Hi everyone! I hope that you all had a fabulous holiday weekend and were able to relax and enjoy the last few days of summer. I spent the weekend in Indiana with friends and family and had an amazing time! My mother-in-law even surprised me by inviting my friend from Missouri that I haven’t seen in months! It was awesome because I miss her a lot since she moved. I tell you all that because that is partially why I am doing my normal Monday post on Wednesday. Because of Labor Day, I am pushing Monday’s post to today and I will post my normal recipe on Friday. So you’ll still get all the normal stuff, just a day later! Alright, let’s get to business!
Today I am going to go over the vegan lifestyle. Last week I talked about vegetarianism and briefly mentioned vegans, but this lifestyle needs a little more in-depth description. Just like vegetarians, vegans consume no meat, including fish, poultry, or pork. In addition, they also do not consume any animal by-products. This means they do not eat dairy or eggs, they don’t eat honey or gelatin, and they do not use any products that contain animal products or have been tested on animals. In the simplest sense, if anything has been made with some form of an animal, vegans will not eat or use it. Now, there are some people who only stick to a vegan diet rather than a vegan lifestyle. This means they won’t eat any animal products, but they may use products that do have animal in them. There are also some people that follow a raw vegan diet, meaning that they will not eat animals/animal products and will not consume food that has been cooked over 118 degrees F.
Just like last week, I am going to share my opinions on what is good/bad about the vegan lifestyle. Remember, these are only MY opinions. I am not a doctor/nutritionist/dietician, if you want more advice please talk with your doctor or another health professional. Let’s start with the good. I love the focus that veganism places on fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. I believe that everyone, whether vegan or not, needs to add these nutritional powerhouses to their diet. I also like that veganism helps shine a light on the way our diets and lives can affect the environment. The Standard American Diet does place a lot of strain on the environment. It takes a lot of resources, both natural and unnatural, to produce food for us to eat. It boggles my mind that 90% of the crops grown in this country are fed to livestock, and we only consume 10%. It also take a lot of land, water, and fuel to raise livestock for the population to consume. Vegans have done a good job of bringing this issue to light, and have even started a movement called Meatless Monday’s. The idea is that if we just had one day a week where we didn’t eat meat we could lessen the impact we have on the environment. It has become a rather large movement and has brought mindfulness to a lot of the American population.
On the flipside, the vegan lifestyle can be very intense, both in eating and ideals. In my years of learning and reading about different lifestyles, I have come across some very intense individuals. These people are the ones that think that their way is the ONLY way to live, and that everyone else is horrible for choosing to live some other way. Let me make this very clear, this is a very small population of vegans. In most cases vegans just want to promote healthier and more compassionate living. Sadly, the ones who are not like this can be very caustic and off-putting. They turn others away because no one likes to feel like they are being judged or feel guilty for making their own decisions. The vegan lifestyle can also be intense in other ways as well. After seeing everything that vegans don’t eat or use, it can seem like there is nothing left to use. This can turn people away or cause those just starting out to rely heavily on processed vegan products, which can be just as unhealthy as regular processed products. In truth, there are tons of healthy, delicious, and varied vegan meals and food. It just takes some research and trial and error in the beginning. If you do decide to go vegan, I suggest that you ease into the lifestyle rather than just jumping in fully. It’s much easier to slowly cut out all animal products over a long period of time than going cold turkey and living on salad for a year before realizing there are better things out there.
It is also very important that vegans monitor their vitamin and mineral intake to ensure they are getting the proper nutrients. The big vitamin that they need to make sure they get is B12. You can not get B12 from any plant-source, so if you go vegan you will need to supplement that into your diet. The good thing now is that veganism is becoming more and more mainstream. It might not be as popular as vegetarianism, but they are making good strides towards that. It is easier to find food at grocery stores and eating establishments that are fully vegan. Just be careful to not fall into the junk food vegan trap. You can still be unhealthy and vegan, there are plenty of mainstream products out there that are considered vegan. As long as you are aware of what you are putting into your mouth and body, you can make healthy and delicious vegan choices.
Overall I think that the vegan lifestyle can be a very good choice for a healthier life. That being said, it isn’t for everyone and that is ok! Some people will just never be able to go through life without eating meat or perhaps the thought of never cooking food makes their stomach turn. This is all ok, being healthy is about trying to find what works best for your body and life. Maybe you become a big supporter of the Meatless Monday movement and just cut animal products from your life for one day or maybe this lifestyle sounds right up your alley. If so, do your research, talk with your doctor and come up with a plan to start incorporating veganism into your life! I hope you all have a fabulous day and make sure you check back next Monday for my thoughts on the Paleo lifestyle.