For many, Veganism is not just a diet. It’s a lifestyle built around protecting animals, not only from consumption but from inhumane use in everyday products.
In the last decade, veganism has really picked up traction with people. Many are making the switch to veganism and advocating for cruelty-free products and the like. Although veganism is just starting to shine, it is actually over 75 years old, which means it’s not just some short-lived new trend.
The term “vegan” was actually coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, an animal rights activist who co-founded the Vegan Society of England. Their definition of Veganism is as follows:
“Veganism is a philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”– The Vegan Society
People who choose to follow a vegan food diet abstain from eating animal products- including meat, eggs, dairy, gelatin, honey, and more- while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Vegans only eat food that comes from the ground and can be grown in soil. It’s a purely plant-based diet made up of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. But, being a vegan goes beyond not eating just the obvious meat and dairy products and dives deep into animal rights by even avoiding foods like processed sugar. To sum it up, people who practice veganism do not consume food that comes from animals or use any products derived from animals, period.
What Is Vegan Food?
As mentioned above, veganism is not just a diet. It’s an entire lifestyle that avoids any and all animal products.
This means no meat or dairy but also includes things like white sugar, which can be processed using bone char from animals and jelly beans that use confectioners glaze, to name a few. Vegans can eat anything made with whole, unprocessed foods with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans.
The number of people following this strict way of life has increased over the last decade because many believe in its benefits to the environment, their health, and animals.
There are many misconceptions about what it means to be vegan. In this blog post, we will go over some common myths and explanations surrounding the diet.
Myth # One: Vegans only eat lettuce or other leafy vegetables- This is not true. Vegans can eat almost anything grown from the earth, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. They just cannot consume foods derived from animals or animal products like milk or eggs.
Myth # Two: A vegan diet is boring- It’s possible that a person following this lifestyle may not always be excited about what’s for dinner, but there are many foods a vegan can eat and a plethora of creative recipes that go along with them!
Myth # Three: People who follow this lifestyle will not get enough protein- The human body is able to create essential amino acids from the proteins found in plants, so vegans don’t need to over worry about getting their daily dose of protein.
Myth # Four: Vegans are weak and unhealthy- This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people who choose this lifestyle have a higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which can improve their health markers.
What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan food?
The main difference between veganism and vegetarianism is that vegans avoid all animal products while vegetarians can choose to eat seafood, eggs, honey, and dairy.
.Both groups are against the use of animals for health, environmental and ethical reasons. This includes slaughtering animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans and vegetarians have different opinions on what is considered an animal product, which is another thing that sets the two apart.
A vegan will not consume milk, cheese, honey (or any items derived from bees), gelatin which can be made from animal bone, and other products that come from animals.
A vegetarian will consume eggs, dairy, honey, gelatin and occasionally eat seafood if they choose to.
The difference between a vegan food diet and a vegetarian diet is the inclusion of animal products.
Many people adopt a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle because of ethical reasons. Still, on the other hand, many are following this way of life for health benefits and environmental sustainability. There is no right answer when it comes to which lifestyle you should follow as there are pros and cons for both sides.
How to Go Vegan & Change Your Lifestyle
Deciding to switch to a vegan diet is a big decision. You will have to change your shopping habits, eating preferences, and lifestyle so that you can follow this life choice. Luckily there are many resources available that help make the transition as easy as possible.
The first and most important step in transitioning to a vegan diet is to discontinue eating animal products. This means no meat, poultry, or fish and anything derived from animals like eggs, honey (or any items made with bees), milk, cheese, gelatin (can be animal bone), and other food that comes from animals.
It is important to note that transitioning can take a while, so it’s not something you want to do all at once. Your diet will change drastically, and it can be hard to adjust, so give yourself time while you slowly transition into your new lifestyle.
Research is your friend when starting out on a vegan diet. Some things that you never thought twice about eating or that could possibly contain or use animal products will shock you (looking at you apples!) We recommend sitting down with a book instead of aimlessly searching the internet for bits and pieces of info. Some popular options on Amazon are: How Not To Die, Vegan Reset, How To Go Vegan, The Vegan Starter Kit, and Becoming Vegan.
What Can You Eat on a Vegan Diet?
Any and all fruits and vegetables, grains (rice, quinoa), beans and legumes (lentils, black beans), nuts and seeds.
Some good things to keep in the house are: canned tomatoes or tomato sauce for pasta dishes with Italian flavorings; soy products like tofu, tempeh, and vegan cheese; frozen vegetables when fresh veggies are out of season; canned beans and lentils for easy use in recipes.
You will also want to purchase some vegan bread, cookies, chips, or other items that are typically not vegan to have on hand when a craving hits- just make sure they are not processed with no animal products!
All in all, veganism is a lifestyle choice that will have you following the same rules as vegetarians but with different opinions on what they consider an animal product and how to go about it. The end goal for every vegan or vegetarian is still the same: no animals slaughtered for health, environmental or ethical reasons.
What Can You Not Eat on a Vegan Diet?
Beyond the obvious meat, poultry, fish, and dairy, there are many more items that vegans cannot eat or even use in personal care products. Companies have gotten really good at hiding animal products with hard-to-say and read names or with coded numbers and letters.
For example ingredients coded with E120, E322, E422, E 471, E542, E631, E901, E904 and E920 are not-vegan friendly. All of the mentioned E ingredients are, in fact, animal products, and they are snuck into a variety of products we use every day.
Another example is shellac, a popular coating on fruit like oranges, lemons, and even apples are made from a resin excreted by the female lac beetle, which is definitely not vegan. Shellac is also used as candy coating and goes by “confectioner’s glaze” those shiny jelly beans and scrumptious raisinets are coated in … beetles. Yum!
If you’re serious about transitioning to a vegan diet, all of these things and more are to be avoided.
Can vegans eat something that “may contain” milk or other animal products?
Ah, the age-old debate to eat may contain or not contain.. that is the question, and the answer is subjective at best. Hard-core vegans stay away from anything that may contain animal products, even if it is only the slightest of chances.
Those who are new to veganism or less strict might not mind if a product “may contain” some form of an animal by-product like milk.
Vegan substitutes for meat, poultry and fish
Vegan’s have gotten creative over time with their meat substitutes. One of the most popular and successful ready-made vegan meat substitutes is the Beyond Meat brand. Their “Beyond Burger,” which they claim tastes like a real beef burger made from soy, pea protein isolates, coconut oil and yeast extract, has been smashing it in stores across North America.
Some other meat substitutes include:
- Tofu is a popular substitute for meat and poultry. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do the trick in recipes where you want to bake or fry some protein.
- Tempeh is another soy-based product that has a similar consistency as tofu, but with more of an earthy flavor profile. Tempeh can be used in place of fish in sushi or as a sandwich meat.
- A popular product for vegans who want to recreate the feel of eating meat is seitan, which looks like strips of dough and has a chewy texture similar to that found in many types of meat products.
- Lentils are also used often in place of beef because they have such an meaty flavor that will work in a variety of dishes.
- There are also many recipes available online to make your own mock meats at home with ingredients found in most grocery stores like gluten flour or soy protein. Even if you can’t find a pre-made substitute, you can always use vegetables in place of meat and fish to create vegan dishes.
- Jackfruit can be used to substitute for chicken, pulled pork and even ham.
- Mushrooms are a good vegan substitution for fish in many dishes including pastas, sauces or fried rice; they offer a great umami flavor that is similar to the savory taste of some seafoods.
Why do vegans eat fake meat & want their food to look like meat?
Just because someone is vegan does not mean they don’t like the taste of meat. Many people transition to a vegan lifestyle for health reasons, not because they don’t like the flavor of meat. Some people switch because of ethical reasons, animal cruelty in general plays a big part. Think large slaughterhouses, animal farming, and slaughter procedures.
Most vegans want their food to look and taste like what it’s replacing; sometimes, this means using substitutes for chicken or beef that are made from soy protein, pea protein, gluten flour, or textured vegetable protein (TVP).
What do vegans eat instead of dairy, eggs, and cheese?
Vegans have lots of substitutes for dairy, eggs, and cheese. Non-dairy milk that you can buy at the store comes in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, almond, and even cashew-based milks.
There are also vegan substitutes for eggs like mashed banana or tofu that may be used to make an omelet or other recipes that call for eggs.
As for cheese, vegan substitutes range from nutritional yeast (which can be used to make sauces) and nut milk, like coconut milk-based cheeses that are sold in supermarkets.
One of the most popular vegan substitutes for cheese is cashews, which are soaked in water until they’re soft, then blended together with some lemon juice or vinegar (or salt) and a little bit of nutritional yeast. Cashew-based cheeses can be made into a variety of flavors, including cheddar, gouda, and mozzarella.
Let’s not forget another staple… butter! Vegan butter is most commonly made from coconut, olive, or avocado oil that has been processed to mimic that buttery flavor and consistency we all love.
Is it difficult to maintain a healthy weight on a vegan diet?
If you’re hitting your caloric intake and getting a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, you should be able to maintain your weight on a vegan diet.
Being vegan doesn’t mean that there is no room for snacks or sweets. It just means substituting the ingredients in animal-based items with different things like almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Which means you can still go vegan and have your cake and eat it too with some easy substitutions. There are so many vegan recipes out there today that you’re hard-pressed not to find one that will let you make your favorite dish animal-free.
The trickiest part can be managing cravings for meat. It may take time to adjust, but you’ll eventually find that being vegan is a pretty good life choice.
Although a Full-on Vegan Diet May Not Be For Everyone it’s worth a try Vegan Food is delicious & Nutritious
If you’re looking for a way to help the planet, reduce your carbon footprint, and save some animals, then a vegan diet may be right up your alley. A full-on vegan lifestyle has many benefits that are worth considering if you want to live an eco-friendly, animal-conscious life.
But what about when going fully vegan just isn’t in the cards? The good news is there are plenty of ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into your current diet without having to go all or nothing – you can take small steps towards living a healthier and animal-friendly lifestyle if that’s what you choose to do.