Is Turning Vegan Right For Me?
Veganism has been around in its official form since about 1944. But with more and more people turning to a vegan diet for health and social reasons, we asked our resident carnivore Samantha Martin to find out if going vegan was right for her
When I got the call to write a piece about going Vegan, my first thought was no. Absolutely not! There is no way that I’m doing the practical for this one. I’m a meat lover and take pride in roasting my chicken to perfection and doing the meanest medium rare Sirloin. Also, I have a nut allergy which immediately makes me think that I can’t eat most of the items in a Vegan diet.
I was wrong.
I spoke to a fellow nut allergy sufferer who has been completely Vegan for several years now and eats a good, well-balanced diet. But he’s also super healthy and doesn’t buy in to the Vegan friendly fast foods (junk) available pretty much everywhere these days. Personally, I’m still trying to get my head around how you can have a Vegan sausage roll. I’m really not sure how that one works.
Now I come to think of it, having a nut allergy is probably very similar to being Vegan when it comes to eating out, takeaways and meal planning. This can be a minefield at times and even though more and more places are now getting better at properly identifying food ingredients, it took a change in the law for this to happen. I do often wonder how seriously establishments take Vegan food preparation. Is there cross contamination for example? This is always a major concern of mine, and when I asked Vegan friends, they too had the same concerns.
Even though there is a Vegan version of pretty much everything, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. A lot of packaged foods are overly processed to give them flavours. But a lot of the Vegans I have spoken with tell me that they avoid these types of foods, for the very fact of how processed they are.
So, in the food and diet conscious society that we live in today, what are the reasons for turning Vegan?
Many that I asked told me it was for health or lifestyle reasons. Some quoted animal welfare concerns, others were concerned about the environmental impact. There were some that just didn’t really like meat and others that wanted to cut certain fats from their diet. Few people said that they had taken the decision on a whim, and most had planned and thought about it very seriously.
It’s also not just diet that Vegans change. There are so many animal products in our lives that many of us overlook. Leather for example. Many clothing manufacturers and retailers now produce Vegan leather ranges of shoes, jackets etc. Changing what you wear involves a lot more conscious thinking when shopping for an outfit. And it doesn’t stop there. Hair, beauty and makeup products are now becoming Vegan friendly. These are products that I’ve often struggled with due to the vast amount of nut products contained in them. A lot of these products already contain some quite nasty chemicals so it’s good to know what you are putting on your skin. Natural ranges are becoming a lot more popular and contain ingredient formulas that do the job just as well as the overly processed, synthetic versions. But again, you need to spend some time researching all the products that you use.
The more I’ve researched Veganism, the more I’ve realised it involves a complete lifestyle change. Experts and dieticians all recommend making the shift a gradual process. It’s not something you can just wake up one morning and start to do. Since we get most of our nutrients from the food we eat, it’s important to make sure you are still getting those and replace any lost with supplements. Vegan friendly ones of course. I’ve spoken to a couple of people who haven’t managed their Vegan diets very well and ended up either putting on a lot of weight due to overindulging in the processed variety or eating too many breads and pasta dishes. Whilst one person told me that their daily calorie intake became dangerously low and they started to not be able to carry out their normal daily routine.
Whereby a calorie deficit diet can be good for you in the short term to aid weight loss, it is not a healthy option in the long term and can cause serious health problems. If you are looking to go Vegan for health and weight reason, then it’s best to do this under the guidance of someone who knows what they are doing.
So, will I be turning Vegan any time soon?
Unfortunately, the answer to that is no. Although, I will admit we have cut down our meat intake in our house quite a lot of late and started to have more vegetarian meals. But given I already find food shopping and eating out stressful enough as it is having to double check everything, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to add another layer of stress to that. However, I do admire those that have changed their ways and now adopt a fully Vegan lifestyle. It can’t be easy and certainly requires a lot more thought and preparation than I thought it did.
But the sausage rolls still have me confused.