This is just the veganning!
10th January 2019
How many of you have considered going vegan for the month of January?
Record numbers of people have pledged to go meat-free this January. Although I’m not vegan myself and I don’t believe that a vegan diet is for everyone, I do feel strongly that we should all be eating more vegetables and plant-based foods.
I have done lots of research on vegan diets and I’ve read stacks and stacks of papers. Many people I speak to feel that maintaining a vegan diet is conducive to being healthier but personally I don’t think it is the only diet to follow in order to be more healthy.
The perceived benefits of being vegan
People often say that they feel much better since going on a vegan diet – and that may be true – but it’s hardly surprising when you dig a bit deeper and look at what their diet consisted of before going meat-free. For example, when someone eating a diet high in dairy products and non-organic, processed meats (with a tonne of packaged cakes and biscuits thrown in for good measure) suddenly removes these products because they don’t fit the vegan diet, of course they are going to feel better and have more energy!!!
By its very nature, a vegan diet will be lower in trans-fats. As well as reducing dietary trans-fats which are found in processed cakes and biscuits, vegans will also consume less sugar. Vegans also tend to eat more vegetables – and if you’re going vegan for the benefit of the environment and eating more organic food, this means you will be getting less chemicals. And of course, by cutting out meat, you are reducing the amount of antibiotics and hormones absorbed from meat that’s not from grass-fed or organic sources.
So you can see, just by eliminating certain things from your diet, you’re going to get significant benefits. If you eat more veg and clean up your diet, you can significantly improve the quality of your life. And of course, the worse your diet was to start with, the more you will gain from cleaning up.
VeganUaRY … Y R U Vegan?
Lots of people are under the misconception that becoming vegan will naturally encourage weightloss. If you do lose weight while following a vegan diet, it is most likely because you are eating less calories than before you became vegan. Snacking is also a biggie as lots of people that go vegan replace processed snacks with healthier, less calorific foods like vegetable sticks and fruit.
Maybe you want to give veganism a go because you feel it will prevent suffering? Anytime you’re living, your body has to take life force (in the form of nutrients) from vegetation options such as plants. Kirlian photography has captured images on film of the energy emanating from plants. We know that if you leave cabbage in your fridge for too long it rots and smells terrible, as does meat. Therefore, this suggests there must be some life force within the plant.
It’s much easier for us to connect with animals then it is plants. I like to remind people it takes life to sustain life. Your vegetables are as alive as the chicken you roast and both can rot and smell just as offensively as each other when they go off. It’s very easy for us, being sentient, to connect with animals and much harder to connect with plants.
There is a documentary called ‘Kale Versus Cow’ currently being made by a dietician which examines the ethical, environmental and nutritional debate regarding eating meat. I am super excited for this to launch later this year:
To put all of the above in a nutshell, the average vegan will be consuming less sugar than a non-vegan once all the forbidden goodies have been cut out. They are no longer eating meat which means goodbye to all the hormones, antibiotics and potential GMOs found in low quality meat. And, they are typically eating more leafy green vegetables. Can you start to see how the liver may well be very happy for this shift as it now has far less of a burden to deal with?
If you’re considering the switch to a vegan diet, it’s vital you approach it carefully with consideration for your nutritional needs. Whilst there are some great advantages to eating a plant-based diet, there are naturally some inherent disadvantages too.
Balancing blood sugar can be harder for vegans. I know I would struggle to stabilise my blood sugar because its so hard to get enough high quality fat and protein from a vegan diet. Of course, you can get fats from foodstuffs like avocado, coconut and nuts but many people do well on good quality animal fats.
When a low-meat diet is followed, people will also often be missing a lot of the essential amino acids which we derive from animal-based products. A lot of vegetarian protein sources are lower in sulphur amino acids which we need to run our glutathione and detoxification pathways. We also need methionine and lysine to complete the body’s essential nine amino acids which we can only get from animal proteins.
In addition, the building blocks that make your hormones come from cholesterol (fat) and protein. From a scientific perspective, we know that protein fuels our neurochemicals. Our hormones all come from cholesterol and typically protein, fat, and cholesterol are all connected in Mother Nature.
If you are considering trying the vegan approach for January, then please be aware of some of the key nutrients that you may struggle to obtain solely from a plant-based diet:
- Iron – Plant-based iron is less bioavailable than haemo-iron sources (red meat). It’s also recommended you combine iron with Vitamin C sources to help you absorb the iron more efficiently.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is found in dairy products and fish as well as the sunshine. Many non-vegans are deficient in vitamin D which becomes even harder to obtain on a vegan diet.
- Calcium – Calcium is required for strong bones. I don’t advocate eating dairy products regularly but as they have to be avoided completely on a vegan diet it’s important to consume nuts, seeds and plenty of green, leafy vegetables.
- B12 – Essential for metabolism and energy, meat is the main source of vitamin B12. Vegans are recommended to supplement with this as the nervous system starts breaking down when deficient in B12. Vegans can also become very anaemic to the point where their ability to create or carry healthy red blood cells becomes much decreased.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison…
Personally, I feel that by eating good quality meat in your diet you get better nutrient density and it is easier to balance your blood sugar levels, something which is so important for hormone balance and thyroid function.
I think it’s important to remember that you can still eat in alignment with nature, increasing your plant-based foods and removing all the chemicals, junk and mono-culture by eating local and having organic foods that are gluten and GMO free.
I respect anyone who chooses to try vegan in January, but please don’t feel pressurised by anyone to either continue with it if you feel it isn’t right for you. You won’t become too deficient in certain minerals if you’re just going trying out being vegan for a month but do please consider supplementation if you make this a long-term diet plan.
If you have tried Veganuary and you like the way it has made you feel but you are keen to start eating animal products again for whatever reason, perhaps you can try cutting out some of the non-vegan junk from your diet. You can still eliminate the vegetable oils, trans-fats and sugar whilst limiting dairy products, and eat organic. In this way, it will be possible to achieve all the benefits of a vegan diet while having meat. They aren’t mutually exclusive adaptations.
If you have tried Veganuary and you like the way it has made you feel, you may decide to continue with being vegan. A good approach is to stick with the vegan diet but to consider doing it in a more ‘flexible’ manner where you choose certain days of the week to be vegan but allow yourself a couple of days each week when you’re not. There are however no rules. You must do what suits you and feels right to YOU!
Happy New Year! Happy Veganuary!
Love Kate x
PS: If you are looking for some vegan cooking inspiration, why not download a copy of my online vegan cookbook, ‘Go Plant Based with Kate’ at-