In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people who have switched to a vegan diet. Whether for environmental reasons, for issues of animal welfare, or for overall health, people have not only given up eating meat but given up consuming animal products altogether.
Vegetarian diets are not new. Eliminating meat from your diet as a fairly common thing these days. However, taking things a step further and removing all animal products from your diet and lifestyle is a considerable step, and this is at the heart of what it means to live vegan.
What is veganism, exactly? What constitutes a vegan diet? The practice of not eating meat has been around for quite some time, and most of us are familiar with vegetarian diets. But what is veganism in relation to vegetarianism?
What does it mean to stop consuming animal products? Is it healthy to go vegan? How, exactly, do you get all the nutrients you require in vegan diets? And precisely what is veganism? In this guide, we will introduce you to the basics of living a vegan lifestyle and how to live a vegan lifestyle in the healthiest ways.
What is veganism?
Veganism is generally defined as a lifestyle that entirely excludes all animal products and, to the best that one is able, excludes any form of animal exploitation or cruelty. Veganism extends from food choices to clothing and other ordinary products.
Vegans do not eat any meat or dairy products. This diet and way of life also exclude eggs. Virtually any foods that involve animals or animal products are excluded.
Because this is a lifestyle and not simply a diet, vegans also eliminate things like leather, fur, and other materials derived from animals. The goal of the vegan way of living to use only those things that are made or derived from plant products.
Veganism entails a strict vegetarian diet, no dairy or eggs, and no animal products.
Why people adopt vegan lifestyles
People choose to embrace veganism for a variety of reasons. Certainly, the desire to refrain from any practice that involves the cruelty or exploitation of animals is the obvious reason to embrace veganism. But there are other reasons.
Vegans believe that all living animals have a right to live free of exploitation and cruelty, that consuming animals and raising animals for consumption is ethically unsound. They, therefore, believe that ending an animal’s life or keeping an animal in an unnatural form of captivity cannot be ethically supported. To eat the flesh of an animal, drink its milk or eat its eggs, and wear its skin constitutes forms of cruelty.
Some of these views are motivated by modern farming practices. Animals raised for consumption are now in large factory-style farms in which the life of the animal is considered inhumane. Small pens and cages and the methods for mass slaughter are repugnant to people who adopt the vegan lifestyle.
Vegans cite practices such as the grinding of male chicks in the poultry industry and force-feeding ducks for consumption as examples of the mass cruelty that attends modern farming practices.
Ethical vegans demonstrate their commitment to the humane treatment of animals by refusing to consume any products derived from animal life.
There are people who believe that a vegan diet and lifestyle provide the most health benefits of any diet. They are primarily interested in the health benefits of veganism.
A plant-based diet like veganism is known to reduce your risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. There is also evidence that reducing or eliminating animal products can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many vegans refuse to consume animals and animal products because of the use of antibiotics and hormones in modern livestock practices. Many of these antibiotics and hormones are known to have adverse health effects that carry into the meat and dairy we consume.
The health benefits of veganism impact things like general fitness. Reducing or eliminating meat and dairy products is linked to lower body weight and lower body mass index (BMI). Switching to a vegan diet can help people who are struggling with obesity.
The impact of animal agriculture on the environment persuades many people to embrace veganism. A report from the United Nations states that animal agriculture uses far more resources and leads to the emission of more greenhouse gases than plant-based agriculture.
For example, animal agriculture is responsible for 56 percent of the nitrous oxide emissions, 35-40 percent of the methane emissions, and 9 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that currently cause global climate change.
What is more, animal agriculture uses vast amounts of water. To produce a single pound of beef requires 550-5200 gallons of water. This is approximately 43 times the amount of water needed to produce the same amount of cereal grains.
Animal agriculture also leads to deforestation. Huge areas of natural habitat are routinely destroyed in order to make way for cropland and pasture needs for the production of meat.
These are the primary reasons that lead people to turn to a vegan lifestyle. All of these are sound reasons, and rather than choosing to reduce their intake of animal products, many people feel it makes more sense to simply abandon the consumption of animal products altogether.
What do Vegans eat?
The types of foods that vegans eat are not as limited as you may imagine. In fact, many common dishes can be adjusted to make them vegan. Some types of vegan foods include things like bean burritos, veggie burgers, plain tomato pizza (there are some vegan cheese substitutes), nachos with salsa and guacamole, hummus, and pasta.
Meat-based foods can be replaced with items such as:
- Nuts and seeds
Since the vegan lifestyle has grown in popularity over the past several years, the food production industry has responded with many vegan alternatives to common foods. Plant-based milk like soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk are widely available in grocery stores. Eggs can be replaced with tofu for an easy scrambled “eggs” breakfast. And there are a number of sweeteners like molasses and maple syrup that easily stand in for honey.
Vegans rely heavily on whole grains since these are not only filling, they often provide many of the same nutrients as meats and dairy. Many grains contain high amounts of proteins and amino acids. Contrary to conventional belief, you do not need to consume combinations of legumes and whole grains to get whole proteins. Many grains contain whole proteins on their own.
There are a number of prepared foods that are now available that are strictly vegan. Ready-made vegan cheese made from nuts, sausage and patties made from tofu and seitan, and even vegan desserts can be found in most grocery stores.
Foods that vegans avoid
Veganism demands a strict avoidance of all animal products, including:
Vegans also avoid foods that are made from anything derived from these foods. These include things like egg albumin, casein, carmine, gelatin, pepsin, shellac, isinglass, and whey. All of these are derived from meat, dairy, or egg products.
Obviously, it can be tricky making sure you do not eat foods that contain these items. So many foods contain things like casein and gelatin as additives. For this reason, many vegans avoid things like marshmallows because there frequently contain additives derived from animal products.
Types of veganism
Taking on a vegan diet and a vegan lifestyle is not a single choice. There are different forms of veganism. Some of the more common types of veganism include:
Whole-food vegan diet
This involves relying on whole plant forms of food. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, not, and seeds.
Raw-food vegan diet
This involves the same types of foods as the whole-food diet, but these foods are only consumed in their natural state without cooking or processing.
80/10/10 vegan diet
This is a raw-food diet that is rich in fatty-rich plants. These plant-f0ods include avocados and nuts. This diet also includes plenty of greens and fruits. This vegan diet is sometimes referred to as the low-fat, raw-food diet or fruitarian diet.
The starch solution
This is a low-fat, high-carb vegan diet. It is similar to the 80/10/10 diet, but it relies on potatoes, rice, and corn rather than fruit.
Junk food vegans
This is obviously not something that most people choose. An accidental outcome of switching to a vegan diet without paying proper attention to what you are eating can lead to an over-reliance on processed foods. While it is true that there are many processed foods that, strictly speaking, constitute a vegan diet. Eating too many sweets, frozen dinners, and vegan ice-creams is just as bad for you as living off junk food that pays no attention to vegan considerations.
There are other vegan diets that rely on one aspect of the above examples more than another. The primary concern with these forms of the vegan diet is to maintain maximum health benefits while completely eliminating all animal products.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle necessarily means giving up the nutrition and benefits of eating all types of meat and dairy. The protein and amino acids found in meats are essential for maintaining your health.
There are numerous dietary supplements available for anyone who feels the need to switch to a vegan lifestyle. There is no need to sacrifice good health and nutrition by taking on a vegan diet.
NF Sports provides a wide range of nutritional and sports supplements that provide all the protein and amino acids necessary to not only maintain your health but also to actively stay fit. Many of the supplements from NF Sports provide added amino acids and supplements that will make it possible to be actively competing in sports and fitness.
Many of the supplements form NF Sports are completely plant-based, and it is scientifically proven that plant-based proteins and amino acids can provide all the benefits of animal-based protein and amino acid supplements.
Wrapping things up
Consumers are more aware of the nature of their foods than ever before. The awareness of the way foods affects our health and the environment has risen substantially over the last several years, and people are now making very conscious decisions about the kinds of foods they consume. Specific diets that were once considered fringe alternatives are increasingly becoming the norm. Veganism is one such example.
Vegans eliminate from their diets all meats, dairy, eggs, and animal products. Because veganism is more than a diet but also a way of life, vegans also refuse to use any animal products for any reason. Leather, fur, and feathers are eliminated as much as meat.
People choose the vegan lifestyle for a host of reasons. Environmental concerns, health concerns, and the welfare of animals are the main reasons people choose to live a vegan lifestyle. Often it is a combination of these reasons that lead people to make the choice.
Where being a vegan was once perhaps a difficult way of living, it has now become so common that vegan foods are easily available in grocery stores and even restaurants. There are entire sections in grocery stores that cater to the vegan diet and lifestyle.
Of course, sacrificing a traditional diet means you need to be aware of how you are getting all the nutrition you require. By not eating meat, for example, you must make certain that you are getting things like protein and amino acids from other sources. This is easily taken care of by making informed choices about the kinds of plant-based foods you consume, balancing proteins from plant-based foods just requires a little planning and research. There are also many fine plant-based supplements that provide extra protein and amino acids to ensure you are staying healthy and fit.
Veganism is a perfectly healthy way to live. By adopting a vegan lifestyle, you can find numerous health benefits, you reduce your impact on the environment, and you help stop cruel and exploitive animal agricultural practices.