It used to be niche but as this plant-based diet goes mainstream, we pinpoint the health benefits – and potential nutritional pitfalls. Our guide shows you how to dip in, or go the whole way, including easy vegan recipes from the chefs at healthy fast-food chain Leon.
Somewhere between hippies and hashtags, veganism became cool. In fact, the number of people in Britain switching to this way of eating has surged by 360% over the past decade. But is it good for our health?
‘Observational studies report vegans have significantly lower BMIs, along with cholesterol and glucose levels, compared with omnivores,’ says HFG nutrition editor Amanda Ursell. ‘But we can’t always make like-for-like comparisons as vegans may also be making other healthy lifestyle choices, such as limiting processed foods, not smoking or drinking alcohol.’
Centring any diet on fruit and veg, pulses, wholegrains and unsaturated fats is undoubtedly healthy, but before simply removing meat, dairy and eggs from your plate you need to look out for crucial nutrition shortfalls. ‘If raising children on a vegan diet, also bear in mind that plant-based foods may contain fewer calories per gram,’ says Amanda. ‘We need to make sure children get enough energy from their daily diet, so if in doubt, seek help from a registered dietitian or registered nutritionist.’