Western diets are largely characterised by a high consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs - the average European consumes 10x more meat than the average Ethiopian, Rwandan and Nigerian.
In saying this, veganism in the UK is now growing at an unprecedented rate, undergoing a shift from a ridiculed subculture to a mainstream lifestyle decision. The number of those trying to go vegan increases year upon year data from Veganuary (2020) has shown. In 2018, 170,000 signed up to the programme and by 2020, Veganuary had 450,000 sign ups.There are various reasons for this growth, including the rise of flexitarianism, innovation in plant-based food, and heightened health, environmental, and animal exploitation awareness.
From a young age, most of us are taught that our bodies need meat for strength and to get all of the right nutrients. This really isn’t the case, and whilst any diet can lack nutrients (plant-based or non-plant-based), it’s easy to get all of your nutrients from plants. It can be healthier in ways too. Some plant-based foods lack nutrients such as B12, however, phytonutrients, fiber and some antioxidants are absent from animal protein. Plant protein also contains lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. With the increasing number of people turning to veganism, it is important to understand the nutrients needed to make this a healthy lifestyle choice and to avoid deficiencies.
Pulses, soy products, nuts and seeds are a great source of calcium and protein, and very affordable too. Lentils and black beans are great substitutes for many ‘meaty meals’ such as tacos, burgers, curries and chili con carne. Tofu and tempeh are perfect when you’re also looking for something with a meaty texture, and pair meals with quinoa instead of rice - quinoa has about double the amount of protein per cup! Sprinkle some nuts or seeds on top of your morning bowl of porridge, or lunchtime salad for a tasty crunch. Load up on your leafy greens, broccoli and kale for highly absorbable calcium and to increase your iron intake.
But what about my morning cuppa? There are so many plant-based milks out there for you to try – some very tasty, and all are significantly less damaging to the environment than dairy milk. Poore & Nemecek (2018) found that producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m of land (10x as much as the same amount of oatmilk). Oat milk also provides more vitamin B-2 than cow’s milk! All plant-based milks have different nutritional benefits, so take a whole diet approach and see what works best for you.
No matter what diet you wish to follow, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients from a wide range of sources. At Healthy Nibbles, we make your transition to vegan snacking seamless. Head over to our shop to order your vegan snack box today!