Are you ready to go Vegan or Vegetarian?

09 November, 2018


This month sees World Vegan Day on the 1st November along with Cancer Research’s campaign – Be Veggie for November. It is also Movember which we will cover next week.

Regular readers will know our belief that good health is intrinsically linked to a good diet and good gut health.

Being either vegetarian or vegan has become commonplace now. Compared to years ago it is easy, both restaurants and food shops have an amazing array of choice for you now.

Why go Vegetarian or Vegan?

There is considerable research supporting the health benefits of being vegetarian or vegan. Notably, the positives include:

  • Better weight management
  • Less risk of heart disease
  • Preventative action against cancer and other chronic diseases
  • Diabetes is less prevalent in vegetarians and vegans

When you review these advantages maybe you are thinking "I should explore this a bit more"?

For some people making this type of change can be a big challenge, it can be bewildering and confusing. We will attempt to simplify the process and give you some general guidelines.

Going Vegetarian

There are few choices you might want to make with this option. You can:

  • Continue to eat fish
  • Continue to eat dairy products and eggs (most vegetarians do this)
  • Choose to exclude dairy products
  • Choose to exclude eggs

The balanced vegetarian diet has several benefits:

  • It offers good levels of vitamins and minerals
  • It provides essential omega fatty acids
  • It gives plenty of fibre
  • It is low in calories
  • It is nutrient dense which is excellent for our health and immune systems

What we would like to stress is that the key is good planning. This ensures that you get all the nutrients you need in the right quantities.

Here are some of the nutrient groups to consider:

Protein, Omega 3, B12 and Multivitamin and Minerals.

It is often a concern whether you will get enough protein within a vegetarian/vegan diet. Work sensibly and this is not an issue. We have listed some examples of suitable foods but there are plenty more!

Protein sources are:

  • Quinoa – that wonderful grain that nobody is ever sure how to pronounce! It is a versatile and useful addition to your diet
  • Quorn is being offered in more varied forms all the time
  • Nuts, beans and pulses
  • Eggs – not if you are vegan
  • Soya products come in a variety of forms from milks to sausages. Soya is vegan but there can be ethical issues to consider

Omega 3 sources are:

  • Hemp and Flax oil
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Vegetarians can get 3 and 6 from milk and eggs

B12 sources for vegetarians:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese

B12 sources for vegans:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Plant milks
  • Vitamin B12 is very important to our health so be sure you meet your requirements

Multivitamins and Minerals

A diet full of a variety of fresh organic fruit and vegetables along with the foods listed above will serve you well
Whatever your diet getting it right all the time is hard. We have an excellent range of supplements to help you achieve the right nutritional balance for your body.

Remember that we are all different and have varying needs nutritionally, these can change with age or circumstances. I have fine-tuned my nutritional plan over many years and supplements have played a key part in maintaining my health.

Still not convinced?

  • Vegetarians have a reduce risk of heart disease of 32%
  • Their BMI is lower than that of the general population
  • Isn’t that enough to make it worth considering some dietary changes?

Going Vegan

The stricter version of vegetarianism is veganism.

This is a lifestyle choice for many people and the definition of being vegan is taken from the Vegan Society website.

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Many of the foods in a vegetarian diet are cornerstones of the vegan diet. The exclusion of animal products does cause some people some concerns. The idea of not eating dairy products and especially cheese and eggs is often a stumbling block for many. However, as I said earlier the alternative product range is phenomenal and we have some excellent options available to us.

Becoming Vegan is a lifestyle choice and Vegans are very committed to their ideals. I only have admiration for their commitment. The Vegan Society advocates making slow changes, persistence and asking for help. The Society offers a great deal of information to support and encourage you through the process.

Check out our blog on Veganuary for more information!

Our attitude is that you make the choice that is right for you, your lifestyle and family. We do encourage you to make informed choice to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet. One key factor in this is choosing organic. Your food should be the best, tastiest and most nutritious you can have. Organic meets those requirements.

Why not look at our blogs on Gut health and Organic food?

Not ready to go Vegan yet?

Why not be Flexitarian?

The concept of Flexitarian is a great compromise. As the word suggests it reflects being flexible with vegetarian. Flexibility means you get to do it your way. There are so many options for you:

  • Be veggie a day a week
  • One meal a day could be veggie
  • Eliminate one food at a time
  • Choose veggie options at home and meat/fish when you eat out

I am trying this route and really enjoying it. It allows me to explore new options without the pressure of a complete commitment. I have busy days when I just need to cook on automatic pilot. I have lazy days and weekends where I have more time and then I experiment.

Some great shortcuts you can use…

  • Using mashed bananas in cakes rather than eggs
  • Lentils make a great meat substitute
  • Soya milk is good in baking

I also realised that a number of my meals are already vegetarian or vegan. Falafel and dips are a standard lunch for me and it is so tasty. My pizza is usually vegetarian and I love vegetable soups at this time of year.

The important rule is to balance your diet and ensure you eat from all the food groups. I have been flexitarian for a while now and I am eating a lot less meat and fish but because I am following sensible guidelines I feel healthy and satisfied with my meals.

As ever our approach is to give you food for thought – forgive the pun! There is plenty of information to support you. Both the Vegan and Vegetarian societies publish a lot of guidance, research and recipes to help you.

As ever we remind you WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments…

    

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