Veganuary Diet

Welcome to January or, as some are calling it these days, Veganuary!

Veganuary is a health campaign that encourages people to try veganism for the month of January. January is a great time to give something new a try because, hey, we’re all making New Year’s resolutions and a month is long enough to experience some of the benefits of being vegan, but it’s not a daunting amount of time for trying out a new lifestyle choice.

The Veganuary campaign was founded in 2014 by Jane Land and Matthew, and it has since grown in popularity and participation every year, with over half a million participants in 2021.

If you've never heard of Veganuary, you may feel it's a little late to hop on the boat and try out being a vegan this month, but we say it's never too late! Whether you choose to try eating vegan this month, next month, or at any point in the future, here's some advice and encouragement for your journey.

The Health Benefits of Veganism

People used to be concerned that diets wouldn't include enough nutrients if they excluded meat, dairy, and seafood. And that might have been true when there were fewer options on grocery store shelves. But, fortunately, it’s easier than ever to be vegan and enjoy a well-rounded diet these days.

There are vegan versions of everything from burgers to ice cream, and more and more restaurants are offering vegan dishes. Vegan diets are even gaining popularity among athletes, with several professional athletes choosing to become vegan.

How come? The health benefits! Eliminating animal products from your diet can increase your energy and decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

Pretty impressive, no? Just think about the things you are eliminating from your diet: you’re getting rid of both excess fats and the pollutants that get stored in those animal fats. Plus, your digestive system doesn’t need to remain as acidic to break down plant food as it does to break down meat.

The best part is: being vegan isn't hard. With the exception of B12, there are plant-based versions of every nutritional element you need:

Omega-3s: choose chia seeds, algae-based foods, Brussels sprouts, or seaweed over seafood

Iron: pile on those dark leafy greens, edamame, or lentils instead of red meat

Calcium: enjoy some kale, dried figs, or watercress instead of dairy, or pick from fortified plant milks, vegan yogurt, or tofu set in calcium

For Vitamin B12, the best option is fortified foods, supplements, or nutritional yeast.

But What About Protein?

For years, this was the question vegans faced every day from people who thought that meat was the best source of protein. It turns out, however, that soy products, beans, nuts, and whole grains are all fabulous ways to get your daily protein. And, more and more vegans have been adding golden chlorella, a protein- and mineral-rich algae, to that list. You can easily add it, as a powder, to smoothies or meals.

Plus, if you get your protein from plant-based foods, the protein usually comes with more nutrients and dietary fiber than it would from an animal-based product.

The Environmental Benefits of Veganism Also Contribute to Human Health

More and more people are turning to veganism to protect the climate. Veganism used to be associated exclusively with animal lovers who didn't want animals to be raised and abused as part of the industrial agricultural complex. However, the impact of veganism goes well beyond animal care.

In fact, the biggest environmental impact of becoming vegan has to do with your carbon footprint. Meat-eaters contribute two and a half times as much to greenhouse gas emissions as vegans do. This largely has to do with the amount of shipping required to raise livestock. Not only do livestock have to be shipped on carbon-emitting vehicles to processing plants that emit greenhouse gasses, but they also have to be fed with grains and vegetables raised on additional farmland and shipped to the livestock.

By comparison, fruits and vegetables have a much more earth-friendly cycle. So, if you're looking for a way to help the environment, going vegan is a great place to start. It requires less water, land, deforestation, and energy than meat-based diets, and it lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

Vegans Do Not Need to Be Food Puritans or Police

Vegans are sometimes portrayed as judgmental, preachy, or puritanical food police. I have honestly never met any of those kinds of vegans, but I see how it could happen when someone believes wholeheartedly in a certain lifestyle.

So, I encourage you, should you become vegan or try it out for a month, don't let yourself start judging others for their dietary choices. Feel free to share how easy it has become to be vegan and what sort of positives you are experiencing since becoming vegan, but never use shame as tool to try to change someone else's lifestyle.

At Natura.Punkt, we like to keep our bodies healthy and our outlook positive.