It’s the time of year again when people maybe thinking about making healthy changes, possibly making new resolutions and getting more active. I say maybe as after a terrible year with the Covid-19 pandemic, new year’s resolutions may not be particularly high on the agenda. We may not have the energy or inclination to really change anything and that’s fair enough really! You may have already started being more active during the lockdowns or you may have managed to get up each day and function. After such a bad few months, both are an amazing achievement! Personally I’ve eaten more and had more alcohol than I usually would over the last week, so am looking forward to getting back to normal. However, there is one diet trend I won’t be doing this January and that is Veganuary.
Veganuary – what it is?
Veganuary is following the vegan diet for the month of January. For many people this maybe the start of going vegan for good. Veganuary is usually plastered all over my social media, as we hit the new year and lots of recipes. There are many reasons for doing this but it seems the main being to follow a more sustainable diet, some are against some animal cruelty and others for health reasons.
Just for reference the vegan diet is a diet that contain no animal products. This includes dairy products and eggs.
The Health Benefits of Going Vegan
Of course following a plant-based diet can be great for your health. You are likely to eat more fruits, vegetables and legumes which all contain more fibre, good for bowel heath. These foods are lower in calories and you may find you lose a little weight too. There is evidence following a vegan diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, likely due to eating less animal products.
I Won’t be Doing Veganuary – Why Not?
Following an entirely plant-based diet is a challenge in my eyes but not entirely unmanageable with careful planning. As always, I would never knock anyone else’s choices when it comes to anything; we are all individual and decide how we want to eat, dress and live! I follow a few vegans on Instagram and I know they cook up some amazing stuff! I also work in inherited metabolic disorders and I know there are now so many vegan alternatives that suit our patients on a lower protein diet; vegan sausages, mushroom mince, yoghurts, milk, cheese and even meat alternatives.
But for me? Veganuary? Not a chance and here is why:
– Although, I could give up meat for the month, there is no way I could give up fish, eggs and dairy. I have tried some of the dairy-alternative products as part of my job, as many of my patients are on a low protein diet and I just do not like them. The nut milks and some of the yoghurts are lacking in protein, which is the satiety factor and I don’t have a dairy or lactose intolerance so don’t feel I need to give up. Eggs are such a large part of my diet (we always buy free-range), eaten daily and I don’t think I would want to swap for smashed avocado on toast, nut butters, nuts or a non-dairy yoghurt and fruit! I’m also not a cereal person anymore.
– I would have concern about hitting the right protein intake and nutrition from my diet and feel I would have to remember to take at least a B12 and Vitamin D supplement to ensure I wasn’t missing out on anything vital. There are many plant-based ways to get iron and calcium but I’d worry it would just not be enough. I look after a cohort of patients who cannot have lactose at all are on calcium and Vitamin D supplements, despite many having non-dairy alternatives and we always give out advice on how to get calcium from other sources. It’s not impossible of course but I would worry.
– It would mean a lot of separate meals for the family. Personally, I would never make the girls follow a vegan diet, as they would need to follow and eat my planned meals to the letter, as it is so easy to fill up on carbs and not get enough protein, calcium, iron, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. My eldest is not keen on beans and lentils and my youngest only has a bit. I’d be reluctant to give them supplements and constantly rely on fortified breakfast cereals and alternative products to try and get in iron and calcium.
– I would need to be very organised which I feel with 2 girls, a toddler and a husband who would absolutely no way join in with Veganuary, I would find difficult. I would need strict meal planning and careful shopping and thought. Of course this is manageable but I think tricky. I’d be worried about being lazy and hungry and relying on carbohydrates a little too much for energy, instead of good sources of plant-based protein.
Following a More Plant-Based Diet?
Although, I know I couldn’t follow a vegan diet, I do feel as a family we do need to try and eat a little more plant-based at times. We have decided generally, as a family to avoid processed meats at home; so no sausages, ham, bacon or salami. I have also eaten out (not last year but when this article was written!) and chosen vegetarian options more recently; so veggie breakfasts, salads and general dishes. I had an fabulous Mexican meal recently based on vegetables, beans, guacamole and halloumi. I was satisfied and it was delicious.
You may also want to look at my 10 Vegan Recipes ideas if you want to go more plant-based for part of the week.
Last year I also reviewed the Turtle Bay Vegan Menu and it was delicious.
I want to try more recipes based on lentils and beans and see what the girls think, as I do feel we shy away from these dishes as worried they may reject and of course, this can be frustrating. However, this isn’t really an excuse and I know these dishes would be healthy and different. There are so many recipes on Pinterest; I just need to kick my bum into gear.
I also think for sustainability, we need to watch how much red meat we are consuming and already we do not have beef all the time and try to cut down a little.
So would you try Veganuary? Are you already doing it and how are you getting on so far?
Would love to know.