Are you one of the many people hoping to take better care of yourself with a new diet? Do you want to know how to lower your cholesterol or maintain a healthy weight, maybe eat less fat? Veganism has long been held up as a way of eating that tackles many of these goals. But how true are these claims? Let’s take a look.
What is veganism?
For the uninitiated, veganism is usually defined as a diet that avoids any animal-derived product. That includes meat of course, but also dairy, eggs and anything that contains them. Some also exclude honey and forms of alcohol made using animal parts.
Going vegan for health reasons
If veganism sounds pretty intense, that’s because It can be. Avoiding all these foods means finding another way of eating, and can be tough at first. But the rewards can also be great. If your concern is how to lower your cholesterol, veganism may be a good option as it tends to cut out many of the sources of saturated fat – meat, butter, cheese etc. – and diets which swap saturated for unsaturated fat tend to lower cholesterol. Veganism is also good for healthy weight maintenance, as many replacement foods like vegetables and whole grains are naturally lower in calories and high in fibre.
So if it’s worth doing, are there any ways of making it slightly easier? Yes, actually. Although for many veganism is still predominately a moral choice, requiring a comprehensive commitment, people are increasingly taking a more accommodating stance. Many argue that for those who can’t go vegan full time, doing it just some of the time may be a good option.
What might this look like in practice? For some, it’s about doing a short trial to see how you find the lifestyle – maybe one month, maybe six. This is a great approach, as it forces you to eat differently for a while, but you always have the knowledge that it’s finite – that “I can quit anytime I want” feeling that helps to keep a diet from feeling too strict. By eating vegan short-term, you’re likely to learn some good go-to foods and recipes. Many people who take this approach then find they naturally incorporate more vegan dishes and vegetables into their normal diet, even after switching back.
An alternative approach is to go vegan part of the week. This may give you some of the suggested health benefits, while not forcing you to do it the whole time. Some single out one day, scheduling ‘Vegan Mondays’. Others eat vegan during the week and are then free to indulge at the weekend. The beauty of this approach is that you can vary it as you go along – start with one day and then increase gradually as you get more comfortable with the lifestyle.
Part-time veganism may then be a sensible way to try out a new form of eating. Its proponents describe many health benefits, suggesting it may be a solution to age-old problems like how to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. There are of course lots of other important aspects to a healthy lifestyle, like exercise and de-stressing with a good cup of tea, but if you’re thinking about how you eat and want to try something new, short-term veganism could be a great first step.