This week is National Vegetarian Week, running till 24th May. So we thought we’d use our Friday Food Fact blog to highlight some benefits. You don’t have to be a full on vegetarian to enjoy eating meat free dishes more regularly. Vegetarian foods  include fresh fruit and vegetables plus protein rich pulses and tofu, and wholegrains. Pulses and grains work together in a dish to make a great protein combination for non meat eaters – rice and peas is a perfect example.  Research shows we should all include a non meat dish to our diet at least once a week. Why?

1.       Fruits and Vegetables bring invaluable vitamins and nutrients to our bodies in their natural form.

2.       Some antioxidant rich vegetables and fruits are known as superfoods, attributed to being extremely useful in preventing serious illness like cancer and heart disease because they ‘clean’ the blood of free radicals which cause cell damage and prevent the build up of cholesterol. Superfoods include kale, broccoli, blackcurrants and blueberries, to name just some.

3.       More colour means more nutrients! In other words, the more colourful your vegetable and fruit choices, the more goodness you are getting. Fill your plate with an artists palate of fresh fruit and veggies for the best intake of vitamins and fibre.

4.       That word ‘fibre’  is very important. It’s the thing that makes our guts work properly – it used to be called ‘roughage’ in the old days.  Fibre from vegetalbes and wholegrains is vital for keeping  the colon healthy. High fibre veggies include broccoli, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes.

5.       Using fruit to replace sugary snacks and chocolate gives the skin, hair and nails a real nutrient boost and cuts calories – a double whammy gain!

6.       Research shows that fermented vegetarian foods are very good for promoting healthy bacteria in the intestine. Hence the recent rise in populairty of keffir, kimchi and saurkraut!

If you are still in doubt as to why a vegetarian option every now and again can be just as tasty as anything dish you will eat with meat in it, pay a visit to Cornucopia in Dublin city centre,  where vegetarian and vegan dishes are anything but dull and boring! Here is a restaurant which oozes inspiration on a daily basis, to create some of the best meat free cooking in the country!