Have you taken part in this years Veganuary or have a general interest in Veganism, read on for hints and tips on how to follow January's fashionable trend...
Veganism has gone from strength to strength since the beginning of 2017. Before then many omnivores (meat-eaters) would treat people who followed a vegan lifestyle similar to unicorns, almost mythical. Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and Veganuary, a challenge set up to encourage people to try veganism for a month had over 225,000 signups (more than doubling 2018’s effort) and veganism has become the fastest growing trend around the world. The rise of veganism has been supported by documentaries such as What The Health and Cowspiracy, both available on Netflix. Veganism has also now been recognised in law with anti-discrimination policy. This means that ethical vegans are protected in the same manner that religious orientation is. That makes veganism a belief which is now protected by law.
A true vegan is someone who abstains from consuming any form of animal products, this differs from someone who follows a vegetarian or a plant-based diet. Animal by-products include dairy, eggs, leather, gelatin, casein and whey (found in most protein supplements). The main focus of veganism is that Animals are bred and slaughtered to feed and clothe us when there is a more sustainable and easier alternative to this method – becoming vegan.
It is reported to be healthier for our planet in the long run and it also preserves the life of animals the world over. There is a lot of hate and criticism of the vegan lifestyle but considering this belief literally hurts nobody I am not sure what we have to fear from its spread.
Can I become Vegan?
It is very easy to become a vegan and anyone can do it. The most important part of transitioning into Veganism is preparation which comes in two stages - Before you start in the form of research into what kind of foods you enjoy are and are not Vegan, and once you have begun transitioning food preparation is essential as it may be hard to find a vegan option when out and about so the safest (and not to mention the healthiest) option is to prepare food in advance. Eventually, the thought process behind doing your weekly shop (and checking ingredients labels) will become second nature and you will find yourself actively trying to avoid meat and animal by-products, but this will take time as it is considered ‘normal’ for us as a species to eat meat it will take a lot of time and a lot of will power.
What to be aware of...
There are many myths about veganism circulating the online space, most revolve around a lack of protein or that human beings have always eaten meat since the dawn of time, however, neither of these arguments have any research to support them. Firstly vegetables, beans and pulses all contain high levels of protein (some even higher than most meat sources) amongst very healthy servings of other essential nutrients and vitamins - the kind of stuff your body can't enjoy enough of. Secondly, according to Peta, during most of our evolutionary history, we were largely vegetarian: Plant foods, such as yams, made up the bulk of our ancestors’ diet. The addition of modest amounts of meat to the early human diet came with the discovery of fire, which allowed us to lower the risk of being sickened or killed by parasites and bacteria in meat. This didn’t turn our ancestors into carnivores but rather allowed early humans to survive in areas and during periods in which plant foods were unavailable or scarce.
The National Geographic comments: "a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating that's on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the world's resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables" (source). They do add that agriculture was only developed around 10,000 years ago. Until that point, humans got their food from hunting, gathering and fishing. We didn't eat processed foods then and there was no dairy. If veganism is a stretch then eating a diet more in line with foods eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors would help us avoid diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and even acne.
How to flourish as a Vegan...
As previously mentioned prior preparation is essential, so having the correct prep tools will go a long way to keeping you on track when transitioning, a vegetable stick slicer makes prepping carrot and cucumber sticks a breeze and these make a great snack to keep hunger at bay whilst on the go. Another great meal on the go is a hearty soup, soups are inherently vegan so finding a quick and easy recipe isn't hard and they keep for up to three days in the refrigerator (and months in the freezer) so are great to make in bulk.
The only main drawback of becoming Vegan is the lack of a vitamin called Vitamin B12, the body assimilates this from meat which over time our bodies have come to rely on. There are natural sources of Vitamin B12, however, unfortunately, our bodies struggle to break these down and absorb the required nutrients from them - the only real answer to this is to take a Vitamin B supplement which contains Vitamin B12 to be on the safe side.
Let us know if you have been taking part in Veganuary or are already a Vegan and have any of your own tips or recipes to share.