World Vegan Month is celebrated around the world as a time to recognise how far the vegan movement has come, reflect on our successes, and to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle is.
This year, it felt more appropriate to bring to light the challenges that some of us are facing during these difficult times and to use World Vegan Month as an opportunity to bring together the vegan community in supporting one another.
Charles is the co-founder of Cell Regeneration Ltd. He is the Chief Technician & Head of Finance & an MBST Specialist.
In 2011, Charles and his sister Liz co-founded Cell Regeneration Ltd, having witnessed the incredible power of MBST – MR Therapy (Magnetic Resonance), which works at the cellular level to aid the regeneration of cells.
This is Charles story of why he made the decision to become vegan...
Why I became vegan
Back in December 2013 a friend from school who worked for accountant in Tinwell where we are based used to come to see us for lunch every day and had done for a while. This particular day he asked if Liz and I wanted to do a challenge with him for January, not being a big drinker he didn’t see the point in dry January but still wanted to try something so he suggested going vegetarian. Back then I was living by myself and while not being a bad cook, I was far from adventurous. My evening meal routine was more often than not, go to the supermarket after work and see what meat was on offer and grab cook that with veggies. I did have other meals I could make very well but would rarely bother doing anything extravagant just for myself. My concept of vegetarianism was salads with cheese, although a friend of mine had once made me a delicious veggie lasagne before. I was brought up on meat and veg as a staple, just the veg seemed weird.
This is just veggie though. I thought lets make it a real challenge and go vegan, Steven (the original instigator) decided to still veggie and Liz decided to not take on the challenge. The reason for the vegan idea goes even further back. I was at a gig in Peterborough, The Met Lounge (I think), watching Crazy Arm (I think) probably around 2007-9 (I think) and on their merch table alongside their t-shirts and CDs they had leaflets about the dairy and egg industries as well as slaughter houses. They didn’t go on stage and preach, they had the info if you were interested then have a read and if you weren’t then don’t. I had a read and thought that if I was ever to go vegetarian then I don’t see how I wouldn’t go vegan, this with absolutely no plans whatsoever to go vegetarian. Hence why when asked to go veggie for a month, I pushed it to vegan.
So, January 1st 2014 was a new chapter in my life, becoming vegan wasn’t a long term plan. It was only for a month and then back to a “normal diet”. As the month went on things got a bit harder, as recipes I’d found had been used a lot but then much easier as I was noticing changes in my health, feeling more energetic, losing a bit of weight and just feeling better. These improvements made me keep looking for more recipes and social media was a great help as I had some friends who were already vegan to give me a hand. Anyway, fast forward to February 1st 2014, I stopped being vegan – the challenge was complete. I kept a few recipes to add to my normal life repertoire due to them being so good and that was it. I did decide that I’d do it every January as it made me feel so healthy and energetic.
We’re nearly at the end now. December 2014, my girlfriend was moving in with me somewhat ‘officially’ although I suspect she started a while before then as herself and her things were at my house much more often than at her mums where she was before. She knew I was going to be vegan for January again and decided to join me to make it easier at meal times and I’d told her about the benefits I’d experienced at the start of the year.
This time, during January as well as finding more great recipes, I looked more into the health part of veganism, then I was reading and watching videos and lectures online that focused on the environmental impact of animal agriculture and finally the animal welfare side of things. - I won’t be going into the second and third reasons here but I will post links to a couple of things at the end of this that can give some information if you would like to look at them - These reasons led me to deciding that I wanted to stay vegan after January and after a bottle of wine Kayleigh agreed with me. She did waiver at the start of February but almost 6 years on and we are still going strong.
Fast forward to now
Over the last 6/7 years it is getting easier and easier to be vegan, even more so just to eat plant based, there is a difference. Almost every chain food restaurant has plant based options, most towns in the UK have a vegan café/market stall/restaurant. Going abroad is easier than before. Since going vegan I’ve been to Germany lots for work, Magaluf (was far too old for that holiday), Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica and Japan, all relatively easy once you figure out a few local dishes and how to say things like “no dairy, eggs or fish sauce” with a smile, google translate app is also useful. Supermarkets here have got easier too, most have sections of free food which makes it easier but a lot of standard go to foods that you have at home will be what we call “accidently vegan” due to the processing containing no animal ingredients. There are however some pitfalls, waxed fruit isn’t always vegan due to the wax that is often used contains shellac which is secreted by female lac bugs or beeswax.
Vegan for the body. Being vegan can be very healthy and provides many health benefits including lower risk of developing high blood pressure, less risk of certain cancers, lower rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. As a vegan you are more likely to eat more nutrients compared to a standard western diet including: Antioxidants, fibre, magnesium, folate, potassium and Vitamins A, C and E. This is a blog about Musculoskeletal health and veganism though. I will focus on 2 things in particular: Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis and how eating a plant based diet can help with both issues.
We’ve written lots of blogs on OA over the last 9 years, lots of leaflets for patients in clinics and talks. We’ve never talked about it this way.
Our joints are great but we put them through a lot, one way to help them is by losing a bit of weight. For every pound of weight lost, there is 4pounds reduction in pressure exerted on the knees in normal daily activities.
There have been a number of different studies that have shown that a vegan diet is more effective for weight loss than other diets. In 2013 The GEICO study recruited 291 participants to take part in a randomised controlled study to see if eating a low fat vegan diet would result in weight loss and reduced cardiovascular risk in 18 weeks. The vegan group had daily B12 supplements, weekly meetings led by a dietician and were encouraged to favour low GI foods. The control group didn’t have meetings and made no dietary changes. This resulted in the vegan group eating more fibre and less fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than the control group. The vegan group lost on average 9.5lbs compared to the control group losing 0.2lbs. As well as the weight loss, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels improved, amongst other benefits. (1)
Another study looked at participants with type 2 diabetes and compared a low fat vegan diet compared to a diet based on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) over 22 weeks. Pairs were randomly assigned and made to follow one or the other diet. The vegan diet had no restrictions on calories, portion size or carbohydrates, the ADA followers were to reduce calories by 500-1000 calories per day. Both groups got a daily B12 supplement, alcohol was allowed but restricted and all participants had weekly meetings. Despite only one group being told to reduce calories, both groups reduced them by about 400 per day. Everyone consumed less protein and fat, the vegan group consumed 152% more carbs than the ADA group. Over the 2 weeks both groups lost weight, but the vegan group lost on average 12.8lbs which was 134% more than the ADA average. All other levels checked were better in the vegan group. (2)
It isn’t just weight loss that improves from a vegan diet. The symptoms of OA may be reduced by adopting a vegan diet. One study carried out by Michigan State University College of Human Medicine studied 40 patients between 19 and 70years of age with OA.
Half ate a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) and half their normal diet. Just 2 weeks in the vegan group had significant pain reduction. Weight loss is a factor of course but also those eating WFPB have higher serum levels of omega-3 than omnivores and those that eat fish. Normal western diets which consume animal protein are high in arachidonic acid which become metabolised into proinflammatory prostaglandins – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work by limiting this metabolism. Arachidonic acid only consumed I animal foods and some vegetable oils. Plant based omega 3 metabolises and produces anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. (3)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Another study from the Turku University College of Human Medicine did a small study of patients with RA. One group was put on a raw vegan diet, the other continued their regular diets. A month later their gut flora was measured and the vegan group had changes associated with better outcomes for those suffering with RA.(4)
Animal protein consumption can result in immune complex developments in the bloodstream which can become lodged, resulting in inflammation and damage can occur overtime. It is thought that this might be responsible for many autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. (5)
We all get told as children that to get strong healthy bones we must drink lots of milk as it is full of calcium. Is this true? Maybe not. Don’t get me wrong, calcium is the most common mineral in bones but do we need dairy to get what we need?
The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study was a 12 year study looking at over 77,000 women and found no evidence of higher intakes of milk or calcium from food sources reduced fracture rates. (6)
In 2006 the University or Surrey did a cross sectional study of 5 age and sex cohorts looking at bone mineral density related to fruit and vegetable intake and found higher fruit and vegetable intakes may have positive effects on bone mineral status in both younger and older age groups. (7)
In Sweden a study was done to see if high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in both women and men. They concluded that high milk intake was associated with higher fracture incidence in women (8).
There have also been links seen between countries that consume the most dairy have higher osteoporosis rates. If calcium levels are low then dark leafy greens are a great source.
Musculoskeletal in general
Eating animals and animal products are high in LDL, which is the bad cholesterol and fat. This can lead to atherosclerosis, clogging of the arteries. As well as all the health issues that we all know about that come with atherosclerosis such as coronary heart disease there are musculoskeletal problems too.
There have been correlations between atherosclerosis and knee osteoarthritis (9), wrist and hand OA (10).
As it is world vegan month, maybe reduce eating animals and animal products and you may be in less pain because of it.
Resources for other arguments to go vegan:
Video - Environment https://www.cowspiracy.com/
Animal Rights – Earthlings film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMwtRMdfhFo
The Vegan Society
YouTube is full of informative videos from people like: Mic The Vegan Earthling Ed Hench Herbivore Gary Yourofsky Joey Carbstrong
Cooks: Aine Carlin Avant Garde Vegan The Happy Pear Vegan Black Metal Chef Bosh
Apps: Barnivore Happy Cow