What Is a Vegan Diet?
If you’re looking for a way to live healthier, there are two ways to do so. You can go on a vegetarian or a vegan diet. Probably most are familiar that vegetarians avoid meat, poultry and fish in their diet. However, some are a bit confused to what a vegan is. What is a vegan diet exactly?
Veganism goes a step further than vegetarianism by not only avoiding meat but also not consuming and using other products that come from animals. Foods like eggs, milk and honey are not included in a vegan’s diet while they also refrain from using animal by-products such as wool, fur, silk, leather, soaps and make-up. Now that you’re aware of what is a vegan diet basically, you can now dwell on some details to help you decide if going vegan is right for you.
Why Go Vegan?
The reasons for going vegan are aplenty. However, vegans usually go through this path due to three main factors – personal health, care for the environment and ethical treatment of animals.
Food Staples for the Vegan
Though it is relatively easier to just be a meat-eater, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing to eat if you become a vegan. In fact, there are vegan alternatives for practically every kind of food there is.
For your dairy needs, you can go for milk made from almond, hemp, rice or soy. Daiya is a great way to enjoy the cheese flavor that, well, cheese gives without the dairy component. Like cream cheese and sour cream on your bread, try mock cream cheese like Tofutti.
A common and often annoying question that is asked most vegans and even vegetarians is where they get their protein. If protein is your only concern, there are lots of other sources aside from meat. Nuts and nut butters, seeds of chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower, all kinds of beans and some vegetables like edamame, broccoli and all leafy greens are excellent sources of protein. Non-dairy milk also provides protein as well as sun-dried tomatoes and quinoa. Now if your problem circles on missing the taste of burgers, steaks and other meat dishes, there is still a way to go vegan without skipping a beat. There are mock meats that don’t sway too far from the taste of the real thing. Seitan is a meat substitute that comes from wheat gluten. Tempeh (soybean-based), tofu and grain-based products from Field Roast are excellent meat alternatives. The Tofurkey is a great way to stay vegan during Thanksgiving Day while burgers made from beans or mushrooms can definitely give beef patties a run for their money.
What is a vegan diet for if there is no pasta involved, right? Good thing for pasta lovers, there are multigrain pasta that you can use to make your vegan version of the meatball spaghetti or the pasta puttanesca. Asians love their rice and it’s a great thing that it is not included in the vegan’s prohibition list. But if you truly want to eat healthy, go for brown rice instead. You can also enjoy other grains such as the protein-rich quinoa, couscous and wheat breads.
Your cupboard will not be complete without the following:
- Agar agar (substitute for gelatin)
- Agave or maple syrup (substitute for honey)
- Coconut oil
- Dried mushrooms
- Miso paste
- Nutritional yeast
- Tomato paste
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Vegetable broth
- Vegetable shortening (for baking)