Why choosing a plant based diet is gaining ground!
According to recent stats, there are approximately 600,000 vegans in the UK, equivalent to over 1% of the British population. Veganism is on the rise, in fact, the past four years alone have seen the number of vegans quadruple, signalling a significant changing tide when It comes to our food choices.
We spoke to Emily Lamont, Seed’s vegan nutritionist, to find out more about this rising trend of swapping out meat for plant-based alternatives and how it benefits our health.
I think there is a growing collective consciousness of kindness and an increase in a knowledge and awareness, not only around the treatment of animals and how they are sentient beings, but also in how it is possible thrive on and enjoy a plant-based lifestyle without feeling like we are missing out. The increase in celebrities and top athletes announcing they are vegan helps prove that you can be exceptionally healthy following a plant-based diet.
Unfortunately, I see many people getting the balance of plant-based diets wrong and this could lead to long term health problems. This is especially important if people have pre-existing health conditions or symptoms. Even with nearly a decade of experience as a Nutritional Therapist, when I turned vegan I began to experience very minor symptoms that most people would put down to other factors. I knew these were signs that my body was lacking vital nutrients and getting out of balance; a few tweaks here and there, and these were easily corrected, but the longer you leave it, the harder it is to rebalance the system.
Yes veganism is on the rise, but there is a lot of misinformation around regarding what nutrients your body requires and how to obtain it in adequate and usable plant-based forms. The rise of vegan foods in both the supermarkets and on restaurant menus is very positive to see, but these often contain the wrong balance of nutrients and unhealthy ingredients for flavour, stabilising, preserving and to make them moreish.
It is my mission to make it easy for people to make healthy choices that are also delicious and fun. Food should be enjoyed, but it must be nourishing too!
It was a gradual change from pescatarian to vegetarian and finally to vegan over the course of about 12 months, but this was mainly due to concern regarding how others would feel and whether it would cause difficulties socially. Once I decided to stand firm with my beliefs rather than appeasing others, it was a quick and easy decision.
It is vital to keep protein varied, so I don’t have a particular favourite – I use a lot of organic tofu, tempeh, and beans and pulses. I am really enjoying trying the new plant proteins that are being made available – like pea protein sausages and the other day I cooked with sunflower seed mince in an Asian inspired dish – it was delicious!
There are lots of plant-based dairy alternatives to milk, cheese, creams, and desserts but look out for sugars and other unhealthy additives.
I’m in the latter half of my forties and I feel healthier than I have for decades – way more energy, more vitality, my body feels toned and I am below the target weight I had set myself for years and couldn’t previously achieve. From a mental health perspective, learning how to stand up for my beliefs in a firm but fair and light-hearted way has helped boost my confidence and happiness in other areas of my life too, and this is essential for one’s physical health.
Please, please make sure you are obtaining adequate nutrients, such as protein, omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins. You will need to supplement at least B12, but probably other nutrients too depending on your individual circumstances, and for this I would always obtain the guidance from a qualified professional who will fully respect and support your beliefs.
Every meal is important to nourish your body, but the way we start the day in terms of what we ingest sets the body up for the rest of the day. Whether you eat later because you are fasting or eat soon after waking, what you choose to break the overnight fast should be nourishing and beneficial to the body.
My favourite quick breakfast is finely chopped brazil nuts and walnuts, hemp and or pumpkin seeds and some ground flax, ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon and a large handful of blueberries and pomegranate. I add plant milk or coconut yoghurt. This is a great alternative to cereal as it keeps me fuller for longer and offers a good source of protein, beneficial fats, fibre and lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I love it when I share a plant-based alternative with non-vegans and it goes down a storm! So here is my favourite Cauliflower Not-Cheese recipe:
50 g cashews soaked for 5 minutes in hot water
200 ml unsweetened plant milk
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
Pinch salt & pepper
I always try to have some protein if I am snacking such as nuts or seeds and fruit. Nut butters can be used either savoury or sweet – so I might have peanut butter spread on celery, or a tablespoon of almond nut butter with raspberries or banana. Roasted chickpeas are also delicious sweet or savoury, and you can buy these pre-packaged for a great on the go snack. Hummus and bean dips are great with raw vegetable sticks. If I’m at home, I might bake some seasoned kale or other greens for 10 minutes – and for protein you could add some walnuts to the baking tray!
If you’d like to learn more about switching to a plant based diet or have any questions on anything touched on in this blog, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org