As the world commemorates World Vegan Day on 1 November, we did some research to try and understand exactly what the hype is all about and what the health benefits are when it comes to lifestyle diseases.
During our research it became clear that veganism is not only about the diet, but a lifestyle that is foremost anti-animal cruelty, with a section interested in the well-being of our planet, religious reasons and health benefits.
Fuelled mostly by plant-based diets, this worldwide trend is here to stay if one tracks the number of influencers – from celebrities to athletes – who have taken up vegan diets or plant-based diets. There has also been an incredible increase in plant-based milk and meat substitutes in the market. Although we couldn’t get any conclusive statistics on the vegan community in South Africa, the number of vegan products and related services is growing. The SA Vegan Society’s Facebook page has over 8000 followers, and the society identifies with the UK society which defines veganism as:
“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Is it healthy?
Vegans do not eat any animal products, and that includes meat, dairy, eggs and honey. An extension to this lifestyle is to avoid everyday “essentials” like wool, silk or leather shoes or clothes, beauty products tested on animals and anything else made with animal materials.
While a vegan diet may be healthy, processed foods for vegans are definitely not nutritious, and this usually raises the debate about how healthy the vegan diet actually is. Many who adopt veganism believe that a whole-food plant-based diet that limits processed foods, added sugars and fats is one that is optimal for their health but this is, of course, actively debated in many circles.
While dietary preference is a personal choice, when it comes to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease, there is always a case for eating more vegetables, especially if they’re grown organically. Almost all of us could do with more plants in our diets, so whether you go fully vegan or just take some inspiration from the lifestyle, there are undeniable benefits. A recent study has suggested that eating organic produce can even cut one’s cancer risk – read more here.
We don’t believe that there is one diet or way to live, but we do believe in exploring all the options and to provide you with the information and education to make dietary choices that suit you. As always, our aim is to promote the medicinal benefits of organic food so that we prevent rather than cure the myriad of lifestyle diseases that are plaguing our country today.
World Vegan Day
World Vegan Day is celebrated worldwide on 1 November and sees many vegan communities holding seminars, public debates and workshops. Those who are interested in exploring this lifestyle are able to learn more, ask questions and decide if they want to pursue veganism. The day is also for vegans to “advocate the lifestyle, share ideas and sensitise their friends on its importance, as well as how they feel,” according to the Vegan Society UK.
We would love to know your thoughts on veganism and whether you follow the lifestyle or simply take inspiration from it. Please comment below or on our Facebook page or tag us @abundance_wf on Instagram or Twitter!
Pop quiz – How well do you know your vegan foods?
If you thought a vegan diet was simply eating veggies and plant-based foods, then how do you explain the fact that almonds, avocados and citrus products are not always true vegan foods? Click to find out!