Veganism - What Actually is it?

Is porridge vegan? Wait ... what does vegan actually mean? At 3Bears, we’re proud to call our full range of porridge flavours vegan. At the same time, we’re well aware that not everyone is clued up about what veganism actually involves. Curious to find out more? Read on to discover what's really behind a vegan diet, why so many are choosing to go plant-based and what to consider before doing so.


10 years ago, vegans were thought to be a rare species who followed a tasteless diet of soya milk and vegetables. Fast forward to 2020 and there’s a trendy vegan restaurant on every street corner, many of the world’s leading athletes follow a vegan lifestyle and even fast food joints like McDonalds are selling more vegan burgers than beef burgers. The question is, how did this once unusual dietary choice become the preferred lifestyle by so many, from top athletes to urban hipsters? 



First things first, what does it mean to be a vegan?

Veganism is described by the Vegan Society as A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” 


In simpler, dietary terms, consider it as an eating pattern which excludes all animal-derived ingredients including dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish.



Why go vegan?

There are a number of reasons why someone would choose to lead a vegan lifestyle. The most common are ethical, environmental, health and personal taste. 


Ethical- it’s simple: many people don’t like the thought of harming animals or eating them.

Environmental- meat production and animal farming is said to produce lots of different greenhouse gases, therefore having a larger impact on the environment.

Health - some research links a vegan diet with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

Personal taste - some people simply do not like the taste of meat and, therefore, avoid it.



What are the things to consider when becoming a vegan?

Although some people say they feel much healthier and energized following a vegan diet, this is not always the case for everyone. Therefore health benefits will differ from person to person. Here are a few things to consider:


B12 Deficiency 

Vegans are much more at risk of suffering from a lack of B12, a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. It also helps prevent a type of anemia that makes people tired and weak. B12 is naturally found in animal products such as fish, meat poultry, eggs and dairy, and generally not present in plant foods, but the good news for vegans is that B12 supplements are available to make up for it.


Protein

It’s a common misconception that without meat, you won’t get the necessary protein your body needs to build and repair muscle, but actually, there are plenty of plant foods that provide all the essential amino acids to perform these functions. Food such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas and - of course - oats. Oats are a great source of quality protein at 11-17% of dry weight.


Iron

Studies suggest that the body absorbs two to three times more iron from animal sources, such as red meat and fish, than from plants. Iron is the essential element for blood production and, therefore, a lack of iron can result in a condition called anemia, which is where the body does not make enough oxygen-bearing red blood cells. The good news is that you can get sufficient amounts of iron from a vegan diet. Again, it’s all about getting a good balance of plant sources such as cashew nuts, lentils, chia seeds, hemp seeds and oats. Foods rich in Vitamin C also help the body absorb iron, that’s why it’s also important to eat foods such as broccoli, cabbage, oranges, strawberries and orange juice.



The bottom line is, it all comes down to your personal preferences, values and beliefs. Whether you just want to try it out or you’ve made up your mind to scrap all animal products from your daily diet, it’s important to get the balance right and ensure you are still providing your body with the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to perform at it’s best - something that begins with a big healthy, vegan bowl of 3Bears Porridge.

Every adventure begins with a bowl of porridge. Share your adventures with us using #PorridgeStories and tagging @3Bears_uk. Gobble up and go get em.

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