National Vegetarian Week (NVW) 2016 was a great success, with tons of events, activities, special offers and competitions taking place across the UK.
Over 100 personal stories and recipes were added to the online Kitchen Table and you all celebrated vegetarianism and delicious veggie food in your own ways.
NVW reached millions through media coverage, Countryfile dedicated a whole episode to it and together we even made it trend on Twitter!
Celebrating great veggie food with grants
We awarded grants to 77 groups to help them celebrate the week and below you can see a small selection of their activities.
Christ Church Yardley Wood
Imran Ali, organiser of the event, said: “Everybody connected to the event enjoyed the experience, from meeting people from our community to hearing some great stories and eating amazing food”.
Christ Church Yardley Wood in Birmingham used their NVW grant to hold a community event in their local area. A diverse group of people came together to enjoy vegetarian food and listen to several of those attending talk about their diets and the food traditions in their families.
Aga, one of the event organisers, said: “We also managed to provide people with many delicious and easy to make vegetarian and vegan dishes which was one of the aims of the event- to show people that meat free meals are in fact tasty and can be quick and easy to make.”
Coffee Cranks, a not-for-profit workers cooperative from Manchester, used their National Vegetarian Week grant to host a community event in a local park. Around 100 people attended and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, great weather and tasty food.
Osman said: “There was a real buzz in the room. Volunteers and staff got to know each other better because of the memorable event. There was astonishment that all of the meals were vegetarian. The subject led to a lot of positive discussion about the meals and about vegetarianism including environmental issues.”
Osman Yavas held an event for staff and volunteers at charity FareShare’s headquarters in London. Titled “Nice to Meat You”, FareShare staff cooked meals for volunteers and got them to rate the ‘meat’ dishes without telling them they were actually vegetarian!
Project coordinator Lyndsey Sneddon said: “We’re in a farming area and market town, but everyone loved it. BBQs are so traditionally meat-focused that we wanted to challenge what people think. ‘I want the meat eaters to see that vegetarians aren’t in their faces; it’s just a wee gentle nudge to see how easy and cheap it is to eat well without meat.” Local farmers and staunch meat-eaters enjoyed a vegetarian BBQ on 22 May thanks to Scottish equine charity NeighWhips Communities.
The charity, based in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, uses horses as therapy for disadvantaged kids and used the BBQ to formally launch as a fully vegetarian organisation. Steaks were swapped for veggie sausages and dishes like Indian paneer and spinach and ricotta lasagne.
Pulling Together Asian Women’s Group
Robina Sheikh, development worker for the Group, said: “Asian culture has many stories about the food that we make and that our parents made. Some dishes were cooked for us as children when we weren’t feeling very well; others are celebration dishes cooked on special occasions.”
The colourful stories behind some of the Asian community’s most popular vegetarian dishes were celebrated during an evening of conversation in Manchester. The Pulling Together Asian Women’s Group, from Old Trafford, discussed recipes passed down between generations – and the subtle differences in how they were cooked by each family.
Bwlch Y Sarnau Community Centre
“Many people here would normally not consider a meal to be complete without meat on the plate,” explained the centre’s committee secretary Belinda Roberts. “I’ve been amazed at the interest in the recipe competition – I thought people would find it difficult but there’s been such enthusiasm for family recipes for things like veggie lasagne and telling the stories behind them.”
A farming community in the heart of rural Wales swapped much-loved vegetarian family recipes at a delicious dinner banquet on 21 May. The meal, including Chilean enchiladas, courgette lasagne, crispy tofu and clementine cake, was provided by local catering company Llani Soul Food at Bwlch Y Sarnau Community Centre café near Rhayader in Powys.
“Based on our experience of our vegetarian week grant Blueprint 22 has now decided that we will be a meat free organisation which means that at all our projects, trips and meetings will have no meat and where we can we will show the young people other options available when we are out with them. It’s a really good step for our organisation and young people so thank you!”
Veronica Carver applied for a grant to help Blueprint 22 with ‘Vegging Out’ – a project aimed at young people aged 16-25 to help them learn how to cook their favourite dishes without using meat. The young people involved went vegetarian for the whole week and filmed a series of cookery video demonstrations that were shared on social media. The young people who took part enjoyed showing off their cookery schools and five even remained vegetarian after the week!