What to know if you are giving Veganuary a go
Has the annual Veganuary campaign inspired you to try veganism? What does it take to go vegan, are there implications? Vitality Magazine finds out
But despite the obvious growth of veganism, the idea of altering our diet can be intimidating. Veganism means avoiding foods that are derived from animals, the obvious ones being: dairy, eggs, honey, meat and fish.
What’s often overlooked is that everyday items, such as alcohol, gelatine and food colourings, can also contain animal-based products – all of which can add up to a lot to cut out.
So much so, some concerns have been raised over the nutritional value of a vegan diet. That’s not to say, however, that you can’t overcome them.
And, while the number of people going vegan is due to ‘ethical motivations’, many Brits are making the switch to the health benefits of a vegan diet as well as to reduce their environmental footprint.
So, more people are clearly dipping their toe into the world of veganism. But how can you make sure that you’re getting all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive?
Here, Vitality explores are a handful of tips to support your vegan journey.
It’s all in the planning
Thinking ahead of time can make a whole world of difference around how you structure your meals over the day. As veganism becomes increasingly popular, so does the amount of information.
In January 2022, 1,540 vegan products and menus were launched in the UK, tells the non-profit organisation Veganuary – the Charity that began this movement back in 2014.
This can quickly become overwhelming when we begin to think about what balanced, delicious meal to make. Some people find a weekly meal planner to be extremely helpful, this also allows for an easy supermarket experience and keeping track of your spending.
Also, before heading to the store, going through the products you use on a regular basis and writing a shopping list to see what is and is not vegan will help determine the foods to find replacements for that you’re happy with.
When making the transition to a vegan lifestyle, learning the basics of nutrition will help to ensure what you eat provides the nutrients the body needs to thrive.
The NHS recommends having “fortified foods or supplements containing nutrients that are more difficult to get through a vegan diet, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, calcium and iron”.
Ease into veganism
This is a personal journey you’re embarking on and adding pressure to get it right all the time may only discourage and demotivate you. There’s no right or wrong way to go vegan. Small, steady steps have a bigger impact over time.
James Vickers, Vitality’s nutrition expert, advises: “If you’re starting out, try and break it down a little bit at a time.
“Try alterative weeks, swap to a vegan breakfast, lunch or evening meal. Or pick days in the week to consume vegan products, as it can be hard to do all at once.” Try switching to a plant-based milk alterative once a day, or even weekly. This could be an almond, soya or oat milk.
Clare Gray, a dietician who has teamed up with Mindful Chef, recommends exercising caution when opting for plant-based milks, however, due to some lacking in calcium. She suggests opting for fortified soya milk, as this is the closest in nutritional value to cow’s milk.
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Veganise your favourite go-to meals
Going vegan doesn’t mean giving up the food you love. Just by swapping some ingredients means you can still enjoy many of your usual dishes.
And there’s no need to miss out on your go-to-favourites. Have a look around to see what replacements and alternatives are available to you.
For example, for anything with mincemeat, perhaps try switching it out of soya mince or adding lentils, and for a breakfast fry-up try vegan bacon and sausages.
Did you know that you can also make meringues from chickpea water? All you do is drain the liquid, known as Aquafaba, from your tin of chickpeas and whisk with golden caster sugar.
Try on your friends and family and see if they notice the difference! You can also make vegan mayonnaise with it too - click here for a recipe from our partners at Mindful Chef.
As a Vitality member, you can receive either £5 or £10 weekly Mindful Chef discount by getting active.
You must have a qualifying health insurance or life insurance plan.
Log into Member Zone for more details.
Ask the experts
For all the internet’s faux pars, it offers a host of weird and wonderful advice on unimaginable topics. And if you’re in need of some advice or vegan recipes that are also nutritional look no further.
Check the label
Products that are suitable for vegans will most likely shout about it on the packaging. But if you’re struggling to understand the back of a food pack, there are labels that signpost if a product is vegan. Vickers, however, warns of some wording to look out for.
“There is no legal definition for the term ‘vegan’ in UK and EU law,” he explains. “However, General Food Law requires food to be safe and for its labelling to not mislead consumers.
“Even if food says, ‘safe for vegans’ or ‘suitable for vegans’ sometimes the label will say ‘may contain’. This could be due to cross contamination at some point of the process, so although it may be a vegan product, it might still contain animal products.”
Going vegan can be seen as an opportunity to learn more about food and getting creative with it. So have some fun with it and get to know your vegetables should you choose to adopt a vegan diet – even if that’s making small incremental changes once a week.
At Vitality, we’re all about encouraging our members to make small positive lifestyle choices that can make a big impact to their lives.
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