Whether you’re taking on the Veganuary challenge or know someone who is, chances are you’ll have heard a lot about veganism this month. While much is said about the possible health benefits of going meat-free – including lowering your risk of heart disease and some cancers – many of us still worry about whether a vegan diet can work alongside a healthy weight loss plan.
Spoiler alert: it absolutely can! Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan is designed to fit around practically any dietary preference or requirement – including veganism. To give you confidence that you can go green and still achieve your slimming dream, we’ve busted four common vegan myths below. But first, Carolyn Pallister, our nutrition and health policy manager, explains how you can enjoy a plant-based menu that’s packed with slimming power.
EXPERT ADVICE: How Food Optimising works with a vegan diet
“The flexibility of Food Optimising means it’s suitable for practically any dietary requirement, including veganism. There’s plenty of Free Food choice on the menu, including most fruit and vegetables, pulses, potatoes, rice, and pasta, plus meat substitutes like tofu, jackfruit, seitan and banana blossom. Add in a variety of Healthy Extras, from wholemeal bread and high-fibre cereals to calcium fortified soya drinks and vegan cheeses, plus nuts and seeds, and the choices are almost endless!”
4 vegan slimming myths: busted
Myth: You’ll always be hungry
You might be worried that cutting out meat means you’ll struggle to curb your hunger – and when we feel deprived, it can be harder to stick to our weight loss goals.
In fact, a plant-based diet can be just as satisfying. Beans and pulses are generally high in fibre and protein which makes them fantastically filling. Carbohydrates like pasta, rice and potatoes also fill us up for relatively few calories, opt for high fibre varieties for even more filling power! The great news if you’re slimming is that all of these are Free Foods, meaning you can eat enough to satisfy your appetite – no weighing, measuring or counting – and lose weight without ever feeling hungry.
Louisa (@louisa_weezer) served up this colourful salad for her lunch, stuffed with carrots, peppers, onions and lentils, with a sprinkling of spicy harissa seasoning for good measure.
Myth: You won’t get enough protein
As well as being filling, protein is an essential nutrient which aids the body’s ability to repair itself. While lean meats and eggs are great sources, there are plenty of plant-based options. “Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and plain tofu are packed with protein,” says Carolyn. “That means they keep you fuller for longer, give you energy and, when you use healthy cooking methods, help you satisfy your appetite while losing weight.” When new members join a Slimming World group, the Consultant talks through how Food Optimising works, including pointing out which foods you can choose to ensure you get plenty of protein in your diet.
Alex and Mo (@ourswjourney2019) have been piling their plates with protein-rich lentils by cooking up our carrot and coconut dhal recipe. They say: “It’s one of our favourites, it’s only 1½ Syns per portion and it also happens to be vegan!”
TRY THE RECIPE: Carrot and coconut dhal is vegan comfort food at its best
Myth: A vegan diet lacks calcium
We all need a good intake of calcium to support healthy bones and teeth and other needs our bodies have. Luckily, there are a growing number of dairy alternatives and vegan sources out there to try – from calcium-fortified milks made with almonds, soya or rice (which can be enjoyed as a Healthy Extra) to Free Foods like kale, okra and spring greens.
Beth (@beth_fursman) uses her Healthy Extra ‘a’ serving of almond milk to make this vegan coffee-flavoured porridge. She says: “The best kick-start to a morning! I have oats near enough every day now. Slow-releasing energy, high in fibre and low calories.”
Beth’s porridge recipe
- 40g oats
- 250ml unsweetened almond milk
- mocha skinny syrup
Carolyn says: “If you’re avoiding animal-derived foods, there are a few vital nutrients for overall good health which need extra consideration, such as vitamin B12, iodine and omega-3. The Vegan Society is an excellent resource if you want to find out how to get the nutrients you need from plant-based diet and, of course, you’ll find lots of advice on our members-only website.”
Myth: Vegan food is boring
If you think that plant-based meals are all about raw veg and seeds, think again! With a growing number of vegan foods available in supermarkets, it’s never been easier to give your favourite dishes a plant-powered twist or try out new meat-free recipes. You could start the day with a tofu scramble, serve up a filling paella at lunchtime and finish with a jackfruit chilli for tea. Slimming World members have access to a mighty menu of meatless meals on our website – like jackfruit-loaded wedges, aubergine biryani and a tofu sushi bowl – and that’s on top of all the recipe-swapping activity you’ll find in groups and our online Community.
Billie (@billie_swjourney) is taking part in Veganuary and she’s still been able to enjoy her favourite full English breakfast. She says: “I’ve been vegan for 12 days now… I’m eating more veg than ever and I feel great! This way, I’m planning more and still doing Slimming World, which I love!”
You could also take inspiration from Hare, who whipped up a slimming-friendly katsu curry by using air-fried aubergines and adding lots of weight loss-boosting veggies.
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