Once considered a niche diet, veganism has gone mainstream — so much so that the number of people following a vegan diet has increased by 350% in the last decade. By definition, veganism is a way of living in which people exclude, as much as possible, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty.
At first glance, a vegan diet may seem complicated or overly restrictive. Many of my clients who are considering switching over to a vegan diet are initially worried about finding suitable vegan alternatives to their favourite meals. Yet, most find that once they get a few basics down, the transition is less difficult than they initially expected.
According to the Vegan Society, the term “vegan” was coined back in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England to form the Vegan Society. In addition to refraining from eating meat, they chose not to consume dairy, eggs, or any other products of animal origin The term “vegan” was chosen from the combination of the first and last letters of “vegetarian.” By 1949, the first definition of veganism had been born. It has changed slightly over the years to become what it is known as today. Many people use the term “vegan” to refer exclusively to diet. However, by this latest definition, veganism extends beyond eating a plant-based diet.
Those who identify as vegans typically aim to exclude animal exploitation or cruelty in all aspects of their lives, including the clothes they wear, the cosmetics they use, and the leisure activities they take part in .As a result, many vegans avoid purchasing wool coats, leather furniture, or down pillows and comforters. They may also opt to visit animal sanctuaries instead of going to zoos, the circus, or animal petting farms.
Reasons people go vegan
Health-Some people choose a vegan diet for its potential health benefits. Diets high in meat — especially red meat — have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes .On the other hand, plant-based diets have been linked to a lower risk of developing or prematurely dying from these diseases. Lowering your intake of animal products in favour of more plant-based options may also improve your digestion and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease .A vegan diet can also help minimize the side effects linked to the antibiotics and hormones used in modern animal agriculture .Finally, vegan diets appear to be especially effective at helping people lose unwanted weight. Several studies link a vegan diet to a lower likelihood of obesity
Moral ideals-Ethical vegans strongly believe that all creatures have a right to life and freedom. They view all animals as conscious beings that, just like humans, wish to avoid pain and suffering .Because of this, ethical vegans are opposed to killing an animal in order to eat its flesh or wear its fur or skin. Vegans are also opposed to the psychological and physical stress that animals may endure as a result of modern farming practices — for instance, the small pens or cages that animals typically live in and rarely leave between their birth and slaughter.
People may also choose to avoid animal products in an attempt to limit their environmental impact. According to recent data, animal agriculture heavily contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs), which cause climate change.Meat eaters are thought to be responsible for 2–2.5 times more GHGEs than people following a vegan diet. Ruminant animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, appear to emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases per gram of protein they deliver. Therefore, diets that reduce or totally eliminate dairy also produce significantly fewer GHGEs.
Foods that vegans eat
Avoiding animal products doesn’t restrict you to eating salads and tofu alone. There’s a wide variety of delicious foods you can eat on a vegan diet.
- Beans, peas, and lentils: such as red, brown, or green lentils; chickpeas; split peas; black-eyed peas; black beans; white beans; and kidney beans
- Soy products: such as fortified soy milk, soybeans, and products made from them, such as tofu, tempeh, and natto
- Nuts: such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, and their butters
- Seeds: such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and their butters, as well as flaxseed, hemp seeds, and chia seeds
- Whole grains: such as quinoa, whole wheat, whole oats, and whole grain brown or wild rice, as well as products made from these foods, such as whole grain bread, crackers, and pasta
- Starchy vegetables: such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, beets, and turnips
- Nonstarchy vegetables: such as broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, radishes, and leafy greens; these may be raw, frozen, canned, dried, or pureed
- Fruit: such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, mango, pineapple, oranges, and tangerines; these may be purchased fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or pureed
- Other plant-based foods: such as algae, nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks and yogurts, and maple syrup
There’s a good chance that many of the dishes you currently enjoy either already are vegan or can be made vegan with a few simple adjustments.For instance, you can swap meat-based main dishes for meals containing beans, peas, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, or seeds.
Transitioning to a vegan diet is easier than most people think. That said, it does require a little additional nutrition knowledge.So if you’re interested in making the switch, consider seeking advice from a registered dietitian specializing in plant-based diets to make sure you’ve got your basics covered.Depending on your knowledge, budget, and culinary skills, you may also want to consider taking certain supplements to ensure you’re providing your body with all the nutrients it need