In 2017, especially if you live in a big city, it’s pretty great to be a vegan. Not only are there a plethora of restaurants that are completely plant-based, but even Nando’s is adding new vegan options, not to mention Wetherspoon’s small but mighty vegan menu.

So, now that veganism has hit the mainstream, is it something you should be considering for yourself? Is there even a need to eat meat, dairy and other animal produce anymore? Let’s take a look at the facts…

First things first; how do you define veganism?

According to The Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

So, as well as adopting a plant-based diet free from meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey, vegans don’t wear things like leather and they would only use vegan-friendly beauty products. That being said, a lot of people start by making the necessary changes to their diet, then the wardrobe and cosmetic adjustments follow later.

Who do I know that’s vegan?

Veganism is becoming more and more common, with the number of vegans in Britain rising by 360% in the 10 years from 2006 to 2016, probably due to the perceived health benefits and an increase in awareness.

Of course, plenty of celebs have gotten in on the action, with Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Lea Michele among those opting to follow a vegan diet.

What are the health benefits of being vegan?

Various studies have shown that vegans have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than their non-vegan counterparts, with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes and certain cancers. They’re also less prone to obesity and tend to have increased energy levels when compared to non-vegans.

Are there any drawbacks?

Some restaurants still only have one vegan option and it might take you longer to prep your meals at home due to ingredient substitutes in recipes. But, convenience aside, are there any real negatives to maintaining a vegan diet?

Well, some nutrients are hard to get in foods other than meat and dairy, like vitamin B-12. Important for keeping your central nervous system running, B-12 is present in vegan-friendly tofu, but you may find yourself having to take supplements to meet your recommended daily intake.

Another issue with veganism? All those beans, lentils and chickpeas you’re using as a protein source can leave you a little… gassy. Most people find their body gets used to it after a while, but be prepared for an initial farty phase.

Where can I find out more about veganism?

As previously mentioned, The Vegan Society has loads of factual info, but YouTube can also be a great place to find out more about going vegan. Sweet Potato Soul posts tasty recipe videos, as does TV presenter Venetia Falconer, who also works with Tastemade on its vegan offering. And don’t even get us started on Instagram’s huge vegan community – just search #vegan if you want to lose a day scrolling through people’s stories and highly photogenic meal ideas.

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Christmas is a-coming, and we all know what the means… FOOD!* But what do you eat on Christmas Day if you’re veggie? A plate of overcooked side dishes? A slab of supermarket dry-as-an-old-boot nut roast? Marmite on toast? Not if we have anything to do with it.

Here are eight totally delicious, show-stopping veggie and vegan Christmas Day dinner suggestions that’ll have the meat-eaters crying over their tough old turkey…

*And family, little baby Jesus and goodwill to all men too. Obvs.

Vegducken stuffed squash vegan roast

But seriously, have you ever seen anything quite so beautiful? No, neither have we! This ambitious dish is a vegan take on the traditional meaty turducken (a very vegan-unfriendly chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey), and is sure to impress your IG followers. Because that’s what Christmas is all about, right?

 Parsnip, chestnut and sage wreath

Food doesn’t get much more Christmassy than this veg-fest shaped like a wreath. If this recipe tastes half as good as it looks, it’ll be a winner winner veggie Christmas dinner!

Layered veggie burger pies

If you like food encased in pastry (and quite frankly, who doesn’t?), then this could be your dream Christmas Day main. These homemade veggie burgers, sitting on a bed of wholegrain mustard and topped with a creamy herb sauce, are basically a beef Wellington’s veggie cousin. And unlike your actual cousin, we reckon it’d get on excellently with everyone else at the table (ie. the trimmings).

Sweet potato, chestnut and stilton pie

Just the thought of tucking into this beast of a double-carb main makes us feel ready for a nap – which is basically what we look for from food on Christmas Day. Get in!

Deluxe vegan butternut macaroni ‘n’ tease

We don’t care what the foodie question – mac ‘n’ cheese (or in this case, macaroni ‘n’ tease) is always the answer. We promise you, if you pop this on the dinner table come Christmas Day, the meat eaters in your life won’t be able to resist digging in. You’ve been warned.

Vegan cranberry nut loaf

Cranberry Nut Loaf ~ Vegan, Gluten-Free ⛄️ I've adapted my original recipe a little this year. This is also free from added salt, oil or refined sugars. I don't worry too much on Christmas Day, as long as everything's vegan 👍 but this happens to be very tasty without the extra refined ingredients. Recipe on my blog, link in profile 💛 I hope everyone is not stressing too much this festive season, try and find time to relax and recharge. It's so important. Something I've been doing that's totally changed my day, is waking up and going for a walk first thing in the morning before I eat breakfast. It's a wonderful relaxing way to start the day and I get it an extra little bit of exercise before I eat. Okay, off to work on an extra special Christmas dessert!

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We know, we know, it’s a nut roast! But this isn’t just any old nut loaf. This is a show-stopping vegan cranberry nut loaf, which also happens to be gluten-free, so basically covers all the bases. Tick, tick, tick.

Moroccan spiced pie

Jane Gay's Morrocan Pie: spesh for the stupid veggie. Perfect mum. #veggiechristmas

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If you fancy throwing out the rule book and going for something altogether more exotic on Christmas Day, then this Moroccan spiced pie is just the ticket. Combining cranberries, pistachio nuts and cinnamon, it has many of the trad Crimbo flavours, but just in a slightly jazzier package.

Porcini and chestnut wreath roasts

If mushrooms are your thing, then these mini porcini wreaths will totally tick your Crimbo lunch boxes. They also come with a recipe for creamy porcini & parsley gravy, which we’re thinking we’d like to drink straight, as shots. Just us?

Merry meat-free Christmas, everyone!

@MissSisiG

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Image: Getty