What is Veganism?

What is Veganism?

With vegetarianism and veganism on the rise, let’s break down what veganism is exactly, what a vegan diet consists of, and why it is becoming more and more popular.

In simple terms, veganism is defined as a way of living that eliminates all animal products, which consists mainly of meat, dairy, and eggs. Some vegans also avoid products made from animals such as leather or products that have been tested on animals.

What do Vegans eat?

Vegans eat a whole range of food including vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds. Vegan diets can often be whole food, plant-based, but as with any diet, it can also be filled with plenty of unhealthy foods that just happen to be vegan.

That is an important thing to keep in mind. If you eat french fries, chips and oreos all day, sure - you may be a vegan, but you would be an unhealthy one at that.

Most people have a problem with the idea of veganism because it seems like a very limited selection of food. “So what exactly can you eat?” is a very frequent question that vegans hear. Because meat is such a staple in so many people’s lives, it is often very difficult to imagine life without it. However, vegan meals can include a diverse range of delicious foods.

Fragrant curries, fried rices, burritos, sandwiches, cake, and spaghetti are a few dishes that can easily be made vegan. Not only that, making dishes vegan is often easier than imagined.


Sample Vegan Meal Plan

Here is what a sample vegan meal plan could look like:

  1. Breakfast:

    • Oatmeal with blueberries and soy milk

    • Toast with peanut butter and jam

  2. Lunch:

    • Black bean burger with sweet potato fries

    • Fried rice with vegetables, soy sauce and tofu

  3. Dinner:

    • Pumpkin curry with vegetables, tofu and lentils

    • Baked sweet potato with a cashew sour cream

    • Asian noodles with vegetables with a peanut butter, agave syrup and soy sauce

  4. Dessert:

In addition, there are so many substitutes for meat, cheese, milk and eggs on the market nowadays that it really isn’t that difficult to make non-vegan dishes vegan.


Reasons for being a Vegan

In general, vegans talk about three main reasons for practicing veganism: nutrition, ethics and the environment.

  1. Nutrition

    • Many vegans go vegan for the nutritional benefits.

    • Quite a few organizations have come out to talk about the alleged negative effects of meat and dairy on the human body, and this is inspiring others to reconsider their diet or the diet that they were raised with.

    • In addition, because of the way that meat is currently produced, a lot of meat can contain contaminants, pathogens and antibiotics.  

    • A lot of opinions and studies still remain very controversial, so it’s important to do your own research and see the facts from your own solid basis.

  2. Ethics

    • Ethics plays a big role in the decision to go vegan.

    • The killing of the animals that we eat as well as the animal cruelty argument is often used under this reason.

    • At the current rate of the world’s meat consumption, the only way we can meet the demand is by mass-producing meat. This often leads to negative side effects such as the disregard for the treatment of animals or the state that the animals are in.

  3. Environment

    • A growing reason behind veganism lately has been the planet.

    • Methane gas produced by animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Not only that, because of the massive amounts of land we need to grow the crops to feed all of these animals, we have to clear out plenty of land and forests.

    • With temperatures rising and global warming becoming more threatening than ever before, it has been suggested that if meat consumption were reduced, we would be able to cut emissions and reduce our negative impact on the environment.


How can I go Vegan?

If you’re thinking about becoming a vegan, make sure you reflect upon all the information and do plenty of research yourself. The most important thing is to find credible sources of information that will allow you to make your own choice to dictate your own life.

If you do decide to go vegan, there are different ways to do so.

  1. All at once: Some people choose to go cold-turkey. That means going from non-vegan to vegan from one day to the next. This can be very difficult for many people for many understandable reasons; it is hard to give up old habits and the cravings for just a little bit of cheese or a big old milkshake may slowly inch its way back in.

  2. Gradual: Others go vegan at a gradual pace. It is a lot less stressful and limiting if you take it slow and transition yourself slowly. The first week or month, just cut out red meat. Then move on slowly when you are ready to cutting out chicken, fish, and pork. After a while, you can decide to move on by eliminating eggs and dairy products from your diet. This takes a lot more time, but it is a more stable and less pressurizing way of going vegan.

Learning vegan recipes can also smoothen the transition greatly. Picking up tips and tricks like using cashews to create creamy sauces, substituting soy or oat milk in your coffee, using margarine instead of butter, and how to prepare a fantastic tofu dish can all help make the process easier.

Going vegan can be a very big life-changing decision, so it’s important to think carefully about your personal motivations and if it is right for you.

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