What is a vegan diet & what do vegans eat?

Veganism is a way of living. It involves abstinence from using animal products in your diet and lifestyle

The Vegan Society has defined veganism as: –

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”

In simple terms, a Vegan diet refers to the practice of eliminating animal products including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, animal milk, honey, and their derivatives”. Some vegans do not use things made from animals in any form be it for food, clothing, cosmetics, etc.

Why vegan? What are the benefits of a Vegan diet?

There are multiple reasons why people adopt veganism such as: –

Stopping cruelty to animals

Stopping cruelty to animals

Vegans believe that all creatures have the right to live and enjoy freedom. Therefore, they oppose exploiting and ending an animal’s life just to consume its flesh or wear its skin.

Also, animals encounter a lot of physical and psychological stress during modern-day farming practices. Hence ethical vegans oppose raising awareness and protesting against the use of animal products.

Imagine a similar situation happening with human beings. How you would feel if you would be chained in a room for several days. You would feel claustrophobic right? Similarly, animals too feel a great amount of discomfort and pain when they are caged, and slaughtered just to consume their milk, meat, and other purposes.

Health reasons

Many people adopt veganism as it has immense health benefits. For instance – Vegan diets or Plant-based diets have the power to reduce the risk of heart ailments, cancer, diabetes, thyroid, and many other illnesses.

Some choose veganism just to reduce the impact of side effects that are linked to antibiotics and hormonal issues while consuming animal products; while others choose this diet to lose weight as it is linked to lower BMI.

To save the environment 

To save the animals

Many people choose to avoid animal products because of the adverse environmental impact caused by animal agriculture.

Animal agriculture requires more resources and causes higher greenhouse gas emissions compared to plant-based options. For eg Animal agriculture contributes to 65% nitrous oxide emissions, 35 – 40% methane emissions, and 9% carbon dioxide emissions. These chemicals are the three principal greenhouse gases causing climate change.

Animal agriculture needs more water resources than plant agriculture. It needs around 550 – 5200 gallons of water to produce 0.5 kg of beef which is 43 times more water compared to growing crops.

Animal agriculture can lead to deforestation as forested areas are burned to cultivate crops. This leads to the destruction of their habitat and extinction of various animals.

What’s the difference between vegetarian v/s non-vegetarian v/s vegan diet?

A Vegetarian diet consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, and dairy. It’s a well-balanced diet, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals but low in fats. This means vegetarians do not consume meat, poultry (chickens, turkey, duck, etc), fishes.

A Non-Vegetarian diet mainly consists of eggs, meat, and poultry. They are rich in proteins, omega 3, and fats.  But does that makeup for all the nutrients required by your body?

No, Absolutely not.  Apart from proteins, omega 3, and fats our body needs plenty of nutrients for its effective functioning. Which foods can we find these nutrients?

A Vegan diet or Plant-based diet includes foods like whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. They are power-packed with all the nutrients required by humans. Vegans exclude milk, milk products, honey, and eggs as they cause pain and suffering to the animals. Some of them even avoid animal products completely like silk, pearls, wool, and paintbrushes made of animal hair and products tested on animals.

What does veganism involve?

Veganism involves the willingness to change your lifestyle to prevent the suffering of animals. One should be open to change and adapt to a new way of living.

Generally, vegans avoid using animal products. In terms of food, they eliminate all animal products like eggs, meat, dairy, ghee, butter, and honey. But if you aspire to be a healthy vegan, you can do it by switching to eating organic food and eliminating oil, processed foods, and refined products. In this process, you can become creative and cook tasty meals by learning to replace animal products, dairy, oil, and refined products with healthy vegan alternatives.

In addition to the various health benefits, this diet has also helped many people improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing. People who experienced fear, lack of confidence, insecurity, anger, violence, and other emotions have been able to get rid of their emotions when they made dietary changes and switched to eating a whole food plant-based diet.  This, in turn, helped them grow personally and spiritually.

Types of vegans

  1. Dietary Vegans – are people who avoid animal products only in their food, but they continue to use them for clothing and cosmetics.
  2. Whole food vegans – They favor a diet rich in whole foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  3. Junk food vegans – are people who eat vegan food including processed food like frozen food, vegan meat, fries, and nondairy ice cream regularly.
  4. Raw food vegans – eat only raw food and no cooked food. They do consume a limited number of nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Vegan Food List | What foods do vegans avoid and what do they eat?

Vegans avoid all foods from animals. These include

  1. Meat
  2. Eggs
  3. Dairy
  4. Chicken
  5. Fish
  6. Honey

Moreover, they avoid products derived from animals like gelatin, casein, whey, etc. Foods that contain these ingredients include beer, wine, marsh mellows, breakfast cereals, gummy candies, and chewing gum.

Avoiding animal products doesn’t mean you have to eat only fruits and vegetables. Rather you can substitute animal products with plant-based alternatives in many dishes like burgers, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, and pizzas. The meat is substituted with

  1. Tofu
  2. Beans
  3. Lentils
  4. Seitan
  5. Tempeh
  6. Nuts and seeds

Dairy products can be substituted with plant-based milk such as almond milk, cashew milk, scrambled eggs with scrambled tofu, honey with plant-based sweeteners such as dates, raisins, and figs, and eggs with flax seeds or chia seeds.

In addition to the above vegans consume a lot of fruits and vegetables. They can also choose from ready to eat vegan products like vegan meats, cheese, plant milk, and vegan desserts. However, one should choose wisely as they are loaded with preservatives, oils, emulsifiers, and other ingredients that are not good for health.

Many people fear that vegan diets lack sufficient protein. But many experts agree that they provide all the necessary nutrients required by our body. Some plant foods contain more protein than others and a high protein diet promotes muscle strength, satiety, and weight loss. The most common plant foods that contain a high amount of protein are Seitan, Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, Hemp seed, Green peas, Spirulina, Amaranth, quinoa, soy milk, oats, chia seeds, Nuts, and Nut butters.

Vitamin B12 foods and Vitamin D Foods for Vegetarians

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that our body can’t make on our own. So, it is necessary to get it either through diet or supplements. 

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products like eggs, meat, fish, etc. Vegetarians and Vegans can get their Vitamin B12 either from Nutritional yeast or fortified non-dairy milk/fortified cereals. People can also take Vitamin B12 supplements in case if they are deficient.

Vitamin D is a nutrient needed to maintain healthy bones. It is also needed to perform many functions.  It helps the body absorb calcium from food and supplements. People who get little Vitamin D develop brittle bones. Muscles need Vitamin D to carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body and our immune system needs it to fight bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, Vitamin D also protects adults from Osteoporosis.

Very few foods naturally have Vitamin D. They are mainly found in fatty fish, beef, liver, cheese, and egg yolks. But as vegans, we can take supplements for Vitamin D and also expose our skin to sunlight.

A 7-Day Vegan diet plan for beginners

Day 1

Breakfast  -Tofu scramble 

Lunch – A cauliflower rice bowl with black beans, corn, avocado, and salsa

Dinner – Veggie-topped pizza

Snack – Zucchini chips

Day 2

Breakfast – Oatmeal-based breakfast muffins

Lunch – Tomato basil soup with oyster crackers

Dinner – Veggie stir-fry with tofu

Snack – Hummus wrap

Day 3

Breakfast – Homemade oatmeal bars

Lunch – Greek salad with a slice of whole-grain pita bread

Dinner – Kale and tofu curry

Snack – Cashew yogurt with berries and a scoop of peanut butter

Day 4

Breakfast – burrito with peppers, and salsa

Lunch – Veggie burger and a side salad

Dinner – Cauliflower “steak” with roasted sweet potato fries

Snack  – Veggies with hummus

Day 5

Breakfast – Dairy-free yogurt with berries and granola

Lunch – Tomato sandwich with pesto. 

Dinner – Whole-wheat pasta with roasted tomatoes

Snack – Roasted chickpeas

Day 6

Breakfast – Chia seed pudding with fresh berries and a spoonful of almond butter

Lunch – Avocado toast

Dinner – Vegan mushroom enchiladas

Snack – Handful of almonds

Day 7

Breakfast – Oatmeal with almond milk

Lunch – Quinoa bowl with roasted carrots and sweet potatoes

Dinner – Vegetarian chili topped with slices of avocado

Snack – Whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter 

As the interest in veganism continues to grow due to the increasing number of illnesses these days, it has become easier to practice it in our daily lives as the vegan options are easily available today. Also, in view of the recent pandemic of the Corona Virus affecting the world, many people have turned vegans.

Many startups have emerged promoting vegan products and are growing on a daily basis. Many restaurants are offering vegan options as chefs, recipe developers, and bloggers are creating new ways to veganize popular foods.

It is also important to stress that sometimes it becomes virtually impossible to avoid animal products in all forms for eg what if we may have to eat medicines which have animal products. Hence, in our LiveLifeVegan blog, we will follow Veganism as a way of living whereby we will avoid using animal products as far as possible and practical.

What are your views on this article? Would you like to turn vegan? Do share your comments below.

Livelifevegan is a health and wellness blog where we want to create awareness and educate people about the benefits of being a vegan. We aim to help people turn vegan through our regular posts, recipes, and videos. We also aim to help people buy organic products through our blog. By becoming a vegan, it becomes easier to reverse your illnesses if any, and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Leave a Comment