Natalie Portman, Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain. What do all of these people have in common?
Answer: They are all vegan!
In recent years there has been a major hype around veganism with tons of celebrities embracing and advocating the lifestyle. With even chef Gordon Ramsay, who has been unequivocally outspoken against and has made fun of vegans in the past, giving veganism a go. But what is all this hype about, and is it worth it?
First of all, let’s examine what going vegan actually entails.
People who choose to live vegan avoid food containing dairy, eggs, meat or anything else of animal origin. But veganism isn’t just limited to food – it also extends into clothing or cosmetics.
The essential idea is to live as animal- and environmentally friendly as possible.
There are different reasons why one might choose to go vegan. The probably most common one are ethics. Vegans don’t want to contribute to animal cruelty and exploitation.
Another reason are the health benefits a vegan lifestyle brings, which I will explore further in the Pros section.
Many people choose to live vegan to improve the environment. They don’t want to fund production that is a major factor in the emission of greenhouse gases, deforestation and excessive water usage.
These reasons all sound very reasonable and honourable, but veganism really effective ?
Following a vegan diet can lead to several positive results.
For one, by reducing cholesterol intake, the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and alzheimer’s disease will sink. It’s also a way to avoid the chemicals and hormones utilised in modern farming practices. Sticking to a vegan lifestyle can also be an effective method for long term weight loss since many fatty foods are swapped out for healthy fruits and vegetables. And finally, going vegan will definitely help the environment. Going vegan for even one year can save up to 200 animals, 1.3 million gallons of water and 1.5 tons of carbon emissions according to vegan.org.
As with every diet and lifestyle, there are downsides to veganism as well. The most important one being that the diet isn’t sufficient in many nutrients our bodies require.
Lack of calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and folate can result in loss of bone and muscle mass, fatigue and harm to the central nervous system and metabolism. This is why it is especially important for vegans to supplement their diet with these vitamins.
Being vegan requires additional effort, which is why some people may find it difficult to stick to the diet. You have to look for vegan substitutes in supermarkets (although many now have a marked vegan section), plan your meals accordingly and read the labels carefully on any cosmetic products.
In my opinion, going vegan with the intention of bettering the environment or not harming animals is a very honourable and effective thing to do. But I myself can’t follow it since I am already deficient in iron and my body doesn’t take it well.
In the end, generalising pros and cons won’t work, you have to find out how your own body reacts to a vegan diet. Everybody is different and can be more or less resilient when it comes to diet changes.
If you want to try a vegan experience – or are already vegan and want to treat yourself – you can book one of our many vegan menus on myhomechef.uk !