Is it good to be vegan?

Watching the global pandemic unfold has made many of us question our choices. Veganuary can be an opportunity to eat healthier and reduce your impact on the planet, which feels like a good choice.

Yet, vegan food isn’t necessarily healthier. For example, KFC’s vegan burger had more calories & fat than their standard Zinger burger (it also had 47% more salt).

Our top tip for eating vegan for a month is to set yourself goals & know what your motivation for doing it is. Not only will this help you make the right decisions, but it will also help you keep motivated if the temptation to have a bacon buttie feels strong.

Veganuary to lose weight

Here are a few tips if your primary motivation is to lose a bit of weight (whilst doing the planet some good):

  • Replace meat with low-calorie alternatives like chickpeas and lentils, which are also higher in fibre to help you feel fuller for longer. (Read more here about Super Ingredients which can help you lose weight)
  • For snacks, choose low-calorie fruits like citrus fruits, which are all low in calories or berries and melon- but steer clear of nuts & avocados.
  • If you are craving cheese, try using nutritional yeast in some of your cooking, which provides the ‘tang’ of cheese without the calories. (Our Dairy Free Lentil Lasagne uses nutritional yeast to give a ‘cheesy’ taste)

Veganuary to improve my diet & health

The vegan diet is generally considered to be higher in fibre and lower in cholesterol than a ‘meat-eating’ diet. So Veganuary can help you kick-start your healthy eating habits.

  • Try snacking on nuts, seeds & peanut butter, which are very high in protein, healthy fats & fibre
  • Incorporate more fruit & vegetables into your diet.
  • Don’t forget the power of exercise- even if you only go out for a brisk walk each day.
  • Plan your meals to ensure you get essential nutrients. For example, Vitamin B12 is high in things like nutritional yeast.

Going Vegan for environmental factors

A study by the University of Oxford found that not eating meat and dairy products can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by up to 73%

But, environmentally, there are many things to consider. Whilst we are no experts, here are a few points to be mindful of when deciding what to replace meat & dairy with your diet:

  • Out-of-season fruit and vegetables are often imported by air, increasing their carbon footprints. Try to eat locally sourced and in-season fruit & vegetables.
  • Also, some fruits & vegetables take many resources to grow. For example, Avocados need 209 litres of water daily (more than a large bathtub). Almonds, Cashew nuts & walnuts are also very water intensive.
  • Soya & almond milk have considerably lower carbon footprints than cow’s milk. But both also have high environmental impacts associated with their production- instead, try Oat based milk.

Tips to save money for Veganuary   

Although vegan products can sometimes carry a price premium, there are lots of vegan options which can help you save money. You might just have to get a little organised:

  • Pulses & beans cost per serving is much lower than meat and you can make so many meals with them like chilli and stews.
  • Look at frozen or canned veggies in meals, often they can save money (also you can often freeze you own veggies if you buy in bulk)
  • Cous cous, rice and potatoes can be cost-effective ‘bulk’ in your meals- splash out on a few new spices to breathe new life into them
  • Look at the ‘value’ ranges in supermarkets. Sometimes they can be accidentally vegan because vegetable oil is used instead of ‘expensive’ butter
  • Avoid substitute vegan products e.g. Dairy free cheese, which tend to carry a price premium
  • Meal planning is important to ensure you are getting the right mix of vitamins & minerals but also to avoid high costs from a panic buy. Cooking in bulk is also a great idea (& without the concern about re-heating meat for your lunch the next day)

Does a month of vegan make any difference?

It depends upon what differences you are looking to make.

Reducing your saturated fat intake (which red meat is high in) reduces blood pressure by approximately 45%. This helps lower the risk of heart disease.

Studies have also found that a vegan diet is generally considered higher in fibre and lower in cholesterol than a ‘meat-eating’ diet. In addition, a higher fibre diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

The University of Oxford calculated that if 350,000 people do Veganuary this year, they will save 160,000 cars worth of greenhouse emissions.

Also, by participating in Veganuary, you will, on average, have avoided eating around 929 grams of meat a week.

Perhaps the biggest difference you can make in participating in Veganuary is influencing culture & society. Being part of Veganuary conveys that animal welfare and environmental concerns are important and changes must be made.

What are our credentials to talk about Veganuary?

We’re not claiming to be perfect. Our motivation for this blog is to help people with hints & tips we’ve learnt.

Kirsty is a long-term pescatarian (she avoids meat but eats fish) who also avoids all dairy. However, Kirsty believes everyone has the right to decide what they eat, which is why we have meat dishes in our range.

Our meat is sourced to Red Tractor standards, which means it is reared and slaughtered responsibly to agreed welfare standards. We understand that to many vegans, the red tractor system has flaws, and we work with our suppliers to make sure these standards are always adhered to.

Our wider team, interested in health, have all been on journeys to reducing meat and dairy consumption. So we hope you enjoy our hints and tips, and we’d love to hear any hints & tips you have!