Discover what it means to be a vegan, how to go vegan, and what to expect in the beginning…
What is a Vegan?
A vegan is someone who abstains from consuming any animal products including meat (beef, pork), fish, poultry (chicken, turkey), dairy products, or eggs. Most vegans also avoid honey. Instead, vegans eat a variety of vegetables, grains, beans, fruits, and other plant-based foods.
Vegans also usually steer clear from wearing leather, down, wool, silk or other fur / animal by-products.
When someone becomes aware of the abuse heaped upon animals in the name of human entertainment, as a vegan they often decide to skip those traditional past-times as well. This includes circuses, zoos, marine parks, rodeos, dog racing, horse racing, bullfights, and other animal-related forms of entertainment.
And it’s a safe bet that you probably will not meet a vegan who carries a hunting or fishing license.
Oh and if someone still consumes cow dairy products or eggs, they are not a vegan — they are a vegetarian. And if someone consumes fish or chicken, they are not a vegetarian. They are an omnivore, someone who likes their vegetables, or someone who doesn’t eat beef (“red meat”) or pork (“the other white meat”).
So why would someone decide to go vegan?
The number one reason is due to one’s desire not to indirectly or directly cause any harm to animals. Other reasons include dietary or environmental, which are often just party bonuses for main reason not to harm animals.
A person who decides to go vegan is making a conscious choice to live a compassionate and cruelty-free lifestyle. To many vegans, it doesn’t seem like a choice at all. It just feels like the right or only thing to do.
How to Go Vegan
Most people who decide to forego animal products go about it gradually. Perhaps they decide to eliminate just certain types of foods from their diet (e.g., beef and pork). Maybe they just increase the amount of vegetables and grains consumed and reduce the amount of meat. Or maybe they go cold turkey (pardon the pun) and give it all up overnight. Or their approach falls somewhere in between. Maybe they can give up meat but not seafood right away. Or perhaps they can give up all of the meat and seafood, eggs and the dairy — except for cow cheese.
There is no right or wrong way. And it’s not about being perfect. Every step made away from consuming animal products is a positive step to take for your health, for the planet, and of course, for the animals.
What to Expect When You First Go Vegan
So you’ve decided to go vegan — or at least give it a try for a while and see how it goes. Here’s what you can expect:
- A lot of questions from well-meaning friends and family members who suddenly seem very concerned about your nutrition.
- A few possibly awkward moments at barbecues, parties, and other food-centered holiday gatherings. It might be a good idea to get into the habit of bringing your own veggie contribution to share or carry an emergency munchie stash.
- Some challenges in finding something to eat on restaurant menus and at venues (but it’s really getting a lot easier all of the time).
- Adjustments in shopping habits. Just as with everything, once that becomes the new habit you don’t need to put a lot of thought into it.
- Some weight loss, increased energy, and improved complexion / hair / nails.
- Plenty of additional ah-ha moments.
Although it can require some adjustments and a little bit of research and experimentation at first, going vegan (or mainly vegan) is not difficult at all. And the rewards all the way around are definitely worth making the effort.