A Nutritionist’s View On Veganism Post-Veganuary

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After Veganuary, some people might choose to continue the lifestyle.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary was started by a non-profit organisation in 2014 to encourage people to eat a vegan diet during the month of January. One of the aims is to promote and educate people about the vegan lifestyle, as a way of protecting the environment, reducing animal suffering and to improve people’s diet and health. Since its launch, it has grown more popular each year with 2020 having 400,000 people sign up according to their official twitter account. They claimed that this saved the carbon dioxide emissions equivalent of 450,000 flights between London and Berlin, and more than one million animals!

Is it about health or is it about the environment?

It is a bit of both. Most of the claims on the website are due to the benefits on the environment because of the consumption of less meat and dairy. However, adopting a vegan diet is only one way that can benefit the environment. Only 12% of participants said they were motivated by the environment whereas 46% of people participated because they wanted to improve their health. In the UK, we tend to consume more animal based products and not enough plant based foods, so by doing this people will feel some health benefits. However, the benefits are not exclusive to someone who participates in Veganuary. 

Why January?

January is linked to New Year resolutions and is preceded by Christmas holidays. It is a time where people become more health conscious and want to make up for the holidays. However, this may promote feelings of guilt around eating at Christmas, and may imply that people participating in Veganuary is to fix their wrong-doings over Christmas by being ‘good’ and becoming vegan for a month. This might not help improve people’s relationship with food and gives the impression that if we don’t improve our health in January, that there is no other starting point. From a health perspective, there is not one food that is inherently bad including mince pies, meat and dairy. Our food consumption will vary based on so many things, including time of year. But we know excess of any type of food regardless of what that food is, may have a negative impact on the body.

Would you recommend Veganuary for everyone?

Veganuary can be a great initiative for many people. It promotes the idea that veganism doesn’t have to be a long term choice. It could be a meal, a week, or a lifestyle. It can encourage people to cook more, experiment with new foods and increase diversity in their diet. People will usually plan meals in advance and consume more beans, pulses, nuts and fruit and vegetables. If you love experimenting with food and trying new foods, Veganuaray might be awesome for you. However, if you have a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, this can be triggering or too restrictive for you. Remember, just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they are automatically healthier than others. A vegan diet can be a perfectly well-balanced sustainable diet but it can also be a poor, imbalanced restricted diet. 

If someone wants to become a vegan, what should they consider?

After Veganuary, some people might choose to continue this lifestyle. At this point, to make sure that there are enough nutrients coming in from a variety of sources is important. Some vitamins and minerals to consider are Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine and Omega-3. People might consider a supplement of B12 and investing in fortified foods to avoid any nutritional deficiencies. If you are concerned about this, see a dietitian or registered nutritionist to get the right tailored advice.

Are you a vegan? And would you consider becoming a vegan?

No I am not a vegan. I try to include plant-based proteins in my diet and prepare vegan and vegetarian meals regularly, which I post online. I enjoy a variety of different foods including meat and dairy products and different cuisines. I would not consider becoming a vegan because personally it feels too restrictive for me and may impact my relationship with food.

Let’s stay in touch:

Email: aminastaki@gmail.com

Linkedin: Amina Taki

Instagram: @aminanutr

Facebook page: Amina Taki – Associate Nutritionist.

 

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