During January you’ve probably seen a blogger, colleague, or even your best friend try to go vegan, but the lifestyle choice is more than a monthly trend.
There are estimated to be more than 540,000 vegans in the UK, but the latest research was carried out in 2016 so this number is likely a lot higher.
Vegans don’t eat or use any animal products – their diet and lifestyle are purely plant-based.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and becoming vegan, it’s important to know what you’re getting in to – it’s a big commitment.
Veganism isn’t a fad diet
There are many reasons people decide to become vegan, a stand against animal cruelty is the main one, but a fast track to weight loss shouldn’t be one.
Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t automatically make you healthy, although it can be a step in the right direction.
People who become vegan for weight loss usually only eat fruit and veg, miss out carbohydrates and, most importantly, don’t look into the supplements they need to stay healthy without animal products.
Veganism should be a lifestyle choice, not a quick-fix diet after Christmas.
It’s more than a diet choice
While veganism is a diet choice, for most people it is also a lifestyle choice.
Becoming vegan means no products derived from animals as well as food. That means your favourite leather jacket, suede boots and even traditional latex condoms aren’t an option.
There are a lot of products that aren’t vegan that you might not expect. Some tattoo ink, mascaras, lipsticks and certain laundry detergents aren’t vegan.
It isn’t all bad: the more time goes on more alternatives are appearing and more companies are creating vegan-friendly products.
You can replace your leather with pleather, buy cruelty-free makeup, get vegan-friendly tattoos and even buy vegan condoms that are just as effective.
It isn’t all salad
A lot of the time a vegan diet is referred to as rabbit food, but it isn’t all veg and salad.
Becoming vegan doesn’t mean restricting yourself to only eating vegetables and never having a treat again.
Alongside legumes, meat alternatives and things like pasta or rice, there is loads of products you wouldn’t expect to be vegan.
Oreos, Party Rings, most pot noodles and Tesco’s bacon rasher crisps are all vegan. Peta has a great list of snacks that you didn’t expect to be vegan.
For days when lentils, lettuce and Lindt dark chocolate won’t cut it, you can turn to vegan cheese alternatives, vegan ice cream or go and get a chippy (if they’re cooked in a separate fryer from the fish they’re usually vegan).
You’ll need some know-how
Before you rush into becoming a vegan you’ll need some know-how.
While a plant-based diet is better for the environment, it can be damaging to your body if you don’t make sure you’re getting the right vitamins and nutrients.
If you are buying milk alternatives check that they have added nutrients like calcium and try and eat nuts or seeds with a high omega 3 levels.
The Vegan Society has a great starter guide on nutrition and the vegan diet.
If you have a health condition it is important to consult your doctor before completely changing your diet.
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A helping hand
If you’re in need of some serious vegan inspiration start searching on Pinterest and Instagram, you will be greeted by weird, wonderful and surprising recipes, foods and tips.
At Family Life HQ we love @accidentallyveganuk on Instagram. This account is full of vegan and accidentally vegan foods you can find in your local supermarket or coffee shop. It’s also the perfect excuse to sit and eat Betty Crocker icing with a spoon.