Europe's biggest vegetarian and vegan event - VegFest - will be taking place in just over a week 24-26 May in Bristol. It coincides with National Vegetarian Week, so expect lots of veggie news and fun in the coming days.
It's the 10th anniversary of the VegFest festival and thousands will be flocking to the city over three days to enjoy music (the Happy Mondays are headlining), amazing food, talks, shows and an all-round good spirited atmosphere centred around a veggie lifestyle, family, fun and green living.
This year is set to be quite possibly the best yet and don't panic if you are not a veggie (yet) - everyone is welcome, say the lovely organisers. Come down, learn more about a meat-free lifestyle and just enjoy the fantastic programme of events.
NUMBER OF VEGETARIANS SET TO DOUBLE SAYS NEW REPORT
With the recent news stories about meat products containing all manner of animal flesh (horse meat instead of the expected ground beef) it comes as no surprise that the numbers of people in the UK deciding to cut down and even cutting out meat completely is no surprise.
In fact, a report last month has predicted that the number of vegetarians in the UK is set to double over the next two years with meat-free eating becoming a 'mega trend', according to The Food People research agency, who specialise in global food trend-spotting.
According to their latest findings they expect that the number of vegetarians in this country will rise from 5 per cent to 10 per cent by 2015. They also predict that many non-veggies will reduce their meat consumption and increasing numbers will go meat-free on one or more days a week.
It's good news. As consumers we need to be much more responsible with our shopping and eating habits or all sorts revolting and illegal practises (the horse meat scandal) will continue in the world of factory farming.
Going veggie need not be some sort of 'right on' or alternative lifestyle choice. We are spoilt for choice in the west when it comes to what we eat.
However, it is a fact that reducing your meat consumption creates a whole host of health improvements, helps the environment and let's face it, makes us all feel a lot less guilty when gazing at a field of lolling spring lambs!
I went vegetarian at 13 in a classic 'Meat is Murder' fashion after being educated about factory farming via the famous song by the brilliant The Smiths. I did go vegan too at one point too but realised that for me, that was not the right choice but is for countless others.
These days I am not the world's most rigid veggie by a long-shot and do not class myself as one anymore as I take krill oil for rheumatoid arthritis and do enjoy some responsibly sourced fish. Basically though, I just try to eat healthily and responsibly.
Years ago I used to work as a press officer for The Vegetarian Society and was extremely strict about my veggie lifestyle (probably annoyingly so) but as you get older you realise that the message has to start on a broad scale to truly reach a wider audience.
I liked Sir Paul McCartney's idea of a Meat-Free Monday for example as a way of getting regular meat-eaters thinking twice about how much animal flesh they were shopping for in supermarkets. Many hard-core veggies and vegans scoffed at his suggestion but I think it's a good start in changing very old habits.
Overall, I'm big on tolerance and trying to understand others. Some of the most amazing, compassionate and inspiring people I know are NOT veggie.
Likewise, a handful of the most annoying, angry and judgemental people I know are pretty intolerant vegans and veggies! Ironic but true.
I don't give meat-eaters a hard time I just tell them how delicious so much meat-free food is and they can see the fact that I am bursting with energy, have good skin and a happy outlook as a good testimonial for considering their food choices.
So, for anyone thinking of giving a meat-free lifestyle a go, head down to VegFest in Bristol if you can and if not find out more here on The Vegetarian Society's website.
National Vegetarian Week is 20-26 May so it's a great time to look into making some changes and learning more.
There are some great bands and shows lined up for VegFest so get your tickets in advance here at