A chip butty is vegan if you use the right spread on your bread. So is a jam sandwich. And a can of Coke. But I’m guessing that’s not why you’re here…
You may be considering a Vegan diet, for all sorts of reasons - environmental, cultural, animal welfare, ethics, health, weight control, disease prevention - or all of the above. I won’t bore you with mine - that’s why they are at the end! - but this is about trying out Vegan food, and choosing good quality whole foods over processed and animal products.
Plant-based & Eco-diets
There are many variations out there e.g. Meatless Mondays, Vegan before 6 (VB6), Flexitarian which is Vegetarians who sometimes eat meat (I'm confused?!). Gaining ground is Demitarian, which is cutting your meat and dairy consumption by half for environmental and health reasons - see Mark Sutton in 2014 UN report, “Nitrogen on the Table”. And I nearly forgot Vegetarian, since it has become so mainstream - plenty of variations there too, ovo, lacto etc.
Whatever your reasons, you might like to check out our Easy Vegan 7-day Meal Planner and Recipes. This one is Vegan or Wholefood Plant Based (WFPB) i.e. no animal products at all, everything comes from Plants.
Now there are lots of vegan “substitutes” around, just as there are vegetarian e.g. fake meat products and fake cheese. They are ok now and then. Processed food isn't great healthwise though. Besides, thinking of how to substitute all the time can leave you feeling confused and deprived. Why bother!
I prefer the attitude of one woman I’ve read about . She cultivated a mindset of thinking of healthy plant-based as “Food” and everything else on the shelves as “Not Food”!! You get the shopping done a lot quicker.
So our one-week Meal Plan focuses on straightforward recipes using fresh and organic ingredients. Processed or substitute items are in there - but not much.
It works for me
This is tried and tested, as my diet has gradually become about 90% Vegan (is there a new word for that?). My reasons are partly self-serving, for personal health, and pragmatism. I believe that it is better to grow food crops to feed people directly instead of diverting them through animals to produce less useable food at the end. It drastically reduces the environmental impacts. That seems like a logical use of land. I'm also concerned that our Western diet and lifestyle isn't working well. When children are developing Type 2 Diabetes - Something is Wrong. It used to be called "Adult Onset".
High cholesterol made me accept that a Junkfood Vegetarian (e.g. frying eggs, eating lots of cheese) isn’t a healthy one. Thinking about being the only species that drinks the milk of another species, and beyond infancy, also struck me as a bit weird. Knowing that it comes from repeated impregnating of cows and taking their calves away didn't help. That was the demise of dairy. The final ‘Eureka moment’ came from a book called The China Study. What really hit me was the evidence that when people migrate from one country to another they acquire the cancer rates of the country to which they move - or rather their children and later generations do as they assimilate and switch to unhealthier diets in their adopted countries.
Anyway, that’s where I’m coming from. It has worked for me in terms of lowering cholesterol and losing weight. I’m happy with that.
Some interesting reading and resources:
Youtube: Vegucated 2010, Forks over Knives
"The China Study" by T Colin Campbell
"The Starch Solution" by John McDougall MD
"Whole" by T Colin Campbell
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: www.pcrm.org has Kickstart programmes online.
Vegan Society: http://www.vegansociety.com
Vegan Society of Ireland: www.veganireland
Whatever food choices you make - its never too late to start eating well.
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