DRY JANUARY OR VEGANUARY… WHICH IS MORE WORTHWHILE?
After the inevitable excesses of the festive season, a month off the sauce seems like a fair penance. Dry January does have some benefits: it’ll likely improve your sleep, while a study from University College London found it could decrease your liver fat by 15%. However, research suggests that half of us return to our bad habits soon afterwards. Swapping hedonism with abstinence plays into our culture’s pernicious all-or-nothing relationship with booze: in reality, those who drink regularly but moderately have been shown to be healthier than teetotallers.
So, we’d plump for Veganuary, the clunkily named month of trading meat and dairy for plant-based foods. “High intakes of animal produce can have an inflammatory effect, increasing the risk of insulin resistance and heart disease,” says nutritional therapist Francesca Lancaster. “Plus, plant foods cultivate a diversity of beneficial gut bacteria, improving weight control.” A recent study* also found that those who went meat-free for four weeks saw a drop in their blood pressure and cholesterol. Crucially, our relationship with meat tends to be less extreme than with booze: you’re less likely to binge on steaks come 1 February.
A final word of caution. Ensure you eat plenty of wholefoods – vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains, not just processed vegan sausages. But if you’d like to wash your meal down with a warming glass of (vegan) Cabernet, we won’t stand in your way.
THE BIG QUESTION