January has historically been known as the month of the year for lifestyle changes. With the ‘New Year, New Me’ trend that takes over social media year on year as we pass midnight on December 31st, resolutions are not hard to come by. One of the most recent January trends which is similar to the concept of Dry January, is Veganuary.
Created by a couple back in 2013 who were active animal rights campaigners, Veganuary is a movement that sees people cut animal products out from their diet throughout the month of January. 2014 saw the launch of the Veganuary campaign where around 3,000 people signed up to go Vegan. Since then, the campaign has seen a huge growth and 2021 has broken the record for sign ups, with more than 500,000 people already signed up to the 31 day challenge. With an increase of 497,000 sign ups, spanning across 7 years, it appears that more and more people in the UK are altering their diets.
This can be shown via stats which identify that there are now around 75 million vegans across the world, 600,000 of which are from the UK. Whilst veganism not only saves our planets animals, but it can have a profound effect on your lifestyle, including diet and sleep. Whilst cutting meat and animal produced products from your diet has its benefits, it also has some downsides, which we will explore below and determine how your diet can impact your sleep.
Benefits of a vegan diet
Whilst consuming meat in moderation is good for you as it not only fills you up, but is also jam packed with protein and essential vitamins; having too much of it can lead to high cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It’s therefore no surprise that studies suggest that vegans and vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease than omnivores. This is simply due to the fact that vegans are likely to eat less fatty foods, which can not only benefit your health but your weight too.
Downsides to vegan health
While being vegan means the reduced consumption of fatty foods, it can also reduce vital vitamins. Although you’re more likely to get your 5 a day as a vegan, fruit and vegetables are unable to provide the vitamin, B12. Instead, this vitamin is found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Having low vitamin B12 levels can lead to fatigue and numbness which, when untreated, can be irreversible. Nevertheless, those that choose a vegan diet can get their B12 intake from vitamin supplements, which means there is a way you can be vegan and still get your essential B12 vitamin.
How diet can impact your sleep
Lucky for you, whichever path you choose (vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, omnivore), it’s unlikely it will have a large impact on your sleep. Rather, foods that can cause sleep problems are those that are heavily processed, high in sugar and high in carbohydrates. In layman's terms: junk food. Of course it’s nice to treat yourself every now and again with a bag of sweets and a bowl of crisps, but doing this everyday can be damaging. In particular, it’s advised to avoid consuming too many foods that are high in sugar and caffeine as they can cause a false sense of alertness, followed by a bout of tiredness. Rather, it’s best to consume these foods in moderation where you can.
While treating yourself occasionally, it has been found that a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins and dairy are in fact sleep promoting. Unlucky for vegans, the dairy part of this diet cannot be met, but it doesn’t mean you can’t maximise your sleep promoting diet through the consumption of the other elements. Essentially, as long as you consume types of food in moderation while getting foods that are rich in proteins and vitamins, you’re in for a better night's sleep.