The Basics of Being Vegan
If you are considering transitioning into a vegan lifestyle, you may be wondering about the requirements of veganism, the reasons for being vegan and the challenges involved in such a move. Read on for some basics of veganism and suggestions for your transition.
Vegans generally abstain from eating or using any animal products. In terms of diet, that means avoiding red meats like beef, poultry like chicken, fish and shellfish, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, gelatine, honey and anything that contains these foods. Vegans focus instead on a diet filled with legumes, fruits, vegetables, breads, grains, rice, pasta, nuts and dairy alternatives like soy milk.
Some vegans also refrain from using non-food products derived from animals. They won’t, for instance, buy wool or leather, and they don’t purchase cosmetics that are made with animal ingredients or tested on animals. This means that committed vegans will make sure that the items of their daily lives do not contain anything that comes from animals.
Becoming a vegan is not a decision to be made lightly, but there are good reasons for doing so. First, a vegan diet offers many health benefits, including reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity. Vegan foods are highly nutritious, too, for they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Further, many vegans despise the suffering and exploitation that animals experience in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and they are committed to working for animal rights. Vegans are also concerned about the unhealthy abuses in the food industry and are determined to avoid as many of them as possible.
For all its benefits, veganism is not without its challenges. Transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, for instance, can be quite difficult. Vegan experts like Gale Tobin suggest a gradual transition that slowly cuts out animal products and replaces them with more and more vegan foods and products. This involves sampling new vegan foods and discovering favorites that you can easily work into your diet. Also, research vegan products to learn as much as you can about what works and what doesn’t. You might also begin by following a vegan diet for a couple meals each day.
Another common challenge for vegans is eating out or eating at a friend’s home. Restaurants are now offering many well-marked vegan choices on the menu. Things are a little trickier when you are a guest, however. Talk to your host about your diet ahead of time, and suggest contributing to the meal with a dish of your own.
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle takes time and commitment, but you may find it well worth the effort.
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