Posted on November 11, 2021 by Emily Forbes
Throughout the north of November, Cancer Research UK have a fundraising event called “Veg Pledge”. The challenge is to go vegetarian or vegan for 1 month. You can sign up at cancer research if you would like to raise funds or alternatively you can just take a personal challenge.
Government guidelines are to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per a day to reduce risk of of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Other countries have set their targets higher at 7 pieces per day and some research would suggest 7-10 pieces. I learnt in uni that the government set our target lower as the majority of the population already struggle to hit this 5 a day target and setting it higher would leave people feeling like it was unattainable and eat even less! A portion is classified as 80g; this equates to 1 apple, 2 tangerines or 3 tablespoons of peas.
It would be best to make sure you a varying your fruits and veg (F&V) – getting a full rainbow of colours. The colours usually relate to the different anti-oxidant products of the F&V. Red/orange contain beta carotene, which can be converted into Vitamin A, good for cognitive health and prevention of Alzheimer’s and also for eye and skin health. Dark red/purple/blue contain anthocyanins which are anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.
F&V also helps to add towards your fibre intake. Recommended for adults is 30g per day but the current average is 60% of what it should be, only 18g per day. If you do start increasing your F&V/fibre intake, my suggestion would be to increase it slowly and drink more water than usual. Whilst fibre is good for gut health and can help with stool transition, a sudden increase could leave you feeling bloated and constipated.
Also, the worst advice for anybody on a weight loss journey is “eat more”. So, even though I would like to encourage a greater consumption of F&V, can you make some swaps instead? Half your rice portion for another serve of veg. Instead of crisps and dip, can you do veg crudités and dip?
Sometimes, people don’t actually like F&V, even as adults. Can you “hide” some in your food? Smoothies are a good place to hide them – in the linked recipes you have cucumber in the first blend, but you could easily add some spinach to the second blend. Soups are a good way to pack a veggie punch. And if you’re a mashed potato fan why not swap out half for sweet potatoes/carrots/swede? Or swap your meat chilli for a vegetarian version instead?
Maybe you don’t want to veggie or vegan for month. But getting more F&V is undoubtedly good for your health. Reducing meat products especially processed meat is also good for your health. And reducing meat consumption is good for the planet. Why not start by going veggie/vegan one day of the week or at least trying to hit your 5 a day target for the rest of the month And remember, you could always raise money for cancer research or just make a donation? Happy Veg Pledge.