Don’t let the women smiling at salad on Instagram fool you – the switch isn’t easy. At first, anyway. The lack of red meat makes vegans more likely to be deficient in B vitamins and iron. This can lead to fatigue, dizziness, headaches and even anaemia. However, both B vitamins and iron can easily be taken in pill form. For a more natural pick-me-up, include darker green veg, nuts or legumes in your breakfast.
Come 3pm on your first meat- and dairy-free day, the dogma will begin to pay dividends. Vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels and almost 80% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to omnivores. Meanwhile, plant protein associated with improving insulin regulation – meaning you’re less likely to reach for the (dairy-free) biscuit tin for a mid-afternoon boost.
In your first few days, your morning gym sessions will likely be even less comfortable than usual. Cutting out dairy entirely can cause deficiencies that can lead to aches, pains and more potent DOMS. Thankfully, you can soften the blow by using a calcium-enriched, plant-based ilk in your post-pump shake. Most soy-based drinks contain 25mg calcium per 100ml, a level similar to cow’s milk.
Vegans have a far higher fibre intake than the average omnivore – great news for your body aspirations. A diet of whole grains, pulses and starchy vegetables is associated with improved gut health and satiety, which can help with weight loss. It’s also low in calories, so you can target excess fat without eating less. Pile your plate high.
Loading up on fruit and veg will sustain you in the long term too, reducing your risk of heart disease by 42%*. Multiple studies show that vegan diets are also more effective at lowering your cholesterol levels than a typical Western diet. Plus, there’s evidence to suggest that veganism helps to ease arthritis**. So, you’ll harvest lasting health along with all the environmental kudos.
PHOTO 123RF DIGITAL IMAGING JASON TAN*UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON ** KAROLINSKA INSTITUTET ■