less carbon dioxide emissions compared to meat diet. A vegetarian diet takes two-and-a-half times less land to cultivate food. 

  • By eating vegetarian food for a year you save the same amount of emissions as a family taking a car off the road for 6 months.

  • It takes almost 735 litres of water to make a chicken breast, which is enough to fill your bathtub 4.6 times.

On top of all of that, eating vegetarian is tasty too. Not all of the team at ECSA are vegetarian, but they do enjoy eating meatless as few days a week to help the planet. Check out our vegetarian cooking inspirations below....

The ECSA's teams favourite veggie meals....

Lentil Bolognese - Super tasty and great for batch cooking! You can add mushroom to create a ‘meatier’ texture. This is a great base for creating a lot of other dishes - add mashed potato on top for a veggie cottage pie.

Butternut squash and goat’s cheese gnocchi -  It’s niiiiiiiicccee. Al our ECSA Director sometimes just throws it all in together in an oven dish and mix through a tin of chopped tomatoes for a one pot wonder. Really easy to make, loads of flavours and great for those winter nights.

Roasted Veg Lasagna - Nice lasagna alternative without white sauce. Obviously leave out the pancetta for it to be vegetarian, and the feta if you want it to be vegan!

Gnocchi and tomato bake - The team can't get enough of gnocchi, inlcuding Heidi our Representation and Impact Coordinator. This is a lovely hearty recipe that you can add any leftover vegetables to! It’s super easy and quick to make but feels like a real treat.

Vegetarian Borscht – Our new Sustainability Assistance, Aleksandra, loves this veggie version of a Ukranian classic. It will warm you up and fill you up with plenty of essential nutrients: fiber, folate, potassium, iron and vitamin C. It’s a soup, but can easily replace a full dinner dish.

The Green Roasting Tin - Izi our Sustainability Officer can't pick just one recipe so recommends a whole book instead. One of my favourite vegetarian and vegan recipe books with lots of quick recipes that are easy to prepare and don’t make too much washing up.

Sustainability Officers Claire and Izi explain why they became vegetarian and how you can too! 

I first went veggie during my third year at university, where I was studying Sustainable Development. We had set ourselves a sustainability challenge for an assigment, so I decided to reduce my meat consumption until I was only eating vegetarian food. I ate a fair bit of meat beforehand, so really wasn't sure how this would go, but after trying some new recipes ad telling my friends what I was doing so that's give me little reminders if I was about to eat meat, I found the process became a lot easier! I then went fully vegetarian at the start of 2018, mainly as a New Year's Resolution that has luckily managed to stick! I personally found it easier to make this change with no transition period away fro meat, but have friends who found it easier to make this a gradual process - you just need to work out what's best for you, and not beat yourself up if you have a little slip, as any reduction in meat consumption is a good one for the environment - Claire. 

I became vegetarian in 2018 after watching Cowspiracy on Netflix. One quote from the documentary really stuck with me - "You can't be an environmentalist and eat animal products." At the time, I was studying Geography at university and knew that I wanted to work in a career that had a positive impact on the climate, so this line really made my diet and how it aligned with my environmental beliefs. Nearly 4 years on, I love being vegetarian and wouldn't go back. It's one of the easiest and most significant ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and I actually enjoy cooking now too! - Izi 

On World Vegetarian Day, pledge to go meatless for a day, a week, or a whole month! And let us know your favourite veggie recipes in the comments.