Poppy Noor and readers answer your questions
Everyone says we need to cut out meat to save the planet, but on what scale? Industrial? Individual? Corporate? Also, there is diabetes in my family, so I’m very conscious about health effects. I worry about my protein intake and how I will access the nut
It’s natural to doubt your impact as one small fish in a big pond of multinational corporations producing meat on a colossal scale every day. But you are more powerful than you think: a huge study this year by Oxford University found that avoiding eating meat and dairy is the single most effective way to reduce your impact on the earth.
I spoke to Cecilia Gorgon, creator of a great Instagram story thread on going vegan. On getting the right foods, she says: “People never ask about protein or vitamin consumption until you go vegan. Do you hit those targets now? It’s not a given that you do because you eat meat.” Pill-popping may also not be so bad. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that anyone over 50, including meat-eaters, should take a B12 supplement because we have difficulty extracting it from food.
Gorgon makes the normal recommendations for protein: lentils, chickpeas, hummus – coincidentally, some of the cheapest foods. She recommends batchcooking and ignoring superfood fads: “People don’t need to eat chia seed pudding every day. You can be vegan in as many different ways as you can be a meat eater.” There is a wealth of useful resources online for finding vegan adaptations for meals, too.
Will you save the planet this way? Perhaps not, but at least it’s something you can control. “One person going vegan won’t change the world,” says Gorgon. “But people around you see you making a big life decision and may in turn start to think about their own behaviour. That, for me, is one of the biggest impacts you can have.” soya food such as tofu and soya milk. Stock up on staples such as lentil pasta (more protein than regular), beans, dried mushrooms, sauces, rice, plant milk and nuts. Buy fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits. I actually prefer frozen berries to fresh, because I mainly use them in fruit-vegetable smoothies. mitsuko Step up slowly
There’s no need to make an abrupt change to your diet. Start with two or three days a week where you don’t consume animal products and slowly step up as your body adapts. I know plenty of people who limit themselves to 500g of meat, two pints of milk and four eggs a week, which is arguably sustainable while still guaranteeing minimum standards of care for the animals involved. At those volumes, organic foods become completely affordable. toadyblegh Look online for recipes
Go for it, you won’t regret it. There are loads of great vegan cookbooks and helpful recipes online. I’ve been vegan for 18 years and my three fit and healthy sons have been vegan from birth. They all eat a balanced diet with home-cooked food and rarely have any junk food or processed food. We don’t take supplements except maybe Floradix multivitamin in the winter. mikeleitrim No need to agonise over it
Choose what you want to eat and try to reduce your impact, but don’t get into a knot about “being” a vegan. A vegan diet is simply a dietary choice, not a religion or an identity (although some people make it this). If you are following a vegan diet and have the occasional fish and chips to top up your B12 you won’t go to hell and you are still following a vegan diet. No one “is” a vegan. Homo sapiens, like other apes, is an opportunist omnivore and our gut and dentition reflect this. culomojada See a dietitian
Interspersing vegan with vegetarian days and taking a multivitamin are sensible ways to ease into it, but it would also not hurt to talk to a dietitian who has experience with vegans. Thomas1178