This month’s ‘Veganuary’ is seeing more people than ever opting to take up a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons. There are well over 1/2 million vegans in the UK today and according to research by The Vegan Society, it is now one of Britain’s “fastest growing lifestyle movements”.
There are many reasons behind why people decide to take part in this campaign and give veganism a go; predominantly an initial love of animals combined with an increasing awareness of the shocking reality of UK factory farming. However many have also opted for this lifestyle change for a simple health reason: to lose weight.
In addition, the nutritional value of the vegan diet coupled with its benefits for the environment on a number of levels means that removing animal products from our lives is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many.
So why am I not vegan?
I’ve been vegetarian since the age of 11 in a defiant, determined and long protest against cruelty to animals. Many people are still blissfully aware of how meat arrives on their plate and prefer to remain so rather than face the harsh facts of what really takes place in the slaughterhouses of today. Animals think and feel, express emotion and feel fear just as we do and my heart breaks on a daily basis when I think of what happens behind the closed doors of the abattoirs. If I could bulldoze the lot then I would.
Vegetarianism I can handle- the elimination of meat from my diet. When diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly 20 years ago, a diet low in saturated fat was recommended so as well as cutting out meat, I have also reduced my dairy intake considerably. However, I’ve always been very reluctant to take that next step and adopt a full vegan diet for a number of reasons.
I won’t be able to eat anything and cooking will be a nightmare.
I won’t get all the vitamins and minerals I need.
I won’t be invited anywhere as will be too hard to cook for and eating out will be an impossibility.
My shoe collection will be eliminated.
I would have to give up drinking wine.
Am I right?
No I am not. In fact, the reasons stated above are all just common misconceptions about veganism. With such a wide availability of support and information at our fingertips, there has never been a better time to embark on a vegan way of life. In addition to book and film resources, it is easier than ever to access meal plans, eating out guidance, shopping guides and even join local vegan support groups with just a few Internet clicks.
So how has my mindset changed?
I will be able to try a whole new range of delicious new foods and in my cooking, I will be able to experiment with a whole new range of ingredients and tastes.
With the wealth of information available as to how to plan meals, there will be no difficulty in ensuring I can get all the nutrients and vitamins I need.
I will be able to introduce new tasty vegan recipes to my friends and in reality, there are an increasing number of vegan dining options available in every town so it’s a chance to try something new!
It is the opportunity for me to buy lots and lots of new shoes!
I can look forward to trying vegan wine and drinking my body weight in that instead!