How you can change the world by eating a vegan diet?

 

With the devastating warnings of climate change knocking on our door, deciding how flexible we want to be with a plant-based or vegan diet can very often be influenced by the changes that we want to make in the world around us. Some might argue that one person’s habits do not have the power to change the world, but the small choices we make each day have a massive impact on our planet.

 

And a little closer to home, eating less meat and more plants can have a huge impact on our personal health. A 2019 study by Harvard scientists found that eating a vegan diet can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost a quarter (23%). Another study found that eating mostly plant-based foods resulted in being 32% less likely to die from heart disease2. And if you’re looking to get to a healthier weight, going vegan could help you lose body fat without even changing your calorie intake. But if you’re looking for a real shock factor, in 2015 The World Health Organisation ranked processed meat as a ‘group 1 carcinogen’ which is the same category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos, and ranked red meat as a group 2A carcinogen. They also reported that 50g per day – that’s the equivalent of two rashers of bacon – increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%3. So, reducing your meat intake, especially red and processed meat, and upping your plant, vegetable and fruit intake, even a few days per week, will have a hugely beneficial impact on your health.

 

‘A vegan’s carbon footprint is 50% smaller than a non-vegan.’
It’s no wonder that on reading these facts, many of us are choosing to go vegan. According to The Vegan Society, there has been a 300% rise in veganism in the UK between 2014 and 2018, with 31% actively eating less meat, and demand for meat-free food in the UK increased by 987% in 2017, in fact, 2018 saw the UK launch more vegan products than any other nation. As of 2019, there are 600,000 vegans in the UK, equating to 1.16% of the population (compared to 276,000 (0.46%) in 2016; and 150,000 (0.25%) in 2014).

So, for those of us thinking about cutting down on our consumption of animal products, or introducing a vegan or plant-based diet a few times a week, the first step is to look at our reasons and needs, to understand why we are doing it and what we want to achieve – is it a feeling? A health goal?Money? Or just a dislike of animal products? Maybe all of the above?
Information is power, from both the world around you and the stats cited above, but also the wisdom inside yourself.

 

Shahroo Izadi’s book The Last Diet is a perfect starting point for tapping into that knowledge within, in order to “set your own goals and create habits that fit into your lifestyle, based on what’s important to you”, from acknowledging what doesn’t work for you, to creating a plan of least resistance. Working out the way you approach making changes in your diet, and how your likes, dislikes, needs and lifestyle will support it or get in the way, will help you clarify exactly what a plant-based or vegan diet looks like in your life, and therefore exactly how flexible you want to be with it.

Once you have a clear idea, you can begin to make a plan around how flexible you want to be and how often you want to commit. For example, will you go vegan two days a week? Or will you take a different mindset and decide to eat meat just once a week? Will you cut out all dairy except your favourite chocolate bar or just eat turkey on Christmas Day? Whatever your reason for eating fewer animal products, don’t get caught up in the labels or be afraid to tailor your diet to your health needs, lifestyle and your values.

 

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