Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, telling someone you were on a vegan diet would probably be greeted with the same disbelief as hearing that a formerly cute child star had performed on stage in latex underwear with a massive foam finger. Oh, wait...Veganism was a byword for having an ‘alternative lifestyle’, or for just being a fussy eater – depending on your standpoint. It was synonymous with Birkenstocks and tofu, multicoloured knitwear and lentils.
Not so any more. Thanks to celebrity endorsements, widely-reported health benefits and a greater availability of vegan foods, the meat and dairy-free diet has gone mainstream. So is it time we actually started thinking about ditching the cheeseburgers and chocolate and consumed plants instead?
You could look as good as Beyoncé
The growing popularity of veganism is thanks in no small part to A-listers such as Jay Z and Beyoncé jumping on the bandwagon. Jay Z pledged to go vegan for a month at the end of last year, and his wife Beyoncé showed her support by also staying off the meat 'n' dairy diet. While they celebrated the end of their time as vegans with a slap up lobster meal at Christmas, it looks like Beyoncé has gone back on the wagon. Anyone that saw Queen Bey writhe around on stage at the Grammys in little more than a pair of YSL tights and a smile, will be in agreement that she looked pretty amazing. It's reported that Bey's put it down to her new vegan way of life, so if you want a backside like Beyoncé's going vegan could be the place to start.
There are loads of health benefits
Beyoncé aside, another globally-known personality to have kicked meat to the curb is, er, Bill Clinton. But Bill's reasons for opting for a plant-based diet has more to do with his health than how good his behind might look whilst delivering a speech on stage. A sufferer of heart disease, the former president decided to go vegan after recent studies revealed that a vegan diet can help eradicate or prevent heart disease. A plant-based diet can also help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and prevent diabetes.
You are what you eat
Looking after our own good health should be a priority, but we also have a responsibility for the well-being of the planet, and the animals living in it. Last year's horse meat scandal was probably enough to put a lot of people off eating meat products for a while, but the issue's far from resolved. Tests carried out in west Yorkshire recently showed that a third of foods were being incorrectly labelled. The Guardian reported that beef had pork in it, and mozzarella was only half cheese. So if you really want to know what's in your food, perhaps the only way to go is to stick to the veggies.
It can be delicious
When you try and imagine what might constitute a delicious, satisfying vegan meal, you may find it difficult if you've never actually had one. Tofu and hummus with chips could easily be your meal every night of the week if you let it. And that would quickly become pretty boring. But with the impending launch of Veganz – a supermarket from Germany dedicated to stocking vegan-only food – in London, your daily meals can be as adventurous as you like. Plus, restaurants are getting in on the act, too. Take Raw at La Suite West, a fancy eatery in a glamorous hotel. Being vegan doesn't have to mean a glass of water and a bowl of nuts when you go out – just make sure you do the restaurant booking.
Don’t try and do it all at once
If you’re a lover of a bacon sandwich or partial to a cheese board of a Sunday evening, then going cold turkey is not going to be easy. But you don't have to: cut it out gradually. Natalie Portman has been a vegan for a long time, but started eating dairy again during her pregnancy. It’s worth listening to your body, and giving it what it wants (unless that’s a family-size bar of Cadbury’s every evening. Try and ignore that one).