November is World Vegan Month, as the Vegan Society says, “to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle can be and to encourage the vegan-curious to adopt veganism by sharing advice, recipes and ideas.”
So if you were thinking of giving it a go, now is as good a time as any. George Horlock (yes we are related!) is a passionate vegan – here he shares his thoughts…
Hold up there! Don’t let the V-word put you off. We herbivores are friendly folk and living proof that a wholefood, plant-based diet is a great way to lose weight, is better for the environment, and save lives – both human and animal. If you’re still skeptical, let me tell you a bit about the benefits, and you might just be tempted to swap that Tikka for tempeh next time you’re eating out in Sussex…
In the last two years, veganism in the UK has risen to a staggering 7%, which makes it the fastest growing social justice movement of modern times. We now live in an age where choice is abundant, and we can receive the same taste, texture and that all important protein without harming animals in the process. A win win, right? If you’re interested in becoming a vegan yourself, or simply leaving more meat off your plate, there are plenty of little changes you can make to achieve your end goal…
I decided to cut out all animal products in 2017, after watching the documentaries Earthlings and Cowspiracy. I also discovered nutritionfacts.org – written by a doctor and completely lifechanging. I was motivated enough to go cold turkey (for want of a better phrase!) and ditch all meat and dairy products on the spot. However, you don’t have to go at it so hardcore – take your time with it. Why not try a Meat Free Monday or a Vegan Sunday? Baby steps in the right direction is all good. As a personal trainer of four years, I’m now advising my clients to ditch their meat for greens, and they’ve never seen such quick results, not just on the outside but in the way they feel. Their skin, energy levels, weight loss and muscle mass is all changing for the better. The same goes for me, by the way. I only wish I’d gone vegan sooner.
Vegans of Sussex
A lot of people say to me, it’s easy to cook vegan at home, but where can you eat out? My answer is, probably the same places as you! Most restaurants, pubs and cafés now offer vegan options; and some places are entirely vegan. Purezza and Loving Hut in Brighton boast delicious vegan food every day of the week. The beautiful Red Lion pub in Ashington now has a separate vegan menu. To save you precious time, just download the free app Happy Cow, enter your location and watch as every vegan eatery in your area pops up onscreen. It’s never been easier to eat clean green!
Beware the processed meat…
The word ‘processed’ is one we hear a lot, but do we really know what it means? 90% of meat in supermarkets is tampered with, artificially. Processed meat such as salami and bacon has now been confirmed as a Class 1 carcinogen – that’s the same classification as smoking cigarettes and asbestos (cancer causing). Try to see your meat as a treat, not your daily bread. My sister tried this tactic and she’s now lost the taste for it completely.
Aside from the obscene amounts of cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fatty acids, it’s also the protein found in animal products that we need to worry about. Animal protein is far too acidic for the human body to break down effectively. Fun facts – the intestines of a human being are around 10 -12 times the length of their body (the same as every herbivorous animal on the planet), whereas the length of a carnivore’s is 3 – 6 times the length of their body. This is so meat can pass through quickly without hanging around and rotting, which is why it’s impossible for a real carnivore or omnivore to ever clog their arteries, and what’s the number one killer of human beings? Heart disease from clogged arteries.
Grossed out yet? Well, there’s more bad news for any dieters out there. It’s not just processed meat that affects your health – all animal products cause the dreaded weight gain. This is because the animals we consume are deliberately fattened up with extra corn, soy and salt, and literally pumped after slaughter to make them look all juicy and advert-worthy. Think about it. What goes in them goes in you.
For the love of animals
Believe me, I wish we lived in a world where adopting a plant-based diet was enough, but after my first visit to a slaughterhouse, I realised that someone has to speak up for those who are incapable of speaking up for themselves. So I became an animal rights activist – yes, I’m one of those vegans! I spend a lot of my spare time educating the public and bearing witness to the animals in their final moments around UK slaughterhouses. It’s distressing but motivating, and I actually love what I do. It might be easier to think about it this way. When we were cavemen, we ate animals for survival, when not only food but clothes and shelter were scarce. Nowadays, this isn’t necessary, and taking moral and nutritional advice from cavemen would lead to disaster!
In a nutshell…
My message, in a nutshell, is that we can get every nutrient and mineral we need from plants. We cannot only survive but thrive on a vegan diet, therefore the consumption of animal products is unnecessary and should not only be questioned, but confronted. Besides, the British and American Dietetic Associations, the largest bodies of diet and nutritional professionals in the world, have now stated that a vegan diet is nutritionally adequate, healthy and safe for all stages of life, including pregnancy. Now you’ve not only heard it from me, but the experts too!
For more information about Vegan Month and going vegan check out The Vegan Society
I’d love to hear about your own vegan journeys, meals and experiences. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, @george_horlock
To try an online vegan challenge and be assigned a free mentor for nutritional advice and meal plans, visit www.challenge22.com