Veganuary has been big news this year. From helping to shed a few pounds post-Christmas to aiding the environment by giving up meat, there are many reasons why you might have chosen to support the campaign this January. So how did you get on? If you loved seeing the health benefits or have found that you haven’t really missed your old diet, you might be considering making veganism a permanent part of your new diet for 2019. Even if you want to enjoy other foods, you could always make some vegan food swaps, or even have meat-free days during the week. Perhaps you’re still trying to weigh it all up? How about considering a few of the points below to help you make a decision.
Benefits of a vegan diet
Veganism is becoming increasingly common, as people look to make more responsible food choices and choose a healthier diet and lifestyle. Some of the benefits of a vegan diet include:
- A higher amount of essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs
- Weight loss assistance due to a focus on healthier eating
- Could be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes when accompanied with the right medical advice
- It’s lower in saturated fat which could help reduce your cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease and other conditions.
While there are many benefits to a vegan diet, you’ll want to ensure that you do your research carefully to make sure it’s the right choice for you.
While going vegan for a month for Veganuary can be a relatively straightforward change, there’s a lot to consider if veganism is going to form a permanent part of your diet. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to become a vegan, thanks to the growing number of foods available in supermarkets, as well as a bigger variety of options on restaurant menus.
Focus on a protein-rich diet
Meat and dairy are key sources of protein, and cutting these out of your diet can mean that you suffer from a lack of it. However, there are many vegan sources of protein which could form a significant part of your daily diet. Beans and pulses, in particular, are great sources of vegan protein.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
Aim to eat your 5-a-day, as it’s important for getting the right amount of nutrients into your body.
Eat starchy carbohydrates
Carbohydrates provide you with energy, so make sure your meals include portions of starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta and rice.
Plan your meals
Meal planning can help ensure that you get the right nutrients in your diet, as well as make sure that you’re eating enough food. Plan out your food for the day, including snacks and plenty of water to help you stay healthy.
Watch your iron levels
It’s possible to enjoy a healthy intake of iron with a vegan diet, but you need to make sure that you’re getting enough of it. Iron is found in wholemeal bread, cereals that include iron, pulses, leafy vegetables, dried food and nuts.
Boost your Omega-3s
Omega-3s are a recommended part of your diet, but as fish is the most common source of Omega-3, you’ll need to look at other ways to increase your Omega-3 intake. Foods which contain soya such as tofu, flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil and walnuts are also good sources of Omega-3s.
Making vegan food swaps
If a permanent vegan diet isn’t for you, there are still some vegan food swaps you can make to enjoy a healthier diet and cut down on how much eat you eat. Some things you can do include:
Swapping cow’s milk for other sources
There are a lot of non-dairy milk varieties out there including coconut, soy, almond and oat milk. Offering a lower-fat alternative to typical cow’s milk, you can use alternative milks in your hot drinks, cereal, cooking and more.
Enjoy vegan curries
A vegan curry will provide you with many key nutrients in one hit. You can enjoy curries made with several vegetables and pulses as an easy to prepare dish that will give you a lot of what you need.
Try vegan cheese
Cheese can be a tough thing to give up, but fortunately there are a lot of vegan cheeses available now that you can substitute in your favourite dishes.
Look at meat alternatives
There are many meat alternatives available now that can make it easy to enjoy your favourite dishes without the meat. Try Quorn, seitan, jackfruit, tofu and tempeh to add variety to your diet.
When making changes to your diet, it’s important that you consult your doctor. There is plenty of information about vegan diets on the NHS Choices website so you can make veganism a healthy part of your lifestyle.