Is being vegan the secret to good health?

Trialling a vegan diet

Tonic Co-founder Georgina blogs about her vegan experience

Anyone who knows me knows I love my food. I love to eat out and cook, so with a New Year’s resolution in mind, I liked the idea of challenging myself to be a bit more adventurous in January. Trialling vegan recipes and seeing how readily accessible vegan options actually are. With my main driver for doing Veganuary, centred on my health and the health of the planet. 

As January drew to a close, those motivators for changing my diet were ever present. Now it is clear to me that my eating preferences have, almost certainly, changed for life. 

My vegan-inspired motivation

Back in November 2019 we started working with Medichecks, the UK’s leading home health check service. They shared with us an incredibly insightful study which showed that vegans are healthier than carnivores. We broke the story in early January – securing standout media results. With Sky News, The Daily Telegraph, PA and many more featuring it. That gave me the little nudge I needed to try for myself.  

So, to get a thorough understanding of my own health and to see how well my body was performing on a vegan diet , I turned to Medichecks. They recommended I try the Medichecks’ Well Woman UltraVit Blood Test. Using a sample of my blood, several biomarkers were tested including liver and kidney function, white and red blood cells, vitamin and mineral levels, and hormones (plus lots more)!  

The results…

While I nervously waited for my results, I was pleasantly surprised to find that overall I’m in good health. Only a few deficiencies were detected. My Vitamin D levels were insufficient (very common in winter). So, I was advised to supplement with 20-50 mcg of Vitamin D per day for twelve weeks, while aiming to get 15-20 minutes of midday sun when the sun is out. Vitamin D can also be found in fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, tofu and some fruit juices.  

My cholesterol profile showed low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. The advice I was given was to try and rectify this as HDL is protective against cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes etc). And, low levels can increase risk, so I should increase my oily fish consumption or take omega 3 supplements. I was also told to continue to exercise regularly too. 

As the month came to a close, I was faced with the decision about what to do next. The whole experience taught me some valuable lessons.  

Will anything change?

Will I stay vegan? No, but it’s unlikely I will be a carnivore again. Some places really don’t accommodate vegans, with most vegetarian dishes loaded with dairy. And, on the occasion when I wanted something a bit naughty at home, the vegan alternatives didn’t quite match my expectations (but thanks for trying Papa John’s!). 

I will still be considerate with my eating though and as a family we’re opting to become pescatarians from Feb 1st. Living in North Tyneside, we’re lucky to have locally caught fish and shellfish on our doorstep and we already get our dry goods from our local weigh shop, Buy the Kilo. They’ve just started supplying regionally grown veg and fruit boxes, featuring local farm eggs too, which means we can massively reduce our food miles.  

On the whole, despite January being quite a depressing month and although it was challenging at times, I enjoyed being vegan. I especially liked the camaraderie of other vegans sharing recipes with me and learning more about the really progressive local businesses that are serving up exquisite food. Big shout out to DoughNotts for fuelling our team brainstorm last week!.

I know now that I will have more plant-based food days and will continue to try the local eatery innovators. Those who are flying the flag for great, reasonably priced vegan food.  All in all, it has been a life-changing experience for the better.