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Could You Go Vegan?

Could You Go Vegan?

1st November is World Vegan Day, established in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vegan Society, and now held annually at a time of year associated with the harvest and feasting. Interest in veganism is skyrocketing, with almost 3.5 million people in the UK now adopting a plant-based diet and many more restaurants offering vegetarian and vegan options.

The main driving force of veganism is compassion and concern for animal rights and the natural environment. More recently, advocates of veganism have come to believe that human beings can help tackle climate change by excluding meat, dairy products and eggs from their diet. Certainly, many believe that livestock farming is a major contributor to global warming and that it is not cost-effective in feeding the planet, and these are a few reasons why: -

• Cattle and other farm animals emit methane (28% of total greenhouse gas emissions) mainly by belching, flatulence and their manure.
• 100 calories fed to livestock results in only 12 calories for human consumption in the form of meat and milk.
• The livestock industry is responsible for 91% of rainforest destruction.
• 3 billion more people could be fed if humans, rather than animals, consumed food crops.

The vegan diet consists of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, beans and pulses, supplemented with soya and nut milks, tofu and other products to provide all the nutrients the human body needs. It’s believed to have positive health benefits, which may particularly interest gym-goers: -

• Cutting out saturated fat found in meat, dairy and eggs may reduce cholesterol.
• Eliminating cured and processed meats from the diet- recognised by the World Health Organisation as contributors to cancer- is beneficial.
• A diet based on fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds provides fibre, vitamins and minerals in abundance.
• Protein and other vital nutrients can be sourced from beans and pulses and tofu, made from soya bean curds is naturally gluten-free, low in calories and is an excellent source of protein, iron and calcium.
• Eating fresh and natural foods may result in better health, clearer skin and increased energy.

Veganism is becoming increasingly popular for religious, cultural and ethical reasons, and supermarkets are catching on to this trend and stocking a huge number of products suitable for vegans, from butternut squash curry to Turkish delight! Ocado has a useful filter that allows you to search for vegan items only when shopping on line.

Many young people are interested in becoming vegan and some UK cities host vegan outreach events and festivals where you can meet like-minded people and learn more about this lifestyle choice. However, veganism is not something to be undertaken lightly, and you need to make sure that you are getting adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and all the other nutrients that make up a healthy diet. The Vegan Society’s website includes lots of information and recipes to try out. And here are some ideas for vegan-friendly snacks you can consume post-workout: -

* Crushed avocado on wholemeal or granary toast drizzled with olive oil with slivers of crisp radish, a few baby peas and fresh chopped herbs or chopped chllies, seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.
* Raw vegetables – carrot sticks, celery, radishes, peppers – with hummus.
* Almonds and dried goji berries.
* A smoothie made by blending almond milk with frozen berries and a banana.
* Peanut butter on sliced banana or almond butter with pieces of apple.
* Baked sweet potato wedges
* ¾ cup of chopped Medjool dates mixed with ¼ cup of peanut butter and ½ cup of porridge oats, rolled into 12 balls, coated with chia seeds and refrigerated for a sweet treat to last for a week.

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