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Veganuary is Nearly Over, So Should You Become a Vegan Permanently?

Veganuary is Nearly Over, So Should You Become a Vegan Permanently? main image

As the end of January draws near, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK will know the finish line is nearly in sight. If you’re one of the many people who pledged to give up meat for a month as part of Veganuary, you’ve either been pleasantly surprised by your experience so far or you’re desperate for a cheeseburger with a side of cheesy bacon-topped fries.

If it’s the former (and hopefully it is!), trying to go vegan for a month may have left you considering incorporating plant-based eating into your diet permanently. But are you really ready to go vegan full-time? 

What are the benefits of being a vegan?

Unlike Dry January (giving up alcohol for a month), Veganuary has actually got easier in recent years, with plant-based ranges in every major supermarket and vegan options on the menus of most chain restaurants (some, like Wagamama, even bring out special dishes in collaboration with Veganuary). 

Swearing off meat permanently is a much bigger step though. The obvious major benefit of being a vegan is helping to prevent cruelty to animals, so if you’re an animal lover, this could be enough to make you decide to follow a vegan diet for good.

However, there are so many more pros to becoming a vegan. It’s largely more friendly to the environment as it requires much less energy and farmland to feed a vegan. Plus, the huge amount of grain feed needed for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction.

When followed correctly (aka, not just living off vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), a vegan diet is one of the healthiest you can have. Health benefits include lowered blood pressure and cholesterol as well as a decreased risk of diabetes, plus the additional vitamin C you’ll likely be consuming in all those veggies will give you glowing skin.

Linda Mohamed, content writer for TopMBA.com, became a vegan at the beginning of her third year at uni, and told us about the multiple benefits she gained from ditching meat:

“At first it was just about the animals for me, but later on I started caring a lot more about the environment and noticed significant improvements in my health – from energy levels to digestion.” 

You’ll have to be more vigilant than you used to be and make sure you get enough iron and protein in your diet, as these can be lacking in a vegan diet. Good sources of protein include nuts and legumes, and grains (yes, this includes peanut butter on wholegrain toast).

Iron can be found in certain green vegetables like broccoli, as well as the vegan staples of beans and tofu. You should also take B12 supplements to avoid developing anaemia.

Can you be a vegan on a student budget?

The vegan diet is often misconstrued as being expensive, reserved only for celebrities with private chefs (famous vegans include Beyoncé, Zac Efron and Ariana Grande) or people with big budgets.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s undeniable that vegan substitutions for animal products like cheese can be more expensive than their ‘real’ counterparts, but generally, a diet without animal products is cheaper provided you shop smart. 

For instance, you can buy vegan staples like dried beans and pulses in bulk and they have a longer shelf life than meat and can be used for a huge range of recipes. Supermarkets often sell ‘damaged’ vegetables at a discounted price, and make sure to check out your local market for even better deals (and support small business owners at the same time).

Linda emphasized that you don’t have to get overwhelmed with fancy new meals: “Veganism isn’t just green smoothies, spirulina powders and exotic foods – it can be as easy as a jacket potato with beans and your regular cheap pasta dish.

“It’s also great that now most (if not all) fast foods and takeaway restaurants have a vegan option on the menu – so there’s no need to give up that hungover Domino’s Pizza!”

So – should I become a vegan?

Ultimately, the decision to change to a vegan diet is down to personal preference. If you’re already a vegetarian, or someone who avoids dairy for health reasons, it may be easier for you to ‘convert’ to veganism. 

If you’ve always been a devoted meat eater and can’t see the point of life without a medium-rare steak, it’ll be considerably harder! However, even adopting a vegan diet for a few days a week can make a real difference to your health, and the health of the planet.

Linda gave us her advice for how best to switch to a vegan diet:

“Take your time. Some people go vegan overnight and that works for them, but it personally took me nine months to transition from eating meat to only eating plant-based foods.

“I also set myself a specific deadline for the end of my transition, which personally helped me a lot to stick to it. But if that doesn’t work for you – that’s totally fine! 

“It’s okay to begin a vegan journey and have the occasional slip-up, we’re humans and no one deserves to feel overwhelmed or even guilty for struggling a bit.”

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Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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