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Veganuary & Beyond!

4th Jan, 2023

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For most people, the choice to adopt a vegan diet generally stems from one or a combination of 3 causes: their health, the environment and animal welfare. 

If we focus on health, there are infinite ways a vegan diet, but specifically, a plant-based diet can improve your health and contribute to the prevention of lifestyle diseases like obesity, cancer and diabetes. I say plant-based as a vegan diet doesn’t necessarily have to include fruits and vegetables and whole grains, it could just be chips, bread, crisps and Oreos. The term plant-based defines a diet based on whole plant foods that have been minimally processed and refined. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Unrefined plant-based foods are generally significantly higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients (specific health-promoting nutrients that can only be found in plants) which can all play a part in helping you feel your healthiest and most energetic. 

You will have seen the vegan sections in supermarkets are ever growing with more mock meat, fake chicken and a ‘bleeding plant-based burgers’, but are these actually any better for your health than the real thing? In reality, it is unlikely. Take a look at the back of many of these products and you will usually see a long list of highly processed ingredients. Though these products serve a purpose for those that may miss eating the real thing, they should not form the basis of your diet and are best only eaten occasionally. When adding protein to meals, focus first on beans and legumes and their by-products like tofu and tempeh as these also contain fibre and other vitamins and minerals. 

Choosing to eat a vegan diet can be daunting and a bit of a minefield if you've not tried it before. So, with that being said here are a few tips to help you smash Veganuary and beyond!

First things first – do some learning.

Eating a healthy and nutritionally complete vegan diet can be a challenge if you don’t know what you are doing, so it is important to do some homework

  • Where possible, try to get nutritional info from qualified nutritional professionals and referenced and reviewed online articles.
  • A good place to start is: Plant Power Doctor, Tim Spector, Healthline

Plan ahead

  • Make sure you're prepped with the basic ingredients you need so that if you need to throw a quick meal together you have a good selection of store cupboard ingredients

Build balanced meals that always include fats and protein

  • It's very easy to eat a carbohydrate-heavy diet as a vegan but carbs won’t keep you full on their own and can lead to dips in energy and cravings
  • Balance your meals including a source of fat and protein to even out the energy released throughout the day

Think about supplements 

  • Include nutrient-rich foods – vitamin B12 - Nutritional Yeast, omega 3- flax and chia, and walnuts (see article)
  • Supplements – Vitamin D (10 micrograms in autumn/winter - NHS), Vitamin B12

Get in the kitchen

  • Think of your favourite meals and experiment to make them vegan
  • Find new plant-based ingredients that you’ve never tried before

Whether you are looking to adopt a completely vegan diet beyond January, eat more vegetables or just want to get through the month, ultimately the key to a healthy diet is to increase your whole plant food consumption no matter what you are eating, whatever dietary pattern you follow. 

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