What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
Hello! I’m so happy you’re here, because I’m guessing you’re ready to take the first step to going vegan. I can say without a doubt that this way of eating has transformed my life in a number of ways, and I’m confident it will do the same for you!
So let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of veganism. First, what is veganism, exactly? Well, vegans are people who do not eat or use any animal products. That means no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, wool, silk, leather, or anything else that comes from an animal.
And yes, no cheese either.
Now you might be thinking, “I could never give up cheese!” I know because that’s what I said, too. But instead of thinking about what I can’t eat on a vegan diet, I like to focus on what I can eat—which is a lot!
When you think about it, more foods are vegan than not, and it’s hard to feel deprived when you can eat almost everything, aside from meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
Why You Might Want to Go Vegan
The decision to cut out animal products from your diet is a personal one, and it’s something many vegans feel passionate about. For some, it’s a combination of factors that prompt them to make this change; for others, there’s one specific reason that stands out:
Because You Care About Animals
This is also known as ethical veganism. Many vegans feel strongly that it’s wrong to use and exploit animals for the benefit of humans, especially when there are plenty of plant-based alternatives available.
For ethical vegans, this way of thinking extended to all animals, not just the ones we eat. So they also avoid using products like leather and silk because they come from animals who were harmed in the process.
To Improve Your Health
Plenty of people go vegan for health reasons. Some want to improve their overall health, while others are looking to prevent or reverse a specific health condition.
There’s no denying that a plant-based diet comes with some pretty impressive health benefits. Studies have shown that vegans tend to have lower rates of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. They also tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For the Environment
Another big reason people choose to go vegan is because they want to do their part in saving the planet. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, so by cutting out animal products, you can make a big impact.
Not only that, but veganism is also more efficient than meat-based diets in terms of land and water usage.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
One of the most common questions vegan get asked is, “But what about protein?!!”
I get it, protein is important. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to eat meat to get it. In fact, there are plenty of plant-based foods that are high in protein, like beans, legumes, tofu, and tempeh. (Yes, you might even learn to love tofu!)
Another concern people have is whether or not a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need. The answer is yes! With a little planning, it’s easy to make sure you’re getting everything your body needs.
For example, vegans need to be especially aware of getting enough vitamin B12, iron, and calcium. These nutrients are found in animal products, so you’ll need to find other sources of them. Luckily, there are plenty of vegan foods that are also rich in these nutrients. Nutritional yeast has your B12 bases covered, greens are rich in calcium, and beans have all the iron you need.
What Can You Eat as a Vegan?
While some people seem to think a plant-based diet consists of nothing but lettuce leaves, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to vegan food. You can remake some of your non-vegan favourites:
- Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Crispy Beer-Battered Vegan Fish Tacos
- Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad
- Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers
- Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
Or just enjoy vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins for what they are:
- Nourishing Buddha Bowl
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Ginger Sauce
- Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
- Vegetable Soup
- Strawberry Panzanella Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Resources for Veganism
Ready to get started? I have over 600 vegan recipes here on Jessica in the Kitchen, along with helpful guides to support you in your journey. Check out my ebook, and be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for the latest updates!