You may be noticing more and more people are going ‘vegan’ these days.
Often you’ll hear it referred to as ‘plant based’ (though I would argue that’s not an appropriate title as any diet can be plant based – but that’s a whole different topic)
Firstly – I was a vegetarian / vegan for 27 years and so I can relate to every single reason that people are going vegan today. I was as into it as you can get. This is not an attack on veganism, this is simply a discussion to see if going vegan is right for you.
So, should you go vegan? Personally, I believe it depends on your intentions. There are many reasons why someone decides to go vegan, let’s look at some of the most popular ones:
For your health – No need. Vegan diets can be healthy yes, but they can also be unhealthy. Just as omnivore diets can be healthy but also unhealthy. It’s the quality of the food consumed that’s important and of course, getting lots of variety, vegetables, fruit, protein, healthy fats etc. This can be achieved on a vegan or meat eating diet. So, if that’s your main reasoning, it’s not necessary.
Because you don't want to harm animals. This is a tricky one, and the main reason I went vegan for so many years. Nobody wants to harm other creatures. Unfortunately both monoculture and animal agriculture takes the lives of living beings. It sucks, a lot. But when it comes to total deaths any large scale farming practices be it for soy or chicken is relatively high. That’s why buying from smaller farms that use sustainable and ethical farming practices are better if possible.
You want to lose weight– Yes you can lose weight on a vegan diet. But weight loss doesn’t equate health. You can also lose weight on a meat eating diet. Keto anyone? Let’s just ditch the weight focus altogether. Health is a feeling not a look.
It’s better for the planet: There are many studies to show that vegan diets are better for the environment but they are often compared to factory farming (ick!) Nobody likes factory farming but monoculture vs restorative agriculture is a whole different ballgame. Farming practices that are sustainable, restorative and ethical are going to best. This, again, can be achieved on a meat based or vegan diet. Start by checking out your local farmers market.
Because you want to – Great reason. Go for it. You’re an adult and you can do whatever you want. Fun right? Give it a try, but if it doesn’t serve you, you also have the right to decide it wasn’t right for you.
Because it makes you feel great – That’s great! It used to make me feel good too – but any way of eating that favours natural plant foods is going to probably make you feel good. And sometimes a vegan diet can make you feel good for a while – but ends up making you feel worse eventually. Just keep listening to an honouring your body.
You don’t like meat, eggs or dairy products – Another great reason. Can’t argue with that.
Religious beliefs – Some religions practice veganism, if that’s yours – great, those are your beliefs and I respect that.
You want to see how it makes you feel– Remember my all or nothing post? Why go straight to vegan if you enjoy meat or cheese when you can start small. Take small steps. Add in more veggies, get some healthy fats, be selective with your meat and see how you feel. If it’s not good enough, of course, keep experimenting until you find what works for you. That might be a vegan diet, and if so, great.
When it comes to whether or not you should go vegan – it’s really up to you. A vegan diet can be healthy – but takes a lot more planning and careful supplementation (ie. you NEED B12). On the flip side an omnivore diet can also be healthy and ethical if you enjoy eating meat and animal products.
A vegan diet can also be very restrictive and so I wouldn’t suggest it to everyone. It takes some careful planning and if you have an unhealthy relationship with food or an eating disorder you should tread very lightly and work with a nutritional professional before taking the vegan plunge.
When it comes to eating well for our bodies and our planet, it’s more about being selective, supporting local sustainable farming practices and getting as much natural food as you can - all of which can be achieved whether your diet includes meat or not.