Castanet spoke with experts at the Vegetarian Butcher on how to be successful this Veganuary

Trying out Veganuary?

Are you currently working on a New Year’s resolution? Maybe you’re exercising more or trying out a new hobby, or, you’re in the middle of Veganuary.

Veganuary is a month-long challenge that encourages people to follow a plant-based diet during January and in many cases, people follow the trend even longer, eventually adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

According to the Chefs Pencil, 2020 was a big year for the vegan movement as the number of vegans has doubled in Canada since 2018.

With veganism becoming more and more popular each year, Castanet spoke with local fitness trainers at the Vegetarian Butcher about ways to set yourself up for success if you’re new to the plant-based lifestyle.

“Don’t just all of a sudden quit everything, start slow,” says co-founder of Plant Based Build Chantal Whitaker. “So it might just be swapping out a few alternatives like switching to plant milk instead of cows milk, or swapping your favourite yogurt for a plant yogurt.”

“Do a meatless Monday - start there, increase from there, and then you realize how easy it is and how many recipes there is out there that involve no meat or dairy.”

According to Plant Based Build, eating vegan has many positive impacts when exercising.

“I find I can go a lot longer, recover faster and stronger through workouts with plant foods,” says co-founder Ashton Koutsantonis. “Whatever diet you choose to follow, I think the answer is plants. More plants, the variety in plants - those are what’s going to keep you healthy in the long run, no matter what you follow.”

The Vegetarian Butcher’s nutritionist Jennifer Lowther says January is a great time to try out plant-based options.

“Just for people thinking that they want to vegan or vegetarian, it’s a huge step and both of those ways of eating are very healthy and has been linked to multiple health benefits such as lower risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer,” she says.

The largest misconception Lowther hears about plant-based diets is that you can’t get enough protein.

“I think people just need to be educated on what the plant forms of protein are that are available. The way most of us were raised, we’re programmed likely from an early age that meat is protein and you need meat for your muscles. But, the worlds largest and strongest animals actually follow a plant-based diet like elephants, gorillas and tortoises and they thrive on that diet and you can as well,” she says.

“Its all about variety and focusing on the rainbow. Try to incorporate a variety of colours into your diet as well and if people focus on that, they should be getting everything they need.”

Something to be aware of when eating plant-based is the potential for B12 and iron deficiency.

“B12 is an essential nutrient commonly found in animal food but for vegan food, it is often fortified so its less present in plant-based food. So B12 deficiency is something that vegans do need to pay attention to but it can take some time for it to show up as well. Supplementation may be necessary at some point but it’s important for them to pay attention to blood work and keep an eye on that,” says Lowther.

“Iron deficiency can be common in a vegan diet but there are a lot of plant-based foods that contain high iron like tofu, tempeh, soy beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach and kale. The benefits of vegan diets is you have all of these incredibly nutrient dense plant-based options to choose from.”

The Vegetarian Butcher in Kelowna provides all plant-based meal options and staff are available to answer questions to help guide people on their plant-based journeys.

The store is located at 3957 Lakeshore Road. They also provide curb-side pickup, delivery services and are available online.

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