It's always nice to throw out an interesting fact when you are with friends. Here are some vegetarian-related snippets for you to use, whether you are vegetarian or not.
1. There are a lot of vegetarians out there
If you are a vegetarian you may sometimes feel a little lonely. You scour menus searching for the veggie option (hoping it isn't mushroom risotto - or worse: vegetable stack) and most of your friends and family eat meat. Yet in actual fact, there are many, many vegetarians in the world. Millions! In India it is estimated that over 350 million people are vegetarian. In Taiwan, around 13% of people are vegetarian.
If you live in the UK you may be interested to know that as many as four million of you are vegetarian. In Brazil 8% of the population (that's 15.2 million people) are said to be vegetarian. In the United States, 13% of the population regard themselves as either vegetarian or vegan.
So you are not alone. Someone just needs to tell the restaurants.
2. Vegetarians do not eat fish (or chicken)
Vegetarians hate being asked if they eat fish. By definition, a vegetarian does not eat animals - whether they are from the land or the sea. Where the problem lies is you may have met a fish-eating vegetarian. Or rather, someone who eats fish and no other animals and then labels themselves vegetarian. They are not vegetarian. Such people are actually called pescetarians.
The fish-eating issue can cause problems for vegetarians as all too often they may be served fish by their host at a dinner party or 'fish' ends up being the vegetarian option on a menu.
So the next time you meet a person who eats fish but calls themselves vegetarian, feel free to correct them.
3. Vegetarians do get enough protein
There's another question vegetarians get asked all too often: where do you get your protein from? People who ordinarily don't care about nutrition feel compelled to worry about a vegetarian's intake of protein. It's the sort of question that feels like the one trick meat eaters have up their sleeve and it's not a very good one. Mainly because they are showing their ignorance of nutrition. Protein is plentiful in a vegetarian's diet. Here's a list to get you started: nuts, beans, textured vegetable protein, tofu, cheese, lentils, peas, yogurt, broccoli, spinach, avocado, soy and quinoa. Furthermore, many people actually eat too much protein (this is the case in Australia at least). So it makes little sense to be worrying about a person's protein intake, especially when so many people are unable to meet their daily fruit and veg requirements.
4. Vegetarians have a lower risk of developing heart disease
People may be vegetarian for ethical or religious reasons. However, there is a positive consequence to your health if you are vegetarian. Vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease. This is not the only benefit however. Vegetarianism can also reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers (including breast, colorectal and ovarian). Vegetarians are less likely to become obese. When you consider how prevalent these diseases are on society, this is good news indeed.
5. Anthony Hopkins is a vegetarian
In my first point I stated that there are many vegetarians in the world. It is not surprising then to learn that there are a whole bunch of celebrities out there who are vegetarian and vegan. Here's a quick list, but there are many, many more. We have: Kate Winslet, Corey Feldman, Sarah Silverman, Carrie Underwood, Casey Affleck, Diane Keaton, Pamela Anderson, Ian McKellan and Natalie Portman. From the music world we have: Kelly Clarkson, Billy Idol, Bryan May, Johnny Marr, Moby, Michael Bolton, Ricky Martin and Nelly.
Julia Barnard is the author of the cookbooks Vegetarian Tapas and Vegan Tapas. Each book includes 150 quick and delicious snacks and bites for sharing with friends and family.