Friday, September 20, 2013

Introducing Claire Mewer: Enjoy Comfort Food to Celebrate World Vegetarian Day 2013

Enjoy Comfort Food to Celebrate World Vegetarian Day 2013

Ask most people about comfort food and they'll likely think hearty meat stews or creamy sausage pastas or fried chicken or cheesy pizzas and nachos. A lot of meat, right? Simple home-cooked comfort foods are often associated with meat dishes. However, with World Vegetarian Day fast approaching on October 1, maybe it's time to think outside the box and find some comfort in vegetarian cuisine. Why not try an eggplant parmigiana, bean-based taco mixture or a vegetable pasta bake with white sauce for a change? There are plenty of tasty recipes about to try so you don't worry about giving up flavor, comfort value or your favorite type of cuisine when going veggie on October 1.
A Day to Celebrate Vegetarians
About 5 per cent of Americans are vegetarian these days. Back when World Vegetarian Day was established by the non-profit North American Vegetarian Society in 1977, there were far fewer. The day was suggested as an annual celebration to promote the “joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities” of not eating meat. It was a celebration encouraging more people to give up meat. The International Vegetarian Union endorsed it the following year, kicking off its life as an international event. Since the 1970s vegetarianism has certainly grown. These days most restaurants will offer multiple vegetarian options, something that was rare even 10 years ago.
Getting Involved
Each year it's easy to get involved in World Vegetarian Day celebrations, remembering it's as much a celebration of food as it is of abstaining from meat. Meat eaters encouraged to take a pledge to abstain from meat, fish and fowl for a day (or a month). Go online and sign the day's official pledge and you can win $1000 prize money. Vegetarians may find the eating part of the day markedly easier as it won't require any change, however they are encouraged to take up the mantle of vegetarian crusaders for the day at least and reap the benefits of giving up meat. In fact, organizers want meat eaters and vegetarians alike to do this. Begging the question, why go veggie? The direct benefits of giving up meat, according to the Vegetarian Times, ranges from warding off disease and keeping your weight down to easing menopause symptoms, saving you money and having more energy. Before leaping, or encouraging your friends to leap, into vegetarianism as a way to lose weight it is important to recognize that there are links between vegetarianism and eating disorders and to be aware of the support available. Outside of personal reasons, giving up meat is good for the environment (a 2006 UN report found that livestock created almost a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions), could help reduce famine and spares the lives of animals doomed for slaughter. So there is plenty to think about when it comes to going veggie.
Hold an Event and Get Involved
World Vegetarian Day is technically the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month (a whole month? I know!). Enthusiasts are encouraged to celebrate the day with promotional material from the website such as a free poster to display around the house, school or office. There are events on throughout the world to celebrate both food and vegetarianism, such as San Francisco's World Veg Festival on the weekend of September 28-29, which includes a children's corner, healthy food demonstrations, live entertainment and vegan vendors. Similar events are held everywhere so keep an eye on your local paper and events guides for details. World Vegetarian Day is as much a celebration of food as it is of not eating meat so people are encouraged to hold events and get-togethers – particularly dinners – to celebrate meat-less food.
What to Cook?
Keen to hold a vegetarian-themed dinner and stumped for what to serve? There are plenty of warm, comforting veggie food options out there from summer garden grilled vegetables to roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup. However, if one country knows how to master comfort foods it would have to be England. The often rain-drenched country surely needs it more than most. The BBC's Good Food has a great list of comforting vegetarian recipes. They range from Mexican bean enchiladas to Italian mushroom pesto pasta to Japanese vegetable pancakes, making it the perfect place to start looking for recipes to host a veggie-themed dinner this October in support of World Vegetarian Day. Just because it doesn't have meat doesn't mean it can't be comfort food.

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