With the New Year coming up, you may be considering your resolutions. Do you want to take up a new hobby? Will the offers for discount memberships at the local gym persuade you to exercise more? How about joining groups such as volunteer organizations or book clubs to meet new people?
Of course, there’s the ever-popular resolution to go on a diet and eat healthier food. But with so many diets out there, which one is worth trying? If you care about your health and the environment, why not consider going vegan?
One study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pointed out the many health benefits of a vegan diet, which eliminates meat, dairy, eggs and other foods derived from animals. Specifically, such a diet is high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, phytochemicals, unsaturated fat, folic acid and vitamins C and E. Ultimately, this may lead to improved weight control, lower blood pressure and better heart health. However, there is also the risk of deficiencies in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and certain B-vitamins. For these reasons, nutritional supplements may be necessary.
Apart from your physical health, a vegan diet may also be beneficial for the environment. Experts from One Green Planet estimate that cultivating one pound of beef requires 2,400 gallons of water, as opposed to one pound of wheat, which only needs 25 gallons. Additionally, because of the resources invested into raising animals, the diets of non-vegans produce seven times more greenhouse gases than the those of vegans.
If you’re still not sure whether a vegan diet is right for you in the New Year, you can always experiment at your holiday dinner with these three vegan recipes, adapted from VeganEasy.org. Anything marked as vegan – mayonnaise, egg replacement, ham, cake mix, margarine – can be found at fine grocery stores where vegan products are sold.
Potato and veggie salad
- about 25 ounces of baby potatoes
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 a red onion, finely sliced
- a handful of chopped green beans
- 1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
- 3 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
Steam the potatoes until they’re cooked. Once they’ve cooled, cut them into halves or quarters. Mix with the vegetables. In another dish, mix the mustard and mayonnaise together well, then stir into the salad until everything is coated.
- 1 loaf of vegan ham (should weigh about 1 kilogram)
- 30-40 cloves
- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 7-8 dried apricots (can replace with cherries, peaches or pineapple)
Cut through the ham loaf once lengthwise so that it can’t roll. Next, cut in a criss-cross pattern to make squares that are about 2.5 centimeters apart. Place a clove on the corner of each square.
Glaze the ham with the maple syrup and bake at approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the apricots before baking for another 15 minutes.
Pineapple upside down cake
- 1/3 cup of vegan margarine
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- a handful of sultanas
- 6 glace red cherries
- 1 can of sliced pineapple rings (save the juice)
- 1 box of vanilla vegan cake mix
- vegan egg replacer
In an ovenproof frying pan, melt the margarine and add brown sugar to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the oven and place the pineapple rings flat and evenly around the pan with one ring at the center. Add one cherry inside each pineapple ring and spread sultanas around the whole dish. Set this aside for later.
Follow the instructions on the vegan cake mix, but use pineapple juice from the can instead of water. Pour this batter into the pan. Bake according to the instructions until the cake springs back to the touch. When ready to serve, remove from the oven and flip upside down onto a serving plate.