Going vegan is not as difficult as it seems. It can be tricky to know exactly how to do it when you’re alone. You can do it overnight or transition slowly. Here is why and how to go vegan.
Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash
Why should we go vegan?
Being vegan is about living while avoiding as much as possible to cause harm and exploit animals. In every aspect of our life, we use products that are tested on animals or even contain parts of them we eat them and wear them. Veganism is the lifestyle you adopt when you believe we can live without exploiting the animals. It is now scientifically proven that the vegan diet is healthy; and it is the most ethical and ecological. Vegans acknowledge the psychological and physical stress and torture tat animals have to endure in the meat, eggs and dairy industry.
A vegan diet can reduce the risk of developing life-threatening diseases like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer of the digestive system and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Environmentally, the animal agriculture has a huge impact, it is the most important cause of pollution, even more important that cars. The production of 1 pound of meat causes the produce of 75 kilos of CO2; which you can also produce by driving your car non-stop for 3 days. Animal agriculture uses more resources and causes higher greenhouse emissions than the making of vegan products. For example, the production of 1 pound of beef uses between 550 and 5.200 gallons (1.700 and 19.550 litres) of water when the production of cereals uses 43 times less water. Finally, it causes a big part of the deforestation, which leads to the extinction of multiple animal species, such as the orangutan.
So now, how do we go vegan? How is it healthy? What to eat and what products to use?
Nutrition – Is it healthy?
The most common question about veganism after “why?” is “is it healthy?” or the famous “what about the protein?”. With a correct vegan diet (so not only chips and Oreos) it is almost impossible to suffer from deficiencies. The important thing to look after while consuming a plant-based diet is the intake in vitamin B12. This vitamin is extremely important for the good functioning of the body and a deficiency will cause permanent damage. Unlike the popular belief, B12 doesn’t come from animals but from bacterias that are found in our soil, rainwater and ocean. B12 is commonly found in animal products because as the animals eat, they also consume soil and rainwater, which is why vitamin B12 can be found in their flesh or milk. Luckily a lot of vegan supplements thought about vitamin B12 and included it in their formulas. A healthy vegan diet can encourage other people to try it out while breaking the stereotypes that veganism isn’t healthy and isn’t sustainable for mankind. Concerning the other nutrients, everything can be found in cereals, fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables.
Food – What to eat?
Vegans avoid every food that contain meat, dairy, eggs, lactose, milk powder, milk protein, honey, gelatine, red food colouring from beetles… A lot of vegan-friendly looking food are actually not vegan as they usually contain lactose or gelatine, as useless as it can be. Reading food labels is fundamental.
The transition to veganism can be difficult for the body to adapt right away, it’s pretty common to feel really hungry for at least the first 2 weeks after the beginning of the transition. A great way to avoid hunger is to eat small snacks such as almond or any kind of nuts every time you feel hungry. As weight loss isn’t guaranteed with veganism, overeating might cause a weight gain. In order to stay healthy, eating fruits and nuts is a great way to stop the hunger without gaining any weight.
Legumes and vegetables are a big part of the vegan diet because most of the nutrients we need to stay healthy are found in them. But if you are looking to lose weight, cutting all carbs from your diet isn’t healthy at all. Carbs are the fuel of the body, you need them to have energy. However, cutting some starchy carbs can make you lose weight. To stay healthy and lose weight at the same time, it’s important to eat carbs in a reasonable way, for example if you are craving rice, eat brown rice. Whole grains foods are great and are known to be weight loss foods. A lot of vegan alternatives for meat and cheese are great and tasty but they are full of salt, fat and sugar so they are meant to be eaten on occasion and to help the transition.
Everyday products – What to use?
A lot of everyday products are tested on animals or aren’t transparent about it. The list of the brands that still test on animals is huge and most of the most famous brands are included in that list. For example, toothpaste brands like Aquafresh, Scope and Colgate test on animals while brands like Kiss My Face, Tom’s of Maine or Nature’s Gate are cruelty-free and vegan. Usually, buying from those brands require buying online as local stores only carry the non-vegan famous brands. Animal testing is cruel, outdated and not required by law everywhere except China. Any brands that agrees to sell in China agrees to test on animals. Clothes can be non-vegan too, as leather, suede, wool and silk are animal products. Also, a great way to go vegan and at the same time engage a conversation and maybe convert other people to veganism is wearing a t-shirt with a vegan slogan. It can even reinforce your beliefs if you start doubting or if you think the transition is too difficult. Many other products like laundry detergents, makeup, toiletries, shoes, bags and luggage are usually non-vegan but a quick research on Internet will show you many vegan and affordable alternatives that are better for the animals, the environment and even your health.