What Does it Mean to Be Vegan?

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There are many ways to describe a healthier lifestyle when it comes to how we eat. This is especially true when it comes to Vegan and Vegetarian eating styles. With so many mixed messages it can be nearly impossible to determine what Vegan is and what it is not.  To fully understand the concept of a vegan eating style, you need to go beyond what vegans consume and understand the motivation that drives them.

Understanding the Difference

The biggest difference between a Vegan eating style and that of a typical American diet is that Vegans do not consume animal products or animal derived products. Specifically, true Vegans don’t eat meat, fish, or dairy. Many vegans also shun animal products such as leather or any product that is somehow related to animals.  Their goal is not only healthy eating but more importantly, eliminating animal slaughter and doing something meaningful for the environment.  This stems from animal cruelty and the negative impact on the environment from raising, feeding, and destroying animals.  The vegan eating style simply means describes an individual that doesn’t consume: meat, fish, milk, dairy – such as yogurt butter and eggs, and products that can cause harm to animals during production.

vegan girlMany people mistakenly believe that Vegetarians and Vegans are the same. This is clearly not the case, but there are similarities. Vegetarians will consume animal related products such as eggs, milk, and dairy. Some even consume fish for protein.

What Makes Vegans Different

How can you tell a vegetarian from a vegan?  The biggest difference between vegans and vegetarians is that a vegan does not consume dairy which is an animal-derived food.  Vegetarians eat dairy products (milk, eggs, and cheese), Vegans do not.  In order to determine which lifestyle choice is best for you, consider your beliefs.  If you are focused on animal protection and minimizing the impact that meat and dairy industries have on the environment, then veganism is worth consideration.

If, on the other hand, you simply want to focus on better health, becoming vegetarian has its merits.  Many people eliminate meat from their diet because of the direct correlation to disease such as cancer and heart disease.  Additionally, some believe that going Vegan is extreme and difficult to adopt.  As a result, they may start by eliminating meat and then making additional changes as their comfort level increases.

Choosing to adopt a Vegan eating plan is not always easy but has the greatest impact on your health, the planet, and animal protection.  Many individuals find that once they commit to changing their eating style, they rapidly learn about healthy eating and see an immediate impact on health. Being vegan does require a little more meal planning and preparation. When heading down this path, many vegans discover how much they enjoy this process and reconnect with our natural instincts.  As humans we weren’t meant to have food at the click of a button or ring of the doorbell.  Making healthy eating an engaging and nurturing makes for an ideal lifestyle.

Making the transition

Some people are frightened by change or the prospect of having to go “all natural”. The good news is that vegetarian and vegan eating is now well developed. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and many boutique markets offer all-natural, organic products that support a healthy vegan lifestyle.  By watching videos and documentaries, reading about a vegan diet, and meeting other vegans, you can quickly learn what to eat and what not to eat.  This is the best and quickest way to start eating healthier and make positive changes in your eating plan.

Start by making small changes and focus on adding quality, organic, and natural foods to your daily eating. The key is to realize that you can eat anything but you want to start choosing natural foods that improve your health.  Begin by adding fruits and vegetables every day.  In just a short period of time you will stop craving processed foods. As they lose their hold, your tastes will change and making a healthy transition to plant-based foods will become increasingly easy.  When accepting this type of change you’ll quickly understand what it means to be vegan.

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