Laura Thompson is a local Nutritional Therapist, Acupuncturist and creator of the Healthy Gut Plan, offering advice on a range of health issues every week in the Longford Leader
Going Vegan has become hugely popular in recent years, particularly with the younger generation. This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week and many who go vegan are concerned with animal welfare and, in particular, the industrial farming methods, which see many animals living in unnatural conditions and being pumped with powerful antibiotics.
These antibiotics can also have a great impact on our health and are affecting the ability of antibiotics in curing many of the so called superbugs.
In time, the fear is that we will run out of viable antibiotics as many bacteria have become immune to them.
Take the rearing of pigs for example: they are kept in very confined conditions and when one animal gets an infection, the whole herd is treated with antibiotics just incase. This passes through the food chain to us, deleting our reserves of friendly bacteria, which are so important for good health.
The other argument for going vegan is for climate reasons. Recently, the University of Oxford stated that going vegan is the “single biggest way to save the planet”. For those of us who enjoy our meat, this is hard to swallow - pardon the pun!
Personally, I have tried to reduce my consumption of meat to two portions a week and try to buy organic produce as much as possible. As a large farming country we have to think about how we can persevere the income of our already struggling farmers and what the impact of veganism will have on them.
A common myth about going vegan is that it is difficult to get enough protein from plant-based foods. In reality, plants can provide all the essential protein building blocks we need. You only have to look at some of the most muscular animals like elephants, rhinos and gorillas who all are vegans to see this.
Perhaps the hardest nutrient to obtain is Vitamin B12, which I would always recommend vegans take in a supplement form.
B12 is important for energy; not enough of it and you can cause anaemia and nervous system damage.
If you are planning to go Vegan here some tips that may help:
1. Try and take a good cup of fortified soya milk with B12, calcium and vitamin D each day.
2. Omega 3 is really important, particularly for teenagers, as it is vital for the brain, hormones and heart health. A tablespoon of good quality Flax oil is a great addition.
3. Nuts are really great and packed full of protein, Omega3, zinc and so much more . The simple addition of a handful to salads, breads and even as snacks can really help.
4. Plenty of leafy greens - a super one is Kale which is full of folates.
5. Diversity in vegetables is important for the gut bacteria. So plenty of colour – beetroot, peppers, carrots, etc.
6. Legumes are a great source of protein - things like soya beans, kidney beans, cannelloni beans, lentils, chickpeas, even frozen garden peas will add protein .
7. Plenty of fresh fruit will take care of vitamins like Vitamin C and Bio-flavonoids.
Finally, a famous quote from Buddha: “may all that have life be delivered from suffering”.
Follow me on Facebook, @LauraThompsonHealth, where I'll be sharing plenty more health tips. Or see my website laurathompsonhealth.com for more information.