Last year saw an upsurge in people becoming vegan, and this month is Veganuary – an opportunity for many more to give veganism a try.
For anyone unsure what vegan actually means, it involves making a change from the typical Western diet to one which avoids all animal products. A step beyond vegetarianism, in addition to meat, vegans do not consume eggs, honey or dairy and will also steer clear of animal-based products such as wool, leather and fur. Veganuary asks people to try a plant-based diet for one month, and if possible, to continue to do so once the month is up.
There are several reasons why veganism is a good idea. It’s no longer just about the fact that animals are killed to provide meat for a Western diet, although this is often the primary reason for making the switch. There have been vegans since before the 1960s and it’s now evident that vegans are generally healthier and live longer than those who consume meat and dairy. Scientific evidence also shows that industrial meat farming heavily impacts climate change, so reducing our meat consumption is beneficial to the environment.
People are often concerned that they won’t get enough nutrients, particularly protein, from a plant based diet. In fact, most plants contain protein (where do animals such as sheep and cattle get theirs from?). However, plant proteins are incomplete, so to make sure a vegan gets enough whole protein, they mix two categories of plant foods in one meal – the one compensating for deficiencies in the other. This is called food combining. It’s not that hard, either. Beans on toast or a lentil curry would both provide adequate and complete protein in a meal, as well as a high level of other nutrients and minerals that are often missing from meat and processed foods.
Veganuary offers an opportunity to explore foods you might not have tried before and to discover the benefits of eating healthy, wholesome and cruelty-free meals which are satisfying and tasty.
Taunton Farmers’ Market can help too. We have our own vegan stall, From Nature UK which offers a range of tasty take-away pasties and cakes, as well as take-home food such as seitan (wheat-meat), pizzas and cheeses, all delicious and with none of the fuss.
We also have two excellent vegetable producers – Linscombe Farm and Ray’s Veg, who both grow their produce without pesticides or artificial fertilizers, thus avoiding those pesky chemicals and optimising the nutrients available.