Veganism has been on the rise in recent years, with more people realizing that this way of eating is better for both their health and the environment. But what exactly does it entail? And how can you reap its many benefits? In this article, we define vegan, talk about what it is and how it can benefit you. We will also look at the diet which a vegan should follow. Finally, we take a look at some great vegan recipes.
What exactly is a vegan?
Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty – for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans do not eat meat or fish – they may consume eggs and dairy products though – as well as honey. They also avoid wearing leather, wool, silk, down, and any other animal-derived materials. In addition, many choose to eschew activities that cause animals to suffer such as riding rollercoasters or visiting zoos. Some go as far as making sure that they do not pollute the earth and use environmentally-friendly products and transport methods.
It is estimated that there are presently around one million vegans in the UK, many of whom are young people. This number has increased significantly since 2015 when there were 300,000 vegans in Britain. There are currently thought to be three times more women than men who follow this diet – perhaps because women are traditionally seen as the primary caregiver in most cultures. A large majority of vegans also come from an ethnic minority background with over two-thirds being either of Asian or African Caribbean origin.
What exactly does a vegan eat?
A vegan eats only plant-based foods which may include anything from pieces of bread to beef substitutes, cereals to cheese, fruit, vegetables, and pulses. Many vegans also eat eggs and dairy products that come from free-range chickens – although milk is not included in the vegan diet as it comes from animals.
Although you will hear many people say that there are no nutrients found in meat or animal by-products that cannot be obtained elsewhere, this is untrue. Indeed, certain food items which vegans eat such as nuts, seeds, and oily fish provide these important nutrients. Vegans can get their protein fix by eating grains like quinoa, lentils, and beans while oatmeal packs a protein punch too.
Many people who follow this diet swear that they feel lighter (and cleaner) than ever before thanks to avoiding foods with high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. They also say that they feel more energized as a result of this clean way of eating.
As mentioned above, many foods which vegans avoid contain lactose or cholesterol – big no-no’s for those with milk allergies or heart disease. In addition, the high levels of fiber found in plant-based foods help to regulate digestion and can lower the risk of developing conditions such as bowel cancer.
What are the benefits of being a vegan?
There are many reasons why people might choose to follow a vegan lifestyle. Some do it for ethical reasons, feeling that it’s wrong to exploit and kill animals for food when there are so many other sustainable options available. Others may choose to go vegan for health reasons – research has shown that those who follow a plant-based diet are likely to live longer and have a reduced risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Environmental reasons are also a common factor in people’s decision to switch to veganism. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change and deforestation, so it benefits the planet as well as your own personal health.