In the last year the vegan diet has been a hot topic of conversation.
Column inches and articles have whipped up so much controversy and condemnation around the negative effects of eating animal products, that what was formerly a minority approach to food has grown into a movement. As a healthy foodie and advocate of eating well, but by no means a vegan or vegetarian, there are a few questions about veganism I wish to pose. I also hope to dispel any myths you might believe about good quality meat being unhealthy.
Following a ‘vegan’ or ‘plant based’ diet is undoubtedly in fashion. Celebrated by models, actors and the much of media, it is wholly unsurprising that the trend has developed a bit of an air of elitism about it. What is presented in the media is that this is the diet of the glossy woman in control of her life. She is on trend and on the whole is getting it ‘right’, adhering to a path towards a ‘better’ version of herself. What people don’t realise is the commitment and the restriction it takes to adhere to such a change. It is more than just a change in diet, but one in lifestyle too.
It is the connotation and romanticisation of veganism that I feel is possibly becoming damaging for our sense of self and love of good food, far more so than eating meat or not. For a vegan options can be limiting. I have friends that frequently turn down social invitations, fearing that the right food won’t be available. They can’t eat out in most restaurants, travel unprepared and when they do there is a control and a stress around food related situations. For many this way of life makes them happy, and that is totally fine. But being someone who suffers from digestive issues and has to be aware of food for health, I wouldn’t wish such restrictions on anyone.
If the goal is to attain “perfect” physical health, then there is a trick missing. Veganism doesn’t equate to perfect health. In fact no diet can promise that. It would be far more beneficial to cut out all the processed foods and focus on cooking from scratch with higher welfare meats and fresh vegetables. Certainly I have the odd day meat and dairy free day, but instead of focusing on restriction I am more interested in buying better quality and less of it. Good quality grass fed meat can contain as much beneficial omega 3 as salmon. It also contains a whole host of vitamins and beneficial fat, (such as CLA) that cannot be found in plant based sources.
Perfect health is much more about positive thoughts, kind actions and mindfulness than the food we put into our bodies alone. There is certainly a fine line between what makes someone health-conscious and health-obsessed, one of the key defining differences being happiness. The question I suppose I am asking is ‘does it make you happy to live this way?’ If the answer is yes, then certainly you are on the right track. If the answer is no and you ned not be restricted for health reasons, then what is the point?
I am a big believer in the something for everyone approach. Being healthy need not be a way of life. It is just a way to make your life better. Peoples dietary requirements and what each body needs differ as much as individual tastebuds do. As such what works for one person won’t work for another. This is an important thing to factor. However, as I mentioned in veganism is something that works for you, then that is great.
I just feel it is unneeded to make meat the dietary villain and unfairly condemn a whole food group. There is nothing fun about ruining a jolly good roast chicken, for everyone else, just for the sake of it. More often the most subtle changes in diet will have a bigger impact and longevity than dramatic ones. So have a slice of cake, if you really want it, my chickens are certainly happy to share their eggs.