Veganism: What’s All The Hype?

Diet & Weight Loss

I’m sure we might all know a friend of a friend or are currently trying a ‘vegan diet/lifestyle’ ourselves. Let’s face it, there’s been a lot of media attention over the last few years. Oprah Winfrey encouraged us to try ‘The Vegan Challenge’, facilitating everyone to consciously think about what they’re eating and the bigger picture; the Meatless Monday  trend introduced in the U.S during 2003 shared the same principles. PETA and The Vegan Society (U.K) also highlight celebrities that are inspiring this trend.

 

Let’s just get something straight, veganism shouldn’t be looked as the newest ‘diet trend’, although it has been seen to produce weight loss results; as reported in a two year randomized weight loss trial shown in the Obesity Journal.

Veganism is a lifestyle, many starting it with different motives; for me it was partly to do with finances and ethics, but the majority was health related. Surveys  during 2012 showed that approximately 1% of the British population are vegans; the current population is about 64 million, which means just over 600 million people have committed to veganism. The Vegan Society reported a 40% increase in the interest of vegan lifestyles last year.  I suppose it’s not surprising, as we can be unaware of what’s in our food; does the ‘Horse meat scandal’ ring any bells? But why have so many people had this change of heart?  Surely, it can’t just be because of their desire to eat tofu and celery?!

 

Let’s look at some genuine reasons why people might have decided to switch…

 

Ethical Views

  • Pro-Animals rights. Media has pointed out that if we are going to consume animal products, we must inform ourselves on how it gets to our plate; if it disturbs us, than that just speaks volumes, doesn’t it.

Photo by_hello kelly Flickr_c60

To truly be a vegan, we must embrace and adapt the lifestyle; avoiding all animal products, not just the ones we eat, but within make-up /beauty products, clothing and even our mattress!

Environmental Factors

  • Sustainability. An AMJCN publication looked at land and water resources, food production costs and how many people primarily consume a meat or a plant-based diet. Overall, with current population trends, plant-based diets looked more sustainable.
  • Reducing our carbon footprint. A study assessing some U.K diets showed: on average, meat-eaters contributed 46-51% more food-related greenhouse gas emissions than fish eaters, 50-54% more than vegetarians and an incredible 99-102% more than vegans.

 

Women’s Health & Wellness

Views…
The Arguments…

High Vitamin C= Stabilised Blood Sugar Levels? = 🙂

Photo by: Lan Li Flickr

Photo by: Lan Li Flickr

A study that included 500 people with type 2 diabetes, gave a random dose of 500mg or 1000mg/D of vitamin C for six weeks.Results: a (1000mg/D) supplementary vitamin C intake may be beneficial in decreasing blood sugar levels in these patients and lowering the damaging effects of sugar.

Money Saving

Photo by: Ken Teegardin Flickr

Photo by: Ken Teegardin Flickr

Legumes and pulses are significantly cheaper than meat, particularly in their ‘dry forms’ and can be just as tasty and nutritious.

Enhances Natural Beauty

lips_Photo by_E J Grubbs Flickr

Studies, (one study based in Australia) could influence dietary choices when it comes to our beauty regime. Regular acne sufferers might be pleased with this update!

Reducing PMS

woman with cake and grapes_Photo by_Go Laura Flickr

PMS is affecting a possible 3 out of 4 women of child bearing age.The PCRM noted research linking low-fat, plant-based diets and the effect on PMS; by avoiding animal fats and keeping vegetable oils to a minimum, can help reduce physical symptoms.These outcomes have been reported from 1-2 months after changing lifestyles.Theories included these thoughts about oestrogen:
-Reducing dietary fats reduces the amount of it in our blood.
-Plant fibres help remove it from our body.
-Soya products contain phytoestrogens, these reduce the chances of natural oestrogen’s attaching to our cells; equals less oestrogen stimulation of cells (aka PMS).

Healthier Lifestyle

  • Prevention. A low-fat vegan lifestyle may be the easiest way to improve our overall quality of life, reducing weight gain, chronic diseases & illness; similar views were highlighted in a 2010 article by the Physicians committee.
  • Global recognition. Dietitians recognised that a well-planned, vegan diet can be appropriate. Check them out: BDA, ADA, CDA and DAA .

Need some incentives? An HSE report showed more than 6 out of 10 men (66.5%) and 5 out of 10 women (57.8%) in the U.K were overweight or obese; the WHO highlighted “65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.”

Maybe we should consider this lifestyle? We can always talk to a medical professional to make sure we avoid any nutritional pitfalls.

After all, what value do you place on your health?

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Michiko Yoshifuji Flickr
Sources:
Meatless Monday
Peta UK
Vegan Society
Wiley Online Library
Vegetarian Society.org
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Springer International Publishing
Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR)
Pub Med
Patient Info
Patients Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM)
British Dietetic Association (BDA)
American Dietetic Association (ADA)
Dietitians of Canada (CDA)
Journal of The American Dietetic Association
Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)
Public Health England
World Health Organization (WHO)
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2 thoughts on “Veganism: What’s All The Hype?

  1. I’m a plant lover and eat vegan foods about 80% of the time. You just can’t beat how you feel when you are energised by plant foods! It was a real eye opener for me after my diagnosis and now I just don’t feel right unless I have a green smoothie each day – I crave all those amazing nutrients! Laura xx

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree! The improvements I have seen within my skin, digestion, PMS and energy levels have been fantastic- I would recommend it to anyone, even as a flexi-regime. In the first couple months I still had some fish occasionally, but now its plant based for me! Admittedly if I don’t get my daily fruit and vege fix, I don’t feel quite right either. I’m glad that this lifestyle has allowed you to find some respite with your cholesterol; it can be a tricky and stressful situation. Lynn x 🙂

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