With veganism becoming an increasingly popular choice, we look at the benefits of going plant-based – and how to stay healthy while doing so
The indulgence of the festive season prompts many of us to take stock in the new year, assessing our diet and lifestyle choices and making changes for the healthier.
And with Veganuary now a firm fixture on the calendar, it’s the time of year when more and more of us think about embracing a radical dietary change and going vegan – for January and beyond.
The number of vegans in Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019 from 150,000 to 600,000, or 1.16% of the population and, as of 2020, every one of the top UK supermarkets now has their own vegan range.
It’s not just compassion for animals which prompts people to go – and stay – vegan, but it does remain the key factor in the decision for many. Our own health, and concerns for the environment are other strong reasons why going vegan has become an increasingly popular choice.
There are significant health benefits to adopting a meat-free lifestyle, whether that’s vegetarianism or fully committing to a vegan diet. According to The Vegan Society, research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
But, as with any major diet change, it’s vital to ensure you’re still meeting all your nutritional needs.
Cutting out entire food groups, such as meat and dairy products, can have a detrimental effect on the levels of key vitamins and minerals you consume, particularly iron and vitamin B12, which are mainly found in animal sources such as dairy, eggs, fish, meat and poultry or from foods which have been fortified such as cereal.
Director of clinical services for private healthcare company Check My Health, Amelia Davies, says: “Today more people are choosing to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and it is vital for them to understand the effect of lacking certain nutrients which are difficult to obtain from these diets, like vitamin B12. I recommend this health check to those already following meat-free and plant-based diets to find out whether they may require supplements.”
Check My Health offers a Vegan and Vegetarian Health check (£299) which provides a comprehensive analysis of the key nutrients that may be missing from your diet and which could lead to serious health issues. Details can be found at www.checkmyhealth.today