World Vegan Day
November 1st, also known as World Vegan Day, is just around the corner, so what better a time to have a look at the many benefits of veganism? But, in case you’re unaware of what a vegan diet is, let’s have a look at that first:
What Is Veganism?
Whilst a vegetarian diet excludes the consumption of meat, a vegan diet also avoids any other products that come from an animal. For example: milk, cheese, honey, and eggs.
Before we go any further, I’d like to take the time to clear up some common misconceptions about the vegan diet because, let’s face it, there are quite a few of them.
“Vegans don’t eat enough protein” – Many experts agree that a vegan diet can provide you with all the protein you need. Foods such as tofu, beans, green peas, soy products and oats are packed with the protein you seek.
“But what about calcium?” – A vegan diet can deliver you all the calcium you need to keep your teeth and bones strong, as well as making sure your nervous system remains healthy. How so? Well, green leafy vegetables (broccoli and cabbage among others), calcium-fortified vegan milk alternatives (soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, rice milk) and even brown and white bread are great vegan sources of calcium.
“Vegans only eat salad” – This is far from the truth. Especially nowadays, tasty alternatives to non-vegan products are becoming increasingly accessible. The likes of vegan cheeses, milks and meat substitutes can be purchased from just about anywhere, so you don’t have to miss out on your favourite foods – yay! Also, plenty of vegan restaurant and takeaway options have also become available in recent years.
“Vegan diets are not healthy” – Quite the opposite is true. When following a balanced vegan diet, there are a number of amazing health benefits. Among others, a reduced risk of certain cancers, and clearer skin; since several studies have shown links between dairy and acne.
Now that we’ve set that straight, you may be wondering why to choose a vegan diet, and I have you covered:
Why Turn Vegan?
For your health – A well-planned vegan diet includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, fibre and legumes, which are proven to lower the risk of heart disease. Vegans also have a 78% lower risk of developing diabetes, due to having lower blood-sugar levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
For the animals – It is a well-known fact that the treatment of animals in both the meat and dairy industry is far from humane and so, if you’re an animal lover, you may consider this a reason to convert to a vegan diet.
For the planet – The production of animal products leaves a very significant environmental footprint. Livestock may only make up 18% of our global consumption, yet this livestock uses 83% of all farmland. Not only this and the harmful greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from the meat industry, a report by UNESCO’s Institute for Water Education shows that for very kilogram of beef produced uses around 15,400 litres of water.
The NHS have a great resource on living a healthy vegan lifestyle, so go check that out under: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegan-diet/. In the meantime, here are some of their tips on a healthy vegan diet:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates (choose wholegrain where possible)
- have some dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options)
- eat some beans, pulses and other proteins
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (the government recommends 6 to 8 cups or glasses a day)
As you can probably tell, most of these tips apply to any diet or lifestyle, which goes to show that there really isn’t much that changes when you decide to go vegan. The key is to be mindful about what you use to fuel your body, which is just as vital for non-vegans.
As with any change in our lifestyle, making the switch to veganism can seem really daunting at first but the important thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be a sudden process. Why not try slowly reducing your meat and dairy intake and seeing how you feel? Or how about getting on board with the Meat-Free Mondays initiative? Whatever you decide to do, do it with your own health and happiness in the forefront of your mind.
Here are some small everyday steps we can take:
- Go meatless until dinner - the chances are that you probably already do!
- Substitute dairy milk for plant-based alternatives in tea, coffee, cereal, and cooking
- Swap meat for Quorn mince in a Spaghetti Bolognese
- Try dairy-free yoghurts, made with coconut, soy, or oat
- Flora have recently made all of their spreads vegan, so why not reach for one of these for your toast?
Stay safe, stay happy, and stay green, Mollie
Has this blog sparked your interest?
Why not check out our 'Meat Free Mondays' Newsletter from March