In today’s modern world, there is a rapid increase in the number of individuals that are starting to adapt to a vegan lifestyle.
This is due to the rise in awareness about the impact of our food consumption on both the environment we live in, as well as our wellbeing.
While eating healthy and ethically isn’t too difficult if you decide to stick to a certain category of foods, it’s often the process of getting there which is overwhelming for many of us.
We live in an on-the-go, fast-paced world; therefore, people often tend to prioritize convenience and ease over quality.
This can leave their diets lacking the required nutrition and nourishment. If you are someone who desires to embark on a journey to veganism, however aren’t sure just how to go about the process, we are here to help you out.
Use our following extensive vegan diet guide to understand what veganism is all about, and how it can benefit you.
- 1 A Short History of Veganism
- 2 Benefits of Going Vegan
- 2.1 Health Benefits
- 2.2 Environmental Benefits
- 2.3 Other Benefits
- 3 Why Should You Go Vegan?
- 4 Vegan Substitutes to Ordinary Food
- 4.1 Vegan Egg Substitutes
- 4.2 Vegan Milk Substitutes
- 4.3 Vegan Honey Substitutes
- 5 Other Vegan Products
- 6 Conclusion
A Short History of Veganism
The practice of veganism can be traced back to 3300 – 1300 BCE, Indus Valley Civilization in the Indian subcontinent.
Within the Indian subcontinent, the practice was more popular particularly among the natives of western and northern ancient India.
Indian philosophers such as the Tamil poet Valluvar, Acharya Kundakunda, the Indian emperors Ashoka and Chandragupta, Mahavira, the Roman poet Ovid, the playwright Seneca the Younger, and Greek philosophers such as Theophrastus, Plotinus, Porphyry, Plutarch, and Empedocles were all part of the early vegetarian movement.
While the Greek philosopher Pythagoras advocated strict vegetarianism, his way of living was quite uncertain.
Therefore, whether he ever supported vegetarianism in any form is still disputed. However, he certainly almost forbade his followers from wearing woolen garments and consuming beans.
One student of Plato and Archytas, Eudoxus of Cnidus, wrote that, “Pythagoras was distinguished by such purity and so avoided killing and killers that he not only abstained from animal foods, but even kept his distance from cooks and hunters.”
In the 19th century, vegetarianism was established as a significant movement in the United States and Britain. There was a small number of individuals who avoided animal-based products entirely.
he poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, published a book in 1813 called A Vindication of Natural Diet. The book advocated abstinence from spirituous liquor and animal-based foods.
Later, a London physician, William Lambe introduced a water and vegetable diet in 1815, claiming that it could cure anything from acne to tuberculosis. Lambe labeled animal-based edible products as habitual irritation.
The meatless Graham diet introduced by Sylvester Graham contained mostly homemade bread made using stoneground flour, water, vegetables, and fruit.
This diet gained popularity in the United Stated in 1830s as a natural health remedy. Around this time, a lot of vegan communities were established.
Famous author Louisa May Alcott’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, started a Temple School in 1834 in Massachusetts and Fruitlands in 1844.
A vegan community called Concordium was founded by James Pierrepont Graves in England in 1838 at Alcott House on Ham Common.
Benefits of Going Vegan
Abstaining from the usage of animal-based products comes with many benefits.
For starters, going vegan is known to help individuals maintain a healthy heart, lose weight, protect the environment, and more. Here are some health and environmental benefits of going vegan that you should know about:
Rich in Certain Nutrients
Switching from a typical Western diet to a vegan diet allows you to eliminate animal and meat products from your meals. Inevitably, this practice will lead you to rely on non-dairy products more heavily.
When you are on a whole-foods vegan diet, the substitutes are usually vegetables, fruits, nuts, peas, seeds, beans and whole grains.
As these foods form a bigger proportion of your diet than dairy goods, they contribute highly to your intake of beneficial nutrients.
According to recent studies, vegan diets provide more antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds and fiber. They are also richer in folate, vitamins E, C and A, potassium and magnesium.
However, in order to benefit from these nutritious elements, it is important for your vegan meals to be well-planned.
Poorly prepared vegan meals may provide insufficient amounts of zinc, iodine, calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids.
Base your meals around fortified foods and nutrient-rich whole plants and stay away from fast-food and nutrition-poor options.
Promotes Weight Loss
A lot of people turn to plant-based foods in the hope and desire of shedding some pounds. According to many observational studies, vegans tend to have lower body mass indexes than non-vegans.
Moreover, vegan diets are also oftentimes more effective when it comes to weight loss as compared to other types of diets that include animal products. Vegan diets tend to naturally reduce your calorie intake.
Therefore, they are more effective at encouraging weight loss without requiring consumers to lessen their serving portions.
Protects Against Certain Cancers
The World Health Organization states that diet control can help prevent about 33.33% of all types of cancer by factors.
For example, incorporating legumes in your diet might reduce your risk factor of getting colorectal cancer by approximately 9 – 18 %.
Additionally, research also suggests that consuming a minimum of seven portions of vegetables and fresh fruits a day can help lower your risk of death from cancer by 15%.
It is an undeniable fact that vegans generally consume considerably more vegetables, fruits and legumes than non-vegans.
Moreover, vegan diets usually consist of more soy-based products that offer some level of protection against breast cancer.
Individuals who avoid eating animal products also tend to be at lower risk of suffering from colon, breast and prostate cancer. The reason for these benefits might be that vegan diets don’t contain any processed or smoked meats.
It is important to understand that this entire analysis is observational in nature. Therefore, it is quite impossible to know the exact reason why people who consume vegan diets have a lower risk of cancer.
Improves Kidney Function and Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Going vegan might benefit patients suffering from declining kidney function or type-2 diabetes. Vegans tend to have higher insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and less risk of developing diabetes.
According to recent studies, vegan diabetics benefit from lower blood sugar levels more than diabetics who consume a non-vegan diet. Diabetics who replace meat with plant protein are also known to reduce their risk of weak kidney function.
Additionally, vegan diets also might be able to provide relief from symptoms of distal polyneuropathy which is a condition that causes burning pains in diabetics.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Eating legumes, vegetables and fruits is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is important that you consume all these vegan products in well-planned diets as well as sufficient amount.
According to some observational studies, vegans might benefit from up to a 75% lower risk of suffering from high blood pressure and have up to a 42% lower chance of dying from cardiovascular problems.
Vegan diets are believed to be much more effective when it comes to reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Vegans also tend to consume a higher amount of nuts and whole grains, both of which are beneficial for your heart health.
Helps Reduce Global Warming
Global environment has faced many serious threats in human history; however, global warming is on top of them all.
Major environmental organizations have tried to completely focus on carbon dioxide emissions but they have failed to explain published data that shows that there are many other gases that are the mainly responsible for the global warming issues we face today.
According to the United Nations, raising animals for food production results in excess generation of greenhouse gases which is far more than any gases generated by all the trucks and cars combined in the world.
Therefore, you should know that by consuming a vegan diet, you are playing a small part in reducing global warming in the world.
Helps Reduce Production of Methane / Nitrous Oxide
Sheep and cows alone are responsible for a whopping 37% of the entire methane that is generated through the human activity!
As methane emissions cause nearly 50% of the human-induced warming on the planet, it is essential to make methane reduction a priority.
64% of ammonia that contributes greatly to acid rain and 65% of human-related nitrous oxide is generated through the livestock industry.
Along with the benefit of reducing global warming, adapting a vegan lifestyle helps shift away from food sources that emit methane. This process is way easier than trying to cut carbon dioxide.
Helps Conserve Water
As compared to plant-based foods, animal products need a large amount of clean water to remain fresh and sustain. This is a major drawback for locations that face water scarcity.
Not only do animals need fresh water to drink but they also need to clean and wash themselves and their surrounding habitat. This results in extreme consumption of water.
According to Stanford Magazine, producing a pound of grain protein requires 100 times less water than producing a pound of animal protein.
It also requires large amounts of clean water to prepare food with dairy products for human consumption. The Water Footprint Network states that the production of one gallon of milk requires almost 1,000 gallons of clean water!
Helps Protect Animal Species and Their Habitats
One factor that contributes the most to habit loss and extinction is animal agriculture.
Approximately 3.1 billion hectares are utilized around the globe for dairy and meat production. Livestock grazing in result increases soil erosion and ruins native vegetation.
Now, in order to make the lands available, processes called desertification and deforestation occur.
These processes don’t only contribute actively to the destruction of plants and trees that were available to store carbon dioxide but also to the extinction of species such as sloths and red pandas.
Consuming a vegan diet allows individuals to play their part in protecting animal species and their habitats.
Saves the Bees
People who follow a vegan lifestyle understand that it goes without the usage of honey.
This practice greatly impacts the population of bees in the world. Bees are considered as one of the most important flying insect species in the world.
Around 250,000 flowering plant species rely on bees for the process of pollination. Vegetable and fruit stocks would actually deplete without bees.
Around 550 bees are required to gather a single pound of honey. Thankfully there are plenty of vegan substitutes for all the honey-lovers out there.
Helps Improve Mood
Several studies suggest that people who eat whole foods show fewer symptoms of depression. Typically, vegetarians experience more positive moods as compared to meat-eaters.
According to the nutritionist, Geeta Sidhu Robb, “The elimination of long chain fatty acids, predominantly arachidonic acid which is present in meat and is associated with symptoms of depression, means you are less at risk of suffering from it. Vegan diets also have more complex carbohydrates present which increase the feel good hormone serotonin in the brain.”
Helps You Take a Stand against Animal Testing
A lot of people in this modern world are well aware of the cruelty and brutality involved in animal testing processes and they are completely against the practice.
Animal testing is not only unreliable but also supports animal abuse. While it is difficult for a common man to protest against such barbarism, they can certainly boycott the practice by making simple changes in their lifestyle.
Since veganism doesn’t allow for any kind of animal exploitation, purchasing beauty products that are vegan guarantees that you aren’t supporting animal testing.
Helps Promote the Usage of Natural Ingredients
Our bodies absorb around 60% of the skincare and body products we use and the products end up entering our bloodstream.
A lot of brands use parabens and phthalates in their recipes. Not only can these ingredients interfere with your reproduction and development processes but they can also cause neurological issues.
Additionally, they can also have negative effects on your immune and nervous systems.
While all vegan beauty brands do not use natural ingredients in their products, the majority of them do. They use ingredients such as essential oils, plant extracts and real flowers to produce their vegan cosmetic goods.
Not only do these natural ingredients eliminate the health risks linked to chemical-based substances but they also provide multiple health benefits.
For instance, witch hazel helps in skin hydration, oats help treat irritated skin conditions such as eczema and green tea can help repair damage from sun.
Promotes Healthy Skin
A plant-based diet helps your skin stay healthy and effectively boosts your beauty regime. A lot of studies link dairy products to skin problems such as acne.
Dairy goods consist of growth hormones. Oftentimes artificial hormones are also used to treat them. However, these hormones are capable of interfering with the hormone system of your body.
Moreover, dairy is also believed to disrupt insulin levels which can increase the chances of acne. A lot of individuals give credit to their vegan lifestyle for their gorgeous, youthful looks.
Sustainability is prioritized by many vegan fashion brands. Some brands even use food waste to manufacture their vegan products.
For instance, the pineapple leather used by the footwear brand No Saints is produced using pineapple leaf fibers. These fibers are actually a by-product of all the pineapples harvested and they would go to waste otherwise.
Why Should You Go Vegan?
Here are three main reasons to go vegan:
For the Environment
While there are some simple ways to enjoy a greener life such as cycling to work or recycling all your household wastage, one of the most effective step you can take to lower your carbon footprint is the world is avoid all kinds of animal-based products.
The production of animal products including meat places extremely heavy burden on our precious environment.
Meat production requires a huge amount of grain feed which can be a significant contributor to harmful processes such as deforestation.
Sustaining a vegan diet on the other hand considerably requires lower quantities of water and crops. Therefore, one of most effective, easy and enjoyable ways to play your part in saving the environment you live in is switching to veganism.
For Your Health
Vegan diets that are planned well follow healthy eating standards and provide all the nourishment that our bodies require.
Both the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and British Dietetic Association state that a healthy vegan diet is suitable for all the stages of every individual’s life.
Some studies link vegan diets with low cholesterol and blood pressure along with lower rates of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and type-2 diabetes.
Going vegan enables you to learn more about cooking and nutrition. It also helps you greatly improve your eating patterns.
Moreover, health-promoting options such as vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits and whole grains allow you to get nutrients from plant-based foods that are fully packed with beneficial minerals, vitamins and fibers.
For the Animals
For many individuals, the key factor to going vegan remains preventing animal exploitation. One part of that being the main reason might be emotional attachment with animals.
However, many individuals believe that every sentient creature in the world has the right to freedom and live.
Keeping the specifics aside, one of the most obvious ways to stand against animal exploitation and cruelty are avoiding animal products altogether.
Vegan Substitutes to Ordinary Food
Oftentimes it can be a challenge for vegans to find a recipe that not only they want to use but also matches their dietary restrictions.
That is where vegan substitutes to ordinary foods come in! If you get creative, you can easily create main dishes and fancy desserts that are just as delicious as their non-vegan counterparts.
Here are some vegan substitutes to ordinary foods that will make switching to a vegan diet extremely easy and convenient:
Vegan Egg Substitutes
Bananas are great for vegan baking. The ratio comes down to 1 banana in replacement of 1 egg.
Bananas have a fibrous nature which allows them to work as a binding agent for your baked goods.
However, the texture of the baked food might turn out to be a little thicker than expected. Consider mashing the bananas thoroughly before you add them to other ingredients.
When we talk about substitutes for eggs, it can’t get any simpler than applesauce!
One egg can be replaced with around 3 to 4 tablespoons of applesauce for your baked goods. However, you need to remember that applesauce has some acidity and sweetness to it that eggs don’t have.
Therefore, it might be best to adjust the quantity of any other sweetener you are planning to add in your recipe.
Pie fillings and purees make ideal replacements for dairy eggs in dump cakes.
They work as a binding agent in baked foods. Additionally, you can improvise with your vegan recipes by adding different flavors of purees and fillings and creating unique dishes.
While commercial egg replacers have been popular in the vegan market for decades, recently more and more brands have started producing these vegan substitutes.
Usually, egg replacers are available in a powdered form. Once you add water to them, they turn thick and sticky.
Silken tofu is one of the most all-encompassing substitutes for eggs. Other substitutes mentioned in this list are mostly suitable for baking only.
However, you can easily create a scrumptious variation of scrambled eggs by seasoning and combining tofu with just the right spices and ingredients.
If you are a regular baker, you must be well aware of what flegg is.
It is a gooey mixture of flax seeds and water which is placed in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or more until the mixture becomes egg-like and thick.
The composition of aquafaba or chickpea brine makes it a perfect replacement for eggs both in terms of texture and flavor. Moreover, aquafaba is budget-friendly and you can use it to make vegan meringue!
Vegan Milk Substitutes
Pea milk is a kind of plant milk which is produced using pea protein. The protein is made of yellow peas.
Typically, commercial pea milk is enriched with beneficial vitamins and it comes in unsweetened, sweetened, chocolate and vanilla flavors.
This is a popular non-dairy substitute of cow’s milk. It is made with water and whole cashews. Cashew milk has a rich and creamy consistency.
It is loaded with healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and other plant compounds that are beneficial to our health. It is available in sweetened and unsweetened varieties.
As the name suggests, the main ingredient used to produce rice milk is rice. Typically, commercial rice is manufactured using the syrup of brown rice and brown rice itself.
The milk may be flavored by ingredients like chocolate or vanilla and may be sweetened using either sugar or vegan sugar substitutes.
Hemp seed milk or hemp milk is plant-based milk produced with hemp seeds. The hemp seeds are first soaked in water then ground.
Hemp milk resembles cow’s milk in flavor, color and texture. It is conductive to being grown and labeled organically. Hemp milk might be additionally flavored or sweetened.
Soy milk is also referred to as soya milk or soymilk. It is a plant-based beverage which is produced by grinding and soaking soybeans.
The mixture is then boiled and all excess particulates are filtered out. Soy milk is a stable emulsion of protein, water and oil.
This plant-based milk is manufactured using almonds. It has a nutty flavor and a creamy texture. Some brands or types are flavored to mimic the taste of dairy milk.
Oat milk is derived from whole oat grains. The plant material is extracted with water. This milk has an oatmeal-like flavor and milky texture. It is produced in different flavors such as chocolate or vanilla.
Vegan Honey Substitutes
Agave nectar, also commonly known as agave syrup is a sweetener used in replacement of honey.
Agave nectar is produced commercially from various agave species including Agave salmiana and Agave tequilana.
Dandelion Flower Syrup
The dandelion flower syrup is made from the nutritious herbs, dandelions! It is a great honey substitute for individuals who are looking to enjoy the delicious sweetness of honey while staying loyal to their vegan diets.
Maple syrup is made from the xylem sap of red maple, black maple and sugar maple trees. It can also be produced using other maple species.
In places such as Canada, for syrups to quality as maple syrup, they have to be manufactured from maple sap exclusively and should contain at least 66% sugar.
Date syrup, also commonly known as date molasses or date honey is a thick, very sweet, dark brown fruit syrup. It is extracted from dates and is widely used in Middle Eastern and North African cooking.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is also commonly referred to as rice malt or rice syrup. This sweetener is rich in sugar compounds.
To produce brown rice syrup, first cooked rice starch is steeped with saccharifying enzymes. This process is conducted to break down the starches.
Then, the liquid is strained off and reduced by evaporative heating until the consistency of honey is reached.
Barley Malt Syrup
This unrefined sweetener is processed by extraction from malted i.e. sprouted barley which contains around 3% protein, 30% complex carbohydrates and 65% maltose.
Barley malt syrup is thick, dark brown and sticky, making it an ideal substitute for non-vegan honey.
This heavy, dark and sweet syrup is made by squeezing sorghum cane juice and cooking it until the right consistency is achieved.
Other Vegan Products
Faux leather also commonly known as vegan leather is essentialy a fake material that mimics real leather but doesn’t use real animal skin.
Vegan leather is manufactured using a variety of materials including natural ones such as cork and synthetics such as plastic.
Some of the most commonly utilized materials to produce synthetic leathers are polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride. Both of these materials are plastic-based. This explains another term ‘pleather’ used for fake leather.
Vegan cosmetics are products that don’t contain any type of animal-derived or animal-based ingredients.
The ingredients include but aren’t limited to gelatin, carmine, albumen, collagen, lanolin, beeswax, honey and many more.
While many individuals think that the term vegan also indicates that cosmetics are free from any sort of animal testing, this is far from the truth. Vegan production doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is cruelty free.
We understand how taking a step towards adopting a vegan lifestyle can be extremely overwhelming for some. However, remember that small changes can help you make big differences.
We hope that our extensive vegan diet guide helped answer a lot of your major questions regarding the subject and eliminate any doubts that you had.
Remember, as long as you plan your vegan diet well and follow all healthy eating standards, you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle in no time!Last updated on: