You may have friends who are vegan. No, it’s not a religion or a nationality. So, what does it truly mean to live the vegan lifestyle?
Have you ever heard one of your friends describe their vegan lifestyle? Did you understand what they were saying?
There’s a lot of common misunderstandings out there about vegans. Most people tend to lump them together with vegetarians and think there’s no major difference. But vegans and vegetarians are very different from one another.
We talk a lot about diets here on IsThisThatFood.com, but make no mistake, veganism is not a diet or a fad. Veganism is a lifestyle that many people the world over are choosing to live.
So, what is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan? Does a vegan diet have health benefits?
What is Veganism?
A vegan is defined as a person who does not eat or use animal products.
So, a vegetarian, right?
Vegetarians refrain from eating meat. They live a meatless existence. And so do vegans. Meat is one of the biggest no-nos in a vegan’s life. So, what’s the difference?
Go back and re-read that first sentence.
That means a vegan does not eat anything that comes from an animal. This includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and all dairy as well as eggs. Vegans live a more natural lifestyle, consuming only food that grows in nature.
So, why do people do it?
A lot of vegans choose to follow this lifestyle because of moral reasons. They abhor not just the treatment and killing of animals for meat, but the ordeal that animals like cows and chickens are put through in the process of retrieving eggs and making milk.
Others flock to the vegan life for health reasons.
What are the Health Benefits of Being Vegan?
For starters, vegans take in more of certain nutrients. Since they’re typically eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, peas, seeds, nuts, and beans vegans will have a lot more fiber in their diet.
Vegans also tend to have diets rich in magnesium, folate, potassium, and several vitamins including A, C, and E. That only occurs when following a mostly natural and “whole” vegan diet. If you don’t watch what you’re eating you might lose out on fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, and B12 vitamins.
Vegans also tend to see weight loss, but that is not the intention of the vegan lifestyle. Vegans often see more weight loss that individuals who are counting calories or on a strict diet.
Proper kidney function and blood sugar levels are also benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Vegans have been known to have a 78% lower risk of developing type two diabetes.
The World Health Organization believes that diet can be one of the major factors that will help you prevent 1/3 of all cancers. Legumes, fruits, and vegetables are all recommended, and these are foods that vegans eat in droves. That’s why studies have shown a 15% lower risk in vegans of developing cancer.
What can Vegans Eat?
Obviously, meat is the first thing to go. Any meat or meat by-product is completely off the table for a vegan. This also includes fish, which many vegetarians still eat.
I mentioned dairy and eggs earlier as animal byproducts, but those are just the two most common instances. There are many others.
For example, gelatin is made using meat byproducts. Honey comes from the hard work of bees, and most vegans won’t eat that either.
A lot of vegans take their lifestyle beyond food and refuse to support any product that comes from an animal. This can include fur, leather, silk, and various forms of red dye.
We’ve tackled some vegan-related questions here on IsThisThatFood. Check out these foods below and see what’s vegan and what isn’t.