Veganism is becoming more and more popular each day. Instagram feeds show several celebrities that are switching to a vegan diet for numerous reasons. The question, what is veganism, still remains unclear. Some believe that becoming a vegan is just about switching to plant-based options. However, veganism is not just about food; it is a lifestyle. A way of living that eliminates the animal-based component entirely from food, clothing, cosmetics and any other forms. Vegans eat plant-based food, wear cruelty-free clothes and makeup, do not use animal-tested products, and do not promote the use of animals in the tourism and entertainment industries.
Three Common Reasons People Switch To Veganism
1. Ethical Reasons
People who become vegan for ethical reasons believe that all creatures have an equal right to life and freedom, just as humans. An ideology that animals are here to co-exist with humans, not for humans. And a belief that humans are not meant to be carnivores, especially with the evolution of the human body and technological advancements bringing substitutions. They are opposed to the practice of causing physical and psychological stress to animals in the dairy, farming, leather, wool, silk, down, fur and countless other industries that slaughter animals or use animals for experiments. They consciously live and promote this lifestyle as alternatives are available for all products.
“Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable.”
– Gary L. Francione
2. Environmental Reasons
The recent outrage of the Amazon forest burning up, the continuous and inevitable climate change and global warming that we face are all results of the greenhouse effect. According to the United Nations, animal agriculture and livestock contribute about 51-65% of the world’s carbon emissions. It also leads to deforestation, extinction of certain species and loss of habitat. Environmentally conscious people abide by an overall sustainable vegan lifestyle.
“We are quite literally gambling with the future of our planet – for the sake of hamburgers.”
– Peter Singer
3. Health Reasons
People who decide to become vegan for health purposes; their main change is food as opposed to a lifestyle change. A vegan diet can have ample long-term health benefits such as:
- A lower risk of heart diseases
- A lower risk of certain types of cancer
- Aids weight loss
- Reduces pain in certain types of arthritis
- Reduces blood sugar levels, benefitting people suffering from type 2 diabetes
- Improves kidney function
- Reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
- Vegan diet is rich in certain nutrients and antioxidants
- Dairy-free diet can also do wonders for your skin
“My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci
What Is The Difference Between Vegetarian & Vegan?
Now that we’ve understood what is veganism and the reasons why people choose that lifestyle. Let’s understand the basic difference between vegetarian and vegan. Vegan is derived from the first and last letters of vegetarian. All vegans are vegetarians but all vegetarians aren’t vegans. Vegetarians, similar to vegans don’t eat any type of meat, poultry, and seafood.
However, unlike vegans, vegetarians consume milk and other dairy products. Some vegetarians also eat eggs and honey. Vegans do not consume any animal-based products including dairy, eggs, and honey. If you are still wondering – what do vegans eat, below is a list of what vegans can and cannot eat.
Foods That Vegans Can Eat:
- Milk-free bread
- Cereals such as rice, corn, millets
- Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils
- Seeds such as mustard, flax, sesame, chia
- Fats such as vegetable oils, flax oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, tahini, hummus
- Milk alternatives such as soymilk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, peas milk, oat milk, quinoa milk.
- Grains such as oats, wheat. rye, bran, barley, quinoa
- Sweeteners such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, stevia, monk fruit.
- Egg alternatives such as arrowroot powder, silken tofu, corn starch
- Cheese & butter alternatives that are made from mustard seeds, pinenuts, cashews, peanuts, and other ingredients
Foods That Vegans Can’t Eat:
- Red meat such as beef, goat, lamb
- Poultry such as chicken, turkey, duck
- Seafood such as fish, crabs, lobsters, clams
- Dairy products such as butter, cheese, ice-cream, paneer, yoghurt
- Animal-derived ingredients such as gelatine, casein, whey, pepsin, albumin, carmine, shellac, and isinglass. (They are often found in candies, gummy bears, marshmallows, pop-tarts, gum, certain wines, beers and breakfast cereals)
A Detailed Vegan Diet Plan That You Can Resort To
A common concern for people wondering how to become vegan is getting sufficient protein, calcium, zinc and other nutrients. There are many high protein vegan foods and must be added to one’s vegan diet plan such as:
|Food||Protein (gms)||Serving Size|
|Chickpeas and other beans||15||240ml|
|Edamame, Tofu and Tempeh – Soybeans||10-19||100gms|
|Amaranth and quinoa||8-9||240ml|
|Oats and oat milk||6||120ml|
|Nuts, seeds and nut butter||5-7||28gms|
- Chickpeas and most beans contain about 15gms of protein in a cooked cup of 240ml.
- Edamame, tofu and tempeh all are derived from soybeans that contain around 10-19gms of protein per 100gms making them one of the high protein vegan foods.
- Lentils contain 18gms of protein in a cooked cup of 240ml.
- Amaranth and quinoa provide 8-9gms of protein in a cooked cup of 240ml.
- Green peas contain 9gms of protein in a cooked cup of 240ml.
- Spirulina provides 8gms of protein per 30ml.
- Soy milk contains 7-9gms of protein in 240ml. It is also an excellent vegan calcium source and rich in vitamin D and B12.
- Oats and oat milk provides 6gms of protein in a cup of 120ml and is also rich in fibre. It helps in reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Chia seeds provide 6gms of protein per 35gms. It is also high in fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and other vitamins.
- Nuts, seeds and nut butter are rich in protein containing 5-7gms of protein per 28gms. Opt for natural household brands to avoid excess sugar, salt and oil.
- Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts are protein-rich foods containing 4-5gms of a cooked cup of 69-75gms
- Fruits such as guavas, bananas, mulberries, blueberries, and nectarines contain 2-4gms of protein per 77-82gms.
A Suggested Vegan Diet Plan For Weight Loss
If you’re looking to shed some kilos, a vegan diet can give you a push off the plateau. Vegan foods tend to be high in fibre, which keeps you full for a longer time. Avoiding meat, and dairy can reduce your cholesterol levels too. A vegan diet plan for weight loss will be effective with adequate exercise, maintaining the portion size of your meals, and the timing of your meals. Keeping a watchful eye on the amount of oil and sugar that is used in preparations is also important if you want to achieve weight loss.
|Early Morning Routines||Soaked methi seeds with water|
Lemon with warm water
Cinnamon with water
Apple cider vinegar with water
|Breakfast||Options like – upma / poha / dhokla / idli / dosa / thepla / paratha / dal or oats chilla / vegetable toast with tofu pieces / sprouts / cereals / assorted fruits and nuts with tea or coffee (black, green or add soy or nut milk)|
Smoothie – mix it with oats, nut-milk, avocado, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, flaxseeds, chia seeds, spinach, kale, and plant-based protein
|Lunch||Vegetable salad, 1-2 roti, any sabzi (substitute paneer with tofu), dal and/or rice with chaas or dahi (substitute milk with nut milk and curd with vegan yoghurt)|
Options like – pasta / quesadillas / tofu bhurji / pav bhaji / pani-puri on cheat-days (substitute butter and cheese with vegan alternatives)
|Snacks||Options like – hummus with cucumber and carrot slices / baked quinoa, banana or potato chips / fruit / assorted nuts / toast with nut-butter / khakra / makhana with tea or coffee (black, green or add soy or nut milk)|
|Dinner||Options like – falafel (non-fried) / boiled vegetables / salad and soups / vegetable cutlets (non-fried) / missal / burrito bowl / enchiladas / tacos / chillas / biryani/ rajma / chole (substitute butter and cheese with vegan alternatives).|
7 Additional Supplements To Take
Consult your physician before taking any supplements.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Should I give up meat and dairy all at once?
A. No, it is understandably difficult to give up everything at once. Giving up certain types of meat and becoming a vegetarian is the first step. The next step is to quit milk and eggs. Eating mock-meat as an alternative, switching one thing at a time could be an easier transition.
Q. Doesn’t soy have oestrogen? Is it safe for men to have that?
A. Soy does not have oestrogen – that is a myth. Soy contains isoflavones, which are plant-based molecules with oestrogen-like activity. It does not exert any feminine hormones. On the other hand cow’s milk is known to contain excessive hormones due to artificial insemination in the dairy industry. A must-watch documentary on Netflix called The Game Changers. It busts all myths related to meat and protein among athletes and bodybuilders.
Q. Vegan foods are so difficult to find and expensive, how do I become a vegan?
A. Yes, vegan foods are difficult to find, and alternatives are expensive. Making most of the items at home is easier on the pocket and it’s healthier as it won’t contain preservatives. Vegan milk, butter, desserts, etc. can easily be made at home. There are several channels on YouTube, many Instagram influencers who share healthy, and a variety of vegan recipes daily. There are many vegan cookbooks also that are available.