How to have a healthy vegan diet

World Vegan Month

Can you guess what Bill Clinton, Serena Williams and Pamela Anderson all have in common? Two clues: it’s ethical, it’s plant-based – it’s veganism.

With over half a million vegans in the UK, it’s fast becoming one of the most popular diets for those seeking a healthy lifestyle. Forget any rabbit food recipes because veganism has gone mainstream.

“The image of veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history, while shedding some tired old stereotypes,” says Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society. “People now closely associate veganism with health, fitness and wellbeing.”

There’s also a multitude of health benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and premature death. Veganism is a strict diet to follow though and not a decision to be taken lightly – even honey and eggs aren’t part of the approved diet.

“It’s no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible – you can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and many more other vegan-friendly products,” says Dominika.

Doritos, Hula Hoops. Hob Nobs, Oreos, Starburst, Skittles, Pringles and even Pot Noodles – they’re all vegan. And according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) the number of vegan and veggie products are on the market is getting bigger and bigger too. The GNPD has seen a 25 per cent increase in vegetarian claims and a 257 per cent rise in vegan claims in global food and drink launches between September 2010 to August 2011 and September 2015 to August 2016.

“The reasons behind the rise of veganism are numerous: the positive portrayal in the media has contributed to its changing image,” says Dominika. “Documentaries on the shocking realities and consequences of animal agriculture have gained prominence; delicious-looking vegan recipes have multiplied online and on social media as society becomes increasingly health-conscious; and top vegan athletes keep proving that you can be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet.”

Maintaining a plant based diet isn’t easy though and long gone are the days of ordering a quick takeaway, so you’ll need to up your creativity to produce varied and nutritional meals.

“If your body lacks certain nutrients this can lead to fatigue, low mood levels and general poor health so it is important that vegans consider this as part of their diet,” says Simon Bandy, general manager at nutritional supplements company, Veganicity. Simon recommends taking an added supplement of Vitamin B12, Omega-3 and Iron supplements if you’re following a vegan diet.

“As Iron is found in high quantities in animal derived foods, vegans and vegetarians can find it difficult to obtain in their diet – but eating nuts, seeds, brown rice and dried fruit will help to ward off any iron deficiencies,” advises Simon. “Vegans could also try increasing their intake of Omega-3 rich vegan-friendly foods such as chia seeds, beans, seaweed and leafy greens.”

The NHS also recommends eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day; basing meals on starchy/whole grain carbohydrates like potatoes and brown pasta and rice; having dairy free alternatives like soya; eating beans and pulses; opting for unsaturated oils and spreads; and drinking plenty of water.

If a vegan diet is tempting your tastebuds, take inspiration from The Vegan Society with their delectable and nutritious vegan recipes.

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