My 'Weekend Musings' is back having skipped it last weekend on account of the bank holiday. During the week I was contacted by some followers of The Honest Project who asked for my advice to help them move to a plant based diet. All said that they would struggle with 'becoming a vegan' and were understandably stressed as a result of their belief that this is what is required to have a truly healthy diet. I believe that healthy eating is about eating lots of plant based foods and lots of unprocessed wholefoods. I feel much better and energised when I don't eat dairy foods and so a primarily vegan diets works for me.
However, a vegan diet does not automatically equate to a healthy diet. Veganism means cutting all animal products from our diets, but certain trans fats, nearly all sugars and many artifical sweeteners, flavourings and colourings are vegan. Therefore if you cut meat and dairy and replace it with highly processed vegan foods it's perfectly possible to be a vegan but still have a very unhealthy diet.
My eating goal is not to never eat dairy again. Rather, it is to eat lots and lots of vegetables. Instead of focusing on cutting out foods from my diet, I focus on including more and more vegetables and wholefoods such as nuts, seeds and legumes in my diet. This in turn leads to an increase in my intake of these foods and the knock on result is a decrease in my intake of dairy and processed foods. If I had to quantify my veganism, I would call myself 98% vegan. A few months ago I would have said I was 95% vegan, a few months before that 90% vegan. I am slowly moving to complete veganism and usually only now have dairy on an odd occasion when eating out, where options are very limited.
Veganism is enjoying it's time in the sun at the moment, with many celebrities proclaming the benefits of a vegan diet and looking absolutely amazing to prove it. People are turning to veganism, not just because it is healthy to follow a plant based diet but also for environmental and social reasons. The meat industry's carbon footprint is one of the largest out there and not to mention the issues with animal cruelty.
I am sure there are many vegans out there who 100% believe in an absolute vegan diet and may disagree with a half-way house of part time veganism. But for me any embracement of plant based eating is something to be welcomed and encouraged. Absolute full-time veganism can be scary and seem totally unachieveable for many. On the other hand, 'one day a week' veganism can be seen as an exciting challenge and a way to experiment with plant based cooking. This 'one day a week' veganism can in turn grow into 'two days a week veganism', and then who knows.
Really the goal is to move towards a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. On an individual level, an increase in plant based eating will hopefully bring better health, improved energy, cheaper grocery bills and a sense of making a difference for animal welfare and the environment. At a societal level, it will hopefully improve public health, result in less public money being spent on treating diseases associated with bad diets, mean a step in the right direction in lowering green house gases and improve mankind's treatment of animals.
The beauty of part time veganism is that if you love meat, cheese or a creamy pavalova you don't have to worry that you may never eat them again. It just means you eat less of them, but you can still enjoy these foods when they are something you really want. Instead of seeing veganism as scary and restrictive, part-time veganism can instead be an achievable and exciting challenge. Any move towards a plant based diet is a step in the right direction and therefore I am all about embracing part-time veganism if that's what works for you.