Research has suggested a vegetarian diet may be healthier than that of a typical meat eater.
Studies have shown a varied vegetarian diet contains less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins, minerals and fibres than an omnivorous diet.
As a result, it is thought vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
In Wales, where lamb is the national dish, it is estimated less than four per cent of the population is vegetarian. There are four million vegetarians in the UK, which represents about six and a half per cent of the population.
Well-known local vegetarian restaurant Milgi Lounge is holding its annual Veggie Foodival this weekend, which promises to be “a celebration of all things vegetarian, vegan and organic.”
Owner Gabrielle Kelly said: “We wanted a business that could not only thrive on bringing healthy food to its cutomers but could, at the same time try to educate them about vegetarian food.”
Fran Munro, who runs a vegan stall at the Riverside Market, said: “Many of my customers are not committed vegans. An increasing number of people are deciding to eat meat-free foods a few times a week for health and environmental reasons.”
Despite increasing awareness of vegetarianism in the UK, many people still seem to stereotype vegetarians as eccentric, tree-hugging hippies.
Cardiff-based vegetarian co-operative the Parsnipship have been fighting to shake off this image. Founder Ben Moss said: “Our aim is to change the perception of vegetarian and vegan cooking in this country.”
He added: “About 80 per cent of our customers are not vegan or vegetarian, but they are changing their habits to avoid eating meat at least a couple of times a week. Anyone can enjoy vegetarian food.”
Cardiff has no shortage of restaurants catering for vegetarians. Raj Patel of the Vegetarian Food Studio in Grangetown, said: “Cardiff used to be a bit of a black hole for vegetarians, but we achieved Vegetarian Food Society accreditation in 2009.”
He added: “We aim to bring the real, authentic taste of India by using fresh vegetables, herbs and spices to create unique vegetarian dishes.