The Plant-Based Diet: An Introduction To A Vegan Lifestyle And Eating
Last updated on : August 15 2022
- 1. Developing Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Habits
- 2. Using Cruelty-Free Cosmetics & Skincare
- 3. Sustainable Clothing & Shoes
- 4. Standing Up For Animal Rights
If you’re reading this post, then it’s safe to say that you’re at least interested in trying a plant-based diet. Many celebrities, athletes, and influencers are going vegan to improve their health, live a more eco-friendly life, and help end animal cruelty.
Today, I’ll be talking to you guys a bit about the vegan diet and lifestyle. I’ll explain the basics of the diet and why it’s more than just another fad diet.
Then, I’ll show you how to go deeper and apply vegan principles to the rest of your life so that you can be a part of a more sustainable future for our planet. Are you ready to try a new way of living?
Plant-Based Basics: Veganism Is More Than A Diet
Many think going vegan is just about swapping meat for fresh fruits and veggies. Making this change is integral to going vegan, but that’s not all there is to it.
In addition to our commitment to eating plant-based foods, vegans also:
- Support environmental reform
- Don’t wear animal-derived clothing
- Support animal rights
- Don’t use products that have been tested on animals
- Don’t use products that contain animal-derived ingredients
Are There Different Categories Of Vegans?
Although most vegans follow the same basic principles, there are a few sub-categories of veganism. Not everybody goes vegan for the same reasons, which is why there are different types of vegans you’ll encounter. Some of the most common are:
This describes most vegans. They typically choose a lifestyle to prevent animal cruelty and exploitation.
Usually, choose a lifestyle to improve their health. They may still use other animal-derived products outside of their diet.
Industrial vegans are often described as those who don’t eat processed vegan food. Industrial vegans try to eat as clean and all-natural as possible.
Raw vegans only eat raw, uncooked, and all-natural plant-based foods.
What’s The Difference Between Vegans & Vegetarians?
The vegan diet is often confused with the vegetarian diet, as both diets are centered around plant-based eating. However, there are some key differences.
Vegetarians don’t eat meat. They don’t support the slaughter of living animals. However, most vegetarians regularly consume other animal products. Vegetarians typically consume dairy, eggs, honey, and other animal-derived products.
On the other hand, Vegans don’t support the use or consumption of animal products.
What Do Vegans Eat?
You’ve probably already gathered that vegans don’t eat meat. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t eat enough protein. There are lots of great vegan protein sources, such as:
- Beans & legumes
- Soy and tofu
- Wheat gluten (called seitan)
- Plant-based protein powders (chickpea protein, pea protein, etc.)
- Mushrooms and more
In addition to these protein groups, vegans eat healthy servings of fruits and vegetables as part of their everyday diet. Thanks to modern food technology, there are many vegan-friendly alternatives to meat, cheese, and dairy.
Top Food Groups That Vegans Avoid
These are the top food groups that vegans and plant-based eaters avoid.
Meat is, of course, the main “evil” that all vegans stand against. Commercial meat production is cruel and unusual. Aside from animals being slaughtered for meat, many animals are beaten and abused repeatedly during captivity.
Captive animals are often over-packed in hot, disease-ridden pens and sprayed with harsh chemicals to prevent the spread of disease. None of this is remotely ethical.
Cows don’t willingly give us their milk. Milk production only happens when female cows are pregnant and nursing. As a result, to ensure that cows produce milk, dairy operations use artificial means to keep their cows pregnant year-round. Their newborn calves are separated shortly after birth, so they can start being milked again.
Popular dairy items that vegans avoid are:
- Whey protein
- Casein (or sodium caseinate)
- Dairy-based coffee creamer
3. Animal-Derived Food Additives
Last but not least, vegans try their best to avoid any animal-derived food additives. Ingredients like gelatin (which comes from animal bones), honey and beeswax (which come from exploited bees), and other food additives are all non-vegan.
For a complete list of non-vegan food additives, check out PETA’s definitive list here.
Is The Vegan Diet Healthy?
Several studies indicate that plant-based diets (or those very low in meat) are better for your long-term health. Many doctors recommend a plant-based diet. This study shows that a plant-based diet is healthier for your heart.
If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out this list of vegan doctors and see what they have to say about switching to a plant-based diet.
Do Vegans Need To Take Supplements?
Most vegans need to take a few supplements to make up for the vitamins and minerals they aren’t getting from meat and animal products. Without the right plant-based supplements, vegans are more likely to suffer from a nutrient deficiency.
Some of the leading nutritional supplements that vegans should look into include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
How much and how often you’ll need to use these supplements can vary significantly, depending on your age, gender, body type, activity levels, and diet.
I always recommend consulting a nutritionist to ensure you’re getting everything you need to stay healthy and committed to your new lifestyle.
What Is The Raw Vegan Diet?
While researching veganism, you may have come across the raw vegan diet. This diet is a rather extreme variation of a plant-based diet that only allows you to eat raw foods.
Right off the bat, this means that most raw vegans can’t eat cooked plant-based foods, such as:
- Beans & Legumes
- and other starches
You can eat some starches and beans. However, they must be soaked rather than cooked. This process often takes longer, so you’ll eat far less of these items.
Raw vegans don’t eat processed or cooked vegan items like veggie burgers, seitan, vegan “cheese,” and other animal product alternatives.
The raw vegan diet can be very challenging. Most people follow the raw vegan diet for short periods to help lose weight or detox. I don’t recommend going on a raw vegan diet for more than a month at a time.
Living A Vegan Lifestyle: What It Involves
As I mentioned, going vegan involves much more than changing what you eat. For many, veganism is a lifestyle that permeates everything else they do.
Here are some of the critical tenets of living a sustainable vegan lifestyle.
1. Developing Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Habits
A growing body of evidence suggests that plant-based eating is far better for the planet. Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (a branch of the United Nations) shows that livestock accounts for roughly 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, many vegans try to live more sustainably in other areas.
They often use recycled materials, avoid single-use plastics, and avoid water waste. Where it’s available, vegans are often the first to switch to renewable energy sources to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
2. Using Cruelty-Free Cosmetics & Skincare
Did you know that many lotions and creams contain animal fat, animal-derived proteins (collagen and keratin), and even excretions from beetles? Many people are surprised to find just how many animal by-products are in their skincare products and cosmetics.
That’s not all, though. Some of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world regularly test their products (and chemicals used in their products) on captive animals. These animals live short lives that are full of suffering and pain.
Vegans believe that no animals should have to suffer for our beauty. Instead, vegans look for cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare products that are never tested on animals or sold in countries where animal testing is required.
3. Sustainable Clothing & Shoes
The chances are that you have more than a few animal products sitting in your wardrobe. After going vegan, I slowly began switching my leather shoes out for alternatives made with plant-based leather, faux leather, or synthetic materials.
This swapping out also applies to textiles, such as wool and silk, obtained from exploited, captive animals.
4. Standing Up For Animal Rights
Vegans aggressively defend animal rights, both at home and abroad. Vegans typically don’t support unethical dog breeding, the kidnapping of exotic pets from the wild, poaching, animal testing, or commercial farming.
Animals should be free, happy, and unbothered by humans.
Conclusion - Is Going Vegan The Right Choice For Me?
Going vegan is a BIG change for most people. However, it’s certainly worth trying out.
Suppose you want to positively impact the environment, improve your physical well-being, and stop your contribution to animal cruelty. In that case, switching to a vegan lifestyle could be your solution.
If you’re new to plant-based eating, I recommend you speak with your doctor or nutritionist first. These conversations will help you avoid unforeseen complications and ensure long-term success with your vegan diet.
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