What is veganism?
Veganism is on the rise but what does it actually mean?
More people than ever are turning to a plant-based diet or a vegan lifestyle – even make-up brands are increasingly going vegan and cruelty-free. But is leading a plant-based diet good for our health? The number of vegans between 2014 and 2018 has quadrupled, with approximately 1.16% of the population now plant-based compared to just 0.25% in 2014, something is definitely shifting.
The definition of veganism was coined by The Vegan Society, who defines it as: "a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose." This means someone who leads a vegan lifestyle will avoid not only animal derived products, but clothing and shoes that contain leather and fur, and beauty products that have been tested on animals. Many people are choosing this lifestyle for different reasons; including a greater awareness of the impact it has on the environment, ethics of animal cruelty, wanting to help improve overall health or a combination of the three.
Should we all be vegan for our health?
Naturally, increasing your intake in fruit and veg is going to help your health improve. Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington says, "A vegan diet needs to be varied and well planned to be healthy and nutritious. Whilst a vegan diet may not be for everyone, a move towards a more plant-based diet for all is good for a healthier balance." If you want to make different food choices but aren’t ready to, or just simply don’t want to, have purely a plant-based diet, why not try meat-free Mondays or switching from cow’s milk to unsweetened soya milk?
What do vegans eat?
Everyone needs a balanced diet to help them stay healthy, and for as long as most of us can remember this has included meat and dairy. But someone following a vegan diet will avoid any animal products, which includes meat, fish, egg, dairy, gelatine and in some cases, honey. But don’t believe the rumours that vegans have nothing to eat. There’s now a wide variety of substitute meats, cheeses, milks and even eggs! Check out our range of vegan products and see for yourself.
How dangerous is eating high levels of red meat?
Vicky tells us, "The Department of Health advises that people who eat a lot of red and processed meat, more than 90g a day, should cut down to 70g because of a probable link with an increased risk of bowel cancer." This is where meat-free Mondays (or even week) could help make a positive difference to your health. If you eat a lot of meat and think you’ll struggle to cut down, try making small differences that you barely notice at first like having one meal a week without meat and see how you get on from there.
What nutrients will you be missing if you decide to go vegan?
There are a few myths going round about vegans and lack of protein. But with the amount of supermarkets bringing out their own vegan ranges, there’s plenty of protein to go around. Vicky says, "Balancing your food groups well and making use of fortified foods and supplements may help to provide essential nutrients if you aren’t getting enough nutrients from a healthy balanced diet." So if you eat right, you shouldn’t be missing anything.
Is suddenly going cold turkey dangerous?
If a plant-based diet is something that you’re thinking about or have been thinking about for a while, going cold turkey can work for some people, but Vicky suggests, "Do your research and take your time to make the transition." That way it’ll make it easier to become a lifestyle rather than a diet.
But what about honey?
Is honey vegan or not: a common argument that not all vegans can agree on. Some people say that honey isn’t vegan because of the exploitation of bees and that it can be seen as a product derived from animals, as they produce it. Whereas others believe that because honey doesn’t technically contain animal derived products, it’s vegan. The choice is yours!
So whether you’re a meat eater, flexitarian, vegetarian or ovo-vegetarian (you eat eggs but avoid all other animal products and animal derived products), try doing your research and just do what feels right for you!*
*If you have an on-going medical condition, please consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your current diet.