Featured image from Carol Moshier on flickr Creative Commons.
We hear a lot about veganism every day, but what exactly does it mean to be a vegan? Well quite simply a vegan will not consume or wear any animal products. Over the past few years we’ve consistently seen the vegan lifestyle grow in popularity. There are many reasons to adopt a vegan way of life, the most common being: for animal rights issues; for environmental reform and for the health benefits. Many celebrities have turned to veganism for their latest diet trend such as Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, Jared Leto and even Beyoncé. If they can do it anyone can!
Of course as students we don’t always have the same expansive funds as celebrities to experiment with our eating habits. However, being vegan on a budget is the same as any diet, you just need to ensure you follow the golden rules of food shopping. Check quantity prices, buy generic brands, buy in bulk where possible and buy frozen alternatives, in particular with fruit.
If you want to begin your day with a healthy fruit filled vegan smoothie, perhaps frozen berries would be a suitable alternative to fresh, more expensive, fruit. Vegan alternatives to meat and cheese can be expensive, however more and more supermarkets are bringing out their own vegan range of foods like Aldi and Lidl, which both offer vegan chocolate. Lidl also sell a variety of vegan baked goods. Tesco has their own range of vegan foods with many frozen options available with long shelf lives. All major supermarkets will stock dairy free milk and some meat free products suitable for vegans as well.
On campus there are also many affordable vegan alternatives available like falafel, hummus, salads, wraps and flatbreads. These can be purchased alongside the array of sandwiches sold in the various food outlets.
Around Galway there is no shortage of vegan cuisine. For example, Fat Freddie’s on Quay Street offer some delicious vegan pizza. Food For Thought on Lower Abbeygate Street has an exciting array of vegan dishes ranging from vegan Shepherd’s pie to avocado brownies. Boojum on Spanish Parade House have loads of great vegan Mexican meals. Kai Café and Restaurant on Sea Road also offer organic European vegan lunches and dinners in a colourful rustic setting.
One of the main areas of growth in veganism is amongst college students. A reason for this growth is because of the internet. The massive influx of food-themed sites on social media have made the concept of being vegan more mainstream. With graphic images of the harsh realities of the farming industry and beautiful images of animal-free dishes, it is easy to see why so many young people are enticed by the vegan lifestyle. It is quite common to see posts on social media humorously mocking the concept of being vegan, yet veganism continues to get more and more popular. These jokes are slowly being replaced by a more positive message showing the benefits and justification for not consuming animal products.
There are many health myths that revolve around veganism; this stems from contradicting and inaccurate research. We find that there are two schools of thought when it comes to vegans. Many scientists believe that the vegan diet helps in the prevention of developing chronic illnesses. Studies also show that when animal fat is removed from your diet the chances of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a number of other conditions are vastly reduced.
There are some negative health implications that can come from veganism. Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is involved in cell functions but it is not found in many plants. Studies show that over 90% of vegans are deficient in this vital nutrient. There are several more nutrients that vegans can be deficient in because of a lack of animal meat consumed, but with the help of a regimented diet and health supplements, vegans can have a healthy lifestyle.
If you are considering becoming vegan and are apprehensive about making the leap why not adopt a vegetarian lifestyle and slowly begin to cut out the animal products. Many long-term vegans have taken this approach as it offers a far less serious commitment. Or perhaps take the plunge into a fully vegan lifestyle.
If you want to learn more about being a vegan or you want to find some like-minded vegans to socialize with visit the Galway Vegan Foodies website to get information about their upcoming meetups.
-By Zoe Ellis