What is veganism?

What is veganism?

A way of life that rejects the use of all animal products including but not limited to; meat, dairy, materials such as leather, and makeup tested on animals. In other words, it’s a compassionate lifestyle.

What do vegans eat exactly?

Literally the same dishes omnivores eat minus the meat and dairy.

Breakfast for me usually means porridge with a banana, blueberries, and almond milk, or pancakes as a weekend treat. Lunch and dinner could be anything from falafel salad to chickpea pasta to Thai curries. It varies everyday and never gets boring.

Is it good for you?

Yes! A plant based, whole foods diet can have a positive influence on your health from lowering blood sugar levels to helping you lose excess weight. It’s good for the heart and soul.

I say ‘plant-based, whole foods’ as I believe it’s important to differentiate from other ways of being vegan. While many equate this lifestyle with being healthy, it is 100% possible to be a junk-food vegan, living off sugary, processed, fried foods that do your body no favours.

It’s important to understand that just because something is labelled vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. The same goes for sugary, processed foods labelled gluten free.

If you aim to make your diet primarily whole foods based, with the occasional treat, then that’s a good start.

Are vegans at risk of any nutrient deficiencies?

Vegan diets have been widely proven to be nutritionally adequate, but like with all diets, you need to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients. This is where B12 comes into play for vegans.

All diets should include a healthful intake of B12, which is produced by micro-organisms, not plants. However, B12 fortified foods do exist in the form of plant based milks, nutritional yeast flakes, and more vegan staples!

Another good option for vegans are B12 supplements, which your doctor can recommend to you. B12 will not be a problem if you educate yourself and take the necessary steps to ensure you’re getting enough.

I’ll also note that B12 deficiencies aren’t exclusively reserved for vegans. Omnivores are also at risk, with some individuals being unable to absorb it as well as others.

But what about protein?

Ahhh the million dollar question, and probably the one vegans gets asked about the most. A vegan diet provides ample sources of protein through a variety of plants, tofu, tempeh, legumes, and grains. With such an abundance of tasty protein options, there’s no reason any vegan should be protein deficient.

Isn’t vegan food boring and bland?

This is a common and frustrating myth about vegan food.

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

Vegans can enjoy varied and exciting diets. Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, Malaysian, Chinese, and Japanese-style cuisines can be incredibly vegan-friendly. And don’t worry—we’re certainly not missing out on desserts. There’s a tempting alternative for everything, including creamy coconut ice cream, raw treats galore, and all your favourite baked goods (minus the dairy).

Is it hard to be vegan?

If you enter a vegan lifestyle feeling unenthused, unmotivated, and cranky that you can’t eat at your favourite pizza place anymore then yes, you will make it hard on yourself. Going in with the mindset that life is going to suck, and that your diet will be extremely limited, is a sure fire way to fall off the wagon.

Instead, go in feeling empowered by the knowledge that you are not alone, and will have countless food options, not to mention the satisfaction of doing something great for your body and the environment.

Here’s a few ways to make the transition easier:

  1. Purchase a few vegan cookbooks and set about mastering the basics. Roast veggie salads, pastas, tofu veggie stir-fries, and overnight oats are incredibly easy to make and cost-effective.
  2. Take note of all the restaurants, cafes, markets, and stores in your city that offer plant-based options.
  3. Join your local vegan Facebook group as a way to meet other plant powered pals.
  4. Follow vegan chefs, restaurants, and other vegan accounts on Instagram for meal inspiration and encouragement.
  5. Go easy on yourself! While some people can wake up one day and take the leap without issue, others need a little more time. Start by cutting out meat, switching from cow’s milk to almond, coconut, rice, or oat milk, then finally ditching eggs and cheeses.

Is it expensive to be vegan?

Absolutely not.

Some of the most cost-effective foods you can buy are vegan including canned lentils, beans, rice, and fruits and vegetables that are in season.

While select trendy health foods come with a steep price tag, these are not items you need in order to have a healthy, fulfilling vegan diet. Don’t feel pressured to follow the latest craze. Healthy diets need not be a drain on your bank account.

I’m worried my family and friends won’t understand

Eating meat and dairy is something society has carefully conditioned many of us into following, and the idea of veganism can, quite frankly, freak people out.

Not everyone in your life will understand right off the bat, and that’s ok. Make it clear that you are doing this for yourself (whatever the reason), and that you have no expectation for them to follow suit. Just ask them kindly to respect your choice, and if they care about you, they will.

Who knows? Maybe making this positive change in your life will inspire others to as well.

I’m interested, but not sure where to begin!

That’s great that you’re interested in a vegan lifestyle. Here’s a list of resources I found to be helpful:

The Vegan Society

Vegan Kit

I’m always available to help if you have more questions. Feel free to contact me on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter.