Many people have been taking part in Veganuary this year, but if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a 31-day challenge where people try veganism at the start of the year.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat-eater, Veganuary can be a good opportunity to explore some vegan recipes, eat some lighter food immediately after the indulgence of Christmas and New Year, and explore how veganism could fit into your lifestyle.
However, one unexpected effect of going vegan might be a decreased tolerance for drinking alcohol. While thus far unconfirmed, some initial studies suggest that vegans could experience worse hangovers that meat-eaters, and may even have a lower threshold for getting drunk. Here, premium spirits retailer House of Malt explore the reasons why this might be the case.
Vitamin B3 and zinc
While you can get everything that your body needs on a vegan diet, vegetarians and vegans could be more likely than meat-eaters to be deficient in vitamin B3 and zinc, two key nutrients that seem to reduce the severity of hangover symptoms. This was found in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, though it’s worth noting the scientists behind it say more research is needed before a definitive conclusion is reached.
Vitamin B3 is found in meat, poultry and fish, as well as avocados and mushrooms, while zinc can come from meat, dairy, shellfish and some vegetables. Both essential vitamins are needed for the body to digest alcohol, which could mean that vegans and vegetarians are more likely to feel ill after a night on the town.
Whatever your dietary preferences, it’s always important to have a balanced diet, and it’s never a smart or safe idea to drink to excess. But, if you’re trying a vegan lifestyle for the first time this January, it might be worth holding back a little on the tipples in case your tolerance has changed.
It’s also possible that alcohol has an increased effect on people who are vegan because their meals take less time to digest than those of meat-eaters. While normally this is a benefit, as it puts less pressure on your digestive system, it also means that vegans are more likely to end up drinking on an empty stomach, even if they have been careful to eat before enjoying a tipple or two. So, try to be mindful of eating a filling meal before drinking, even if it’s a vegan one. You could also choose to consume alcoholic drinks alongside a meal in a restaurant, as opposed to just going out for drinks.
Protein can also fill you up for longer, which will help keep the effects of a tipple at bay. Ingredients such as eggs, meat, fish and dairy can provide the ultimate way to ‘line your stomach’. As a bonus, fish also contains healthy fats which are beneficial to the digestive system, making it better able to cope with digesting alcohol. If you are doing Veganuary however, you can try to stock up on beans, pulses and wholegrains to get your protein intake.
Ben Turnbull, Director and Head Wine Buyer, House of Malt, comments:
“If you’re heading out for a drink this January, it’s worth taking into account whether you’re doing Veganuary, or have tried to include more plant-based meals in your diet going into 2022. Some evidence suggests that you could be more likely to experience worse hangovers and even have a lower tolerance for alcohol when you’re not eating meat or dairy.
“If you are planning a night out during Veganuary, be sure to eat a filling meal that includes proteins before heading out, and keep an eye on how much you’re drinking throughout the evening. Interspersing alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink will keep you hydrated and is a great way to ensure you feel as fresh as possible the next morning.
“You also might want to take the opportunity to enjoy some quieter nights with a glass of quality wine, some craft beer, or a favourite cocktail after the extravagance of the festive period. A good shout is to choose drinks you really enjoy, and invest in quality rather than quantity. Adding extra measures of a premium mixer, like tonic or club soda, can also help to make wine or spirits less boozy, while still tasting great.”
Always drink responsibly. Visit Drinkaware for more information on safe and responsible alcohol consumption.