Krystal Jenkins, a second year Bakery and Patisserie Technology student at University College Birmingham and one of Dawn Foods’ Student Ambassadors 2021 looks at the interest in plant-based eating and asks why go vegan?
Let’s talk about being vegan. We hear how good going vegan or moving to a plant-based diet can be for our health. Is this true and what other benefits are there to going vegan? The Vegan Society has increased its membership to over 600,000 steadily over the years (The Food People, 2020). There must be a reason behind this. Why are more and more people following this way of life? Some say it is for health benefits, others for ethical or environmental reasons.
Vegans claim there’s a long list of health benefits from a plant-based diet. The increase of wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts, and seeds means an increase in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E. The inclusion of fibres and antioxidants also provide a well varied diet, difficult to get in other ways.
Eating plant based foods can help lower blood sugar levels, lower risks of heart disease as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce body mass from fewer calories and saturated fats. The struggle with this type of diet is ensuring that all the nutrients required in a healthy diet are achieved and it’s for this reason that many vegans also take supplements such as B12.
Let’s also talk about the environmental benefits.
Environmental concerns are having a big impact on what people are choosing to eat too. The biggest impact is the amount of water, energy and land needed to produce a small portion of meat, in comparison that needed to produce the same number of vegetables and fruits for a vegan diet. The production of meat and the continuous increase in population and meat consumers means more and more land is being needed to match the higher numbers, meaning an increase in pollution and deforestation. Whereas a smaller land space is needed to produce more plant-based foods.
It’s an area that is still full of controversy, but the evidence is clear that we should all try to reduce our meat consumption and swap to plant based alternatives at least a few times a week.