Millions of people choose to follow vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets in the UK. Last year, a record 582,000 people tried Veganuary and 85% of participants said they would at least halve their consumption of animal products after the end of the month.
While 86% of the UK population still eats meat, 14% follow a meat-free diet and 1.5 million of them are completely vegan. A strict vegan diet eliminates all animal products from both diet and lifestyle, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, leather products, honey and even additives of animal origin such as E120.
There are well-known and less-researched health benefits to following a vegan or plant-based diet. We’ve listed five ways a vegan diet is good for your health and some tips for eliminating animal products.
Read more: Lesser known ingredients that ARE NOT vegan.
How is a vegan diet good for you?
- Eating more fruits and vegetables means vegans could get more vitamins and minerals than non-vegans
- Eating more whole grains, soy and nuts can help protect your heart
- A vegan diet can help you lose weight if you want it to. In fact, meat and dairy products are among the highest calorie foods.
- By avoiding foods high in saturated fat, a vegan diet can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Some studies suggest vegans are less likely to get cancer
How to Follow a Vegan Diet
Vegan or plant-based diets do not contain any animal products. So that means no dairy, meat, fish, eggs and, in some cases, honey. This can be overwhelming for people who have always followed a traditional diet. Here are some tips for going vegan:
- Make friends with vegetables. Many of the meals you’re used to may start with a piece of meat, to which carbohydrates and vegetables are added. Vegan meals usually start with a vegetable or contain lots of vegetables anyway. Plug in and try new vegetables.
- Adopt the kitchen. If you’re not already a home chef, then going vegan might be a great time to give it a try. There’s less risk here, as you’re unlikely to get food poisoning from vegetables. Cooking at home on a vegan diet is quick and cheap.
- Try meat alternatives. There is a huge UK market for plant-based ‘meat’ products. Many of them are healthier than their meat counterparts and taste virtually the same. A good proportion of meat alternatives are also fortified with essential vitamins like B12. Discover the best vegan burgers on the market here.
- Remember that it’s okay to mess up. No vegan is 100% perfect. Many products contain hidden animal products that you might miss. How strongly you want to adhere to a vegan diet is up to you, and some slip-ups are to be expected.
- Don’t forget your protein. If you eliminate meat and dairy from your diet, you need to replace these proteins. Some vegans choose to use protein bars or powders, while others get all the protein they need from their regular diet. Some good sources of vegan protein are tofu, lentils, beans, and seeds, but there are limitless ways to incorporate protein into your diet.
- Make sure you get your vitamins. Some people are able to incorporate all the vitamins and minerals into their regular diet as vegans. Others may struggle and choose to take a vitamin supplement. There are vitamin tablets for everyone, and you can talk to your pharmacist to find out which one is right for you.