In an increasingly health conscious and ethically minded society, consumers are paying more and more attention to where their food comes from. Vegan food is becoming very common and a new lifestyle trend.
– by Simon Chitre
In our fast paced modern society, humans have access to a larger range of food than ever before. Many people know of the health benefits of eating natural wholesome food like fruits, vegetables and healthy grains. However, many choose not to consume enough of these vital foods due to a lack of cooking skills, convenience or a preference for pre-packaged processed food.
Whilst people can choose to eat that way, there is a growing group of people who want to be healthier, eat more naturally, and have less impact on the environment. We call these people vegans. So what is veganism exactly? The Vegan Society is an organisation working with individuals, companies and business promoting veganism as a mainstream choice and addressing issues of social justice, animal welfare and food security.
Veganism can be described as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. Simply, vegans follow a plant based diet and avoid animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, honey and products tested on animals, like some cosmetics.
Many vegans choose their lifestyle to leave a better mark on the environment and eat in a socially conscious way. Considering that the production of meat and other animal products uses heavy amounts of water and grain feed that contributes to deforestation through grazing and land clearing, resulting in habitat loss and species extinction. Even people in impoverished countries often grow crops for animal feed, due to the high demand, rather than to feed themselves, resulting in increased malnutrition.
The health benefits of going vegan are great, including increased energy and youthful looking skin. A plant based diet is a great source of protein, iron, calcium, fibre and other essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function. Cutting out meat reduces significantly the amount of saturated and trans fat and sodium, which contribute to contracting some of the Western World’s leading burdens’ of disease include heart disease, obesity and cancer.
What can a vegan eat then? “Just a salad” is commonly thought of, but there are many options you can consider, and many meat eaters may actually surprisingly like the flavours vegan food provides. Whilst a predominantly plant based diet including grains, beans, fruits and nuts consider Asian stir fry’s and Mexican burritos as they are largely bean based. Also meat loaf and ‘rawsagne’ instead of lasagne, in fact any traditional meat dish can be filled with delicious vegetables, beans and legumes.
In fact a common objection to veganism is that they will suffer inadequate amount of protein and iron by not eating meat, this is not 100% true. Great vegan sources of protein and iron include oatmeal, soy milk, peanut butter, broccoli, chickpeas, watermelon and beet greens like kale.
That might seem like a lot of cooking and preparation, but if you are one that likes to eat out don’t fret! There are many amazing healthy vegan places opening up in capital cities in Australia, still mainly in hipster diverse areas, but slowly the movement is expanding to the suburbs. Try felafels, banana muffins, corn fritters and French toast with soy milk. Exotic Indian food is great as many of the curries and dahl is vegan, beautiful Middle Eastern food like hommus, tabouli and exotic breads like Ethiopian injera (flat bread) and even Italian pastas with rich tomato and vegetable sauces.
Veganism is a worldwide trend that is here to stay due to increasing consumer environmental and ethical concerns. This is only a positive move and means the vegan lifestyle will become more mainstream and accepted, and the more people that go vegan the happier and healthier our planet will be.