What do you think of when you think vegan? Hippies with salads? Animal rights protests? Naysaying all the best restaurants? All common misconceptions. Like many things falling outside the general zeitgeist, veganism is a smidge different than it’s perceived.
Though animal rights remains the main motivator for choosing, and maintaining, a vegan lifestyle, that’s not the end of the story.
- For the animals: It’s no surprise that a majority of vegans are in it for moral reasons. Some believe that it’s an injustice to consume or mistreat a living creature. Cutting back on not only meat but also egg and dairy products is one of the most obvious ways to take a stand against animal cruelty. Did you know that baby calves are separated from their mothers after birth so they avoid the loss of valuable milk product for market? By avoiding milk products, vegans are attempting to ensure baby animals, and all animals, are treated fairly.
- For your health: The list of health benefits of going vegan are endless — increased energy, weight loss, decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Plant based diets are also rich in protein, iron and calcium, as well as low in saturated fat, high in fiber and packed with antioxidants. It’s hard to say no once you’ve read up on all the health benefits of veganism.
- For the planet: Did you ever imagine that your dietary habits could have an impact on the environment? They can. Bad news for carnivores: meat production is the leading cause of water depletion, soil erosion and a number of other environmental problems. The amount of grain required to feed livestock is causing deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction.
- For the people: Avoiding animal food products is the most sustainable way to feed a human family. Plant-based diets require far less land to produce than that of meat and dairy. All the food used to feed and raise farm animals could also be used more efficiently if it were fed directly to people. Eliminating meat from your diet could help save both humans and animals alike.
Now that you’ve seen a few of the reasons why you might consider eliminating animal food products from your diet, let’s talk about a few vegan food options.
Here’s how people perceive the typical vegan diet:
- More spinach
- Something wrapped in spinach
- More tofu cooked in a strange way
Here’s what an actual vegan diet might look like:
- Greens: spinach, lettuce, kale, spring mix
- Any vegetable you can think of
- Beans: pinto, lima, black, kidney, chickpeas
- Veggie burgers
- An assortment of fruits
- Fried vegetable
- Whole grains: bread, pasta, rice
- Cheese-less pizza
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews
- Soy milk
- Peanut butter
And the list goes on.
There are plenty of foods and flavors vegans can eat that are just as good, if not better, than non-vegan options including a wealth of meal options, both at home and in restaurants!
So … have we perked your interest yet? Yes? Well then it’s time to do some research for yourself! Learn more about the motivations, the benefits – even the negatives. And if you decide you still love meat too much to kick the habit, you can be confident that you’ve made a well-informed personal decision! Knowledge is power after all.