Going Vegan: A Guide to Eating a Plant Based Diet
There are a lot of different reasons why someone might choose to go vegan. Some choose to eat a plant-based diet because they don’t believe in eating animals or supporting the cruel practices of the modern meat industry. Others make the choice based on the fact that shunning meat can greatly reduce your ecological footprint. Some simply choose to eat vegan in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
No matter what your reasons are, turning to a plant-based diet is a choice that you can feel good about, although it can seem like a daunting task to cut so many food options out of your life. So, what is veganism and how can you make the switch to a plant-based diet? Here is everything you need to know about going vegan and the numerous benefits that come with it.
What is Veganism?
Veganism is the belief that humans can survive entirely on plants without ingesting or using any animal products or by-products. Dietary veganism applies this belief mainly to food – avoiding eating meat, egg, and dairy products. Ethical veganism extends to the clothes you wear or the products you use also being free from animal labor or cruelty. This means that many vegans avoid products that are tested on animals or made from leather, wool, fur, or feathers.
Many vegans feel strongly that the true ethos at the heart of the movement is rejecting the commodification of animals altogether and there is some debate whether dietary vegans are truly vegan or just eating a plant-based diet. However, we don’t believe that it has to be all or nothing. Even taking small steps to reduce your reliance on animal products can have positive effects on your health, the environment, and the animal kingdom, so don’t pay attention to anyone who’s caught up in labels or gatekeeping. Be vegan in the way that feels right to you.
What do Vegans Eat?
Vegans focus on eating mostly fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and pulses. They do not eat any meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter. Some even go so far as to avoid honey.
Sometimes processed foods and condiments that you wouldn’t think contain animal by-products actually use them as dyes, additives, and flavorings. For example, treats like gummy bears and marshmallows contain gelatin, which is made from the skin, bones, and ligaments of cows and pigs. Worcestershire sauce, olive tapenade, and Caesar dressing are often made with anchovies. And sadly, pie crusts and other desserts tend to contain lard.
With so many hidden ingredients in food, veganism can sound difficult to adhere to. But it really boils down to being informed, reading labels, and focusing on whole, healthy foods as much as possible.