Like a lot of people, when the word 'vegan' was mentioned, I admittedly turned my nose up, the thought of not being able to enjoy my roast leg of lamb on a Sunday or steak and chips was laughable, let alone not being able to drizzle a little honey on some yoghurt.
However, according to the Vegan Society, in 2017, the demand for meat-free food increased by a massive 987%, resulting in the predication that 'going vegan' was going to be the biggest food trend in 2018.
I reckon the prediction was pretty accurate as the number of vegans in Great Britain has quadrupled since 2014 and in 2018 they counted 600,000 vegans in the UK.
So why is being vegan such a hit and should we all be doing it?
Animal cruelty: It’s a lifestyle that avoids all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey and animal-derived products such as leather as much as possible. So, for serious animal lovers everywhere, this is often an ethical choice.
Saving the planet: If the world went vegan, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds.
To save money: Apparently you can save yourself around £645 a year by going vegan.
For all these reasons, and I’m sure there are many more, we are seeing a vast growth in the amount of people converting to veganism and the amount of people making a conscious effort to reduce their overall meat and dairy intake.
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So what do I think about going vegan?
I think veganism is a very thoughtful lifestyle, its consideration for the planet and animals is admirable and their willingness to exclude so much from their diet to pursue this lifestyle is impressive.
I love the fact that veganism and even vegetarianism encourages people to eat a lot more plant based foods, this is extremely beneficial for our health.
I too now include myself in the growing population of people who are trying to reduce their consumption of meat, not just because of the environment but because I’ve realised I didn’t actually need to eat as much as I was. So maybe it's vegans who will be having the last laugh?
People often comment about vegans not consuming enough protein as a result of their diet, I’m sure this is true for many vegans, but it is still possible to reach your recommended daily allowance if you plan meal time carefully.
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Protein is an essential part of my diet, as it is for everyone. Protein restores and repairs our body, so consuming enough of it daily from food sources is very important for our physical health.
However, at the moment there is a slight obsession with consuming a lot of it. Protein seems to be in everything from yoghurt to ice cream, to supplements and even cereal. It’s another current food trend that, in my opinion, isn’t actually as beneficial as the 'vegan trend' could be if done properly.
So if you want to give veganism a go here’s what to make sure of...
1. Make sure you’re eating a variety of plant-based foods so that your body can thrive.
2. Make sure you’re eating enough. Now you no longer consume dairy or meat products, you are restricting where your calories come from, therefore making sure you’re meeting your recommended calorie intake from the plant-based foods you have chosen to enjoy, is essential.
3. I wouldn’t recommend living off processed vegan foods, there are a lot on the market now and it’s great that vegans and non-vegans have the options available to them, however living off vegan ready meals for example, isn’t a long-term healthy answer to converting to the lifestyle.
4. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. The vegan diet is not a weight loss diet.
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Here are some tips for turning vegan...
1. Invest in some good vegan cookbooks that promote delicious but wholesome cooking
2. Speak to a nutritionist who can advise you on what your new diet should look like, including advice on any supplements you may need.
3. Prepare and get organised with meal times to make sure you’re eating enough and eating well.
Although I won’t be converting to veganism any time soon, I’m certainly open to including more vegetarian and vegan meals into my diet. I think there are some real benefits to including more plant-based foods into our diets and I think most people would really benefit from eating more of these foods, even if we all made a conscious effort to eat more vegetables at meal times.