Are you thinking about going vegan? Or perhaps someone you know is taking the plunge, and you have questions. If you have questions about veganism, we have answers.
Why Should I Go Vegan?
There are a lot of reasons!
Vegan Diets are Good for Health
Some of the health benefits of a diet free of animal products include: (1)
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of some kinds of cancer
- Lowers haemoglobin A1C (blood sugar) levels
- Can help to promote weight loss
Vegan Diets are Good for the Planet
About 30 percent of climate change comes down to food production, and three quarters of that is from animal agriculture. A plant based diet not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also help to mitigate the effects of climate change that we’re already seeing. (2)
In fact, one study found that simply swapping beans for beef could get the United States almost 75 percent of the way to meeting its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.(3)
A Vegan Diet is Good for the Animals
When it comes to animal welfare, the decision to not eat animals is pretty basic.
Animals on factory farms live short, painful, fear-filled lives. And it’s not only meat animals who suffer.
Dairy cows undergo many of the same indignities as other farmed animals, but with the additional suffering of being constantly pregnant or postpartum, and being separated from their calves before the calves even begin to suckle. (4)
And if your next chicken dinner is more important to you than the chickens, consider that industrial poultry farms are breeding grounds for different strains of deadly influenza, several of which have already made the jump to humans. (5)
In fact, many believe that industrial chicken production will also produce the next pandemic.
Where do Vegans Get Their Protein?
We’re glad you asked!
One of the challenges of a balanced vegan diet is finding enough protein.
Fortunately, there are a lot of non-animal protein sources available. Also, despite what recent diet fads are saying, you probably don’t need as much protein as you think. The average adult needs only .36 grams of protein per pound (0.8 grams per kilogram) of body weight.
That works out to around 56 grams a day for men and 46 grams for women. (6)
It’s easy to meet those requirements with a vegan lifestyle. (7)
Check this out:
- Seitan (“wheat meat”): 25 grams of protein per 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving
- Edamame: 18.5 grams of protein per one cup (155 gram) serving
- Lentils: 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (198 grams)
- Chickpeas: 15 grams of protein per one cup (170 gram) serving
- Green peas: 9 grams of protein per one cup (160 gram) serving
And that’s just the beginning.
What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Vegan?
If you ask ten different vegans, you’ll probably get ten different answers.
When you’re just starting out, vegan eating may seem less convenient than eating meat. But it takes a bit of work to plan any balanced diet. A balanced diet made of plant foods doesn’t take any more planning than a healthy diet that includes meat, dairy and eggs.
Our society has made meat eating easy and convenient, but fortunately, the market is keeping up with the times. For people who no longer eat meat, keeping an animal-free diet can be fun and easy. There’s no need to give up restaurants or takeaway, either, as many now have vegan options.
Some vegans miss the taste of meat. It’s true that few vegan foods can give you the same taste and texture. But some vegan meats come close. And once you’ve embarked on a plant based diet, you might find you don’t miss the taste as much as you thought you might.
Aren’t Humans Built to Eat Meat?
This is one of the most common questions to ask vegans.
Humans evolved as omnivores. You can see it in our teeth. We have molars to grind tough, fibrous plant matter, and canines for tearing flesh. Likewise, our digestive enzymes and digestive tract have evolved to handle both plant and animal foods.
It’s true that plant foods don’t provide certain things that the human body needs, like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3.
At the same time, popping a daily multivitamin to make up for this seems like a small price to pay for lower incidences of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Plants Feel Pain Too, Right?
Yes, according to a number of studies. (8)
The smell of freshly cut grass is actually a distress call. Other plants actually make sounds when they’re sick or under attack. It can be a troubling thought for someone embarking on a plant-based diet.
At the same time, plants don’t have pain receptors, nerves, or a brain, like animals and humans. So one might argue that they don’t feel pain in the same way that we do.
Why Don’t all Doctors Recommend Going Vegan if it’s so Good for you?
Within every group of people, you’ll find a diversity of opinions. That includes doctors.
Although some doctors promote eating meat, dairy and eggs for protein, many agree that most people eat too many animal products. (9)
Most also agree that certain types of meat, such as red and processed meat, can be bad for your health.
What Would Happen to all the Farm Animals if We All Went Vegan?
No one is proposing banning all animal based foods immediately. In fact, an immediate stop would probably be impossible.
Rather, as people gradually replace animal foods with plant foods, farmed products and farming methods would undergo a gradual change. And this change would benefit farmed animals as well as the planet.
Can you be Vegan and Build Muscle?
Absolutely! Building muscle on a vegan diet is most definitely doable.
Bodybuilders rely on a high protein diet to build muscle, and this is very possible with a balanced vegan diet.
Just ask Shelli Beecher-Seitzler.
Beecher-Seitzler won two places at her first pro competition, competing naturally and drug free against steroid using competitors. (10)
And she’s not the only one. (11)
Why are Vegans so Vocal About Veganism?
I can’t speak for all vegans, of course. And many vegans don’t speak out about their veganism, for fear of alienating other people.
But many vegans feel very strongly about their lifestyle choice, whether for health reasons, animal welfare concerns, or care for the environment. And a lot of people tend to talk about the things they feel strongly about.
Can a Vegan Date a Non-Vegan?
That depends on the people involved.
It’s been said that “the heart wants what it wants,” and if two people on the opposite sides of the vegan line love each other, chances are, they’ll find a way to make it work.
On the other hand, for some people, strictly following their principles is more important than following the heart. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
In my opinion, as long as everyone treats one other with care and respect, there’s no reason the farmer and the cowman can’t be friends.
Why isn’t Honey Vegan?
First, honey is bees’ natural food. It contains the nutrients that they need to live. When commercial honey producers remove the honey — the bees’ food — from a hive, they often replace it with a sugar formula that doesn’t have the micronutrients that bees need to thrive. (12)
In addition, commercial beekeepers breed bees selectively for honey production rather than health, which leaves the bees more vulnerable to disease. Some beekeepers also clip the wings of queen bees in order to keep them from flying away.
Is Going Vegan Good for Weight Loss?
Yes, the vegan diet can be good for weight loss.
Fruits, vegetables, and legumes are naturally high in fibre and low in fat. Whether or not you eat meat, low fat and high fibre are a good combination for weight loss.
At the same time, there are a lot of processed vegan foods on the market that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and other things we all eat too much of. A lot of supermarket variety vegan cheeses, for example, have a coconut oil base, which makes them very high in saturated fats.
Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it can’t be junk food, too. So check those nutrition labels carefully.
Do You Ever Feel Full When Eating Plant-Based Foods?
Some people think eating a plant based diet means always being hungry. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What makes food filling?
According to science, it comes down to: (13)
- High protein content
- High fibre content
- High water content
- Low calorie density
And that describes many plant foods to a tee.
Why do Many Vegans Eat Fake Meat? Isn’t That a Bit Weird?
No stranger than eating animals, in my opinion.
Different kinds of “fake meat” provide a clean, tasty, and high protein way to cook the meals that so many people enjoy.
How Do You Make Vegan Food Taste Good?
First, find base ingredients that you like. Beans, legumes, meat substitutes, fruits and vegetables, pasta, and so forth.
Next, build your spice cabinet and learn how to use it. (14)
Flavored oils can add zip to salads and cooked foods alike.
And chances are, there’s a vegan cooking class happening right now in your area.
Is Eating Vegan Expensive?
It doesn’t have to be.
The more people adopt plant based diets, the larger the market for expensive, boutique vegan foods.
But you don’t have to splash out on gourmet treats to go vegan. Plenty of vegan foods are inexpensive and easy to find, including:
- Legumes (peas, lentils, etc.)
- Most pasta
- Nuts and nut butters
And so forth.
Why Can’t Vegans Eat Free-Range or Backyard Eggs?
Some people eat free range eggs for animal welfare reasons. And it’s true that living conditions for free range chickens are better than those of battery hens.
However, vegans avoid eggs because animal agriculture commodifies and exploits animals. And that includes free range chickens.
Do You Eat Salad All Day?
Not even a vegan wants to eat only salad!
Fortunately, there’s a lot more to vegan nutrition than that.
Can You Really be Healthy and Vegan?
In fact, a balanced vegan diet can be healthier than a diet that relies on animal products.
Animal based foods are humans’ main source of dietary cholesterol, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Adopting a diet free of animal products is a recognized way of lowering your total cholesterol. (15)
Plant foods are naturally high in fibre and low in fat. These factors can be key in preventing and managing Type 2 Diabetes. (16)
And because many plant based foods are filling, you often have to eat less of them to reach satiety. This is great news for your waistline.
But avoiding animal products doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch what you eat. As my vegetarian grandmother was fond of saying, there are no animal ingredients in chips and beer.
Furthermore, plenty of commercially made vegan foods are highly processed. Some contain incredible levels of sugar, sodium, and fat.
A healthy vegan diet is like a healthy diet that includes meat. It’s high in fibre, low in saturated fat, and as minimally processed as possible.
Don’t Cows Need to be Milked Anyway?
In order to produce milk, dairy cows are constantly bred. Their gestational cycle is around nine months, like ours, and they produce milk for around ten months after that. Dairy cows spend their short lives either pregnant or post-partum.
And then there are the calves.
Milk is food for a baby cow. In nature, once a calf is weaned, it eats grass. But farmed calves never get to drink their mother’s milk. Instead, they are removed from their mothers and fed formula from a bottle.
Female calves become dairy cows, and male calves become veal. (17)
Read more about the impact of milk here.
Is There a Difference Between Being Vegan and Eating Plant-Based?
One can eat a plant based diet without being completely vegan. A plant based diet simply means that the majority of your diet comes from plants.
Being vegan, however, means avoiding all products that come from animals.
Can You Still go out to Dinner with Friends?
Of course you can!
Many cuisines are naturally vegetarian and vegan. And today, many restaurants have vegan options.
Is a Vegan Diet Nutritionally Complete?
Vegans need to be careful to get enough Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12. But with a little planning, it’s easy to build a nutritionally complete vegan diet. (18)
Why do you Need Supplements if Eating Vegan Food is so Healthy?
How on Earth do you go Without Bacon?
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About The Author:
Jess Faraday is a vegetarian from a family of vegetarians. A recent vegan, she wants to spread the word about the benefits of plant-based eating for health, for animals, and for the planet.
- Rush University | Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet: A Cardiologist, and Vegan, Weighs In | https://www.rush.edu/news/health-benefits-vegan-diet
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine | 5 Ways a Vegan Diet Helps the Planet | https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/5-ways-vegan-diet-helps-planet
- Harwatt, H. et ali | Substituting Beans for Beef as a Contribution Toward US Climate Change Targest | https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-017-1969-1
- The Life of Dairy Cows | Compassion in World Farming | https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/5235185/The-Life-of-Dairy-cows.pdf
- Vidal, John | Factory Farms of Disease: How Industrial Chicken Production is Breeding the Next Pandemic | https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/18/factory-farms-of-disease-how-industrial-chicken-production-is-breeding-the-next-pandemic
- Healthline | Protein Intake: How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day? | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day
- Healthline | The 18 Best Protein Sources for Vegans | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
- Dove, Laurie | Do Plants Feel Pain? | https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/plants-feel-pain.htm
- NHS | Meat in Your Diet | https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/meat-nutrition/
- Great Vegan Athletes | Shelli Beecher-Seitzler, Vegan Bodybuilder | https://www.greatveganathletes.com/shelli-beecher-seitzler/
- Great Vegan Athletes | Top 19 Vegan Bodybuilders | https://www.greatveganathletes.com/category/vegan-bodybuilders/
- The Vegan Society | Veganism and Honey | https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan/honey-industry
- Healthline | 15 Foods That are Incredibly Filling | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-incredibly-filling-foods
- American Heart Association | Common Herbs and Spices: How to Use Them Deliciously | https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/cooking-skills/preparing/common-herbs-and-spices-how-to-use-them-deliciously
- Heart UK | Eating for Lower Cholesterol | https://www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/choose-low-cholesterol-foods
- McMacken, M., et ali | A Plant-Based Diet for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466941/
- RSPCA Assured | What is Veal | https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/farm-animal-welfare/beef-cattle/what-is-veal/
- Healthline | A Complete Vegan Meal Plan and Shopping List | https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-meal-plan