According to The Vegan Society, the definition of veganism is ”a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” There are several reasons to go vegan: for the animals, for your health, and for the environment.
What’s the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is someone who abstains from eating meat and fish. A vegan shares these principles, but goes further by excluding dairy, eggs, leather or any other products either consisting of animal parts or made by animals. Vegans try to avoid these products whenever they can, although it is impossible to completely avoid all animal products. There is a grey area where products like medicines are concerned, but the general consensus is that if it’s necessary, it’s acceptable to use medicines that contain animal ingredients or have been tested on animals. While the definition of ‘as far as possible and practical’ depends on the individual, there is a consensus about what vegans absolutely don’t do, such as eating animal products. There are also other forms of animal usage that are considered to not be vegan. Products that have been tested on animals are not vegan, although if these tests were carried out decades ago and the brand no longer experiments on animals, they can be OK to buy. In most cases, vegans try to avoid brands that continue to test their products on animals so they don’t financially contribute to more animal testing. However, as medicines are usually tested on animals but are necessary for your health, vegans usually accept medicines that aren’t technically vegan. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a vegan at the zoo or a circus that uses animals, as these often involve animal unfriendly practices. Any other forms of using animals for entertainment or otherwise are also not vegan.
What do vegans eat and drink?
Lots of tasty foods! A standard vegan diet consists of nuts, beans, fruits, seeds, grains, pulses, and vegetables. Most people find that once they switch from a carnist to a plant-based diet, they eat a much larger variety of foods. A popular remark made by meat-eaters is that vegans eat grass for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not quite. While it’s possible to follow a very healthy diet, it’s possible to eat plenty of naughty foods too. We frequently eat delicious home-made pizzas dripping with vegan cheese and munch on Oreos! What vegans drink is pretty much the same as a carnist, minus the dairy. Luckily, there is a wide range of plant-based milks, such as soy, rice, hemp, flax, almond, and oat, to name few! My (Alex) personal favourite with English tea is the Oatly barista milk. It also tastes great in coffee! There are also brands such as Oatly and Alpro that sell delicious plant-based milkshakes.
But… what about bacon?
”Won’t I miss meat?” is one of the most common questions vegans are asked. The answer is no, you won’t! It’s a great time to be vegan. An increasing number of products are being introduced to supermarkets that serve as adequate replacements for any type of meat you might desire! From meatballs to chicken nuggets, steak to fish fingers, there are substitutes for everything. Many other animal products that you enjoy can easily be replaced too, as there are vegan cheeses, yogurts and all sorts of other plant-based dairy alternatives.
This is too much information!
It may seem like an overwhelming amount of information at first, but what you see here is an accumulation of over a year’s experience. Going vegan doesn’t have to be an overnight process. Learning how to change your lifestyle to suit you and others around you can take some planning. You can just slowly start changing some of your habits and products to vegan ones. As they say, every journey starts with the first step… so get started!