Updated: Oct 25, 2018
It's National Vegetarian Week - a week dedicated to eating delicious and exciting veggie food. Anyone can join in - you don't have to be vegetarian!
Some of you may already know that, after much deliberation, I finally decided to return to being vegetarian last year. It's always been a cause close to my heart, I mean, you can probably tell that I love animals... I had previously been a vegetarian from a very small age - my mum always says that as soon as I connected that meat came from my beloved animals then that was that, I put my foot down and refused to eat it. I even remember, prior to that, feeding my imaginary dog all of my meat under the table (yes, I was this dog crazy even before I had dogs!)
Alas, there was not as many options as there are now for vegetarians. Supermarkets only had nut roasts or Quorn - and they only had fillets and sausages in those days. The only dishes that pubs or restaurants would make were mushroom stroganoff or stuffed red peppers. It was very difficult: especially as I grew up, started eating out and going out with my friends.
Fortunately, that is no longer the case. It was so easy for me to slip back into being veggie with such a wide variety of vegetarian options out there - even vegan too! There are great meat alternatives like Oumph, Linda McCartney and Quorn; vegan yoghurts like Coconut Collaborative plus Tesco even do their own vegan range of ready meals and sandwiches called Wicked. You can even get vegan beauty products from places like The Body Shop. In fact, as I write this, we are having a veggie alternative shawarma kebab from Waitrose for dinner. We truly live in a wonderful era!
Of course, you don't have to be a vegetarian to make a difference. Mr. WildPaws is, what is known as, a flexitarian - not purposefully, just living with a vegetarian who cooks all of your food makes it inevitable. A flexitarian eats a mostly plant-based diet with the occasional meat added in. It does help that he has a very open mind and mostly prefers the vegetarian alternatives to the real thing! He's mad on falafel and halloumi!
If you don't want to give up meat, there are plenty of other things you can do to make a difference. My parents have reduced their meat intake drastically since we've moved in with them. It's easier to cook a fully meat-free meal for the four of us as opposed to two separate dishes. Dad (or grandad as Wilbur & Paisley know him) hasn't even noticed the difference between Quorn and the real thing!
One great way to reduce your meat intake, which in turn helps the planet and animals, is partaking in Meat Free Mondays! Launched by the McCartneys, Meat Free Monday is a campaign which aims to raise awareness of the impact of eating meat and to encourage people to help slow climate change. Just having one meat free day a week can make a huge difference, and it's easy for your dogs to join in too...
Now, don't panic...I'm not saying that you should feed your dog a vegetarian diet. In fact, far from it! I strongly believe that you should feed your dogs plenty of meat and fish - you know, what they were born to eat - regardless of your beliefs. I've always hated meat but will always give our two pups what they like - Pure Beef Sticks, Venison Treats and Surf & Turf dinner. Yes, it may not appeal to me but they love it and I think if you deny your dog or cat something they love then you can hardly call yourself an animal lover.
However, I don't think there's any harm in giving your dog vegetarian treats. In fact, Paisley loves nothing more than a slice of cucumber, chunk of a carrot or a bite of banana. I think I must be the only person on the planet to have two dogs and two rabbits staring me out when I get a banana out of the fruit bowl! As well as fruits and veggies, there are also plenty of meat-free treats and more for your dog to enjoy...
First up, Lily's Kitchen's Wholesome Veggie Feast! It was launched about a year ago as the perfect meat-free recipe for Meat Free Mondays - we often give this to Wilbur & Paisley on a Monday. Wilbur wasn't sure at first - Paisley scoffed the lot! Now he loves it and licks the bowl clean.
It's nutrionally complete, super healthy and meat and grain free. Made with cottage cheese, eggs, lentils, chickpeas and tasty vegetables - it's full of nutritional goodness and one meat free day a week can really help to make a difference.
There are also lots of healthy vegetarian treats on offer. Everything from chews to biscuits. At WildPaws HQ, we're particularly fond of the Veggie Ear from Whimzees. Believe it or not, a friend once gave Wilbur a real pig's ear and he turned his nose up at it! Not the veggie ear though, he finished every last bite. Whimzees do a wide range of vegetarian chews in different shapes and sizes. Including the toothbrush, alligator and cross bone.
Another popular choice with Wilbur & Paisley is the Tribal biscuit range. Not all of them are vegetarian but there are a few flavours which sound really tasty and just so happen to be vegetarian too! This includes the Coconut, Banana & Peanut Butter biscuits and the Apple, Mint & Ginger flavour. We have been told by a few of our customers that they smell good enough for them to try themselves...
Now we've very recently discovered a new small business called Vegan Poochy Treats - pretty self-explanatory! They were kind enough to send us some samples to try...
These tasty vegan treats look a bit like Ferrero Rocher's Raffaello sweets and they smell just as good! Made using oats, peanut butter, coconut oil and dessicated coconut, these treats are rolled into little balls and are the perfect snack for your pup. All healthy, natural ingredients, no nasties and they're vegan too, if you can believe it! Wilbur & Paisley sniffed out the box as soon as the postie brought it and were not happy when I put it away on an out-of-reach shelf...they may have even attempted to climb to get them!
After, what seemed like a lifetime to Wilbur & Paisley, they finally got to try them. What can we say? Paisley, who is normally apprehensive about new treats, finished every last piece of dessicated coconut - well, that is, except for the bit she left on her nose...!
Between them, they demolished the samples within seconds and were very disappointed when I showed them the empty box. Who says vegan food is boring? If dogs can love it then so can we!
There are so many more wonderful vegetarian dog treats - and vegan for that matter - out there in the market today. If I named all of them then we'd be here all day. Other favourites include Huxley Hound with their organic vegetables, Soopa Pets with their healthy dog treats, chews and food toppers and Pooch & Mutt with their peanut butter treats - to name but a few.
So if you're a meat eater looking at reducing your meat intake then National Vegetarian Week is the perfect excuse to do so. Why not try some of the delicious recipes on their website? Whether you're a flexitarian like Mr. WildPaws, Wilbur & Paisley; a meat-eater like Guinness our goldfish (though he is partial to a pea every now and then) or a vegetarian like myself and the bunnies, Miles & Lily - YOU can make a difference. Give it a go! You never know, you may decide it's for you. Plus with so many great vegan and vegetarian recipes, treats & chews for dogs out there, now your dog can join in with you! They may even get hungry eyes like Paisley...
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post - I know I'm no Wilbur or Paisley but hopefully you enjoyed it...
Love Ms. WildPaws x