What is a vegan?
Veganism is a plant based diet, differing to a vegetarian diet by not only excluding meat but also eggs, seafood, dairy products and all animal-derived ingredients.
Vegans follow this diet to help them to live a healthier, guilt free lifestyle and make the world a better place, in particular through not adding to the slaughter of animals for meat or dairy, which uses water and causes deforestation. Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
That’s some decent stats to inspire one to get on the vegan band waggon!
Each vegan will have their own reasons to follow a vegan diet; if you love meat and chocolate it might be difficult to stick to it a times, but the benefits of going vegan could potentially motivate you enough to make some changes...
Benefits Of Being Vegan
Becoming a vegan definitely has its benefits, including; lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, and even Alzheimer's.
Vegans say that they feel lighter and stay slim more easily, this is probably due to consuming fewer calories by cutting out meat- meat is very high in fats and therefore, eating meat leads to a high BMI. Vegans fill their plates with plant based foods like; lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, potatoes and green veggies instead, so they stay lean and generally have a lower BMI.
While some vegans follow this trend for health reasons, a high number of vegans do it primarily for their love of animals and the planet. Well-known documentaries such as called Earthlings, Forks Over Knives And Conspiracy, have convinced thousands of people turn to a vegan lifestyle over the last few years.
"Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life."
The dairy and egg industry is just as bad as its meat counterpart, they work in the same animal agriculture and dairy cows are hurt every day, Erin Janus talks about how dairy is scary for 5 minutes on her Youtube video, changing lives all over the world.
Dairy cows are routinely impregnated against their own will by farmers and have their calves taken away from them to be killed not long after for veal if they are male, or turned themselves into dairy cows if they are female. Once their calf is taken from them, they have their milk taken for human consumption and after a few years, they are killed too, or die prematurely from disease or exhaustion.
It’s no wonder over half a million people in Britain are vegan...
What can vegans eat, if they can’t eat meat, fish or dairy foods?
If you love meat and chocolate, this might sound like a difficult diet to follow but there are actually plenty of delicious vegan recipes out there for you to discover, they will certainly inspire you to keep going with your new found vegan diet!
Did you know that there are over 20,000 edible plants in the world, of which 150-200 of these plants have been farmed, I bet you haven’t tried half of them!
You can easily substitute ingredients for vegan alternatives to enable you to keep eating your favourite meals and will ensure you consume plenty of vitamins, protein, fibre and calcium.
Becoming a vegan will broaden your food horizons, open you up to another world of healthy food heaven- your taste buds won’t know what’s hit them...
From delicious vegan pasta dishes to mouth watering vegan brownies, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Challenge yourself to see if vegan recipes will motivate you to keep going.
The most prominent ingredient that might need substituting is obviously, meat. Following a vegan diet means swapping meat for tofu, seitan, tempeh, lentils or beans; some even say mushrooms and aubergines can give you a similar taste and texture to meat- if you know how to cook it correctly.
Dairy is really easy to replace with soy, rice or nut based products. Making small changes like swapping cow’s milk for soy milk will lower your fat and calorie intake as well as making you more humane and kind to animals.
You can make vegan cheese from cashews, blended with seasonings to flavour, you just have to wrap it in cheesecloth to absorb the liquid, and chill – that’s it!
There’s even Vegan alcohol!
With the rise in Vegetarianism and Veganism in the UK, you will now be able to find restaurants offering only vegan food, or at least a restaurant with vegan and vegetarian options on their menu. This is especially apparent in all major cities like London, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Birmingham and Manchester and in the last 5 years the UK’s offering of vegan and vegetarian restaurants has doubled, if not tripled.
Main meals are great value, at just £12 you can enjoy a detox salad with organic beetroot, carrot, baby spinach, fennel, sprouting beans, sultanas, coriander, toasted seeds, turmeric and orange dressing with marinated tofu or goats cheese.
Mildreds is located in Soho, Camden and Kings Cross, offering takeaways at each restaurant too...
The fear of missing out from a Doner Kebab or Fried Chicken at the end of a night out for a vegan no longer exists. From a vegan fried chicken shop, to a vegan doner kebab, you're sorted! Check out these two rad places that will change your alcohol infused food forever...
Fashion is fun, it is a way of expressing your mood and personality but it can sometimes be fatal to animals and this is why vegans will avoid leather at all costs!
Leather is made from the cows that you don’t see in the fields, pigs you won’t see rolling around in the mud, goats and sheep you definitely won’t see on a hill munching on grass because they will be too busy in factory farms and slaughterhouses being made into clothes and shoes.
Leather is sometimes also made from exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos; and even dogs and cats, who are slaughtered for their meat and skin in China, which exports their skins around the world.
"In India, workers break cows’ tails and rub chilli peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the slaughterhouse." PETA
There are plenty of clothing retailers offering sustainable, compassionate, vegan clothing. Popular brands like ASOS, Braintree Clothing and Etsy offer vegan options. If you want to make the change, you can start now!
ASOS offers an 'Eco Brands' range. While there are some animal-derived materials in this section you can still search ‘vegan’ to find some great fashionable pieces from the collection.
Braintree Clothing is a natural sustainable fibres clothing company from Sydney, Australia, now based in London. Vegan options are clearly labelled.
Etsy has a large vegan section where you can find beauty products alongside clothing.