The plant-based trend is truly on the rise. According to a study conducted (by Pilar L. et al) in 2021, the hashtag #vegan is the fifth most communicated tag used on social media and is still growing rapidly as a global trend. Today’s Dietitian Annual survey also stated that plant based food is a major trend to stay in shaping the future food industry. Experts and scientist have speculated that this rise in the vegan trend is mainly due to the global pandemic – COVID 19.
Well, but first things first, why vegan?
It can be observed consistently that two prime drivers of veganism are health benefits and mitigation of climate change. This is then followed by ethical motives, where consumer wishes to prevent slaughtering of animals.
Excess consumption of meat and dairy products may leave an impact towards our health. Why is it so? A diet high in meat and dairy product contains higher fat and cholesterol level, while lower in protective nutrients such as phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamin, fiber and more, as compared to fruits and vegetables.
Beef products contribute to the most greenhouse gasses emission as compared to other food products, which is why more and more individual are “banning” the consumption of meat products. It was also found that consumers prefer food products with sustainability claims over regular ones which indicate how sustainability is playing a major role when it comes to purchasing factor.
But beware… are all plant based food good for you?
While whole food does provide you with all the essential nutrients and protective for your health, overly-processed meat substitutes may not be the case. Not only does it cost a penny to afford, in order for the substitutes to have longer shelf life and have the meat-like texture and flavour, it is oftentimes added with loads of chemicals, which is the same theory as junk foods like French fries. In that case, a natural, unprocessed meat product would be a healthier choice as compared to these heavily processed substitutes.
Thus, when we say go for plant based foods, we highly encourage you to take in whole, natural foods like wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, soy and more. Many people often assume that plant-based diet may be lacking of taste. But just like your normal meal, you can actually create wholesome meal using natural product, firm tofu for instance, is packed with loads of nutrients and on top of that a great and affordable meat substitute that has great taste and texture! Remember not to overly indulge in unhealthy cooking processes like deep frying, charcoal barbecuing with whole lots of sauces added on top!
The bottom line – Should we go vegan completely?
You do not need to eliminate meat completely to reap all the health benefits associated with vegetarianism. Following the 80-20 diet or starting baby steps as a flexitarian where you can enjoy saving the environment by consuming plant-based food flexibly!
- Pilař, L., Stanislavská, L. K., Kvasnička, R., Hartman, R., & Tichá, I. (2021). Healthy food on Instagram social network: vegan, homemade and clean eating. Nutrients, 13(6), 1991.
- Loh, H. C., Seah, Y. K., & Looi, I. (2021). The COVID-19 pandemic and diet change. Progress In Microbes & Molecular Biology, 4(1).https://journals.hh-publisher.com/index.php/pmmb/article/view/462/267
- Saari, U. A., Herstatt, C., Tiwari, R., Dedehayir, O., & Mäkinen, S. J. (2021). The vegan trend and the microfoundations of institutional change: A commentary on food producers’ sustainable innovation journeys in Europe. Trends in food science & technology, 107, 161-167.
- Mullee, A., Vermeire, L., Vanaelst, B., Mullie, P., Deriemaeker, P., Leenaert, T., Huybrechts, I. (2017). Vegetarianism and meat consumption: A comparison of attitudes and beliefs between vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous subjects in Belgium. Appetite, 114, 299–305. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2017.03.052
- Raphaely, T., & Marinova, D. (2014). Flexitarianism: Decarbonising through flexible vegetarianism. Renewable Energy, 67, 90–96. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2013.11.030
This article is written by Sylvia Ho (Nutritionist) for Green Image Organic Enterprise Sdn. Bhd