More and more people worldwide are going vegan, for many reasons. Some believe veganism can halt Climate Change, some are following a trend, while others are opting for healthier lifestyle choices. This lifestyle is considered by many to be a top tier in wise health choices in this era. There are multiple benefits in a vegan diet, if you can get past the fact that you won’t be able to enjoy a steak dinner, or have biltong as a snack…and you can forget about that cheesecake.
World Vegan Day is celebrated annually by vegans around the world on 1 November. This day is celebrated by hosting cook-out events, sharing information about the health benefits of veganism and planting memorial trees in honour of the day. The day was founded by Louis Wallace in 1994 and aims to bring knowledge on veganism, and bring attention to the fact that each individual can make a contribution to protect the environment and animals by taking this route.
What does going vegan mean?
It means adopting a plant-based diet and avoiding all foods that come from animals – that includes dairy and eggs. Your menu will consist strictly of fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, breads, rice and pasta, vegetable oils and dairy alternatives such as soy or oat milk.
This diet might seem boring at first glance, but once you start learning new recipes and exploring the options you’ll quickly realise it is actually everything it thinks it is. It has so many health benefits, not only in the short-term, but also in the long term that the appeal has had a huge impact on global markets, with more vegan restaurants opening up and more vegan options being offered on many dietary recommendations.
Why should you consider going vegan?
Established vegan author and Eric Marcus, had this to say about giving someone reasons to go vegan:
“ A vegan lifestyle prevents a tremendous amount of animal slaughter and suffering. It offers a potent way to shrink our environmental footprint, especially in regard to climate change. And a well-planned vegan diet can fuel the highest level of fitness, while reducing our risk of various chronic diseases. Plus, the food is insanely delicious and becomes more widely available every year.”
Being vegan is not only about a change of diet, but also has an environmental impact that aids to help the future carbon print.
The health benefits of a vegan diet are numerous and varied. A vegan diet is typically higher in fibre and lower in cholesterol than a diet consisting of meat, fish and eggs. As a result, ongoing research states that a vegan diet has the following benefits:
-Eating vegan can help you lose excess weight
-Lowers risk of heart disease and premature death
-Helps manage type 2 diabetes and improves kidney function
-Reduces the risk of cancer
-Can reduce pain from arthritis
There are potential risks in a vegan lifestyle, which is why it would be important to consult with your doctor before following a strict. Possible risks such as having anemia due to the lack of iron, depression due to lack of Omega 3 fatty acid and a potential risk of leaky gut caused by removing animal protein and replacing it with legumes.
Vegan vs Vegetarian what\’s the difference?
A vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs), while a vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Vegetarians and vegans differ in their beliefs regarding the use of animals by humans. This is why vegetarians may consume things like milk and eggs which are animal derived products, while vegans strictly exclude all animal by-products. A third option is a pescatarian diet which is similar to being a vegetarian in that it’s largely a plant-based diet of gains, nuts, legumes and healthy fats but fish and other seafood play a key role as a main protein source.
How to get started
While it may be difficult to make the transition from being a lifelong meat-eater to being vegan, perhaps you can try it for the month of November to get a feel of it, or try a semi-vegetarian option where you eat meat in moderation. The perks will be a healthier you and you may just shed a few kilos ahead of the summer.
Here are a few blogs packed with recipes and information on a vegan lifestyle you can follow for inspiration:
-Accidentally Vegan on Instagram
-Lazy Cat Kitchen
-The Curious Chickpea