So you have decided you might go vegan, but are wondering how to start?
There are numerous reasons people think about becoming vegan, but generally, the most common ones are:
- For health and nutrition
- As a commitment to social justice and welfare of animals
- For environmental reasons
- And finally, combining all of the above into a logical decision
What is a Vegan
First off, let’s actually give a description of what being a vegan is and isn’t.
I’ll give you the definition from the Vegan Society.
A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
So What do Vegan’s Eat?
If you ask a non vegan, they generally think that vegan’s meals consist of nothing but vegetables, similar to the image at the top of this post. However, while vegan food consists of plant based ingredients, there is a World of possibilities open to those wishing to find it, including versions of most traditional meat and dairy based meals and foods, including some you may not even think possible.
Below is just a simple example of what you can eat as a vegan, this image, is courtesy of the Cheeky Chickpea and her Best Vegan Burger Recipe.
But there is so much more you can enjoy, the choice really is limitless, even if you want to maintain a semblance of your previous carnivore diet, there are realistic tasting and textured options available.
You may think vegan’s eat a lot of tofu (some do), but it doesn’t have to be the bland, boring, spongy thing you may have come across previously, take a look at the image below to see just one of the possibilities that tofu can open up, courtesy of It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken.
Maybe you feel like some brisket, dry rubbed, smoked and cooked on the bbq?
Yep, you can do that too and entirely plant based.
These are just a couple of examples to prove that you don’t have to give up your traditional meal choices to become a vegan. Now many do, but for others, the thought of what they think they can’t eat, often gets in the way of making the decision to go vegan.
What About Protein?
This is another common myth about being vegan and something I get asked so often. People are under the illusion that you need to eat animal meat or products to get protein. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Proteins are made up of the same 22 amino acids. Of the 22 amino acids humans use, 9 of them are considered “essential” and the rest are “non essential.” Just because the rest are non-essential, it doesn’t mean we don’t need them. It just means that our bodies can produce them on their own from the essential amino acids. Our bodies cannot create essential amino acids, so we need to get these from food sources.
In terms of components, there is no difference between animal and plant proteins. They are both made up of amino acids, and they both contain the same 22 amino acids. This means that you don’t need to worry about missing out on protein on a vegan diet.