A new year is here with its promise of a fresh start, which usually inspires us to try something new or set New Year’s resolutions. And I believe that trying a vegan diet for January is one of the best and easiest way you can contribute to improving your health, the health of the environment, reducing climate change, and helping to save the lives of animals. If you’re not quite convinced yet, here are 8 reasons to try going vegan this January:
1. A VEGAN DIET IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEART
A vegan diet has been proven to lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions are amongst the most common causes of death in the Western world, and they are completely preventable! But beyond prevention, a plant-based diet is the only treatment that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has been able to reverse even very bad cases of cardiovascular disease by feeding his patients a low-fat vegan diet and has saved countless lives. (1) Even major health organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, have acknowledged that animal products rich in saturated fat and cholesterol are major contributors to both heart disease and diabetes. (2)
2. A WELL-BALANCED VEGAN DIET CAN BE VERY BENEFICIAL TO YOUR HEALTH
More and more major health organizations are now stating that it’s healthy to eat a well-balanced vegan diet (3), and many even recommend a vegan diet over any other. Recent studies have shown that vegans have lower rates of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, and even Alzheimer’s. (4)
The World Health Organization has also stated that processed meat is carcinogenic (5), and meat products often contain bacteria, antibiotics, hormones, dioxins, and a host of other toxins that can be dangerous to our health. (6)
3. IT’S THE EASIEST WAY TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT AND STOP CLIMATE CHANGE
Animal agriculture has been responsible for between 15-51% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Methane and nitrous oxide gases from the industry are 75x and 296x respectively, more powerful than CO2 in their global warming potential. (7)
The easiest and best way to help reduce your carbon footprint is to swop what you put on your dinner plate.
4. IT CAN HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS
Most people fear a loss of energy or muscle mass when abstaining from animal products, but quite the opposite is true. Meat and dairy are especially hard to digest, which means they use a lot of your energy, often leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. Adopting a vegan diet in no way hinders you from reaching your fitness goals, and may give you a nice boost of added energy and strength.
You don’t even have to watch your protein intake very much, all plant foods contain protein, and it can be of great quality too. The 40-50 grams you need per day can easily be met by eating meat alternatives such as meat alternatives, green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts or seeds. (9)
5. YOU’LL GET TO TRY AMAZING NEW DISHES
There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world, of which somewhere between 150 and 200 have been domesticated and farmed. You probably haven’t tried even half of them yet! Trying new delicious recipes broadens your horizon, your taste buds, and lets you discover delicious and healthy dishes you wouldn’t have thought of in the beginning. To help you out on your journey to discovery, have a look at my recipes for some inspiration.
6. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE UP YOUR FAVORITE MEALS
Almost every meal you can think of can be veganized. The key is finding the right replacements (like Fry’s instead of meat, vegan cheese instead of dairy, soy milk instead of cow’s milk or flaxseeds instead of eggs). You don’t have to cut back on taste at all here; vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a non-dairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the Annual Cupcake Wars twice.
7. GOING VEGAN HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER
With the help of organizations like Veganuary, going vegan has never been easier! If you pledge to take the Veganuary Challenge, you will receive tips, recipes and advice throughout the month of January.
There are so many different plant-based options available, including meat alternatives, dairy alternatives and even vegan eggs! This change in the culinary preferences of consumers is revealing itself through data— the market for non-dairy products and meat alternatives is skyrocketing.
8. YOU CAN HELP SAVE ANIMALS
Even though for some people, the ethical argument for veganism isn’t as strong, it can never hurt to be kind. Sparing someone’s life is always the right thing to do, especially if that someone is completely innocent. Humans kill over 60 billion land animals and 2740 billion fish every year for food. (10) Not only is this completely unnecessary, but it invariably includes cruel practices like dehorning or castration without anaesthetic. Biologists have confirmed what pet lovers have always known: that animals are sentient, they want to live and they feel pain in a very similar way to humans. (11)
Pledge to take the Veganuary challenge here if you’re interested.
If you need more help and tips, you can find tons of veegan recipes and inspiration in my book ‘Made with Love and Plants’. You can get it from Takealot, Exclusive Books, Amazon, or select independent bookstores.
- Meat atlas, 2014
- Foley et al., Nature, 2011