You must have heard of ‘Veganuary’ right?… Trying out a full vegan diet for January.
With the number of vegans in the UK having quadrupled in recent years, it’s no wonder Veganuary is the latest diet craze going around on social media.
From a nutritionist’s point of view, it can be a bit worrying, because a poor plant-based diet can leave people at risk of serious nutrient deficiencies.
The study by Oxford University and The New Scientist magazine showed that people who go ‘part-time vegan’ for Veganuary typically suffer a drop in essential nutrients.
Now keep reading because we don’t want to put you off, we just want to help you do it right!
The good news is that it’s possible to maintain a healthy vegan diet, but ensuring you’re getting the nourishment you need requires educating yourself.
So firstly, take note that “plant-based” doesn’t mean vegan. Plant-based eating simply means eating more vegetables: A vegan diet means eating no animal products, while vegetarians may eat products that come from them such as dairy and eggs.
Secondly, let’s get to the point of this blog post: If you’re switching to a predominantly plant-based diet this month then the below points explain how to do it healthily and happily:
• Eat a rainbow, for vegans it’s so important to vary your food and not to eat the same thing every day, this will help you consume more nutrients.
• Make the most of fortified foods, they will also help you get the vital nutrients you lack when removing meat and animal products completely from the diet.
• Watch out for deficiencies such as B12 deficiency, vitamin D, calcium, iron and iodine. Consult a nutritionist to find out more.
• If you suffer from nut allergies then realise that a vegan diet may not be for you, nuts and seeds are a good source of fatty acids and selenium. A plant-based diet including fish may work better for you.
• A vegan diet is not necessarily your answer to weight loss, if your diet was very high in saturated fats before, then of course you’ll see a difference. That said, some people find it easier to maintain a healthy weight on a more plant-based diet after weight loss.
So, to conclude, for the majority of people we would massively advise increasing the fruit and vegetable content within your diet without cutting out meat and animal products completely.
You could try keeping weekends or special occasions as the meals where you consume meat?
And maybe switch buying the meat from big supermarkets to your local butcher?
If everyone embraces small changes, they will go a long way.