NZ Vegetarian Society spokesperson Philip McKibbin says vegetarianism can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, culture, or religion. Well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets are suitable for every stage of life, and vegetarian cuisine can be found everywhere.

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and the NZ Vegetarian Society is highlighting vegetarian meals from around the world. You will find delicious meal ideas on the NZ Vegetarian Society website. Among this week’s recipes are ‘cheese’ puffs from Brazil, dumplings from Norway, and falafel from Israel.

Mr McKibbin says that adopting a vegetarian diet can satisfy diverse preferences:

“Many people want food that’s familiar. The rise of ‘alternative proteins’ and ‘fake meats’ has made it really easy to switch to a plant-based diet. These days, you can find foods that are vegetarian and vegan, without compromising familiarity.

“Vegetarianism is also great for those who love to experiment and try new things. It can be really fun to experiment with new ingredients, and to re-invent meals that you’re familiar with using ingredients that you might not have considered using before switching to vegetarianism.”

He also says that vegetarian diets are usually a lot healthier than non-vegetarian diets:

“Most people find that vegetarianism encourages them to be more mindful, ensuring that their meals are not only tasty, but healthy and sustaining as well.”

Vegetarian and vegan diets are suitable for everyone, at every stage of life. The American Dietetic Association has said, ‘appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.’

As part of its community outreach programme, the NZ Vegetarian Society is running its annual Think Kind student competition. You are invited to help determine the winner. Students from across the country were encouraged to use their unique talents to help the animals. There were more than 200 entries from around 30 schools. Among the final entries are a website, a beach cleaning initiative that made the front page of the local newspaper, and even a Scratch coding project!

Mr McKibbin says the judges were very impressed with the quality of entries:

“The judges were really inspired by the thoughtfulness that the students brought to their projects. Around the world, young people are leading for a kinder, healthier world. Here in Aotearoa, our children are doing that, too.”

Viktória Lencsés Spear, one of the Think Kind judges, says they received almost twice as many entries as last year.

“We were so impressed with the entries we received this year, and with the number of schools that participated. We had everything from letters to the Prime Minister to a song sung in front of the whole class. It was tough choosing the finalists. I’m glad the winner is decided by a people’s choice vote, because I don’t think I’d be able to choose!”