You might have heard of most people going vegan this January and a new term #Veganuary.
This is a vegan campaign where people go vegan for the month of January. There is a lot of confusion on this between plant-based diet and being Vegan. The plant – based diet and vegan diet trend is growing and of course it is the one that we have carried over to 2019. Vegan and plant-based diet are two different things and let me just give you a simple definition of the two.
Vegan àStrictly against animal products, in every form. They don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or honey, they also don’t wear animal products (e.g. leather) or use products tested on animals. Veganism is a whole lifestyle change not just only on food.
Plant based diet àare similar but not the same as vegan diets. It means eating more plants and plant proteins and cutting back on animal products (but maybe not entirely). People on this type of a diet might eat animal products for dinner twice a week and plant proteins for dinner for the rest of the week.
Both these types of diets have more health benefits compared to eating animal products (particularly) meat every day. However, vegan diets tend to be difficult to sustain for life especially if as a person does not fully understand why their following veganism in the first place. Plant- based diets tend to be easier to sustain as you will still eat animal products occasionally.
In the black culture animal products particularly, meat is at a corner stone of most meals and celebrations. Maybe sometimes even too much. When a person passes a grade, a granny celebrates by buying them chicken or even they get a goat if they are graduating in tertiary. Even now in January as the holidays are ending, families travelling back to the city; the packed lunch is normally steamed bread or Pap and chicken. In this case how can you then be vegan in January? It becomes very hard and non-sustainable. Well, if Vegan is done right it works and has lots of health benefits. However, most people run out of ideas and start sticking to same food items which then reduces food variety and can cause nutrient deficiencies.
Producing animals and animal products uses a lot of our precious resources compared to plant products and produces more greenhouse gases (Which have an impact on climate change). I am not a vegan activist, but I know that eating more plant products has a lot of health benefits. So maybe you don’t have to go full blown vegan just for the sake of January, maybe just do a plant-based diet and sustain it for longer.
For health benefits here are my dietitian “plant eating” nutritional tips this January:
- Swap animal protein for plant proteins at some meals especially when you are just the one responsible for that meal
- Introduce meat-less day during the week e.g. Eat bean curry, chickpea curry etc.
- Choose to eat more fruits & vegetables with your meals throughout the day
- Avoid take-aways this January to help reduce your meat intake
Either you are going Vegan or just following a plant-based diet, seek an expert advise (Dietitian) so that a dietitian can give you a plan suitable to your needs, recipes and ideas so that you can have a variety of meals. As this trend is growing there is a lot of growing scams and misleading information in food industry and the world in general so be aware of this. Maybe the concept of everything in Moderation is not the bad idea after all and is the old way that never gets old.
Happy Plant based eating/ Veganuary
Mbali Mapholi (RD)