It’s now coming to the end of the month-long Veganuary challenge, which sees people cutting out their consumption of meat, dairy, fish and other animal products throughout January. While many people may be intimidated by the idea of going plant-based, there are several positive reasons to switch to a vegan diet.
Here are the top 7 benefits of a vegan diet, and what Inspire are doing across our sites to utilise our innovation and serve up a selection of vegan options for our customers.
If you believe strongly in animal rights, the vegan diet is the most surefire way of avoiding the use of animal products in any way. A lot of vegan produce also supports ethical, sustainable farming, so can go a long way towards restoring the environmental balance that has been shifted by decades of mass agriculture.
It’s easy to slip into a rut of eating the same ‘Meat and Two Veg’ type of meal, especially if you are pushed for time or struggling to find inspiration in the kitchen. Choosing vegan meals can help you think creatively about preparing balanced dishes.
There are hundreds of delicious vegan recipes online to spark your inner chef and you’ll discover new tastes and combinations of ingredients to shake up your weekly meals.
At Inspire Catering, we are growing the number of vegan dishes available at our sites, and are always innovating with our menus to offer food that is exciting and varied, as well as being cooked responsibly and ethically sourced.
Help the Environment
Recent studies have shown that global meat production has a huge impact on the environment due to deforestation for agriculture and an increase in greenhouse gasses. Reducing your intake of meat and animal by-products by going plant-based can make a big difference to your own carbon footprint.
While it will take many more people cutting out meat and animal products from their diets in order to make the biggest impact, you can still make an important difference by choosing to switch to a vegan diet, or even just cutting down your meat product consumption – an approach many people have termed as “Flexitarian”
Cut out Allergens
Anyone that’s allergic or intolerant to ingredients like dairy or eggs should avoid food products containing them at all costs. Embracing a vegan diet can be one way of achieving this, as plant-based products are free from dairy and eggs, many instead using substitute ingredients that achieve similar tastes and textures.
Of course, it’s important to be aware of other allergens contained in a lot of vegan products, such as soya and nuts. If you have an allergy or intolerance to any food products, you should always read food labels and ask catering or restaurant staff for a list of ingredients.
While a lot of vegan and plant-based substitute foods can be as expensive as meat or fish by volume, humble vegetables, grains and pulses are easily affordable and common in most supermarkets. Prioritising these ingredients with a vegan diet can be an excellent way to save some money on your weekly food shop.
Eat Your 5 a Day
One of the most obvious benefits of going vegan is the likely increase in fruits and vegetables you will eat daily. You may already get your 5 portions per day, but for some people meat takes centre stage in their diet.
Having to think creatively with what you eat will mean you’re likely to make more meals that use plenty of vegetables, pulses, nuts and fruits. Eating the right quantities of these will give you plenty of fibre, protein, vitamins, natural sugars and monosaturated fats to make up a balanced diet.
All menus at Inspire Catering sites are healthily balanced, with at least 50% of our food choices being prepared in the healthiest way and several vegan options being available where possible. We’ve even achieved a Healthy Living Award for our Inspiring Food.
Cutting out meat and dairy can also be a way of eating less snacks like chocolate, cakes and pastries, or jelly sweets containing gelatin – all known for being loaded with sugars, artificial sweeteners, empty carbohydrates and saturated fats.
While these snacks are nice as a treat, if you’re concerned about eating healthier you can reap a lot of benefits from choosing plant-based snacks instead. Eating fruit, nuts or prepared vegetables like carrot sticks in moderation is a far healthier way to snack and a great way to satisfy your hunger while taking on essential nutrients.
We spoke to Inspire Head Chef, Lindsay Prior about the steps Inspire Catering have been taking during Veganuary…
Q- How is Inspire Catering responding to Veganuary?
A: Inspire Catering are celebrating Veganuary in all their sites, and over a range of the daily food offers from a tofu scramble or banana pancakes at breakfast to Katsu cauliflower curry or jackfruit and turtle bean fajita rice bowl at lunch. In the cafes we have a range of cakes and traybakes suitable for vegans also.
Q- What do you think is key in catering for a vegan diet?
A: It is important when catering for a vegan diet to make sure that the dishes are nutritionally balanced as well as a good selection of vegetables – beans, soy, legumes, nuts & seeds should be incorporated for added protein, and calcium can be gained from using chickpeas, kale, almonds and figs as well as fortified soy milk and orange juice. Nutritional yeast is used regularly in dishes to boost B12
Q – You are known for great quality and innovative food choices at work. How is this reflected in catering for this type of consumption?
A: Only a few of my customers are ‘full time vegan’ but during Veganuary we notice a big increase in customers wanting to partake. So, I try to make the dishes as varied and exciting as possible to dispel the myth that vegan food is bland and boring it is anything but if you put a little thought into it!! Our chickpea meringues are now more popular than traditional ones.
Q- What is your favourite vegan meal?
A: My favourite vegan meal is chickpea and cauliflower masala dosa served with pickled vegetables and chutneys
If you have any questions about the vegan and plant-based food options available at our sites, or anything else about how we operate, then please feel free to get in touch with us.