National Vegetarian Week 2023: when is it, what is this year’s theme and how to get involved

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Organised by the Vegetarian Society - this week is all about ditching meat

Veganuary, a movement when the whole month of January is dedicated to trying out vegan food, has taken off in recent years. But have you heard of its lesser-known counterpart, National Vegetarian Week?

Organised by the Vegetarian Society the week is all about showing people that vegetarian food doesn’t need to be bland or boring. Their aim is to encourage more people to eat vegetarian meals, and to prove that it is easy to make tasty, nutritious and filling meals without having a meat-heavy-based dish. 

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The charity raises money every year for food banks and sends out emergency vegetarian and vegan friendly food parcels to families in need. They also encourage, inspire and support people to make a shift into becoming a vegetarian. Last year, the campaign inspired people to switch over 70,000 meat-based meals for veggie and plant-based dishes, saving over 100 tons of carbon. But what is this year’s theme, and how can you get involved? Here’s what you need to know. 

National Vegetarian Week 2023

In 2023, National Vegetarian Week will take place from 15-21st May with a clear focus on the climate crisis. During this week, the campaign hopes to emphasise how making the switch to vegetarian meals can help reduce your carbon footprint - and they use the tagline “making your meals better by miles”. According to the society, the National Food Strategy says the UK should eat 30% less meat by 2030. This is just going meat-free for just two days a week.

Richard McIlwain, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society, said: “The very first National Vegetarian Week ran in 1992, the same year as the Rio Earth Summit which saw the creation of the first ever UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Thirty years later, we are still battling to reduce emissions and yet every single one of us can take meaningful action by simply reducing or cutting out meat from our diets.

Mr Mcllwain explained that last year’s campaign inspired the switch of over 70,000 meat-based meals for veggie and plant-based dishes. This saved over 100 tons of carbon, which is the equivalent to driving a car around the earth’s equator over 16 times. 

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“For 2023 we want to reach out to even more people encouraging a greater number of businesses, schools, local authorities, supermarkets and individuals taking part in the week. People often don’t think their own actions can make much of a difference. But by joining the many thousands of people signing up for the week, we aim to demonstrate how, together, individual efforts can lead to real and meaningful change” he added. 

How to get involved 

On its website, the Vegetarian Society has released a free digital booklet for anyone wanting to get involved by creating a guide book filled with a range of vegetarian dishes and information on how to make the swap from meat-based dishes to vegetarian-based dishes.

It explains how the carbon footprint of meat is “higher than almost all vegetarian food available”. They state that our global food system is coming under the spotlight, and the current evidence suggests that it is responsible for around one third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

To help show you the difference, the recipes in the booklet have been carbon-calculated, and where possible how much more carbon would be used if meat or fish was used as the main ingredient. To get this booklet, you just need to fill out your name, email and vegetarian meals intentions, and you will receive an email within minutes from the vegetarian society. 

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