Six reasons to eat plant based

Eating less red meat and focusing on a more plant based diet is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to celebrities, influencers and a better understanding of the benefits of increasing veg protein and reducing red and processed meat. As we have become more educated about the impacts of meat on the environment and the ethics of meat consumption, food providers have followed suit, providing more and more options for those opting for a plant based diet.

This blog post was written in collaboration with Tesco, but as always all opinions are my own. Check out their new Wicked Kitchen range, a collaboration with plant chef Derek Sarno. The range uses plants in a variety of ways, making all the meals taste amazing (trust me, I’ve tried them!) but without the negative effects of meats. Gone are the days of weird-tasting fake meats – this is a real deal. They’re also super convenient, which means that at the end of a long day of work, they’re quick to stick in the oven or on the hob so you can get eating asap. I am unbelievably impressed with the range, and would recommend it to anyone, not just people who are already vegetarian or vegan! If you’ve been considering lowering your meat and dairy consumption for some while, there’s no better time to do it. Here are a few reasons why you should just go for it!

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It’s good for your health

Increasing the proportion of the diet that is made up of wholefoods such as fruit and vegetables can only improve your health. Multiple studies have also shown significant improvements in health outcomes for those with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, diseases that have exploded in frequency over the last few decades. Red meats, especially those that have been heavily processed, have been liked closely with increased rates of these diseases, and decreasing the amount you eat can only have positive impacts on your health. It is now possible to replace meats with vegan products that have the same flavours but none of the negative impacts, so why not try some vegan alternatives, such as those found in the Wicked kitchen range?

It saves you money

People often complain that eating vegan is more expensive than eating meat, but if you are simply replacing the most expensive part of the diet with more vegetables, grains and pulses, it ends up significantly cheaper than an omnivorous diet. Specialist products such as tofu and meat replacements can sometimes be relatively expensive but are almost always cheaper than meats. Brands such as Tesco have started providing ready meals that are no more expensive than their meat counterparts, meaning that even convenience foods are as cheap or cheaper than the animal product equivalent.

It’s one of the best things you can do to save the planet

There is irrefutable evidence to show that red meat, especially products that come from cattle, have a significant impact on the environment. The livestock industry consumes about 8% of the world’s water, depriving those areas that most need it (Schlink et al., 2010). Whilst it takes 2400 gallons of water to make 1lb of meat, 1lb of wheat can be grown with just 155 gallons of water. Without going into too much depth, using meat for food is less efficient in just about every way, using more land, water, fuel, and using 60% of all the human grade grain grown in the world. By products of the meat industry include greenhouse gases such as methane, which has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2. Care about the world we live in? Reducing your consumption of animal products (especially meat) will make a huge difference. Vegan alternatives are also more ethically sound – the more we eat plant based, the less suffering there has to be, and that’s something we can all feel good about.

It’s easy to lose weight… but you don’t have to

Whilst weight loss is by no means the most important thing in the world, the low caloric value of plants means that you can have a lot more volume for your calories! This means more food and who can complain about that?.In addition, by pure correlation, vegans have the lowest BMI, vegetarians second lowest, and meat eaters have the highest. Having said that, if you’re not looking to lose weight, it’s plenty easy enough to find high calorie vegan foods, such as nuts and oils, and dishes can be made to incorporate these to fill you up. Veganism isn’t about being hungry – it’s about being satisfied with delicious plant based foods!

It’s no less convenient

When it comes to cooking, we all want foods that are quick and easy to make, and sadly that often forces us to go for choices we’ve made 100 times before, often incorporating meat as a centrepiece to a meal, just because it’s ‘easy’. However, more and more people are demanding plant-based products that are just as easy to make as meat ones. With a higher demand comes higher supply. Conscientious and influential brands such as Tesco are incorporating more and more vegan foods into their takeaway sections, allowing people to opt for nutritious and delicious vegan foods that are just as convenient to pick up as any other food. Convenience is often cited as a reason for people eating meat, but this reason is becoming less and less relevant. You’d be surprised what you can find!

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

A lot of people are put off the idea of becoming vegan or even vegetarian because of the idea that they have to give up everything they love, or it’s not worth doing. It’s this kind of ‘all or nothing’ attitude that put me off for years, but in reality, every little change helps. If you are vegetarian, try having a couple of vegan days a week, or just reduce dairy consumption if you really love eggs. The chances are that over time, you’ll find that you don’t crave animal products anymore! Products from the Wicked Kitchen range can help you make that transition far easier, swapping out meat products for plant products used in a creative way, meaning you won’t miss meat at all.

 

There is really no reason not to try eating more conscientiously by reducing the amount of animal products you consume. It is often habit that allows us to continue doing things that aren’t in our best interest, but all it takes is a decision to make a change and half the battle is already done. Whatever your reason, there has been no easier time to start eating plant based, so why not give it a try?

I’d love to hear of your experiences with veganuary or your journey to eating less meat – feel free to send me a message on instagram or comment below.

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This dairy-free caponata pizza has to be one of my favourites from the range!

New Years resolution ideas

I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions – on the one hand, we should be being the person we want to be year round, and any day is a great day to make a positive change. On the other hand, it seems that the idea of the New Year can encourage people to make changes they’ve been waiting to make for a while.

However, when you look at the statistics the results aren’t promising – 40% to 45% of people in the US make New Year’s resolution, yet only 8% of people stick to them for the first month. The most common resolution is to lose weight, but instead of taking things away from your life, why not add something in? Take a look at these slightly different New Year resolution ideas. The goal here is happiness gained, not pounds lost, and the chances are, once you find that you’re enjoying the changes, you’ll be part of the 8% that stick to their resolutions!

 

Social media
Social media free times
– whilst eating, before bed, or any other time when being on your phone may distract from your enjoyment or achievement of something, put it away. This is a good exercise in discipline – we’re all so used to being able to reach for our phones every two minutes that we end up distracting ourselves throughout the day. Putting your phone down for certain parts of the day can improve concentration, productivity and enjoyment of whatever activity you’re doing!

Be more true to yourself. Everyone knows instagram is a highlight reel, which has an effect both on yourself (pressure to produce ‘perfect’ content) and others (comparing their real life to your ‘perfect’ instagram one). Changing my instagram to reflect real life as much as picture perfect life has helped me reduce pressure on myself and hopefully others too. Why not show a bit more of your personality on your facebook/twitter/IG as well as the highlights?

 

Mindfulness
Write 5 things you’re grateful for at the end of everyday for a month (or longer). This has been proven to increase positivity by changing your mindset from picking out the negatives in a situation to searching for the positives. It takes time but is an amazing exercise to do!

Learn something new each week by podcasting. Try to listen to one podcast a week. See my podcast recommendations here!

Call your friends/parents more. Everyone knows they should do this but actually doing it is a different matter! Stick in some headphones and call a loved one whilst on a walk. It’ll make their day and you’re getting the benefits of a walk too.

 

Health
Drink more water
. Water increases energy levels, improves your skin, flushes out toxins and ensures you remain hydrated, which is important for all your bodily functions.

Give up caffeine. Caffeine in itself is not bad for you (up to a point), but reliance on a morning coffee can have effects on our mental state (not to mention that it’s expensive). Try giving it up or limiting your intake. You’d be surprised at the difference it can make!

 

Environment
Go vegetarian/vegan
. Cutting out meat (and dairy products) can have positive effects on your health, the environment and your wallet. Red meat is by far the worst, so even if you don’t want to go full vegan, consider cutting out all red meat/meat/meat and fish/meat, fish and dairy. Any change is a positive change, and you’ll likely to find that there are a lot of amazing recipes out there that don’t require harm to the the world. Read my reasons for being vegetarian (ex-pescetarian).

Quit single-use plastics. That coffee cup you pick up on your way to work? That’s not recyclable. The plastic bag you use to take your shopping home in? That’ll not break down for up to 1000 years. Consider reusing any plastic you already have (water bottles, bags etc.) and give up buying any more over January. It’s a fun challenge and will make you more aware of how much you can do to help the environment.

 

Work
Stop procrastinating
. Whilst procrastination can have some positive effects (reduced stress, displacement activities etc.), we undoubtedly have times where things don’t get done because of procrastination. There are two easy ways to stop this happening.

  • 2 minute rule – if something is going to take 2 minutes or less, do it now. Washing up that pan, replying to an email, putting on a wash – these things aren’t difficult or time consuming, but for some reason we like to put them off. Over January (at least), try implementing the 2 minute rule.
  • To do lists. Become a pro at writing to do lists (by hand!). Writing them correctly will break down big tasks and make them much more achievable.

 

Take breaks from your desk at uni/work. Despite the majority of employers allowing hour lunch breaks, only 45% of employees regularly take any breaks at all. However, taking regular short breaks and getting out at lunchtime can improve productivity and overall happiness at work. The top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in, so this may be worth a shot.

 

I hope you found these ideas useful. I’d be interested to hear of any other resolutions you might have! Let me know on my instagram.

 

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Happy New Year everyone!