Our guide to the vegetarian diet, the vegetable seasons, health benefits and veggie recipes

There are many reasons why people choose to be vegetarian, but whether you banish meat from your diet entirely or try to cut down on the amount of meat you eat each week, it is widely known that increasing your consumption of fresh vegetables, fruit and grains is beneficial to health. Read on to discover the delicious array of vegetables that are in season throughout the year, why they are good for you, plus some easy vegetarian recipe ideas for the family. All Kikkoman soy sauces and marinades are suitable for vegetarians.

Vegetarianism throughout the year

We are lucky to have a wide selection of fresh vegetables available in UK all year round. Of course, it is best to eat what is locally grown in season where possible.

Here’s a brief guide to seasonal veg:

- Spring vegetables

Fresh asparagus is one of the season’s most coveted vegetables, loved by chefs and home cooks alike. These bright green tips are available from mid-April to the end of June. Remove any woody ends and blanch briefly until tender or use raw.New season Spinach leaves are also a springtime treat, as is purple sprouting broccoli, baby Jersey Royal potatoes, spring onions, peppery watercress and crisp radishes.

- Summer vegetables

Vegetables ripened in the summer sun are packed with intense flavour and are very colourful. Red peppers and tomatoes, orange carrots, purple aubergines and beetroot, and green runner beans and courgettes become plentiful and juicy. Serve raw in salads, grilled on the barbecue or stew down with olive oil and Kikkoman soy sauce for a summery style ratatouille.

- Autumn vegetables

Brassicas, roots and tubers come into season in the autumn. Potatoes are a staple for vegetarian cuisine as they are so versatile and often form the base for dishes like soups and curries.Butternut squash, sweetcorn, leeks and celeriac also come into their peak and are ideal for creamy gratins and pasta bakes.

- Winter vegetables

Parsnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbages and turnips rule in the winter months. They benefit from the arrival of a frost which turns the starch into sugars, making them sweet. They can also take more robust cooking so are perfect for making comforting veggie soups, stews and pies or roasting as an accompaniment.

Vegetarian diet health benefits

The large amount of grains, vegetables and fruit eaten by vegetarians provide them with high quantities of fibre and natural nutrients such as vitamins C and E, magnesium, folic acid, unsaturated fat and active phytochemicals found in plants.This often leads to vegetarians having lower blood pressure and cholesterol, less fat and an overall reduced risk of heart disease.On the other hand, people who exclude all meat and fish from their diet may have to take certain dietary supplements such as protein, vitamins B12 and D, iron, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids.

Types of vegetarian diet

Vegetarianism can be dated back to the philosopher Pythagoras (approx. 570 - 510 B.C.). According to his teachings, people should exclusively or predominantly eat foods of plant origin. Today there are different kinds of vegetarian diets that people follow, e.g:

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians supplement their predominantly vegetarian diet with eggs and dairy products, but they avoid meat and fish. People who consume eggs, but not dairy products are called ovo-vegetarians. And people who eat dairy products but not eggs are known as lacto-vegetarians.
  • Pesci-vegetarians (also known as ovo-lacto-pesci vegetarians) eat fish and seafood but not the flesh of other animals (mammals)
  • Vegans avoid all animal products or animal derivatives, including dairy products, eggs, fish and honey. They also generally don’t wear shoes or clothing made of leather.
  • Fruitarians consume fruits, nuts and seeds, but no animal products, vegetables and grains which would involve plants being damaged during harvesting to obtain them.

Vegetarian recipes

Kikkoman is the perfect seasoning for vegetarian food. It brings out the flavour of the vegetables you add it to – whether in a salad dressing, barbecue marinade, during the cooking process, or as a condiment at the table. Just use in place of salt and taste the difference.

These dishes will help give you some vegetarian recipe inspiration: