Judging by the increase of vegan products in our supermarket aisles, going vegan or plant-based looks like a growing trend. But is this another diet fad or the solution to all our health and environmental problems?
Going vegan – the solution to everything?
Fuelled by a growing concern to help protect the environment, a growing number of people are trying out a vegan or plant-based diet according to the Guardian.
When it comes to measuring the carbon footprint of our plates, animal farming is getting the blame. We hear claims that in addition to helping with tackling climate change, going vegan or plant-based is also better for our health. Shocking footage from industrial farming makes us feel guilty to eat animal products. Being vegan just feels like the solution to all our problems and the right thing to do.
The vegan brand & community
According to “Veganuary”, the movement reached 375 million people across their social media channels this year, a 67% rise from 2021. And almost three time more media stories were published across the world about the movement (4,351 in comparison to 1,500 last year). This year, 800 new vegan products came to the market, but who is really benefitting from these? The consumer? or the food brands who have found an opportunity to promote and make profits with these amazing new products?
Most human beings love feeling part of a community, people need to feel that they ‘belong’. It’s kind of built in our DNA to be part of a tribe. We wouldn’t survive on our own after all. And being part of a movement that helps the planet, is kind to animals and good for our health, feels meaningful. Together we’re making a difference.
But one must ask, is this the right way to go about it?
Going back to basics
You don’t need a nutritional degree to know that processed food whether from plants or animals is still processed food with additives and packaged in plastic. You don’t know where the ingredients come from and how they’ve been produced, transformed or transported. Their nutritional value is also very dubious the manufacturing since a lot of the nutrients would have been lost during the manufacturing process.
How did our grandparents or great grandparents eat before this increase of food related diseases and carbon emissions? Seasonal food, locally grown on small farms that respect its environment. We were in touch with where our food came from, how it was grown or raised, prepared and distributed. Whilst the drive to make profit has pushed many to overexploit their land to the detriment of the environment and our health, there are farmers who have the potential to make such a difference. But who’s going to make a profit from promoting our small, local farmers?
Recently we visited Cranley barn farms to talk with Tom and Mary about their farming practice. We learned about how they raise their cattle and manage their land. We shared similar views that we want healthy land and healthy food production.
Farmers like Tom are very much aware about the issues with factory farming. This method of farming however shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush as regenerative farming practices which are vastly different. This is an area that gets glossed over by many who demonise beef and meat. With regenerative farming, the animals are free to roam outside most of the year. They eat the grass in the field and in winter the hay harvested on site or locally. They don’t need grains or antibiotics because there no spread of diseases. Their poop and stamping increase the biodiversity of the ground, which in turns absorbs carbon. They are moved every day to help with this process and therefore have a positive impact on the environment. This is just one example of how regenerative farming works.
Is a vegan diet healthy?
If everyone altered their lifestyle to a vegan diet, it would lead to big health issues and result in much more obesity and poor health. Most plant-based vegan produced foods are highly processed. And the consumption of heavily processed foods has been shown to encourage overeating. A vegan diet can be healthy, but not to everyone. It must be well planned, which is true of most diet plans, but even more relevant to a vegan diet. Nutrient deficiencies and poor health can and do occur, increasing risk for mental health and behavioural issues. The Gut communicates directly to the brain, posing even bigger risks to young and impressionable people’s health by using marketing to hit an emotion rather than rational.
Big names with power want to dictate what people should eat with GMO crops which kill the soil. This is a disastrous approach which throws ecology and farming practices that have been around for thousands of years out of the window.
Additionally, contrary to the narrative being driven and popular belief, organ meats and meat are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. We have eaten these foods since the dawn of time. Eliminating them without any consideration would actually have a disastrous impact on the environment and our health.
The real solution
If you are searching for a healthier way to eat, a suggestion would be to shop locally produced foods and opt out of eating fast foods. Awareness of not falling into the trap of being guilt tripped to go vegan to save the world is key. Looking at the bigger picture, we order things almost daily on the internet with as little as 2-3 clicks, yet, we rarely consider this as having an impact. And it’s likely to have much higher consequences to the health of the planet than any other agenda being pushed. Let’s not ‘look the other way’ and not be aware of the actual destruction fast food brands are doing to the planet.
The solution to our health and environmental problem is not a diet. Let’s be aware that big brands are exploiting this vegan trend. Go to your local farmers’ markets, meet with the very people who grow your food. Eat seasonal or even grow your own and then we can make a real difference.
If you need support to reach your health and fitness goals, we are launching this May, our Designed for Life accountability groups. Join and achieve your objectives for only £25 per month. Find out more in our Coaching page.