By Siobhan Brew
Vegetarian and vegan diets can be viewed as a trend set by celebrities, such as Natalie Portman, Joaquin Phoenix and Beyonce, but it can seem like a lot of work to cut meat entirely out of your diet. However, with fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds and KFC making the inclusions of vegan and vegetarian options on their menus and supermarkets like Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Aldi providing more options on their shelves for those following the meat-free diets, it is now even easier than ever to take the leap. With more information, recipes and movements available such as Veganuary, and the Meat Free Monday movement created by Paul McCartney, there is really no reason not to try it out.
I have been a vegetarian for three years now. I remember when I decided to make the switch, I was almost scared to tell my mother. I had been reared on a meat diet – sausages and pudding for the breakfast, bacon and cabbage for the dinner; and to this day, I still miss these meals. My reasons for quitting were by no means revolutionary; I just found myself eating a lot of processed meat. It was quick and easy but held very little nutritional value, and I decided it would be healthier to cut everything out altogether.
There are several other reasons to choose a plant-based diet. Medical News Today shows how a plant-based diet helps lower levels of cholesterol, improved blood pressure and blood flow, better blood sugar control and lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Simple reasons such as food allergens, like lactose intolerance, may be a reason to change to a vegan diet. With climate change and the effect of agriculture in the emission of greenhouse gases, people take on the vegetarian and vegan diet for environmental reasons. The cost can also be an influential factor. Meat can be a costly part of the shopping list and cutting it out or replacing it with vegetables, pulses and meat substitutions such as Quorn can save money.
Following such diets can be somewhat restrictive. A vegan does not consume any meat, seafood or animal products, such as eggs and milk. Not consuming foods rich in nutrients and vitamins will mean a necessary dependency on supplements in order to ensure your immune system does not suffer. The likes of Evergreen and Holland and Barrett’s can provide the various nutrients and vitamins often high in animal and animal-made products such as Iron, Calcium, B6, and B12, while Boots provides options more affordable for students.
Galway is also a very vegetarian-vegan friendly city. With previously mentioned fast food restaurants an option, TGO Falafel Bar on Mary Street, The Lighthouse Café on Abbeygate Street Upper exclusively offer delicious and interesting vegan options as well as other restaurants, such as Dela Restaurant on Dominick Street Lower, The Quay Street Kitchen on Quay Street and even Boojum, offering great options to try out too.
Essentially, there is no real downside to trying out a plant-based diet, nor is there any pressure to do so. Whether it is something you want to continue for the future or partake in once-a-week, there are several healthy, cheap options in the city whether you are cooking at home or eating out.