Finally there’s something we can all do this November, it’s World Vegan Month. Many of us still envision vegans as anaemic, long-haired, kaftan wearing tree huggers. But think again, from Beyoncé to Bill Gates, super celebs and super bloggers everywhere have made veganism the food trend of the year.
Words: Isabella Sullivan, Subeditor: Shannon Cowley
According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has doubled in the last nine years to 300,000, with no signs of slowing down. Even fashion bible Vogue has jumped on the Vegan bandwagon (if Vogue says its good… it is). As well as being ridiculously chic, veganism contributes to weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure and a huge array of cancers. So is veganism a realistic and sustainable lifestyle for a busy Londoner on a budget?
One of the main reasons friends give me for not trying it out is that being a vegan is too expensive. They don’t have the money to buy all that “hippie health food stuff”. Well jokes on them because my weekly shop has actually decreased in cost. With prices of meat, fish and eggs at an all time high, it couldn’t be a better time to abandon animal products. Shop at local markets and those street sellers that shout out bargains to find the best deals. I picked up courgettes for 20p each the other day, perfect for the hottest vegan recipe of the moment, courgetti.
Peanut butter, out the jar, with a spoon, is suddenly okay
Make easy swaps. Try almond or soya milk, and give soya yoghurt a go. I am 99% sure you wont taste the difference, I sneakily swapped the cows milk in my fridge for soya milk for a few days and none of my flat mates even batted an eye lid. It wasn’t until one tried out her new milk frother that my plan was exposed.
You can also get away with eating absolutely heaps of nut butters, hummus and avocado. (Peanut butter, out the jar, with a spoon, is suddenly okay). Research shows unsaturated fats found in plant-based foods don’t actually accumulate in visceral fat (the fat you don’t want around your middle). With unhealthy saturated fats from animal products gone from your life you can totally treat yourself.
Do it for the animals, environment, your health, waistline and your looks
Swap meat for chickpeas, tofu, legumes and mushrooms. You can still indulge in your favourite meals like curry, pasta bakes, and chilli con carne, just swap mince for lentils, and meat for mushrooms, aubergine and beans. The meaty texture will put a stop to any cravings. A can of kidney beans is just 50p and packs just as much protein as beef. Big butter lover? Try dairy free sunflower spread or drizzling olive oil on toast. You’ll still get the warm greasy goodness, without all the saturated fat.
One thing you’ll find is that you didn’t need as much food as you thought you did. In the luxury consumer environment we live in today, over eating and indulging is part of the norm. With a lot of convenience food options cut drastically, that mid-afternoon cupcake you kind of fancy but don’t actually need, becomes off the table. Former vegan sceptic and paleo journalist Anna Magee lost 2kg in just 2 weeks, without even trying. ‘I eat so much, more than I ever ate before, I’m always eating’.
Criticising her former lifestyle Anna reveals ‘At first it worked for me, the weight dropped off and stayed off. But then it started creeping back up, my muscles would ache after workouts and I felt tired and lethargic’. She now reveals she can work out everyday and she gets no muscle pain at all. ‘I have so much energy, my skin looks better and my sex drive is back with a vengeance. Now my challenge is up I can eat meat, but I actually don’t want to’. Anna revealed her ‘standard lunch’ to be a delicious salad of chickpeas, celery, shallots, tomato, balsamic, cucmber and raw cashews. ‘You can eat it by the truck load!’.
If you’re contemplating trying veganism do it. For the animals, environment, your health, waistline and your looks. There is no better city to try it out in. There are vegan and health cafes at every corner, and it really is the soul and body cleanse you need. Your friends may call you a bore, and you might get mocked so much you’re ready to hang up your kaftan and sandals for good. But in the words of Anna Magee “you’ll feel so good you wont even care who hates you at dinner parties.”
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