With the release of vegan docu-blockbuster ‘The Game Changers’ on Netflix last year and the link between animal farming and the climate crisis making headlines on an almost weekly basis, Veganuary 2020 was always going to be popular. In fact a record 400,000 people worldwide signed up to the meat free movement this year compared with 250,000 participants in 2019 and 170,000 in 2018 and many are expected to continue with plant-based diets beyond January.
The primary reasons people cited for choosing veganism is to improve their health, save animal lives and help the planet - but what about the benefits for our skin?
Meat is an inflammatory food and when we’re dealing with chronic skin conditions it’s important to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet. Red meat, for example, can raise levels of the male hormone testosterone in the body. Elevated testosterone can lead to overproduction of skin cells and more sebum being generated, this in turn can block pores and exacerbate acne.
It isn’t just meat we should be mindful of, other animal products such as dairy can be particularly troublesome if you suffer from dry skin or dermatitis. Pilot studies such as this one show that a diet without animal products can be hugely beneficial when it comes to treating eczema.
A few years ago, following a vegan diet would have greatly restricted our food choices. But not only do the supermarkets have entire aisles dedicated to meatless offerings, restaurants and fast food joints are making the transition much easier too. KFC launched it’s first zero-chicken burger this year, Wagamama made a tuna steak out of watermelon, and subway are promoting their Beyond Meat Meatball Marinara. Sales have, in many cases, exceeded expectations, which just goes to show veganism is on the rise and here to stay.
If a commitment to going fully meat-free feels like too big a step to take right now, planning meat-free meals on certain days of the week, piling your plate high with heaps more veg and reducing the quantity of meat you consume are brilliant, positive steps in the right direction. Whether you’re working on reducing how much meat you eat, or planning to eliminate animal products entirely this year, I believe it’s the single best change we can all make for our health, our skin and the wellbeing of our planet.