- What is a vegan and what is a plant based diet you ask?
Well, a vegan is someone who does not consume any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy. A vegan will also not use any animal products for any purpose. They will not use animal-tested cosmetics, wear fur or leather and other animal clothing and they will also not engage in entertainment involving animals, such as fishing, attending circuses or go deer hunting.
- Why would someone restrict themselves of all of this?
There are many reasons why someone would want to become a vegan and give up all animal products. Some reasons include: wanting to be healthier and lose weight, not wanting to contribute to harming animals, wanting to help the environment or simply a belief that one has. “More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the health benefits: increased energy, younger looking skin and eternal youth are just some of the claims from enthusiastic plant eaters,” according to The Vegan Society. “Avoiding animal products is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation everywhere. One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products.”
- What do vegans eat?
Being a vegan may seem “extreme” to some people because it is a lifestyle change that takes passion and dedication, but if you want to start out slowly, you can consider becoming a plant based vegan. A plant based vegan can still wear leather and use animal-tested cosmetics, such as use some makeups or shampoos, but they cannot eat animal products. So, a plant based vegan is only vegan when it comes to eating. “A balanced vegan diet is made up of these four food groups: 1) legumes, nuts, and seeds; 2) grains; 3) vegetables; and 4) fruits. Because individual nutrient needs and energy requirements vary due to age, activity level, and one’s state of health, this guide should only be considered a broad blueprint for a balanced vegan diet,” according to the International Vegan Association. “Concentrated fats, such as oils and oil-based spreads, do not fall under a food group. They are not required for optimal health, as essential fats are found naturally in whole foods like avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds, and for that reason there is no serving recommendation. However, a small amount of these fats–a serving is 1 teaspoon–may be included in a healthful vegan diet. Choose oils and spreads that are minimally processed and limit your intake.” Vegans also need to keep in mind that they need to consume all of the nutrients they need in order to be healthy, especially vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. For more nutritional information on the vegan diet, click here. “A plant based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity due to a myriad of environmental and socio-economic problems, there’s never been a better time to adopt a more sustainable way of living. Avoiding animal products is not just one of the simplest ways an individual can reduce the strain on food as well as other resources, it’s the simplest way to take a stand against inefficient food systems which disproportionately affects the poorest people all over the world,” according to The Vegan Society.
- A testimonial from a fellow vegan:
Michael Sheeter, a vegan student at the University of North Texas, said that he has been vegan for about seven years. “I can’t imagine eating animal foods ever, especially after watching “Forks over Knives” [a vegan documentary] when I was in high school,” Sheeter said. The senior and finance major said that he often eats at the Mean Greens vegan café at UNT when he is on campus. “I’m moving to Los Angeles, California after I graduate in May because I am attending law school there and I think my veganism will be easier to continue since L.A. has a lot of vegan and healthy restaurants,” Sheeter said. He said that his plant based diet over the years has gotten rid of his teenage acne and gives his body a lot of energy.
- A word from an expert on veganism:
Dr. Cynthia McClure, a retired Radiologist, nutritionist and current plant based vegan, said that cutting animal products and processed foods out of your diet is one of the healthiest ways of eating. “You can get all of your protein and calcium from plants, like drinking soy or almond milk and eating tofu, beans and lentils, ” Dr. McClure said. “Personally, I have been a vegan for many many years now and it is the best thing I have ever done!”