With consumers recognizing the tangible impact left by nutrition choices on health, wellness, the environment, and animal welfare, Veganism is on its way to become a way of life for nearly 8% of the global population. Veganism has touched the lives of people due to its long-term health benefits, as well as its contribution to the sustainable food movement. As an environmentally conscious practice, the once little-known fad is garnering an increasing number of followers, especially with the younger generation.
This trend is gaining rapid traction among fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, and restaurateurs even in the UAE. An explosion of interest and curiosity around plant-based foods, concerns about overall physical health, sustainable living, and conversations about the conditions of animals we consume have made veganism a global movement.
However, critics have raised concerns about losing out on critical nutrition and hence are wary of an off-balance diet that could do us more harm than good. As veganism advances from an option to a complete lifestyle and diet preference, we must pose the question, can going vegan really improve your health for the better?
Why Join The Vegan Wave?
The rise of the vegan wave is not without good reason. This plant-based diet claims to help in weight loss, although that’s not the only factor why you should adopt it. If done wholeheartedly, incorporating a range of plant options, a vegan diet will make you feel energetic and also increase your metabolism since it is devoid of animal fats.
When vegan foods such as beans, lentils, and nuts are rightly consumed, they tend to be lower in saturated fat while rich in fiber and other protective antioxidants. Research indicates that a vegan diet could minimize your risk of suffering from heart disease and lower blood pressure. In addition, these habits better control and manage insulin spikes in diabetic patients, a disease prevalent across the world and especially in the Middle East.
You might be concerned about skipping out on red meat and egg yolks as they are iron-rich sources, but you are protecting yourself from the high cholesterol content. As a substitute, good plant sources of iron include black-eyed peas, tofu, and dried fruits (fresh fruit has iron, too, you just get more iron from dried fruit because you consume more of it).
Time For A Change
Going by the Islamic calendar, with Ramadan around the corner, a vegan diet is highly recommended. Since it’s less acidic, it makes the body alkaline preventing indigestion and acidity issues which are commonly experienced when people end their fast after long hours of abstaining from meals.
The path to veganism is personal. To make a successful transition, you need to believe in the power of fresh and nutritious food as the ultimate cornerstone of healthy living. If you are a meat-eater, gradually eliminate that from your diet, then move on to minor changes such as swapping from dairy milk to oat, almond, or even coconut milk. Taking it one step at a time gives your body time to adjust.
On the downside, veganism can limit the food options you allow yourself to consume. Furthermore, if you lack diversity in your diet, you can develop key deficiencies such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and zinc. Additionally, when dairy (from cow’s milk) is out of the question, finding substitutes can be challenging to get used to.
Vegans also run the risk of developing a Vitamin B12 deficiency which can cause considerable irreparable damage to the human body. Since vitamin B12 primarily comes from animal products, people following a vegan diet are at significant risk of developing a deficiency of this vital nutrient. Hence, if you are on a vegan diet, you might consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement to help your body function correctly.
Another challenge lies in the details, for veganism is meant to be a sustainable way of life, not just limited to food. Once you embark on the path to veganism, you may feel motivated or even obligated to adopt an ethical and sustainable way of life which extends to the products you consume, clothes you wear, cosmetics you use, among many other factors that make up our lives. However, you need to understand that you do not owe anyone a commitment to veganism or mimic somebody else’s journey into it; you can adhere to it only as much as your lifestyle and preferences allow you.
Availability of Items
Veganism can be an expensive lifestyle if your options are limited or you don’t have the right stores around you. If you’re buying organic or readymade food, prices can be considerably higher, but in case you opt for markets or cheaper supermarkets, it is more affordable. The cost is subjective depending on your appetite and your shopping requirements. Multiple factors such as items you consume, quantity, organic or inorganic, location and accessibility can easily influence the availability and average cost of your meals.
With soaring requests from conscious consumers and vegan followers, supermarkets in UAE are moving towards providing a wider variety of plant-based foods. Popular hypermarket chains such as Carrefour, Spinneys, and Waitrose offer quality, highly nutritious, and good-value products from all over the world, as well as locally produced options such as the ‘SpinneysFOOD’ plant-based range of delicious, easy recipes for its customers to enjoy.
Impact of Veganism
A study conducted by Oxford Martin School researchers claims that if the world went vegan, together we can save up to 8 million human lives by the year 2050, minimize greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by two-thirds, cut healthcare costs globally and avoid climate damage worth $1.5 trillion.
Going the vegan route is entirely up to you, but the newer generation is gunning for this shift. The youth is set on creating a more empathetic society that does not build itself at the expense of helpless animals or the overexploitation of nature. Thus, the brands they choose, the food they eat, and of course the clothes they wear are starting to reflect that. It is safe to say that veganism isn’t just a fad anymore. Are you a vegan or becoming one soon?