Whether you successfully completed Veganuary 2021, or you missed it entirely – it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon and implement some more simple changes to make it a lifestyle and keep it up throughout the year. No, we’re not telling you that you have to go full vegan overnight, we’re just asking you to think carefully about the choices you make moving forward, in an attempt to lessen your impact on the environment.
Veganuary 2021: Vegan month
What is Veganuary? It’s a global movement that has inspired more than a million people across 192 countries to go vegan for 31 days every January.
This initiative works with businesses to create awareness and increase vegan food provision in shops and restaurants with the intention of making veganism more visible and accessible than it currently is.
What are the benefits of eating and living vegan?
First, there’s the benefit to our planet. Eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on the Earth, a study from 2018 suggested. By cutting meat and dairy products from your diet, researchers at the University of Oxford found that it was possible to reduce an individual’s food-related carbon footprint by up to 73%. This means that if everyone stopped eating such foods, global farmland usage could be reduced by 75%. Not only would this lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (the cause of global warming), we would also be able to reclaim wild land lost to agriculture, which is one of the main causes of mass wildlife extinction our planet is currently experiencing.
This study, published in Science journal, is one of the most comprehensive studies examining the detrimental effects of farming on the environment. Drawing on data from 40,000 farms in 119 countries, the study revealed that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, while these products themselves provide only 18% of calories and 37% of protein consumed around the globe. Those numbers are staggering.
Read more about how veganism can save the planet.
What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?
Switching to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet means eliminating meat and animal products. As a result, you’ll turn to other foods for your protein and nutritional requirements, with protein replacements generally being found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Eating more of these foods is a good thing, and can lead to a higher intake of beneficial nutrients. For example, studies have shown that vegan diets can provide higher levels of fibre, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, while offering more potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
However, switching to vegan doesn’t mean you’re automatically healthier than meat eaters. Poorly planned vegan diets may provide inadequate fatty acids, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc and vitamin B12. This is why you have to be careful about what passes your lips. Fast food vegan options are often nutritionally dismal, making it essential to plan your diet around nutrient-rich, whole plants and vitamin fortified foods. Where you’re not getting certain nutrients from your diet, you might want to consider supplements.
Vegan, vegetarian, what’s the difference?
Vegetarian means that you eat a plant-based diet where possible, while vegan means that all animal products and by-products are excluded from your lifestyle. Depending on the depth of commitment, vegans will avoid all meat and dairy, as well as any products that have been made by animals – this includes products such as leather, honey, gelatin and dairy.
While we’re not suggesting that you go all-out, full-on vegan overnight… there are some small changes you can make right away.
- Start off with meatless Monday: Already you’re eliminating 52 days of meat from your diet – that’s 156 fewer meat-based meals that you’ll be eating in a single year. Once you’re into the swing of that, you can gradually reduce the amount of meat in your diet, as you become comfortable with finding plant-based alternatives.
- Learn as much as you can through research: You’re going to want to dig into the benefits of a vegan lifestyle for yourself. This includes educating yourself about the costs and practices behind the scenes in meat and animal products. You’re also going to want to learn how to nourish your body properly on a plant-based diet, to avoid any deficiencies, and to gain maximum benefit.
- Start reading ingredient lists: Educate yourself on how to identify whether a product is truly vegan, or just masquerading, which involves getting to know the less-obvious ingredients that are derived from animal products (such as rennet and gelatin) and that might show up in inconspicuous-looking products.
- Take as much time as you need on the transition: Start by removing any animal products that you won’t miss from your diet. (These are the things you don’t particularly enjoy – whether it’s seafood, pork or eggs – if you don’t like it, it’ll be easier to say goodbye to it. At the same time, start incorporating more whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds into your diet. Once you’re comfortable with your progress, you can gradually eliminate all animal products, or remove one food group at a time.
- Leave the hardest for last: These are your “barrier foods” and these are typically the things you enjoy the most, such as cheese, bacon, eggs, or braai meat. Only remove these once you’re comfortable with all the other changes you’ve made.
It’s the most important meal of the day: vegan breakfast ideas
What should a vegan be eating for breakfast? Will you miss your bacon, eggs and sausages?
- Take a look at 22 high-protein breakfast ideas. (That chocolate cashew milkshake recipe looks incredible!)
- Here are 14 more vegan breakfast ideas to consider. (Eggless French toast? Yes, please!
- And another 15 more plant-based breakfast ideas for vegans.
Let’s talk lunch menus: some easy vegan lunch ideas
One of the benefits of removing meat from your diet means you can reduce your cooking and meal prep times, giving you more time to enjoy the food you make.
- 15 vegan lunch recipes ready in 15 minutes or less.
- 85 easy vegan lunch recipe ideas.
- 35 easy lunchbox ideas for kids and adults.
Bon appetit: end the day off with some great vegan dinner ideas
FinGlobal: Cross-border financial services for South Africans
Looking to make some other lifestyle changes? We can’t handle your nutritional needs, but we can handle your cross-border financial requirements if you’re an expat or you’ve got plans to emigrate, or you’d simply like to move your money offshore. We provide premier financial services for South Africans all over the world, including:
- Tax emigration from SA
- Tax clearance
- Tax refunds
- Foreign exchange
Get in touch with FinGlobal to see how we can help ease your financial transition.