October is Vegetarian Awareness Month! This doesn’t mean there is a sudden call-to-action for all meat-eaters to go veggie, but it’s a great way to stop and appreciate that there are some amazing veggie dishes out there that are worth building into our main course menus. And if we were to build just a little more veggie-life into our personal weekly menus, we might find we are actually experiencing this delicious world in an even more interesting way.

Quick Run-Down on Vegarians:

Vegetarian Awareness Month has two purposes. One is to be aware of vegetarians and the reasons for their choices. The other is to go ahead and try more veggie dishes.

One of the few studies on vegetarianism tells us about 3.2% of adults are vegetarians. That’s 7.3 million people. And another 5.2%, 11.9 million people are interested in following a veggie-based diet. Not only are people interested in following the diet, but the vegetarian sector is “one of the fastest growing categories in food publishing,” according the Vegetarian Times. With this kind of growing market, it would be silly to ignore the innovations and meal choices that inevitably come about when you have more and more people contributing to the dialogue.

Adding a Few More Vegetarian Choices Has Logic:

And while there are many reasons to adopt more veggie dishes into a personal diet, such as animal rights and recognizing the many health benefits of a plant-based diet, in the world of food and beverage, sustainability is my motivation. The meat food category has the highest carbon footprint and beef, in particular, is the largest contributor to gas emissions than any other food.Take a look at my article on the Climatarian diet for a more info. When we try to build sustainability and low food waste best practices into our kitchen and into our menus, we are taking part in a global effort to keep our planet healthy.

Celebrate Vegetarian Choices and Reap the Rewards:

Regardless of the underlying value system, there are so many ways non-vegetarians can celebrate vegetarian awareness and benefit.

  • Meatless meals have come a long way and are far from boring. They are creative, nutrient-rich, and remarkably fast to prepare and cook, which saves us time in the kitchen at events and at home.
  • Veggie dishes save money. Eating or serving vegetables, grains, and fruit in place of meat actually costs less. The more beans and grains we can intersperse throughout our menu, the more we can save. And if we can save money for our clients while serving healthy, impressively delicious food, why not?
  • Try Meatless Monday. A fun hashtag to participate in or just a great way to think about menu design at home and at events, #meatlessmonday is a great way to intentionally explore vegetarian practices and try new dishes, without the pressure of ‘going vegetarian.’

Here Are Just A Few Great Veggie Dishes From My Archives:

  • Peaches are amazing and this article has a few recipes that feature the fruit and are veggie friendly.
  • Zucchini is amazing because even though it is a vegetable, it can be used for sweet or savory dishes. Check out the stats and follow the link at the end of this article for an impressive recipe resource.
  • Watermelon may be unfortunately season-specific, but it is also one of the most healthful foods we can eat. I provide some of my favorite simple meals with watermelon and provide a recipe resource on this page.
  • Corn is versatile and has one of the best reputations for being a potential savior food when it comes to sustainability because it can be grown just about anywhere.
  • Blueberries are one of the most celebrated fruits out there and can be used in so many amazing ways.
  • Plums are completely undervalued. There are so many varieties and an abundance of ways to add them to meals or feature them in a menu. They are great for both, drinks and for food. Give plums a try.
  • Asparagus has been enjoyed through the ages and is one of the world’s most healthful foods. We often only think of grilling or sauteing this veggie as a side dish, but I’ve got a few ideas and resources that will keep things interesting.