Taking the Vegan pledge

About a month ago I quipped to my 16-year-old daughter Jude: Let’s do veganism for a week in the summer holidays! It will be fun!

Surprisingly she agreed. And so did my husband Paul. And so the seed was sown. And we are doing it now, next week, not in the Summer [gah].

We all take a keen interest in food and nutrition. We try to eat healthily and knowledgeably. We make almost all of our meals ‘from scratch’ and plan our grocery shopping and cooking to minimise waste as much as possible.

Jude is currently studying food and nutrition for GCSE. She is a great cook and an avid consumer of food vlogs, blogs and instagram posts.

Paul is a keen amateur cyclist, super fit and focused on nutritional performance. Paul is a big fan of various vegan cyclists such as The Cycling Maven and The Vegan Cyclist so veganism has been on his radar for a while.

I have spent the last 6 months roughly following a Slimming World diet of low fat, high fruit and veg foods and I can sometimes be found teaching nutrition (and other health related subjects) at an FE college. I love food. I get so much joy from preparing, cooking and eating meals but still definitely love a good dinner date night.

Oh and there’s the 14-year-old, Ollie. He has dabbled a few times in vegetarianism but generally eats what he is given.

But why actually take the plunge into veganism? Last week we were completely committed omnivores… Well, we watched the truly brilliant Carnage by Simon Amstell, perhaps the most convincing vegan propaganda of all time, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In a kind of order of importance to us as a family, here is why we are willing to give veganism a go:

  • Health benefits. This isn’t a health blog so I’m not going to present the evidence base but research has suggested that plant-based diets are associated with: tighter weight control/management; lower BMIs; reduction in hypertension (high blood pressure); reduction in HbA1c levels (blood tests that indicate diabetes); lower LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries); reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; a longer life span! The risk of these diseases increase with advancing age (Paul and I are in our 40s) and family history, which we unfortunately, have on both sides of the family, so why wouldn’t we give this a go? Read more here.
  • Ethics. Should animals be a source of food for modern humans with knowledge and access to alternatives? Can poor animal rearing practices ever be excused? What of the dramatic wastage of animal life in the dairy industry? I am not an animal rights activist but I do have real concerns for the flippancy with which we regard the way that meat and dairy gets into our supermarkets and onto our plates. I suggest starting by watching

    Carnage

    on BBC iPlayer.

  • Sustainability. I know this is hotly debated but there is evidence to suggest that meat-based diets use more energy, land and water resources than plant based ones. Some researchers also argue that greenhouse gas emissions related to food production would plummet if the globe went vegan. Obviously, nothing is ever black and white and we are conscious of the concerns regarding palm oils found in many vegan-friendly spreads as well as intensive farming of soya and many more food ethics issues.

Halving world consumption of grain-fed meat could also ensure two billion more people in the world have enough to eat. Currently 97% of soymeal and over a third of the global grain harvest is fed to intensively produced farm animals including pigs and chickens.  

Food Ethics Council

Post by Liz

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