2018 is the year of veganism. According to research, more than 7% of people in the UK are now vegan. Over the last couple of years, we have seen the biggest increase in people switching to a vegan lifestyle. If you’re thinking about making a switch, whether for health or ethical reasons there are a few things you should consider first.
1. What is a vegan diet?
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, through diet, but also through products you use and even the clothing you wear.
Veganism is more of a lifestyle than a diet.
Compare this to a plant-based diet: healthy eating is the main focus, consuming a whole food, plant-based diet while abstaining from eating animal products. Many people switch to a vegan diet for ethical and moral reasons, against animal exploitation and the environmental damage caused by modern farming methods.
2. Is it a healthy choice?
As mentioned, there are some differences between plant-based and vegan diets. One of these is the types of foods you eat. There are lots of junk foods which are vegan-friendly, but are not necessarily compatible with a healthy diet; think crisps and snacks, high carb and high sugar items, as well as processed and high fat, low nutrient foods. Like any diet, not having enough or the correct vitamins and minerals can cause issues which can lead to deficiencies that can negatively affect the body.
Switching to a vegan diet does not necessarily make it a healthy choice.
3. Will I get my nutrients?
One of the main things when switching to any diet is whether or not you get enough nutrients. Most people when following a balanced diet will get enough, however, when you take out different food groups, you also lose key nutrients. You can not get B12 on a vegan diet, so you need to supplement it. You need to make sure the foods you do consumer contain enough nutrients. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy green ones, legumes and nuts, low in salt, sugar and processed foods and oils is best to make sure you get a good range of nutrients and vitamins in your diet including vitamins B1, C, and E, folic acid, magnesium, and iron.
It’s important to know which vitamins your body most requires, so understanding your predisposition to absorbing vitamins and minerals via our NutriQlu test can help with this. As with any new kind of diet, knowing how to balance it correctly for your unique body type is key.
4. How easy is it to switch?
It can be daunting to switch to a vegan diet, completely cutting out all meat, dairy, eggs and seafood can seem like a lot to do all at once. As with any major lifestyle change, you should take a slow and steady approach; this sets you up better for success, rather than going cold turkey and cutting everything out all at once, meaning it’s less of a shock for your body. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Start by cutting down your meat and dairy consumption, look at introducing more meat-free days, slowly increasing them and eating less and less meat.
- Try new foods and recipes and start to plan your meals so you don’t end up panicking buying something unhealthy.
- Learn as much as you can about the nutrients and vitamins that are easier to get or hard to find in a vegan diet.
- Understand what exactly your body needs.
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