Being Vegan

Being Vegan

Monday, 15th September 2014

Vegans, like anyone, can have an incredibly healthy diet – or not.
There are raw food vegans and junk food vegans, and a whole bunch in between.  Regardless of why you are vegan, it’s crucially important that you enjoy a wide and varied diet that contains enough protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils and essential fats.
Why be vegan?
People are vegan for widely differing reasons – from health problems to environmental issues to spiritual beliefs.  Some people are allergic to dairy and find they do not digest meats very well while others are against any kind of cruelty or killing of animals.
What do vegans avoid?
To call yourself a vegan, you will not eat any products from animals.  The obvious ones are as follows:
  • meat
  • fish
  • egg
  • milk
  • cream
  • butter
  • yogurt and similar products (crème fraiche and so on)
  • cheese
You will also avoid processed foods that contain lactose and gelatin.  If you are very strong in your beliefs, you may also avoid honey, as it is taken from bees, and you will check bodycare products for possible animal ingredients.  You will not wear leather shoes or belts or use leather bags.
All medicines in the UK must be tested on animals before they can be given or prescribed to people.  Although there are many alternatives to conventional medicine, vegans will generally take medicine when necessary.  Because, as my favourite line on the Vegan Society website says, ‘a dead vegan is no good to anyone’.
What does a vegan eat?

Vegans who understand nutrition and eat well often find they have lots of energy and vitality.  If you plan your diet properly (avoiding sugar and junk foods) and  eat beans, pulses, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, seaweed, cold pressed oils and essential fats, you will enjoy a diet rich in minerals and vitamins, high in fiber and full of antioxidants.  This is a great recipe to avoid common health problems like obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. 
Eating vegan does not mean a reliance on soya-based products.  Soya, with its phytoestrogens, should be kept to a minimum in the diet.  Phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogens, are not good in excess, especially for young children.  Substituting soya processed foods – like a soya sausage or cutlet – is not really the best way to eat anyway.  It may be an easy way to start and transition from eating meat, but ultimately, you will eat better if you change the way you think about your plate of food.  When you are vegetarian and vegan, the piece of meat or its substitute is no longer the center of the plate.
Can I be a gluten free vegan?
Yes, although it will further restrict your diet.  You can include gluten free grains like buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, brown rices (basmati, black, long, red Camargue, Jasmine, short grain and wild) and many raw products are excellent for vegans.
It might be interesting to try being vegan for a day, week or month and see how you feel.  There is a 7-day or 30-day pledge you can take with the Vegan Society and support if you are interested.  See


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