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Becoming a vegan, part two: leading a more globally conscious diet

Cutting down on meat and dairy can really help the environment, but there are many obstacles that seem to face the new vegan.

A big issue surrounding the vegan diet is the level of nutrition obtained from food. However the key is to follow a balanced, healthy diet catered to your personal needs. Advice from a nutritionist is recommended for someone looking to drastically change his or her diet. Supplements, readily available on the high street and endorsed by doctors, are a popular option, for example. However, it’s not as hard as it may seem. Here are some essential tips for someone looking to cut down on their meat intake:

Get high levels of protein from soybeans, lentils and garbanzo beans. A surprise candidate for protein, containing around six times the amount of protein than brown rice, is oats. It’s not a shock then that porridge is the saving grace for a low-budget, protein-packed student diet. Spinach, cheaper and easier to keep when frozen, is rich in protein. Or if you miss the meat-sensation, try out tofu, which can be found cheaply in Chinatown, and seitan, often used in restaurants to add a sense of wholeness to a meal.

Get your iron from whole grains and legumes, not red meat. Enhance iron absorption with sources of vitamin C, like citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower and leafy greens.

Opt for slow carbohydrates like sweet potato, barley and brown rice to avoid fluctuating sugar levels. And if you have the time, boil dried beans for a few hours, or leave overnight, for even better benefits than tinned beans.

The vegan diet is usually considered boring and inaccessible but being vegan doesn’t mean sacrifice or suffering, it could open your mind up to new ways of cooking. There are now plenty of great sources of recipes online. Baking without butter, eggs and milk has never been so exciting. Check out some household vegan names; Minimalist Baker and Vegan Richa for their ideas on how to impress even the Mary Berry traditionalists.

Leading a lifestyle of the 1% doesn’t have to isolate you nor carry with it a hefty price tag. Our very own Withington, south of Fallowfield, boasts an array of restaurants to suit all cravings. You can get a tasty curry from Sanskruti near Ladybarn Park, delicious tofu or even crispy ‘duck’ pancakes from Lotus, and Fuel offers the best fry-up for those lazy Sunday mornings. If you’re in town, a heart-warming meal out in the Northern Quarter is also affordable at Soup Kitchen, which offer lunches between £4 and £8.

An important concept to take on board is eat local and don’t waste. Carting over vegetables from South America, importing almonds from California and extracting quinoa from Bolivia also have their negative impacts on the environment. Britain has a lot of great produce too so eating our own seasonal vegetables, choosing local, organic farmers and buying British is very important.

What’s most shocking is that if waste were considered a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the US and China. So investing in a tub for leftovers, sharing your meals with flatmates or more simply cooking the right amount of food can help too.

We don’t all need to go on a meat and dairy detox, but why not get creative in the kitchen or try out some alternative food spots in Manchester? It’s never been so easy to make a difference.

Tags: diet, Environment, food, Lifestyle, local, Recipe, students, vegan

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