Veganuary; It's a Lifestyle Not a Diet

Before you forego the whole hog consider the reasons why you’re making the choice. There’s a firm ethos underlying Veganuary, being vegan isn’t simply a dietary choice, it’s not just your plate it’ll impact but your lifestyle too.

The first thing to really consider is why you’re doing it? If you think a vegan diet may help you drop a couple kilos this can be achieved through simply putting yourself in a calorie deficit. Either by moving more, eating a little bit less or a sensible combination of both.  Cutting out any food group will result in you removing a portion of calories from your diet, therefore inducing weight loss. That is, provided you don’t replace those calories with something else.

While Veganuary is a fantastic opportunity to explore new flavours, broaden your recipe repertoire and perhaps try foods you wouldn’t have thought of it may pose be a challenge. Some planning on your part before doing the weekly shop would be wise so that you don’t end up with a trolley full of stuff you can’t eat. Or alternatively lose your marbles after your 20th veggie stir-fry of the week.

For those of you serious about training and animal welfare let’s just establish that you CAN get enough protein on a vegan diet. Despite what the meatheads might tell you your muscles won’t waste away because you stop eating chicken breasts.  However, the quality of plant protein is lower of that than animal varieties because it contains less of the essential (particularly branch chain) amino acids needed to support muscle growth/maintenance – fat loss essentials.

Combinations of rice and beans are a good way to guarantee you’re getting all these essential proteins and there are some great vegan protein powders on the market too.  In cutting out meat, initially, it’s likely you’ll fall short on hitting your micronutrient targets. Vitamin B12 is the one to be most aware of in addition to Calcium, Iron and Zinc.  Look for almond milks fortified with B12 and calcium.

One final consideration, that’s probably the most important is the affect it might have on your personal life and relationships. Having to bring Tupperware to dinner parties or obsessively check menus before you go out to eat can be pretty stressful. Restrictive eating habits can cause you to feel quite isolated and alone, sometimes resulting in a pattern of binge eating.

Fun fact: Oreos are vegan. This fact might not be so fun when you’re hungry, tired and confused about what to eat and reaching for a packet just to fill a gap.

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If you’re keen to make a change, start sustainably by testing the water. Rather than going the whole hog (pun intended) in January why don’t you start by swapping meat for one vegan meal per day. Or by eliminating red meat this month, then chicken, fish, eggs and then trickier things like cheese.

Nobody’s dietary choices are inherently right or wrong. You should be able to fuel yourself in a way you enjoy and that serves a purpose for the life you like to lead.  Just be aware that big changes in diet often mean making big changes to your lifestyle and if your underlying motivations aren’t for the right reasons it’s not likely to last.


By Ailish Flemming
SIX3NINE Trainer

@thehungrypt