Everyone has his or her own perception of ‘veganism’. It is thought almost 500,000 people are vegan in the UK alone – with many more thousands across the world. Lot’s of people recently have been asking if I am a fully fledged vegan now and whilst I am not (I still enjoy eggs, fish, honey and white meats), I have come to understand and enjoy vegan food so much more. The dictionary states a vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products – and whilst this is true, there are so many layers to this meaning and different types of vegans. I am not a full time vegan, but I eat so many vegan dishes and have been astonished at how amazing the flavours can be. Jamie Oliver’s vegan shepherd’s pie is just to die for!! Not to mention the vegetable curries, salads and stews I’ve added to my recipe repertoire.
But what does ‘vegan’ really mean and is it for you?! I’ve put together a (objective!) list of ten things to know about veganism – the good, the bad and the ugly.
- There are three main reasons people choose to go vegan. The primary reason often originates from opinions on ethics of animal sourced products and the belief that animals should live freely without human interference.
- The second reason for choosing the vegan life is for health reasons. Studies have shown that eating animal fats and proteins increases a person’s risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease and a number of other illnesses. Eating vegan is also a 100% cholesterol free diet – which is a great pro if you want to lower your cholesterol. With the rise in clean eating and prominent food bloggers releasing delicious vegetable alternatives, you don’t have to look far to see the benefit people are feeling.
- The third reason is going vegan is actually incredibly good for the environment. Livestock farming takes up a huge amount of resources, including land, fertilizer and water. It is thought a significant amount of pollution in groundwater and rivers is from animal waste from farms and many argue that more people could be fed globally from the land if we were all vegan.
- Veganism often encompasses more than just what you eat, it comes down to the products you use too. Veganism isn’t just what you eat; it can be an entire lifestyle choice. Vegans will look for cosmetics and toiletries that are vegan, organic and haven’t been tested on animals.
- You can easily tweak meals to make them vegan! There are so many alternative recipes out there, so you can still cook your favourites for you and your family. Try a vegetable filled stir fry with garlic, ginger and chilli on rice noodles – or replace your meaty spaghetti Bolognese with quorn. Try replacing your morning fry up with avocado, toast, tomatoes and grilled mushrooms or whizz up a refreshing smoothie. So many possibilities!
6. Going vegan can actually be very cost effective. If you go back through your food shop receipts, you will notice that meat and milk based products are the most expensive. Reducing this cost may give you more money to spend on other things – perhaps a little treat!
7. Most restaurants do vegan alternatives – either marked on the menu itself or you can enquire with the staff. With the growing number of vegan, you’ll be surprised what is on offer when eating out. ALL of the below is vegan from various cafes and restaurants!
8. Vegans don’t eat honey – and also many gummy sweets, due to the gelatine content!
9. It’s vital to make sure you’re making up for the lost nutritional content when going vegan. Read up and find the vegan friendly products than contain the following: iron, amino acids, vitamin D, vitamin A, omega 3 and vitamin B12. Lacking in any of these could have serious impacts to your health.
10. Albert Einstein was a vegan. Yes, Albert was a vegan! He famously said ‘nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ Now there’s something to chew on…!
Whilst it is a lot to go wholly vegan overnight – I would actively encourage you to explore some vegan options. Think how many fruit and vegetable you could pack into your body, in just one portion!