“You are what you eat” and no more is that better exemplified than in a vegan diet. A vegan’s diet is entirely plant based meaning that anything that came from an animal is excluded. At first, a vegan diet plan can be daunting and seem very restrictive but with a little knowledge, imagination and alternative sourcing of foodstuffs, it quickly becomes clear that vegans can eat just as well as meat and dairy eaters with the added bonuses of being much healthier and more conscientious.
What Does a Vegan Eat?
As long as it’s plant based and hasn’t been processed in anyway by animal products, then it’s good for a vegan. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses, and seeds are obvious sources of vegan food but many substitutes exist and are constantly emerging and improving for traditionally meat and dairy based foods. So no, it’s not all just salads and lentils for vegans.
Soya provides a wonderful vegan alternative to meat, both red and white, and can take the place of such meat based foods as mince, fillets, sausages, and burgers. Likewise, tofu can provide an equally satisfying meat substitute in meat based recipes, especially in Asian foods such as Indian and Chinese cuisine.
Dairy products like milk are replaced in a vegan diet plan by products like soy milk or almond milk. Cheese substitutes do remain somewhat of a holy grail in vegan foods but there are plenty of clever recipes out there that have succeeded in replicating the taste and feel of cheese in various dishes.
Preparing a Vegan Diet Plan
A vegan diet plan can be surprisingly varied to those unfamiliar with the lifestyle. There is such a thing as vegan junk food for example but then there are also vegans who prefer to eat only raw vegetables and fruits. The vegan diet is entirely dependent on the individual’s preferences and lifestyle aims.
While the vegan diet can provide substitutes for any kind of meat or dairy based products, it is important that a vegan carefully checks ingredients in common products such as pastries, wines, and many sweets and desserts that contain gelatine. A quick way of being sure is if a product has a “V” mark on it, signifying that it contains no animal products or has undergone any processing involving animal products. A vegan should never be afraid to enquire while eating out at an establishment as to whether a dish is vegan friendly or not.
It’s also important that a vegan doesn’t fall under the misapprehension that converting to the lifestyle instantly guarantees a balanced and healthy diet. Vegan food is rich in fibre, vitamin C, and folates thanks to the plant based diet but there are other vitamins and minerals that could be lacking in the vegan diet if one isn’t vigilant over their intake. Vitamin B12, which we use to produce fresh red blood cells, is a good example as it’s very prevalent in fish and dairy products but could be lacking in a vegan diet if fortified cereals and soya products aren’t being regularly consumed.
It’s not all about filling in the gaps left by meat and dairy products, though. A lack of protein often seems to a big concern for someone considering veganism but many don’t know that most non-vegan people are often “overdosing” on protein. Vegetables, pulses, and nuts are great sources of protein and deliver much healthier amounts of it than meat or dairy products often do.
Where Do You Get Vegan Food?
The same places that everyone else does… mostly. Obviously, a vegan isn’t going to find much that appeals at the local butcher but anywhere that sells or serves fruit and vegetables in some form is going offer something to vegans. There are also plenty of bespoke food shops, restaurants, and even bars and pubs that are increasingly amiming their business towards vegetarians and vegans, so try to locate them and support them with your custom if you’re engaged in the vegan lifestyle.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about the vegan diet is how cost effective it is. Because meat and dairy products are so commonplace in our society, many people fail to realise how expensive those products are due to the costlier methods and transport used to produce them compared to basic fruit and vegetables that can make up the bulk of a vegan’s diet.
The vegan diet isn’t something that should be feared or seen as a chore, it’s something that should be embraced and enjoyed, just as food should be. It may require that little bit more vigilance and care but if you’ve taken the decision to be a vegan then you know the benefits of a vegan diet far outweigh those factors. Vegan food is good food: for you and for all life in this world.