Sausage rolls, chocolate and cheese; what do they all have in common?
They all have vegan alternatives. After Greggs released their new Vegan friendly sausage roll last month, it became clear than veganism is slowly beginning to take over our high streets and is becoming more and more popular.
Greggs’ vegan sausage roll arrived in our stores after strong demands from consumers, including a petition by PETA, which held over 20,000 signatures. Even on the day of their official release, reports of customers buying several vegan sausage rolls at a time demonstrates the keen investment people have in being vegan.
Statistics back up this perceived trend. The number of vegans has increased by 160% in the past 10 years and movements such as ‘Veganuary’ becoming more and more popular. Clearly there is something that attracts so many to turning vegan.
The stereotype of meeting a vegan is always that they will go off in a rant about how they are saving the environment through their ‘clean eating.’ They try and make you feel guilty because you have just caused irreversible damage to our planet through eating the cheeseburger you had at lunch, and how you are a monster for personally mincing a poor cow for your own sustenance.
There are real benefits to being vegan, however. It has been proven that going vegan helps reduce your chances of getting prostate cancers, diabetes and heart diseases compared to those who consume animal fats. Replacing animal fats with plant-based fats and oils such as olive oil means that one can get the necessary fatty acids in their diet without raising their levels of cholesterol. It is also believed that vegans and vegetarians live up to 6-10 years longer than meat-eaters. The Academy of nutrition and dietetics concludes that vegetarian or vegan diets are “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” A study in 2006 found that of 135,000 people studied, those who ate grilled skinless chicken frequently had a 52% higher chance of getting bladder cancer than those that didn’t.
Nonetheless, being vegan is very difficult and those who successfully maintain a balanced and nutritious vegan diet are to be commended. My personal experience of just going vegetarian last year for lent was extremely difficult. Upon eating my last plate of meat the Tuesday night before lent started I could already feel myself missing my beloved late night cheese burger from Essentials I so often devoured on my home from Venue on a Wednesday night. I genuinely struggled just going vegetarian for a short period of time, so even the thought of going vegan is a definite no from me.
What I did find from my meat-free 40 days, however, was that there were a lot more vegan and vegetarian alternatives than I was expecting. Although some did look and taste like cardboard others really were not bad. Despite this, there are issues with the vegan diet. Vegan protein alternatives are more often than not categorised as high-quality proteins, which causing liver and thyroid problems. The lack of protein in the vegan diet also limits production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, meaning that through eating a vegan diet you can end up decreasing the digestive juices held in the stomach. As a consequence, the strength in your digestion is weakened and fewer nutrients can be absorbed into the body. Vitamin A is also harder to get absorbed due to plant based Vitamin A being in a form that is difficult for the body to use, when in fish and fish oil it is far easier on the body.
However, it’s not just diet that is important to remember when looking at veganism as a whole. It’s their attempt to help prevent mistreatment of animals and decrease ones ‘ecological footprint.’ The United Nations claims, a global shift toward a vegan diet is a necessary step towards combating global warming. It is believed that producing around 2 pounds of beef causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than driving a car for three hours. It is also through mass production in factories and farms that animals are placed in cruel conditions in order to get maximum produce in the cheapest way possible.
So veganism is undoubtedly here to stay. The difficulties of eating vegan, however, near guarantees that non-vegans will not be going anywhere either. This debate will continue to happen for a long time to come.