Meat is a staple food in the majority of diets.
For some it can be hard to imagine eating an enjoyable meal without it.
But vegetarian, vegan and plant-based diets are now more popular than ever and with National Vegetarian week happening between May 19 and 25, why not try cooking a meat free meal yourself?
Here are four good reasons why you should.
A typical vegetarian diet consists of low-fat, high-fibre foods such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains which are all known to reduce the risks of suffering from certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Popular meat substitutes such as tofu and Quorn are also much lower in saturated fat and high in protein, making them healthy alternatives to meat.
Going vegetarian is an easy way to lower your own environmental impact.
More energy, land and water resources are required to farm and produce meat than to produce a vegetarian diet.
Farming animals is also believed to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire worldwide transport system.
Ingredients like beans, grains, vegetables and pulses are generally cheaper than meat and can be easily prepared to make the same filling meals without the extra cost.
Stews, soups, casseroles and pasta dishes are all examples of meals that can be made using vegetarian ingredients alone, resulting in cheaper meals when compared to cooking them with meat.
A popular reason for many people who choose to eat a meat-free diet is animal welfare.
About two million land animals are slaughtered daily in the UK and although most are killed humanely, some people argue that they suffer fear, stress and are subjected to poor living conditions before slaughter.
By reducing the amount of meat and fish in your diet you can make a stand for improved farming conditions and help to conserve the fish in our oceans.
National Vegetarian Week, May 19 to 25
There’s no better time to get involved and try some vegetarian cooking for yourself.
Principal tutor of the Vegetarian Society’s cookery school Alex Connell said: “As part of National Vegetarian Week we have created seven new, easy meat-free recipes.
“I will be cooking a different one every day!
“My personal favourite is vegetarian sausage casserole. Cheap, healthy, filing and delicious!”
To view this recipe and find out more, visit www.nationalvegetarianweek.org.