Meet the vegans
From personal trainers to toddlers, BBC Good Food speaks to the new wave of modern vegans to find out why they’ve turned to a plant-based diet.
Have you been considering trying a vegan diet? With more people than ever in the UK wanting to know where their food comes from and the impact it's having on the environment, veganism is a growing trend. Discover what we learned after trialling this eating regime for ourselves and read our top tips for switching to a vegan diet.
Questions arise, such as: Is it easy and viable to feed a whole family with vegan food? Can you be vegan and still make gains in the gym? Can you still indulge in cakes and sweets? We spoke to people who have tried the vegan lifestyle to afford you an insight into the pros and cons.
The vegan family: Jenny, Ian and Emily Liddle
There is no typical vegan – they can be old, young, anyone, from all walks of life. We're vegan for three reasons; to benefit animals, the environment and our health. We wanted our daughter (now, 13-years-old) to enjoy all the benefits of being vegan and to appreciate what happens to animals before they end up on supermarket shelves. We wanted her to be well informed, so she can make the judgement as to whether or not to eat meat and dairy herself. She’s always chosen to be vegan.
We're well read in vegan nutrition and have spoken to doctors and nutritionists about what we should be including in our diets. There’s now such a massive range of high-protein vegan foods and recipes available, you’re spoilt for choice. We do take B12 and D supplements to top ourselves up. We tend to socialise with other vegans and other vegan parenting groups so there’s always lots of support and advice on hand.
It used to be difficult to eat out with family and friends. You had to take food with you everywhere you went, so you really had to plan. But now it's no problem. You can also now buy staple ingredients like tofu, vegan cheese and quinoa in supermarkets as well as health stores, which makes things much easier. There’s also more of a variety of vegan ingredients available than ever before.
- Wondering if a vegan diet could work for your family? Our dietitian separates fact from fiction.
The vegan baker: Mellissa Morgan
I made the transition to vegan back in 2009. I grew up with a dairy allergy and I had been vegetarian for a long time and I just stopped running out of excuses. For me, cake is a main food group, so when I decided to go vegan, I tried to find a bakery and realised there wasn’t one in the whole of the UK. I thought, I’m going to have to figure out how to bake myself so I can become vegan.
I think the idea of veganism being all about salad has finally been bashed out of the consciousness of a lot of people and they're realising how fabulously fun and exciting vegan food can be. I trade on indulgence and decadence and we always use ingredients you can get from a local supermarket. It's not all about flaxseed flapjacks – sometimes you need that slice of birthday cake! Our motto is, everybody deserves great cake.
- Take a look at Good Food's most indulgent vegan bakes.
The vegan personal trainer: Glen John Jones
I have now been vegan since early 2016. After around six months of solid research into the subject I was convinced that I was ready to crack on. Since adopting this diet, I have been the most fit, focused and positive that I have ever been in my life. In some ways, I almost feel as though I have an unfair advantage over my previous self prior to going vegan as my energy levels are through the roof. I now look forward to both physical and mental challenges.
I do encourage my clients to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to consume less meat and animal products. Many people don't realise I live off a completely plant-based diet until they ask me if I am 'vegan' or not, as I rarely talk about it. I prefer to let them come to me about it and when they do, I let them know everything they want to know.
The ex-vegan: Jenna Farmer
I suffer from Crohn's disease, so I tried going vegan as a way to ease the symptoms. I was living abroad at the time and I was worried that poor quality meat would have a negative effect on my overall health.
After a few months, I felt constantly tired and lacking in energy. I found it really difficult to get a variety of foods into my diet. The high levels of fibre and a lot of the vegan protein sources like lentils just irritated my gut. Now that I've stopped, I've found that eating meat as a protein source actually helps my gut health. I even drink bone broth daily now. Right now, I feel as if I need at least a moderate amount of meat to stay healthy.
Are you wondering how your diet will affect your gut health? Learn how to maintain healthy gut bacteria in our guide.
The vegan street food chef: Cem Yildiz
I’ve been vegan for just over a year now. My decision to become a vegan was heavily influenced by a talk I went to by Dr Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die. The talk really highlighted the health benefits of a plant-based diet, something that I’d not really considered or understood before. I also wanted to try and live in a more ethical and sustainable way.
In my opinion, the word veganism itself is in need of a rebrand, which is now happening due to the growing demand for vegan options, especially on the street food scene. People should care less about the word veganisn and instead just eat more consciously with an awareness of where their food is coming from and the impact it's having on their health.
Our slogan is 'meat-free more often'. I’m not saying vegan fast food seven days a week is the way forward, but these kind of foods are usually transition meals into a plant-based diet. They're perfect for everyone who likes their regular fast food fix.
Enjoyed this? Try our vegan recipes and read more about veganism...
Thinking of adopting a vegan diet? Make sure you know the facts about maintaining a balanced vegan diet and ensuring you get all the nutrients you need.
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