It would seem that dry January has been superseded in recent years by ‘Veganuary’; the act of following a plant based diet (i.e. no meat or dairy) throughout the month of January, usually with the aim of shedding those extra festive pounds.
Whilst I do realise that some people are successful in losing weight by ‘becoming’ vegan, because fundametally they create a calorie deficit, I want to highlight a few things to anyone who has been sucked in by this month long ‘fad’ and who may now be struggling….
Veganuary is the next New Year craze taking the world by storm!
Reasons to be Vegan
Before I do, however, I want to make it clear that Vegans who make this nutritional choice for the right reasons, i.e. ethical, religious or environmental, are very different to those who are doing it temporarily to lose weight. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can follow a Vegan regime long-term, in the pursuit of their strong beliefs.
What I do struggle with are those who adopt and/or promote this dramatic lifestyle choice in the guise of a New Year ‘health kick’. In that respect, it is just yet another diet craze akin to the Atkins or Keto regimes.
Veganism should be a long term, lifestyle choice NOT a temporary weight loss solution.
Factors to consider
Adopting such an extreme diet should be taken very seriously for practical, nutritional and psychological reasons.
Practically, it can make daily life very difficult, especially if you completely revolutionising your meals. It takes time and practice; understanding food labels and Vegan recipes doesn’t happen overnight.
This is probably what makes it so successful for some – they don’t know what to eat so reduce their intake by default!
Nutritionally, it can also leave you lacking in essential nutrients and may lead to a severe B12 deficiency. This leads to fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and pale skin to name a few! You will also need to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium, iron and zinc.
Psychologically, it can fuel an obsession with ‘clean eating’, even orthorexia, which leads to unhealthy, inflexible eating approaches that reduce quality of life and even longevity.
Don’t be fooled
To top it off, supermarkets have jumped on the band wagon and are cashing in…. It seems that what was once the fruit and veg aisle has now become the ‘Vegan’ aisle with an inflation in prices to match.
At the end of the day, we all have the right to make our own nutritional choices but equally, we shouldn’t vehemently push these on others, nor should we sensationalise or make an eating regime seem ‘fashionable’.
Furthermore, to make such a huge shift in your dietary patterns over such a short period is neither sustainable nor sensible.
Supermarkets are cashing in on the craze!
The chances are that you WILL very quickly revert to your old habits come February, particularly if your hearts not in it, and all the weight will soon reappear and you will find that you spent a whole 4 weeks stressing and struggling to socialise for nothing!
By all means, up your fruit and vegetable intake; this can be a great way of improving your health whilst reducing your calories, and thus your weight, without eliminating an important food group.
Don’t be a sheep by mindlessly following the next fashionable fad diet; take control by looking at your own personal diet and be realistic about the things you can change to reduce your calories without sacrificing the emotional, psychological and social aspects of your health.
What lifestyle changes can you make that you will stick to and that align with your health and/or weight loss goals?
And, if upon reflection, Veganism is for you then go for it!! But not just for a measly 4 weeks – have the courage to commit and make the change a long term one!
This Blog was brought to you by Rebecca Flannery of Transformational Nutrition.
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