And they may not even realise it!
As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe, infecting over 2 million people worldwide at the time of writing, daily life as we know it has been disrupted indefinitely. With physical distancing encouraged and self-isolation looking like the only way to slow the spread of the deadly virus, communities around the world have set about preparing for quarantine by stocking pantries and freezers.†By observing the empty shelves of supermarkets, itís easy to compile a list of staples that were stocked up on first - pasta, chickpeas, beans, rice, canned vegetables, and frozen fruit were on most shopping lists. Non-perishables are favored over products with a short shelf life such as dairy and meat products. It just so happens that the products people were lining their shelves with were wholesome plant-based foods, which means that many future meals of those in isolation are going to be extensively, and likely accidentally, plant-focused.†
Staunch omnivores have long questioned how vegans survive on plant proteins, citing protein from meat as the ultimate essential nutrient. Despite numerous studies proving otherwise, this is the argument many meat-eaters hold tight to when attempting to justify their eating choices. But now, the threat of COVID-19 has altered eating habits. While supermarkets will stay open as essential service, social distancing means that no longer can we pop into the supermarket on a daily basis to pick up fresh ingredients. Perishables must be consumed quickly and cannot provide a safeguard for extended periods of isolation. Cue the increase of dinners that feature pasta and a tomato sauce balked up with frozen vegies, breakfasts of oats and frozen berries sweetened with maple syrup and curries for lunch made from canned beans and veggies.
So, what does this tell us?
It tells us that a vegan diet isnít so radical after all. It shows us that humans can and will alter their diets and lifestyles if needed. It has become obvious when times are dire, people worry less about making sure that they get their daily dose of red meat as theyíre more concerned with ensuring theyíre going to be able to sustain themselves throughout possibly long periods of isolation.†An added bonus to the longevity of many of these vegan staples is their extraordinary nutritional value. Those eating more plant-based meals are likely going to be feeling better for it. A varied diet of grains, fruits, and vegetables is essential in maintaining health. Frozen fruit and vegetables do not lose their nutritional value, and canned chickpeas and lentils offer good sources of protein.†
Keeping healthy during a pandemic is essential and vegan eating is the ideal way to do so. The diets of many are set to be shaken up like never before during this pandemic. Adapting to current restrictions in place to slow the spread of the virus is imperative. Adopting a more plant-based lifestyle is key to not only weathering self-isolation successfully but in lessening our individual carbon footprint in the long-run. Once the COVID-19 curve flattens and we emerge from the pandemic looking towards the future, letís hope that the value of veganism is acknowledged by a wider section of society.