Tag: vegan meals

    What would happen if everyone went vegan?

    What would happen if everyone went vegan?

    The idea of everyone adopting a vegan diet might sound extreme, but in the last few years, the number of Britons following a plant-based diet has risen significantly. There are at least 600,000 vegans in the UK — although some sources put this figure nearer 2.7 million — while nearly 40 per cent of meat eaters say they’ve reduced the amount of meat they consume.

    You can see this growing interest in vegetarianism and vegan diets all around us. From the explosion of dairy-free ‘milk’ alternatives on supermarket shelves to vegan options on menus – or even entirely vegan restaurants. What was once a more niche lifestyle choice is becoming increasingly mainstream.

    For scientists, policymakers and economists, the idea of a vegan future is especially interesting – with one of the biggest drivers being the environment. Keep scrolling to get further information about vegan in https://thevegangarden.com/.

    How does food affect greenhouse gases?

    Your fridge might seem an unlikely setting for the fight against global warming, but did you know that food is responsible for a third of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions? What’s more, meat and dairy make up nearly 60 per cent of that carbon footprint.

    The UN says that global farmed livestock accounts for roughly 11 per cent of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions (with methane from cows a surprisingly big culprit). But according to new research published in the journal Climate, if we all went vegan, the world’s food-related CO2 emissions may drop by 68 per cent within 15 years, The move, which the study’s authors admit is hypothetical, would also provide the cut in emissions needed to limit global warming to 2ºC.

    However, going vegan is not the only way to reduce food-related greenhouse gasses. Regenerative farming improves soil health on a farm by diversifying the types of crops grown and integrating them with animals. For example, a farmer could graze cows or sheep on a field for one year, making use of their natural fertiliser while also giving the soil a rest.

    The Soil Association says healthy soil can capture and store more carbon than degraded soil; around two tonnes more carbon in every football pitch-sized patch of farmland. The idea is gaining popularity – in 2021, the UK government announced plans to subsidise farmers up to £70 per hectare if they adopt regenerative agriculture techniques.

    So, going vegan may be better for the planet but there are other ways to tackle carbon emissions and global warming that don’t mean cutting out meat and dairy.

    What would happen if everyone went vegan?

    Is a vegan diet healthy?

    We know Western diets are linked to many health problems including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In 2015, the World Health Organisation even categorised processed meat such as bacon as carcinogenic, along with asbestos, alcohol and arsenic. This might suggest that switching to a more plant-focused diet may be good for you as well as the planet.

    An increasing amount of evidence shows the health benefits of eating more plant-focused foods, such as a reduced risk of dying from heart disease, fewer cases of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of some cancers. A 2018 study by University of Oxford even concluded that switching to a plant-based diet could save up to eight million lives worldwide.

    However, being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating healthily. Some vegan products contain a lot of coconut oil, for example, which is high in saturated fat. The rise in vegan junk food, like burgers, ‘fish’ and chips, or sausage rolls, could also be fooling you into believing these foods are healthy. In fact, many are high in calories but lacking in essential nutrients, or are packed with salt and sugar.

    Vegan diets may also miss out on vital vitamins and minerals, as they’re naturally low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. If you are vegan, it’s important to eat plenty of plant proteins from beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and soya versions of ‘milk’ and yogurt to help boost your intake of those nutrients.

    Peanuts are also a good vegan source of protein, while other nuts and seeds can provide minerals such as zinc and selenium – cashews, pistachios, flaxseeds, chia or pumpkin seeds are particularly valuable. Quinoa and buckwheat are often called pseudo-grains but are in fact seeds; quinoa is especially useful for vegans because it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that we need for growth and repair.

    It’s easy to follow a balanced diet as a vegan but you need to be aware of what – and how much – you’re eating: good advice for omnivores and herbivores alike.

    Can going vegan reduce food shortages?

    Would a vegan future make food poverty history? If it’s about freeing up space and resources for growing food, there is some evidence to back this up.

    A meat-eater’s diet requires 17 times more land, 14 times more water and 10 times more energy than a vegetarian’s, according to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is principally because we use a large proportion of the world’s land for growing crops to feed livestock instead of humans – of the world’s approximately five billion hectares of agricultural land, 77 per cent is used for livestock.

    This squeeze on resources is only set to intensify. In 50 years, the UN predicts there will be 10.5 billion people on the planet (the current world population is around 8 billion). To feed us all, we need to grow food more sustainably.

    One of the counterarguments against this vegan solution is that some grazing land isn’t suitable for growing crops. That’s certainly true, but there’s actually a bigger problem with eradicating world hunger. Right now, we already produce enough calories to comfortably feed everyone on the planet, but more than 820 million people may still not get enough food.

    In other words, having enough to eat is as much about politics and big business as it is about dietary choices, so there’s nothing to say that hunger would be a thing of the past in a vegan world.

    Where would all the animals go?

    If we no longer bred farm animals, what would happen? Would they become extinct? Would they overrun the planet?
    Billions of farm animals would no longer be destined for our dinner plates and if we couldn’t return them to the wild, they might be slaughtered, abandoned, or taken care of in sanctuaries. Or, more realistically, farmers might slow down breeding as demand for meat falls.

    Farm animals are bred far more intensively than they reproduce in the wild. As with all wildlife, any returned animal populations would fluctuate and eventually reach a balance, depending on predators and available resources in the wild.

    It’s worth noting that not all livestock could simply ‘go free’. Some farm breeds, such as broiler chickens, are now so far removed from their ancestors that they couldn’t survive in the wild. Others, like pigs and sheep, could feasibly return to woodlands and grazing pastures, and find their own natural population levels.

    On top of that, even if we stopped eating animals, our ongoing destruction of wild habitats would still reduce their numbers. As always with nature, it’s a question of balance.

    Vegan on a budget

    Vegan on a budget

    Shopping for a balanced vegan diet doesn’t have to be any more expensive than shopping for a non-vegan diet. With our tips and your creativity, you may even find yourself saving money. Check our website https://thevegangarden.com/ ‘Vegan on a budget’ blog too, which includes ideas and recipes for living on a budget as well as how to help vegans who are struggling financially.

    Vegan on a budget

    Get creative

    A majority of healthy vegan meals use the ingredients that you should already have in your cupboards and that most supermarkets offer as less expensive own-brand versions, including:

    • tinned beans and dried pulses of various kinds
    • vegetables (particularly seasonal ones)
    • potatoes
    • egg-free pasta and noodles
    • rice
    • bread (wholemeal is ideal from a health point of view)
    • dried herbs and spices
    • seasonal fruit
    • soya mince

    These ingredients may not sound hugely exciting on their own but can be used to make a wide variety of dishes such as chillis, curries, stir fries, wraps or pasta dishes, so it’s possible to enjoy plenty of variety too.

    Supermarket staples

    Branded staples such as soya/nut milk and vegan-suitable margarine are similar in price to their dairy equivalents. However, supermarkets normally also offer their own brand plant-based milks, which are often cheaper than the own brand dairy equivalents.

    Frozen veggie burgers, sausages and mince are often fairly inexpensive; particularly supermarket own-brand products (check the labels before buying though, as not all ‘veggie’ products are vegan and many contain egg).

    Some supermarkets also offer dried veggie packet mixes (found near the seasonings and other dried pulses) for foods such as burgers and sausages, that you can happily experiment with. A packet of burger mix can be turned into ‘meatballs’ and tossed in tomato sauce to be eaten with spaghetti. Alternatively, a sausage packet mix can be rolled in some puff pastry (most cheap supermarket own-brands are vegan) and you can create vegan sausage rolls in no time. Perfect for snacking or picnics.

    Check the ‘value’ products

    Quite often products in low-budget supermarket ranges are vegan when their more expensive equivalents are not; for example, cheaper products that are made with vegetable oil or margarine when the more expensive ones use butter. Things like apple pies, garlic bread, dark chocolate and fruit crumble have been spotted as vegan ‘value’ versions in various supermarkets. If you take a minute to check the ingredients, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that it’s vegan.

    ‘Reduced’ produce

    If you fancy cooking up a spontaneous meal, search your local shops for fruit and vegetable in the ‘reduced’ section and consider what you can make with them. You never know where your creativity will take you. If they’ve only been reduced by 20p or are still relatively expensive, then it might be worth giving them a miss, as you’d only be saving a small amount.

    If you visit supermarkets and shops near closing time, you can often benefit from dramatically reduced prices on bakery and fresh produce. You can find anything from bargain bread buns to puff pastry and pots of houmous that are practically being giving away for pennies. Items such as pastry and bread can be put in the freezer and defrosted later to last the entire week.

    Special occasions and deals

    In many health stores you can find ‘specialist’ products such as vegan cheese or vegan meat equivalents, that are great if you’re craving such foods. Their costs may run a little higher than the supermarket own brands, but if you find them on offer (larger health stores such as Holland and Barrett offer some great deals), you can work them into a tighter budget.

    Health-wise it’s better to view these as occasional additions to your diet rather than staple foods. This doesn’t mean a vegan diet is ‘expensive’ – if you based a non-vegan diet on expensive cheeses and cuts of meat, the costs would soon add up too!

    Freeze and reheat

    If you have access to a freezer, you can make up several portions of a curry, chilli or casserole with a big bag of supermarket ‘basics’ vegetables or potatoes – and freeze them. This is much cheaper than buying ready meals and is also convenient ie. just heat up a meal in the microwave if you don’t have time to cook.

    Frozen vegetables can sometimes be cheaper than fresh – for example frozen peppers, broccoli or spinach – and taste just as good. They also keep for longer, meaning you don’t end up throwing any away.

    Discovering cheap fruit and berries at local markets is great, but they may be nearing the end of their shelf-life. A quick and easy way to keep them fresh and edible is to wash, chop and freeze them. This means that they last a long time and are ready to be whizzed into smoothies whenever you want them. Also, if you find cheap bananas they can make a fantastic ice cream when frozen and blended.

    Leftovers for lunch

    If you can, make extra of your evening meal and use the remainder as a packed lunch the next day. It’s usually cheaper and more convenient than buying lunch when you’re out. Plus you’ll know it will taste good! If you get in to the habit of making extra and freezing it, you should have plenty of choice of what to eat the next day.

    Explore new shops and markets

    If you have shops near you specialising in food from other countries, go in and explore. You might find that some ingredients are cheaper there than in supermarkets. One example is tofu, which is normally a lot cheaper from Chinese supermarkets than from other shops. You can often find interesting noodles, cooking sauces and other ingredients too.

    As we mentioned before, markets can be a good way of finding fresh produce for less than supermarket prices. If your local market has cheap vegetables on offer, try making them into a hearty, healthy soup and freezing it in portions.

    Buy what you need

    Food waste is a big problem in the UK and we can help combat that problem by only buying what we need. If you have spare fresh ingredients, see if it’s possible to freeze them for later. Some vegetables such as peppers and spinach or even tofu can be cooked up into spare portions of curry, chilli, soup or pasta sauce to be frozen and eaten another time.

    Make a list and stick to it

    We’re writing a list, we’re checking it twice! Lists are a good idea, particularly if you find yourself buying things that you don’t manage to eat in time, or if you get distracted and tend to impulse-buy products on your shopping trip.  If you plan your week’s meals, then write a list and only buy what’s on your list – and you’re less likely to overspend.

    Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry

    You may have heard this before, but it’s true. It is much easier to resist non-essential food purchases when you’re not already hungry… after all, do you really NEED those vegan chocolate truffles?