January is a great month to challenge yourself. It’s the time of year when everyone is trying another New Year’s resolution to help them get the year off to a healthy start.
So what will yours be? Learn to play an instrument? Start walking to work? Order fewer takeaways? Or, why not push yourself a little further this year and take part in Veganuary?
What is Veganuary?
Much like Stoptober or Dry January, Veganuary is dedicating a month of your life change - in this case, going vegan.
Throughout January, the charity called “Veganuary” inspires and encourages people to take on the challenge, and they hope that most will make the decision to keep vegan for the rest of the year after seeing the results.
What are the health benefits of going vegan?
Unsurprisingly, sticking to a vegetable diet offers a range of health benefits - weight loss being the most noticeable. A two year controlled obesity study discovered that vegans lost substantially more weight than meat-eaters on a controlled low-fat diet.
It’s not just how you look that is affected by ditching meat though, as going vegan also does wonders for your insides. Vegans have the lowest cholesterol when compared to meat-eaters, pescetarians and vegetarians, as well as having the lowest risk of high blood pressure.
Vegans even have an exceptionally lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to Diabetes UK, “Plant-based foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, nuts, pulses and seeds have been shown to help in the treatment of many chronic diseases and are often associated with lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, less hypertension, lower cholesterol levels and reduced cancer rates”.
A common misunderstanding in vegan diets is that it’s hard to create a balanced nutrition plan, particularly with protein. This is a concern may athletes or those into fitness have, believing they will fall short of protein and suffer from slow muscle growth.
Contrary to popular belief, with a well planned out diet, vegans can maintain a healthy level of protein without eating meat.
Legumes such as kidney beans, adzuki beans and black-eyed peas are all great sources of protein. In fact, 150g of sprouted lentils contain 7 grams of protein and only 0.5g of fat.
But, you’ll get more out of your meals than just protein. Non-dairy milk substitutes, such as almond or soy, are full of calcium along with tofu and dried figs. You won’t need to worry about your iron intake either, as beans are bursting with it.
By planning out your meals, a well-balanced vegan diet contains all the nutrients you’ll need to stay fit and healthy.
If you’ve ever thought about trying veganism but are worried about how it may affect your fitness performance, then you may be surprised to learn that many top athletes across a range of sports are vegan.
Top tennis stars and Wimbledon veterans Novak Djokovic and Serena and Venus Williams all adopt vegan diets. In fact, Djokovic owes so much to his diet that in 2016 he opened a vegan-based restaurant in Monte Carlo.
Professional footballer Jermain Defoe also credits a vegan diet for his success. He transitioned to veganism in 2017 and has never looked back, claiming it is what allowed him to remain at peak fitness into his mid 30’s.
Even former Heavyweight champion David Haye made the switch to Vegan, claiming that a plant-based diet made him stronger and faster than he’s ever been.
If you’re looking for a new way to challenge yourself in 2019 and want to see how going vegan can benefit your health, why not take part in Veganuary?
You can also take a look at our nutrition blog for helpful diet and exercise advice as well as some tasty vegan recipes to get you started.
To sign up to the Veganuary challenge, as well as helpful tips and advice for first-time vegans, visit the Veganuary website for more information.