We have written about veganism in mainstream media here on The Hills before, and many of you told us on social media that you were interested in the idea of trying to go plant-based, but struggled to find the inspiration, time or ideas. Well, if you hadn’t noticed, Veganuary is here and it is ALL about inspiring people to try vegan!
Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year, and so far over 250,000 people have downloaded their free cookbook to try their recipes. The charity says ‘There are so many reasons people decide to try vegan. For most, a love of animals is the catalyst. Some people want to feel better about themselves and the impact they make on the world. Others would like to set themselves a challenge, and many combine Veganuary with their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and see trying vegan as the healthiest start to the year.’
Research shows that health is now the second biggest driver towards people opting to try a vegan lifestyle, and more and more people are ditching animal products in order to combat specific health problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes. For others, they say they have more general improvements in energy and vitality, and exclaim they’ve ‘never felt better’. Approximately 30% of the UK population have high blood pressure and studies show that vegetarians, and vegans in particular, have lower blood pressure than meat eaters! Additional cholesterol levels, a high risk factor for coronary heart disease, is still one of the biggest killers in the west, and by adopting a vegan diet cholesterol levels are lower in vegans than in the standard population. The British Dietetic Association even confirms: ‘well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living in people of all ages’.
As stories of successful vegan athletes and sports stars are on the increase, there seems no time like the present to give it a go. Take rural football team Forest Green Rovers, for example, the (almost) 100% vegan football club. The team has just been promoted for the first time in their 128 year existence and for club’s owner Dale Vince, a eco-warrior millionaire who made his fortune by selling renewable electricity to the national grid, the move towards a completely vegan ground in 2015 couldn’t have been better! Since 2011, when the team initially banned red meat, it was clear their talents were improving on and off the pitch as their Qpie - a Quorn and leek pie made with soya milk bechamel – just won a podium spot at this year’s British Pie awards!
But it's not just health benefits that have us ditching the builder’s tea - going vegan is the ‘single biggest way’ we can reduce our environmental impact, according to Oxford University researchers.They say that eating a plant-based diet can cut our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution and water usage, prevent deforestation and save wild animals from extinction worldwide. A huge amount of land is needed to graze animals and to grow the grain to feed them. In order to create enough farmland to cater for the global meat demand, ancient forests and other precious natural habitats are razed to the ground, and predictions show that if we keep cutting them down at the current rate, the world’s rain forests will be gone in one hundred years. To put it into perspective - we are currently losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, equivalent to 27 of Forest Green Rovers’ beloved football pitches every minute!
We have mentioned the impacts of veganism on our local farming industry before, and as the The Vegan Society suggested - modern agriculture is suffering in its current form, and so a move to more agricultural farming is an indication that the growth of veganism is simply sparking ‘the beginning of a new future of farming’.
Unfortunately, there exists some media scaremongering and subsequent public misconceptions which can cause people to worry about going vegan, and so I would encourage you to do your own research about whether a decrease in animal products will work for you and your lifestyle. I recommend this myth archive as a great place to start!
For me, a move towards a sustainable environment, rural farming industry and all round healthier lifestyle is a difficult set of positives to ignore, and so this January I am pledging to cut down on my animal products, and explore the wonderful world of plant based recipes. I am hoping to get out there and discover some local growers and am especially looking forwards to finding some ‘pick your own’ plots to get stuck in!
As veganism is gaining more and more mainstream popularity, we have seen the likes of Marks and Spencer and even Gregg’s add plant-based fare to their shelves this month, and I am excited about discovering these new options, as well as fabulous new independent vegan cafés like The Jaunty Goat who are opening their first completely animal-free vegan café! Of course, you don’t have to go out to try some vegan options - hunt out some vegan recipes and get started in your own kitchen!
Are you trying Veganuary this month? Or maybe just a general move towards less meat? Please come and share your views and experiences with us in the comments or over on our Facebook page!