What is a Vegan ?
A Self-righteous, Salad Loving, Hippy. The End.
Well, I think that’s probably the easiest blog post I’ve ever written! Joking aside unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 24 months you’ll have probably heard of veganism and the plant based movement sweeping the globe.
I’m sure many of you already have pre-conceived notions of what a vegan is but we’re here to challenge some of those views, and offer our own take on veganism. Now before you run for the hills, I’m not here to convince you to become a vegan. Quite frankly it’s up to you what you eat – So for our light hearted take on veganism please read on…
Reasons people Go Vegan…
I’m not trying to pigeonhole vegans into categories or claiming to know all the reasons behind veganism, but in my opinion I would say its probably heavily influenced by one of the following;
Health; The WHO conducted a study last year which concluded that processed meats can directly contribute to certain cancers. They even ranked it alongside smoking, as a known carcinogen. I guess this might have come as a shock to some people and made them take a closer look at their own diet.
Environment; The year is 2016 and there are still those amongst us who don’t believe in climate change. Global carbon dioxide levels recently reached unprecedented levels, sea levels are on the rise, and record temperatures are being recorded across the globe. We could go on but you get the picture. Now we’re not saying you have to be vegan to care about the environment, but a bit of research will tell you animal agriculture is the single biggest contributor to global warming. So some people see veganism as a good path towards reducing their own carbon footprint
Animal Welfare; Some people just love animals it’s as simple as that, and for some this extends towards all the animals with whom we share this plant. Animal agriculture doesn’t just affect typical farm animals, it can displace 1000’s of species. Perhaps the best example of this would be the Amazon rainforest, of which upto 80% has been decimated to clear room for cattle ranches. Disturbing delicate eco-systems can have monumental effects on the planet. It’s estimated that by 2050 we could have fishless oceans. That’s quite a scary thought but if you’re struggling to connect the dots, then perhaps it’s time to stop reading and watch one of the documentaries below.
The above isn’t an exhaustive list and nor is it intended to be, but I believe initially anyone going vegan probably attributes their new lifestyle to one of the above. As time progresses and an individual becomes a die-hard vegan I’d say it probably becomes an amalgamation of all of the above. If you are thinking about going vegan it’s important, as with anything in life, you give yourself a compelling reason to do so.
Now if you’re trying to phatom how veganism has blown up so quickly, or you just want to know more about the plant based movement… Look no further, we’ve put together a little list for you of the top 3 vegan movies out there.
1) Earthlings An American documentary from 2005, narrated by Joaquin Phoneix, the films mainly centred around humanity’s treatment of animals and factory farms, animal testing etc… Be warned it is a tough watch but an important documentary nonetheless
2) Forks over Knives Quite a remarkable documentary, as you follow Dr Campbell treat his patients, and in all cases reverse disease and life threatening ailments with a vegan plant based diet.
3) Cowspiracy Ground breaking documentary by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio. Centred around animal agriculture and the devastating effects it has on global warming…
After watching the above, I think even the most ardent meat loving person would be asking some serious questions about what they were eating, I know I certainly did. We live in a beautiful time where people are learning to question the information presented to them. Whether it be 9/11, the government, mainstream media, or the middle east crisis. Once firmly held beliefs can easily vanish due to our access to information. I guess veganism could be just an extension of that and the realisation that everything you’ve been taught about nutrition, might not be set in stone after all…
The Vegan Trend…
The number of vegans in Britain has risen 360% over the last 10 years. Surely a few documentaries isn’t enough to make an impact on such a mass scale ? Well, the vegan movement has had its fair share of ‘celebrity sparkle’, and no I’m not talking about the cast of TOWIE or MIC.
I guess we can break high profile vegans into 2 distinct categories; celebrities & athletes. They’ve both done a great job at raising the profile of veganism in their own ways. Personally as a lover of sports and exercise I’m more interested in athletes who’ve adopted plant based diets, as it helps dispel some of the myths around protein intake and strength.
The A Listers…
Leonardo DiCaprio: Not only one of the greatest actors of all time, the wolf of wall street is also a vegan. He’s made a massive contribution to environmental projects as well as veganism, and as such is held in very high esteem in the community. You can check out his upcoming documentary here;
Ellen DeGeneres : Superstar host of ‘The Ellen Show’ is a big advocate of veganism and converted after watching the documentary “Earthlings”. She recently launched her own website promoting veganism
Russell Brand : Love him or loathe him there’s no denying Russell Brand is a certified superstar. A long time vegetarian russell recently adopted a vegan diet. He’s a big advocate for the environment, spirituality, and truth. If you haven’t already, check out his youtube show here
Vegan Athletes : You can check out an earlier post of mine for a more in-depth look at some athletes who’ve gone vegan, but here’s just some guys you might have heard of…
Nate Diaz : Anyone who follows UFC will have heard of Nate. He really made a name for himself earlier this year when he beat star of the sport Connor McGregor. Maybe you’ll be surprised to know Nate is vegan and has been known to only eat raw foods in the run up to his bouts. If I asked you to describe a typical ‘vegan’ I’m not sure an MMA fighter would be the first thing that comes to mind, but it shows vegans come in all shapes & sizes
Novak Djovic : You might be surprised to learn that the No 1 Male Tennis Pro in the world is a vegan. Novak has said that eating vegan has allowed him to become more aware of his body on the court, as well as helping him become more alert. He’s so committed to his new plant based regime he’s even opened up a new vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo
David Haye : Former Heavyweight champion of the world Mr Haye recently converted to veganism, you can catch him discussing his approach to plant based eating here
What do Vegans Eat ?
Personally, I think this is quite a reasonable question to ask but some vegans would disagree. So instead of inadvertently offending anyone save yourself the hassle and read on…
Vegans choose to exclude ALL Animal Products from their diets and in some cases lives. They may choose to exclude products such as suede, leather, or cosmetics from there lifestyles as they cause suffering to some animals. However, for the purposes of this post we’re going to focus on diet. So meat, fish, eggs, dairy, cheese, & even desserts are all out! Ouch! Carrot sandwich anyone?
As funny as that joke might be vegan choices aren’t just limited to salad. There’s been an explosion of meat-free alternatives hitting the market lately. Take Beyond Meat for instance or Impossible Foods, the company Google allegedly tried to buy for $200 million. They’ve developed a completely plant based burger which still bleeds, cooks, sizzles & tastes just like beef. Then you’ve got household names such as Quorn & Linda McCartney who’ve been specialising in ‘faux meat’ for a while.
However, processed foods still have their downsides and vegans tend to try and opt for ‘cleaner’ whole food options. I’m not going to bore you with all the things vegans fill their plates with, but I will dispel the common protein myth associated with a plant based diet. Just some of the foods vegans use to get their protein hit;
- Tofu + Tempeh + Seitan
- Faux Meats
- Nuts & Legumes
- Hemp + Soy
- Spinach + Mushrooms
- Brown Rice
As you can see theres plenty of plant based proteins out there for vegans. You can even get your hands on vegan protein powders.
So there you have it; a quick summary on veganism and plant based diets in general. We’ve all seen plenty of diet fads come and go over the years, and its tempting to think this might just be something which blows over….but I think its here to stay. As environmental concerns become harder and harder to dismiss the arguments for veganism will only gain weight. We’ve already seen it trickle into the mainstream and I don’t see it disappearing anytime soon…