Frequently Asked Questions about Vegan Diets
What does vegan mean?
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
What do vegans eat?
Vegans eat plants and foods made with plants. Plants include fruits, vegetables, legumes (like beans, lentils, and peas), nuts, and seeds. Pasta with marinara sauce, falafels, bean chili, bean burritos, and tacos are vegan.
Vegans don’t eat foods made with animal products.
Vegan food is not healthy, unprocessed, sugar-free, gluten-free, clean, natural, organic, or low calorie.
It only means that it doesn't contain animal products - nothing more, nothing less. A vegan diet can be all of these things or none of these things.
Animal products are meat, like chicken, duck, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, deer, and fish. It also includes these animals’ secretions, like eggs, milk, and honey. By extension, it includes anything made with eggs, milk, and honey, like
- Mayonnaise (made with eggs)
- Cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, yogurt, ice cream, and butter (made with milk)
- Chicken and beef broth (made from meat and bones of chickens and cows)
- Gelatin (made by boiling animal skin, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and/or bones of cows, pigs, or fish in water)
But guess what? There are plant-based alternatives to most of these items. Check out the entire list of vegan substitutes.
What's the difference between plant-based and vegan?
This is a question without a clear answer. Unlike the definition for vegan that has existed for decades, plant-based is a newer term.
From what I’ve noticed, each person who uses it, defines it differently. Although you would think that they are interchangeable, they aren't. Some vegans use the term plant-based because they don't want to be associated with vegans. Some vegetarians call themselves plant-based.
What do vegetarians eat?
Vegetarians don’t eat animal flesh, but they do eat the secretions of animals, like eggs and milk. By extension, they also eat foods made with eggs and milk (like butter, yogurt, mayonnaise, and ice cream).
My friend says she’s vegan, but she eats fish. Is she really vegan?
No. Vegans do not eat any animal products. Your friend is a a pescetarian.
What is whole-foods plant-based
A whole-foods plant-based vegan diet is the healthiest diet a vegan can eat. It is focused on whole foods or plants in their natural form and limits processed foods.
Why do people go vegan?
People go vegan for different reasons and stay vegan for different reasons. I have spoken to many people who began eating a vegan diet because of health reasons. They later learned about the animal suffering that’s inherent in factory farming, and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. I became vegan after learning about factory farming.
Is being vegan expensive?
Being vegan can be as expensive as you make it. Many of the plant-based meat alternatives are expensive. But, most vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains aren't. In some instances it’s less expensive to buy frozen vegetables and fruit. Sometimes fresh vegetables aren’t that much more expensive than frozen.
Some of the most inexpensive foods you can buy are beans, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and rice. These simple ingredients are the foundation of many international meals. Indian and African cuisine transforms plants into delicacies. It’s all about the flavor you impart through sauces and seasoning.
Health and Nutrition
Is being vegan healthy?
Eating a whole-foods plant-based vegan diet is healthy. One of the best things you can do for your health is eat more plants. They are full of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Patients with chronic diseases who adopt whole-foods plant-based diets often experience significant improvement, even reversal.
Will I lose weight if I go vegan?
Maybe. Maybe not. Eating animal products does not make you gain weight. Eating vegetables doesn’t make you lose weight. You gain weight because you eat more calories than your body requires at rest (basal metabolic rate). You lose weight because you are eating fewer calories (caloric deficit). You can lose weight eating any food. Wanting to lose weight is not a good reason to adopt a vegan diet.
Isn't soy bad for you?
How do vegans get their protein?
Plants! Protein is present in all plant foods. All of them, in fact. Beans, tofu, tempeh, and seitan shine in this area. Eat the rainbow and a variety of plants each week. If you’re eating enough calories, more than likely you’re eating enough protein. We need far less protein than the milk and animal industry has taught us since we were children.
Is a vegan diet deficient in essential nutrients?
The primary supplement that is necessary on a vegan diet is Vitamin B12. Since Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria, it doesn’t need to be obtained from animal products. You can take this as a pill or in liquid form.
You can get adequate protein through beans, soy foods, seitan, nuts, and seeds.
You can get calcium from the same source that animals get it, from dark leafy greens.
You can get Omega-3 fats from nuts and around flaxseeds.
You should use your own blood panel results in collaboration with your doctor to determine what supplements you need. You may be surprised at how normal they will be while eating a whole-food plant-based died.
What do I cook for my vegan friend/family member?
Read this article: How to Cook for a Vegan.