The short answer is that vegans are people who elect to avoid consuming foods that contain animal by-products or are made in a way that is harmful to animals. These types of foods generally consist of meat, fish, dairy-based products and eggs. It also includes foods that are lesser known to not be vegan approved like honey and Twinkies. Most vegans also avoid buying and using products that are manufactured from animal by-products or in a way that causes harm to animals. Typically, these products can be things like clothing, cosmetics, medicines and personal care items.
There are three primary reasons people decide to make the life-changing decision to become vegan. I’ll briefly list those three reasons here but I’ve gone more in depth on this subject in this blog post, if you’re looking for the in-depth answer.
1. People don’t want to harm animals
At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a humane way to slaughter animals or test products animals. Despite what some big companies try to pass as “organic”, “humane”, “cage free” or “free range”. Most people who go vegan believe the research that shows animals are capable of having emotions. Thus, slaughtering animals cannot be done in a humane way, which leads most people to their decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
2. People want to help the environment
The catastrophic effects of animal farming is essentially undeniable at this point – despite some people’s/company’s best efforts. Animal farming causes a lot of issues from the methane produced, to the waterways that are polluted, to the forests and habitats and extinction that occurs due to animal farming.
3. People have to go vegan for health reasons
The third most common reason that people decide to go vegan isn’t much of a hot topic. It’s simply because they need to, for medical reasons. There are a lot of health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Which we’ve previously discussed in the link above, so I won’t do a deep dive here.
Good question. It’s definitely a FAQ, which makes me very happy. I’ve previously discussed going vegan in this blog post.
If you’re used to a traditional American diet that’s somewhat heavy in animal-based meals, my suggestion is to make the transition slowly but surely. I discuss a few different ways to approach going vegan in the blog post above. My personal recommendation is simply to gradually reduce the number of plant-based meals you consume over time.
Reducing your animal intake just one meal, or one day per week is GOOD. That’s a great place to start! All progress is good progress and you don’t have to quit consuming the diet you’re used to cold turkey.
I think the overwhelming majority of people who go vegan will tell you it was easier than expected. But, that’s not to say that it’s a super-easy transition. My biggest struggle was learning more about what ingredients and foods were and weren’t vegan. But, the more confident I became with cooking meals and meal planning, the easier it became to transition. There will be a bit of a learning curve – but, it’s definitely not an insurmountable feat.
It’s like anything else when it comes to food… it depends! It depends on your personal preferences and your taste buds. What tastes good to me, may not taste good to you and vice versa. But there are A LOT of meat alternatives on the market nowadays. There are now vegan friendly alternatives for steak, chicken, fish, eggs, ice cream, coffee and a whole lot more.
My only suggestion is that you look on the packaging to see what the product contains. These products sometimes contain a lot of preservatives and/or other ingredients that aren’t that good for you. So, you’ll want to keep an eye on what you’re eating and be sure not to overdo it with certain products.
In the U.S., and in most developed countries around the world, nutrition labels are required. Which makes it easy to see what’s in a product. Now, understanding every ingredient can be a bit tedious and take a while to remember. But there are many websites that will tell you if an ingredient is or isn’t vegan-friendly.
Vegans generally have no issue meeting their daily protein intake requirements when they eat a well-balanced diet. I know, that is contrary to what many people believe. But many core plant-based diet foods like beans, nuts, tofu and many others are high in protein. In the event that a vegan doesn’t get adequate protein through their normal diet, it’s very easy to supplement the diet with protein supplements and powders.