We are now well into January and all the new year’s resolutions are under way.
The main one that the whole planet seems to be talking about is Veganuary!
So for those of you who are unsure what this is, it’s basically a month where some people try going meat and dairy-free.
I think it’s a great idea, because what it’s doing is promoting thought around why adopting this type of lifestyle is so important.
There are such mixed views, but by switching to a more plant-based diet, you can not only lose weight and feel healthier, but you can have more of an impact on the environment. But I need to stress something, you can call yourself vegan and eat chips all day long. This is not going to fill your amazing body with the level of goodness that it needs.
You need to educate yourself and make sure you are getting enough essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron and calcium. And it’s not about replacing a lump of steak for a veggie version.
It’s about being clever and experimental with the best plant-based foods you can find and using herbs and spices to make delicious flavours, so you enjoy what you are eating.
Veganism seems to be growing in popularity. Participation in Veganuary has doubled each year since the first campaign. In January, 2014, 3,300 people took part, but in 2020 it’s expected that 350,000 people will take part in Veganuary.
This would save as much greenhouse gas emissions as moving 160,000 cars from the road or about 400,000 to 500,000 single flights from London to Berlin.”
But make sure you include plenty of the following in your diets:
Leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress and mustard greens. Cauliflower is a healthy and versatile addition to many recipes too, including pizza crust. Aubergine and mushrooms are a great way to get a meaty texture in vegetable form and they are easy to grill.
Choline is essential for the health of your liver, brain and nervous system, and can be found in small amounts in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains. The plant foods with the largest amounts include tofu, soymilk, nuts and seeds. A 28gram serving of nuts or seeds contains five to 12 grams of protein.
This makes them a good alternative to protein-rich animal products. Nuts and seeds are also great sources of iron, fibber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds.
Don’t forget to include some good fermented plant foods in there, too, as they are good sources of probiotic bacteria, which may help improve immune function and digestive health.
They also contain vitamin K2, which may promote bone and dental health as well as help decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer.
You can try sprouting or fermenting grains at home. Some can also be bought in supermarkets such as tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.
Seaweed is also beneficial as its one of the rare plant foods to contain DHA, an essential fatty acid with many health benefits. Algae such as spirulina and chlorella are also good sources of complete protein. Two tablespoons (30 ml) of these provide about eight grams of protein.
In addition, seaweed contains magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, potassium, iodine and good amounts of antioxidants. Chia and flaxseeds are particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid your body can partly convert into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These play an important role in the development and maintenance of the nervous system. These long-chain fatty acids also can help with pain, inflammation, depression and anxiety.
Beans, lentils and peas are great additions too as they contain ten–20 grams of protein per cooked cup. They’re also excellent sources of fibre, iron, folate, manganese, zinc, antioxidants and other health-enhancing nutrients.
If you are trying Veganuary this January, make sure you are smart with your food choices so you have all the nutrients that you need to maintain energy, stamina and vitality.