Gluten free, carb free, Paleo, Atkins – the number of diets out there seem endless and exhaustive. I understand the struggle, ladies; it can seem like a mammoth task when it comes to finding a diet that works, especially when there is so much information out there, all which seems to offer conflicting advice. This is further complicated by the introduction of new fad diets, which seem to offer all sorts of benefits through strange means; who knew a baby food diet was a thing?! It might sound like I’m contradicting everything I just said when I say I’m going to be talking about another diet, veganism. Bear with me, though.
Veganism has recently been gaining momentum and so many people are turning to this lifestyle, for several reasons. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about veganism, which has turned people away from it since it is seen as radical and restrictive. I hope to clear up any confusion and give a concise explanation of what veganism actually is.
What is veganism?
Veganism is a lifestyle that encompasses a cruelty-free approach to life. Vegans not only follow a diet that is void of any animal product, including meat, eggs, dairy and honey, but also choose not to wear any animal product such as leather and wool or products that have been tested on animals. Vegans also choose not to partake in activities that involve animals such as zoos and aquariums.
Why do people choose to go vegan?
There are several reasons why people choose to go vegan. Some people choose to go vegan because they are concerned about the environmental impacts of meat and dairy since it is very detrimental. In fact, did you know that farming animals for meat uses 70% of the Earth’s freshwater resources? Other reasons include ethical reasons since the methods used to rear animals are ones of extreme cruelty and torture and animals face terribly harsh living conditions. The dairy and egg industries are deemed the worst for animal cruelty, more so than the meat industry. Finally, many vegans choose to follow this lifestyle for their health. Indeed, veganism is most probably the healthiest diet out there since vegans have a 33% reduced risk of premature death and tend to be slimmer with healthier BMIs.
What can I eat if I become a vegan?
Contrary to many people’s perception, vegans do not eat only salad. A vegan diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and beans. Not only that but there are vegan pizzas, burgers and cakes available. So, if you are worried you’ll miss out on foods you used to eat, you won’t! There are also vegan substitutes for absolutely everything, including cheese, milk and chocolate and they taste very similar to their non-vegan versions. There are now several vegan food blogs and YouTube channels, so you’re only a click away from accessing a whole plethora of vegan recipes.
It is also important to note that there are actually different vegan diets. Although all vegans are similar in the sense that they don’t consume animal products, some eat certain foods and not others. Such diets include a low-carb, high-fat diet in which individuals consume more carbohydrates and fewer fats and this is perfect for weight loss. There is also the raw vegan lifestyle in which an individual only consumes raw fruits and vegetables and no cooked foods. I have come across sites that detail that vegans can’t eat carbohydrates such as pasta and bread and I would like to clear up any confusion because vegans DO eat that.
Will I get all the nutrients I need from a vegan diet?
Now I know what you’re thinking! Surely a diet void of all meat and dairy must be harmful? Where do you get protein from or calcium? However, it is a well-supported fact that several plant sources contain an abundance of nutrients, including fibre, protein and iron without the added cholesterol and saturated fat. The only nutrient that you need to take supplements for is B12, which isn’t naturally found in plant-based food sources. Everyone needs B12, not just vegans as B12 deficiency can cause serious issues. However, it is super simple to include B12 into your diet by simply taking an oral supplement or consuming foods that have been fortified with B12.
Isn’t veganism expensive?
Far from it! Beans, rice, potatoes, bananas are some of the cheapest things available and they’re all vegan. If you’d like to incorporate fancier things like chia seeds or super food powders then perhaps it can get a bit more expensive but none of that is necessary to receive the full benefits of a vegan diet. Another thing to note is that if you choose to buy organic food then it will be more expensive. However, there are foods which you really don’t have to buy the organic version of.
Where can I get more information?
If any of you decide to switch to a vegan lifestyle, it is best to first be properly educated on it because that will give you more knowledge and insight into what this lifestyle is about. For documentaries, I recommend you watch Conspiracy for the environmental aspect, forks over knives for the health aspect and earthlings for the ethical aspect. I also highly recommend checking out vegan activist Gary Yourofsky who has a speech on YouTube etc.
I hope you gained some further insight into veganism and I cleared up any confusion that you may have had. Like I said earlier, this was just a concise account of veganism but there is much more detailed information on the internet. So if you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment. I would definitely urge you all to give it a try to see for yourself how great this lifestyle is. It may be difficult to fully adopt the lifestyle as I know many of us do have clothes or makeup products that aren’t vegan but even if you start by eating a vegan diet, that is a great step! Thanks for reading and I hope to back soon with another article.
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