After doing the vegan-January at the start of the year, and then being a vegetarian since, I can honestly say that I have not missed eating meat. I feel better for it, and spend less on our weekly shop as a result (the husband is not veggie, but I make the majority of our evening meals as vegetarian). We were definitely ‘meat reducers’ before I took the plunge to go full-time, and there are so many reasons why.
Don’t get me wrong, though, eating these kind of foods doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Some Quron sausages, chips, and baked beans is technically vegan, but isn’t exactly filled with that many nutrients. So you do need to be selective about the foods that you choose.
So, Why Go Veggie?
Lots of people are cutting back on meat or taking the plunge and going vegetarian. There are lots of reasons for this trend. Many are reducing meat consumption for their health, or because it is more ecological. A simple vegetarian or vegan diet can be a lot cheaper too. Then there are ethical concerns about eating animals and how they are farmed. For many though it’s just to enjoy the crisp vibrant flavours and vitality that plant based food has to offer.
5 Reasons to Make Vegan Foods Part of Your Life
1. Health and Nutrition
As soon as we give up unhealthy food everyone worries about nutrition. Am I getting enough protein and energy? Don’t worry there is nothing unnatural about eating natural food. There are a few simple rules to follow. Just combine grains like rice and good bread with pulses to make a great combination of protein and carbohydrates.
The only other thing to consider is the oils. We have almost concluded now that all fats are bad for us. But our body has as much fat as protein. It is essential, so we need good fats. These are the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. These are present in healthy nuts and seeds, especially in linseeds that can be thrown into smoothies.
2. Save the Earth
If you are worried about the environment, eating a more plant based diet is one of the best things you can do! Pulses are legumes which fertilize the soil by fixing nitrogen and reduce the need for chemicals. Plants produce a lot more food per acre that you get when they are fed to animals. This means we need less land to feed a hungry world.
3. Save Money Too!
There is a misconception that eating healthy food is expensive.
Not only is this food better for the environment but it does not cost the earth in another way. This healthy diet based on pulses, grains and vegetables is very cheap. Lentils, rice and split peas can cost as little as 50p or £1 a kilo. When cooked both expand and double or triple in mass making the real cost less than 50p. The other main ingredients are seasonal vegetables which are also great value at around £1 or £2 per kilo.
The other reason of course is to reduce animal suffering. No one likes intensive animal farms so this is a great way of avoiding it. Even free range animals have to be killed to produce meat so lots of people want to take themselves out of that food chain.
Really each of these, health, cost, environment and animal suffering are good enough reasons to go veggie or more of a ‘flexitarian’.
How To Get Started
To start off with, simply reduce how much meat you are consuming and try out some new vegetarian recipes – there are a wealth of cookbooks or veggie blogs out there to help. Adding more ingredients into your store cupboard like lentils and rice can be a good way to build up a supply of foods to try out.
Have you ever considered going veggie before? I never thought I would, to be honest! It would be great to hear what you think.