Can diet protect our long-term mental health and prevent Alzheimer’s disease? There have been many claims but even though important, it’s not something that often comes up in the pub or over a family dinner. I had a look at the scientific research and it turns out, it’s not that complicated! The research all points in the same direction.
Being a vegan seems to attract polar opposite reactions from “you can’t survive”, through “you look healthy for a vegan” to “you look so much younger, it must be your vegan diet”.
There are still more negative than positive reactions such as one sneeze and your vegan diet is to blame and people becoming nutrition experts in an instant worrying about your protein and calcium intake. But despite this dated negativity, there’s a skyrocketing number of people going vegan for health reasons, celebrities, nutritionists and athletes promoting vegan diets and shops expanding their vegan ranges. Could the wimpy vegan be just a myth about to explode? Let’s look at the cold, hard scientific data and see what research says about human health and vegan diets.
‘I can’t afford to be vegan!’ It’s one of the arguments you hear far too often. I can see why people say it when they’re new to veganism because it’s so easy to be tempted by all the fancy products in attractive packaging with clever slogans that make you feel like you ‘need’ those foods. The truth is, you don’t! Veganism is for everyone and a vegan diet can be as cheap as, well, chips. But the trick is to make your diet not only cheap but healthy, too. Thrive and not just survive!
When you go vegan, you cut animal products and animal by-products out of your diet – and your wardrobe – buy cruelty-free cosmetics, toiletries and household products. You don’t visit places where animals are used for entertainment and you avoid other ethically questionable practices. But no two vegans are the same so when it comes to what we eat, our diets likely vary a great deal. Does it matter?
Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family and always grow in pods. Beans, lentils peas and chickpeas are a staple in diets all over the world – for example Indian dal, traditional Chinese and Japanese foods using mung, adzuki and soya (edamame) beans, Mexican bean chilli and burritos, Spanish fried beans, African rice and bean dishes, British mushy peas and a myriad of European lentil and pea recipes.
Apart from being very nutritious and super sustainable, pulses also have some splendid effects on our health. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses in order to increase public awareness of their nutritional benefits and to highlight how sustainable their production is.
No other plant seems to divide opinions like soya. Whilst some consider it a healthy and amazingly versatile crop, others warn against adverse effects and avoid it at all costs. So why are there so many myths surrounding soya and where do they come from?
A vegan diet can have a bunch of benefits, including easier weight maintenance, but vegans are not automatically skinny. So here’s how to make your diet work better for your weight without going to extremes. If you carry a few extra pounds and would like to lose some weight, all you might need to do is tweak your diet a little.
The dairy industry is up in arms about plant milks, first banning the use of the word ‘milk’ to describe a milky liquid that didn’t come from anyone’s mammary glands and now crying wolf over how many deficiencies we’ll possibly suffer if we ditch dairy.
The truth is, there’s a long history of plant milks and other plant drinks having been made by people over millennia. There’s certainly nothing new or unusual about us consuming them.
If you have ever toyed with the idea of going vegan, you most probably thought (at least once) that you might not be able to live without cheese. I can relate - when I went vegan, my cheese cravings reached epic proportions and there were times I even daydreamed about cheese, as if it was a drug…