The Vegan Diet
Veganism often confuses people who aren’t familiar with it, but it’s a simple concept, really. While vegetarians do not eat fish, poultry or meat, vegans take this one step further and eat nothing that has animal products or by-products in it. This means they don’t eat honey, eggs, dairy products, or other foods that might come from or be produced in connection to animals.
Vegans also often do not buy or use products that come from animals or animal by-products. This means they stay away from fur, silk, leather, wool and soaps and cosmetics that are made with animal products.
While some people become vegan in order to improve their health, most vegans choose the lifestyle because they want to do it for environmental or ethical reasons. Many vegans say they choose the lifestyle because they don’t want to know that animals were killed or harmed so they can have food to eat.
The vegan diet, therefore, is based largely on plant-based foods and some prepared foods that can provide dietary variety and additional nutrients. A good vegan diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grain products, seeds, legumes and nuts.
Many people wrongly believe that vegans do not get enough protein eating this way. Most vegans have no trouble getting enough protein in their diet if they eat a varied diet that includes a number of sources of protein. Protein is found in many mainstays of the vegan diet. This includes foods like lentils, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, tofu, chickpeas and rice.
Vegans do have to make a conscious effort to get Vitamin D, but that vitamin can be made naturally by the body when we spend time in the sun. Vegans, therefore, should ideally get 10 to 15 minutes of sun a few times a week in order to get adequate Vitamin D. Vegans can also enjoy soy milks and rice milks that are fortified with Vitamin D.
The vegan diet can be hard to follow when traveling or eating in restaurants. Vegans often either visit restaurants they are familiar with or that they know have vegan-friendly food, or they ask questions and make specific requests in restaurants.
The vegan diet can allow for a variety of foods, provided they adhere to the no-animal policy. These days, there are vegan pancake mixes, vegan ice creams and a wide array of pre-made vegan foods. Those who want to cook can enjoy meals made from tofu, fresh fruits and vegetables, rice and other grains, beans and legumes.
Pros and Cons
- Diet includes no cholesterol, so cholesterol levels generally go down
- Can lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease
- Increases the amount of antioxidants you eat
- Can allow for natural weight loss and relatively easy weight management
- Can be difficult to eat out in restaurants or while on vacation
- Requires a serious commitment to a true lifestyle change
- Possibly requires supplementation if your diet isn’t completely balanced
- Might require more time in the kitchen
There are no specific costs associated with going vegan, other than grocery costs. Those who want to go vegan might enjoy a book or two that contains information about the diet and some recipes to get started, but otherwise followers only need to consider a change in their grocery bill. If they were previously eating a lot of packaged or processed food, the grocery bill could increase, but many vegan foods fall to the side of extremely frugal, so keeping to a specific budget should not be difficult.
The first known vegan cookbook was published in 1920 in Great Britain. While prior to that vegetarianism was a well-known lifestyle choice, many were unfamiliar with the concept of giving up all animal products including eggs.The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 when the Vegan Society was founded. Today, the concept has reached mainstream, but some vegans disagree on one critical issue. While many believe that “true” vegans will not use or wear any products that are made from animals or contain animal by-products, other vegans restrict their lifestyle choice to just food and continue to wear leather and use products that might be tested on animals.
Sample of The Diet
Homemade pancakes made without eggs
Tofurkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard
Whole wheat pretzels
Baby carrots and a no-dairy dip
Oat nut burgers on sprouted buns
Green salad with oil and vinegar dressing