Many of us associate Easter with a weekend indulging in a big lamb roast, and endless amounts of chocolate eggs. For those of us who are trying to cut down or cut out animal products completely from our diets, this can make Easter celebrations a tricky time. Yet with more plant-based options than ever, your Easter can be just as tasty – minus the meat.
When we advised people to cut back on processed meat for Cancer Prevention Action Week in February, many of you told us you already avoid meat products. Our evidence shows that meat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet without increasing your cancer risk. But increasing the amount of plant foods in your diet, such as:
- different coloured vegetables and fruit
- pulses including beans, chickpeas and lentils
- wholegrains (brown and wild rice, wholewheat pasta, wholemeal bread)
- unsalted nuts and seeds
can reduce your cancer risk – and help you stay a healthy weight, which also reduces your cancer risk.
A recent study funded by World Cancer Research Fund found that following a vegetarian diet could lower cancer risk by 14%. The research showed that, compared with regular meat-eaters, the risk of developing cancer was 2% lower in low meat-eaters, 10% lower in fish-eaters, and 14% lower in vegetarians.
We spoke to staff and supporters about why they decided to go plant-based, and here’s what they had to say:
I cut out meat, fish and dairy from my diet when I watched the documentary Cowspiracy and I haven’t looked back.
A vegan diet has forced me to think about what I am putting in my body and ensure I eat a wide range of plants every day. I initially went vegan for health reasons. After learning more about animal cruelty and the environmental impact, all 3 reasons contribute to my decision to eat a vegan diet.
I’ve loved experimenting with different cuisines over the years and the vibrant colours in each dish. A vegan diet has genuinely allowed me to be more experimental with cooking and I’ve found there’s been no compromise on flavour or nutrition. Being vegan is important to me as I know exactly what I’m fuelling my body with.
I’d challenge everyone trying to incorporate 1 if not 2 vegan meals in their week, as any small change will makes a difference!
The main reason I turned vegetarian is because of the environment. I’m conscious of the impact my food choices have on the planet. I still eat fish, however I avoid eating any other meat. I found that the longer I went avoiding meat options, the easier it was to follow a more plant-based diet.
I find it a bit trickier at Easter time with my family all being meat-eaters, however I’m so happy I made the change in my eating habits and over time have discovered great plant-based alternatives for Easter.
Courtney (28), our Social Media and Marketing Officer
When I was at university, the only meat I ate would be chicken and bacon. It wasn’t until I learned about the strong link between bacon and processed meat increasing cancer risk that I became more mindful about what I was eating and decided to cut meat out of my diet. I’ve started incorporating more vegetables, wholegrains, lentils and nuts.
How to have a vegetarian or vegan Easter
For the main
- For a healthy and meat-free alternative to a traditional roast dinner, why not try our lentil shepherd’s pie? Any leftovers make for a healthy lunch the next day. This hearty dish is rich in fibre and contains 2 of your 5 A DAY.
- Nuts are a really nutrient-packed food and are a great addition to a plant-based diet. Our delicious chestnut loaf goes perfectly with all the classic roast trimmings. It can be cooked in advance and reheated when needed.
- Root vegetable and butterbean crumble
For the sides
Sweet and dessert options
- Opt for dark instead of milk chocolate. If you’re more of a dessert person, we have the perfect, tasty (and healthy!) recipe for you. Our dark fudgy brownies, made with banana and avocado, take around half an hour to make and go really well with low-fat greek yoghurt and berries.
- Baked fruit parcels
- Cranberry and orange cheesecake
- Do you like egg painting, egg baking or egg hunting? Check out our ideas for family Easter fun.