What Is A ‘Veganish’ Diet? (& Can It Lower My Cholesterol?)
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What Is A ‘Veganish’ Diet? (& Can It Lower My Cholesterol?)

If you can no longer face waking up at 5am to milk the almonds

Vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, flexitarian… Whatever next? ‘Veganish’, it seems. But what is a veganish diet? And is it worth adopting? C&TH investigates.

What Is A ‘Veganish’ Diet? (& Can It Lower My Cholesterol?)

What Is A Veganish Diet?

The clue is in the name: a veganish diet is mostly plant-based, with meat and animal products introduced occasionally. It differs from pescetarianism in that the meat does not have to be fish. In fact, high quality red meat is the preferred lapse into animal products.

What Is The Benefit?

With a rapid rise in people adopting vegetarian and vegan diets – whether for animal rights, health, or to help reduce their carbon footprint – the advice from health experts has never been clear cut. This is because, while meat is associated with negative repercussions on our health (like increased cholesterol, high blood pressure and some cancers, for example), the evidence is based on correlation rather than causation. In short, it’s extremely difficult to know whether meat alone has health repercussions when humans live multitudinous lives with innumerable varying habits.

New research into healthy diets published in the European Heart Journal on 7 July 2023 finds that: ‘Diets emphasising fruit, vegetables, dairy (mainly whole-fat), nuts, legumes and fish were linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death in all world regions [study conducted in 80 countries across all inhabited continents]’. This would make a pescetarian diet the healthiest option. But here’s the catch: the report also finds that ‘the addition of unprocessed red meat or whole grains had little impact on outcomes.’ Enter the veganish diet, which benefits from the best of both worlds.

How To Adopt A Veganish Diet

Firstly, your diet should emphasise fruits and vegetables, whole-fat dairy, nuts, legumes and fish as primary foods. Meat should be limited to a maximum of 70g per day, which is the recommended amount, in contrast to the average amount in the UK, which sits at 86g per day at present. Your primary source of meat should be fish, where omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium can be found. But red meat should be sprinkled in here and there to reap the benefits of vitamin B12, more iron and zinc, and compounds aiding metabolism such as taurine and creatine. 

When you do eat meat, make sure it’s high quality, Dr Frederica Amati tells The Telegraph. ‘[Meat] is one of the most nutrient-rich foods we eat. If it’s been pasture fed, a steak can be a high omega food. It’s all about quality, but if the majority of your meat consumption comes from salami, bacon, sausage meat and ham, that’s not good quality animal fat.’

In a recent episode of his podcast, Arnold’s Pump Club, Arnold Schwarznegger recently revealed his 80:20 veganish diet. He still eats eggs, fish and chicken, but has a vegan diet 80 percent of the time, favouring veggie burgers, lentils, beans, chickpea soup and pea protein powder as vegan sources of protein.

‘Some people feel forced to eat animal proteins to support muscle and strength,’ says Schwarznegger. ‘But, you actually have more flexibility than you’ve been led to believe. New research suggests that it doesn’t matter if you eat plant protein or animal protein, both dieting styles can deliver similar body transformation results.’

How Can A Veganish Diet Lower Your Cholesterol?

Plant-based and vegetarian diets are shown to reduce your risk of high-cholesterol – but this isn’t only because you’re excluding meat from your diet. It’s also because plant products like oats, beans, barley, soy protein, nuts, wheatgerm, wheat bran, almonds, and Brussels sprouts are shown to reduce cholesterol.

In his latest newsletter addressed to his fans, Schwarznegger shared that he has successfully lowered his cholesterol by adopting his 80:20 diet and exercising regularly. ‘My bad cholesterol number is so low that my doctor thought I might be a different person,’ he wrote.

Though Schwarznegger strives for 80:20, just mindfully reducing your meat intake is a great way to lower your cholesterol.