On being vegan
One of the first questions that a vegan commonly gets asked is to define the difference between their lifestyle and that of a vegetarian’s. Vegetarians don’t eat any meat (which includes animal flesh coming from cows, pigs, chickens, sea creatures, and any other animal) but some of them still eat dairy products and eggs. A vegan will exclude any meat, dairy, eggs, and any other form of food derived from animals from their diets. A vegan will also avoid companies and businesses that test products on animals, exploit them for any entertainment purposes, or use any part of animals (like leather for clothes, or wool from sheep for example). A lot of vegans also avoid anything made by using animal products (refined white sugar, for example). The word vegan can be used as a noun; “Vegans will eat this type of dessert” or as an adjective; “The pasta we’re eating this evening is vegan.” If you do find yourself acting as host to a vegan for dinner, always err on the side of caution and serve foods that are definitely in line with their beliefs. If you have questions always ask as most vegans will be happy to further your understanding of the lifestyle.
What does a vegan eat?
If you regularly eat dairy products, meat and eggs, you might be wondering what’s left after eliminating so many things from your diet. In a word; plenty. A vegan diet includes anything that falls under the categories of grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, seeds and nuts. A well rounded diet that includes a variety of these foods can lead to some absolutely delicious meals and doesn’t feel limited by what is omitted. Rather, a vegan diet can open someone’s eyes as to all of the available foods that are ready and waiting to be turned into wonderful new recipes.
Health concerns and the facts
It’s a common utterance from those who feel that a vegan diet is limiting; a person “needs” meat to stay healthy. This statement is usually delivered by those who eat blindly, and certainly haven’t done their research. A good quality vegan diet actually offers many health benefits, including lowered risk of heart disease, obesity, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer. There have been cases of people not only alleviating their chronic conditions (like the ones listed) but completely reversing them by adopting a plant based diet with no ill side effects. In fact, one of the best things about a vegan diet is that it takes no special medications in order to see an increase in overall well being and health. When choosing a vegan diet, most people see a difference in increased energy levels, and a balancing of moods and hormones.
Most people in developed countries eat far more protein than is even recommended as part of a healthy diet. Most of this protein is animal based, and eating too much of it (as is often the case) has been proven to provide a wealth of negative health concerns. Contrary to popular belief, nearly every food contains some trace amount of protein, and it’s almost impossible not to get enough of your daily intake as long as you’re consuming enough varied calories.
If you’re worried about getting enough calcium, add collard greens, kale, broccoli and almond to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in abundance in walnuts, flaxseeds, and clary sage oil. If you’re concerned about the iron levels in your diet, increase your daily intake of spinach, sprouted chickpeas, nuts, and dark leafy greens. Mushrooms, along with plenty of sunshine will fill your needs of vitamin D.
The Ethics behind veganism
If you’re looking for ethical reasons behind becoming vegan, there is plenty of information at your disposal. Check out books at your local library or bookstore or if you’re not squeamish, there are numerous videos online that will give you more reasons than you could ever imagine. Factory farms are blights on society; they demean the lives of millions of animals every year and destroy our planet. Although we could never claim that all farmers or farm employees are vicious, the incidents of animal abuse are too numerous for us to keep ignoring. It’s very easy to push a cart down a grocery store aisle and turn a blind eye to the miserable life and death of the animal that went into that package of hamburger, but once you face facts, it becomes harder to justify a system that (for profit) continues to inflict so much suffering. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is one way for you to discontinue your support of terrible practices and ultimately live your values.
This post was written by Sam Socorro from Clearwells. Sam is an expert writer in the health and fitness niche and has been writing and studying topics like this one for over 10 years.