Veganuary is a charity encouraging us to try being Vegan for January and then the rest of the year. We have presented an overview but there is a lot more information on their website.
Our intention is to give you a taster that you may want to explore further. Diet and lifestyle is always topical in January given that most of us will have enjoyed some festive over indulgence in the last couple of weeks.
I ate and drank far more than I needed to over the festive period. What I found so interesting is that a few days of rich food and drink had me craving vegetables and fruit. So not a huge leap to go vegan….
Reading the Veganuary website gave me even more food for thought.
The charity cite these four key areas as strong reasons to go Vegan
The underlying theme that struck me was kindness. This reflects a gradual shift I perceive happening in our culture. To me, it seems that we are realising that kindness is the way forward.
Let’s take a look at each of the key areas:
Go Vegan for your Health
We are realising that perhaps if we are kind to our body it will reciprocate and support us by staying well. We enjoy a healthy life and a healthy body.
As we develop our knowledge regarding the body it becomes clear how much impact our food choices can have. This is a key factor leading to people choosing a vegan diet and the reasons are compelling.
- Antibiotics – 50% of antibiotics used in the UK are for animal agriculture. The overuse of antibiotics is already of great concern. Many fear that future infections will be antibiotic resistant leaving us vulnerable and unprotected.
- Cholesterol is lower in vegans. Lowering cholesterol levels has a positive impact in reducing heart disease
- Blood pressure is lower in vegans – this relates to the lack of animal and saturated fats in their diet. 30% of our population suffer from high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes people vulnerable to heart disease, strokes and kidney failure.
- Obesity – Vegans have the lowest body mass and their diet is considered to be the most effective in terms of weight loss
- Campylobacter is the most common source of food poisoning in the UK. The FSA identified that 65% of chicken was contaminated with this bacteria in 2008 and this figure has not changed.
- Type 2 diabetes is a huge threat to our population. According to Diabetes UK, ‘Plant-based foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, nuts, pulses and seeds have been shown to help in the treatment of many chronic diseases and are often associated with lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, less hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer rates.’
Go Vegan for good Nutrition
Now we are aware of the impact of food we are more aware of being kind to our body. We look to feed our body with the foods it responds well to.
This knowledge has been enhanced by research into the effects of dairy, gluten and sugar for example. Knowing what the triggers our body can allow us to assess our bodies and make kind choices.
We understand that our bodies need a balance of the right nutrients to work well. A frequent comment on the vegan diet is how difficult it is to get protein, B12 and Calcium amongst other nutrients.
Vegan protein sources include
- Legumes – beans, peas, lentils, quinoa and peanuts
- Grains – brown rice, quinoa and bulgar
- Nuts – cashews, brazils, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios
Vitamin B12 sources include
- Fortified cereals and foods
- Marmite – if you love it!
Calcium sources include:
- Non-dairy milks and yogurt
- Pak choi
- Brazil nuts
- Dried figs
It goes without saying that organic sources are always best. We have covered the benefits of fruit and vegetables many times. See some of our blogs for more information (Going Organic, gut health and organic, Indian food, Top benefits of Eating Fruit and Veg)
Creating healthy, quick vegan meals is often a challenge for those new to the vegan way of life.
To give you some quick examples and ideas try these:
Sautee potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado
Porridge with non-dairy milks and fruit
Crepes filled with stewed winter fruits
Toast with peanut butter and banana
Sourdough muffins with your choice of topping
Granola with fruit and coconut yogurt
Your favourite smoothie
Hummus and vegetables – a common favourite already
Dhal and naan bread
Vegetable tempura with dipping sauces
Stuffed mushrooms or peppers
Shepherd’s pie made with lentils – even dedicated meat eaters don’t notice the difference!
Bean hot pot
Vegetable chilli with rice
Vegetable curry Thai or Indian inspired
Nut Loaf with your favourite green salad
Vegetable fajitas with the usual tasty dips
Go Vegan and care for Animals
Veganuary suggest that as we are all animals it is not kind to eat the animals we share this planet with. The lives of these animals we eat are typically not free or natural.
I refer you to the website to look at the details for yourself.
Go Vegan for the Environment
Increasingly, we are aware that we have not been kind to the environment. Our environment needs care so that it can continue to provide food and other resources we need to live on this earth.
Rearing animals for food production puts increased demands on the environment s resources. Examples include
- Animal production increases the creation of greenhouse gases.
- Animal production requires huge quantities of water which is already a limited resource
- Farm waste pollution is a big threat to our fresh water supply
- Our wildlife and natural world is in danger and we are losing species day by day. This is happening because natural habitats are being eroded on a regular basis.
- Animal production requires 4.5 times more land than a vegan diet. Consider that 30% of the entire earth surface is dedicated to animal grazing and rearing. 33% of our global arable land is used to grow crops to feed the animals.
- The rainforest is recognised as integral to planet health. 1lb of beef requires 200 sq. metres of rain forest to be destroyed
- Energy production is a challenge for our growing populations. 1kcal of beef needs 40 kcal of energy! Compare that to 1kcal of grain which requires 2kcal of energy.
Everyone has to make their own decision but we hope you have found this interesting and thought provoking.