It doesn’t take long for #Veganuary to come around each year! In case you’ve not seen it before, Veganuary is a campaign to inspire and support people to try a vegan diet throughout the month of January. They’ve had over half a million participants since 2014.
The Veganuary vision is a strong one – A world without animal farms and slaughterhouses.
As a health and wellness site, I was interested to see the reasons people give for taking part – as shown in the pie chart below. I expected it to be far more about animals, but health just makes it to the top reason to participate:
From my own research, the jury is still out on whether or not a vegan diet is healthy, but one thing is certain – it’s beneficial to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce fast food – all of which is easily done on a vegan diet. I’m not personally in favour of ‘fake foods’ such as vegan cheese, faux fish fingers, mock duck (why?) or bacon – my opinion is that veganism is a great opportunity to explore the flavours and textures of fresh foods, but I understand these types of foods can help in a transition period when you’re craving the taste of a bacon sandwich.
In addition, there are mixed reports of the consumption of soya based foods such as soya mince, soya milk or tofu. Some sources say soy is an excellent, healthy food, whereas other condemn it virtually unfit for human consumption! You can read more about that on GoodHousekeeping and Harvard.
In this article I discuss the question “is being vegan healthy” and cover cholesterol, carcinogens in meat and look at what humans are naturally designed to eat.
However, if you stick to fresh foods, prepared in healthy ways, then a vegan diet can do a lot to support your health. Fill up on wholegrains and combine them with legumes to form a complete protein – such as brown rice and dahl. Add fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy fats and leave the ‘mock’ foods on the shelf. You’ll probably find you lose weight, increase energy and improve digestion and skin. Snack on vegetable sticks dipped in humous, slather smashed avocado on your toast and whiz up a smoothie of fruits, coconut water and spinach. It makes you bounce with energy just thinking about it! And if it all feels too much or overwhelming, then just pledge to eat a vegan diet one day a week. If we all did that, it would make a difference.
The veganuary site has a brilliant section showing you what restaurants and eateries offer as vegan options – as eating out on a vegan diet can be very challenging at times. It’s interesting to see how wide-ranging this is, despite a massive surge in vegans in recent years. For instance you’ll get a jacket potatoes and beans at Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses (the clue’s in the name, right?!) or corn on the cob and green beans at Kentucky Fried Chicken, whereas Frankie and Bennies will do you proud with everything from pizzas to burgers to pasta dishes and a full English ‘Vegan’ Breakfast.
Here’s a simple tomato soup recipe that I make a lot at home. It’s very adaptable, for example, you can swap the carrot for celery, or make the soup more substantial with a handful of red lentils.
1 large chopped onion
1 large chopped pepper
1 large chopped carrot
2 tsbp olive oil
1 clove smashed garlic
Herbs of your choice – I like thyme
1 tin chopped tomatoes or equivalent in fresh tomatoes
1/2 pint vegetable stock
Soya sauce or salt to taste
Pinch brown sugar (optional)
Watercress or spinach to taste (optional)
coconut cream or milk to taste (optional)
Fry the onion, pepper, carrot, garlic and herbs in the oil until starting to soften.
Add the tomatoes, stock, soya sauce or salt and sugar if using.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add a handful of watercress or spinach if you like (this can turn the soup a funky colour, instead of vibrant orange!) and warm through for a few minutes.
Cool slightly, pour the lot into a blender and blitz up with a little coconut cream if using.
Here are two recipes from the Veganuary celebrity cookbook. You can get your free downloadable copy when you sign up to veganuary: