What is the Vegan Lifestyle?

What is the Vegan Lifestyle?

The word vegan has been around for over 70 years, and was coined by the founder of the Vegan Society Donald Watson. It’s interesting that a word that has been around for so long is finally gaining traction. People are finally hearing this strange and possibly unfamiliar word after it has been around for so long. So, what is the vegan lifestyle?

VeganDefinition of Veganism 

Veganism is the lifestyle of abstaining from all animal derived products as practicably as possible. It means compassion and nonviolence. It means that if we don’t need it to survive, we should not put the suffering of sentient beings above our wants. 

One of the very few examples that I can think of is medication. If you are on a drug regimen that keeps you from being bed ridden, or suffering severe consequences, and you have tried every vegan option out there, then it is not practicable for you yourself to suffer when the medication is there to take.

 

Which Aspect of the Vegan Lifestyle Makes the Most Impact

There are many different aspects to the vegan lifestyle, so which one will make the most impact to reduce the suffering of innocent beings, help the planet the most, and turn your life into something even more positive? Food is the answer to that question. Everything we do revolves around food. Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, even, shockingly enough, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Now, for a vegan diet that means no meat, including seafood, no dairy, no eggs, and no honey. I will go further in another post about which you should cut out first as you transition from an omnivorous diet. You might be surprised by it. Also, gelatin is not vegan either, as it is made from boiling hooves.

Did you know that eating vegan saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 lbs. of grain, 30 square feet of forest, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and 1 animal’s life per day? You would have to take an almost 5 hour shower to go through that amount of water!

So, in the year I’ve been vegan I have saved 401,500 gallons of water. I have also saved 16,425 lbs. of grain, 10,950 square feet of forest, 7,300 lbs. of CO2 equivalent, and 365 animals’ lives in the year I’ve gone vegan.

Food isn’t the only thing, but it is the most prominent, and could do the most good.

 

Differences in Vegan Diets

Now, you might think it’s that simple, but there is no one universal vegan diet, much as there is no one universal omnivorous diet. Will you become a frugivore? Someone who eats mainly fruit? Or a starchivore, which is someone who eats primarily starch? Will it be a fully raw diet, or simply a raw til 4 or noon? Will a high carb, low fat diet be pursued? Could it possibly be that you just want the standard, western, vegan diet?

Now, there’s a simple way to determine which way you want to go, as long as it is appropriately planned. I would suggest speaking with your doctor, but I can’t tell you what to do, and I certainly can’t lead by example as it was 5 months after going vegan that I finally went to see a doctor to make sure my blood work came back okay.

This simple way to determine is . . . wait for it . . . experimentation! When I started I planned on making fruit the main staple food, and I tried that, but it didn’t last long, so I chose the route of the starch. Potatoes, rice, beans, and pasta make up most of my daily intake of calories. Then I tried high carb, low fat, and I think I took it too far. I do admit that I love my non-dairy ice cream a little too much to give it up.

I am trying to eventually go high carb, low fat, and have started with removing added oils from my food, which is beneficial in ways that I will talk about a little bit later. I have never gone with a partially raw, or fully raw diet, as I love potatoes too much to ever give them up. Currently I’m on a standard vegan diet, and while I love it, isn’t giving me all the benefits that a true high carb, low fat diet would.

Benefits of a Vegan Diet

Now, on to the benefits! The health benefits that is since we already talked about the environmental benefits. Veganism reduces blood sugar, reduces plaque build up, stops, prevents, and reverses 3 main killers, which are heart attacks, stroke, and cancer. It can help us lose weight, we become more regular, have more energy, and the best part is that we can eat more food.

Many whole foods are high in nutrients, but lower in calories, meaning we need more to continue to fuel our body. It’s an amazing thing to eat more of the things we can come to love! I know that I was not a fan of salad before I went vegan unless it was covered in cheese and ranch. Now, I’m the girl who gets teased because I eat romaine plain.

If you want to learn more of the health benefits of being vegan from an actual doctor who knows his stuff then check out the book “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger.

 

Going Further than Food 

I can hear you say “Yes, but food isn’t all there is to a vegan lifestyle, is it?” You are quite right. If it were just about food then it most certainly wouldn’t be called  lifestyle. Strange as it seems to me, but companies are going on about being cruelty-free, and yet they have animal products in their merchandise.

Clothing/Fabric

So, we will start with clothing, or anything that happens to have fabric, which is quite a lot of stuff, from headphones to furniture. What isn’t vegan: silk, wool, leather, fur, and down. I actually purchased a cute wool hat when I was just getting started with being vegan and it really upset me. With leather you have to be careful since it is everywhere.

Shoes are probably the biggest struggle for me. I like boots and heels, but it is so hard to find the perfect shoe with no animal products. Even after it says that there aren’t any that’s just the material that the shoe is made out of. Is the glue vegan? I try my best, and it’s not possible to be perfect all the time.

Just remember that protein leather, or pleather, faux anything, and even the term leatherette are all vegan friendly terms.

Cosmetics

Cosmetics is another thing that you have to watch out for. Cruelty-free simply means they do not test on animals, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s vegan. Beeswax is a common ingredient in most lip balms. Tallow and gelatin are two other common cosmetic ingredients. These are just a few, so before going to the store do your research and make sure the products you are purchasing are truly vegan.

I also personally stay away from petroleum jelly, or petrolatum, simply because the thought that I’m putting something that came from the bottom of an oil drum is not appealing, no matter how well it’s purified.

Other

As for medicines and vaccines I would talk to your doctor about that. I’m not a professional and I will never claim to be one.

Alcohol should have probably been put up with the diet stuff, but I don’t consider it as something that’s a necessity. This is something that will also require further research as some alcohols are strained through fish’ bladders.

Those are the basics, and what people most often buy. Those are certainly the things that I’m most worried about, and as more people choose the vegan lifestyle, the more the little things will be changed so they are more accessible to those who have chosen this lifestyle.

 

The Three Pronged Approach

To many, becoming vegan is a three pronged approach. You have the health side: what going vegan will do to better your health, and how you can overcome illness with a vegan lifestyle. The environmental approach, which is how the vegan lifestyle will benefit the planet. And then there is the ethical side, which is what we are doing to the animals, and how we can prevent loss of life.

The ethical approach isn’t one that I have touched on really, and for good reason. It is very disturbing, and most of the time quite graphic. However, to have a full understanding of what vegans are fighting for, or why your vegan friend gets so upset sometimes, all three need to be explored.

If you would like to learn more then please check out my Three Pronged Approach to Veganism post. In it you will find a video that goes into a combination of all three sides that make up the vegan story. You will find it at the bottom of the post linked above. I ask that if you are so inclined to watch this video that you watch all of it. There is a short segment with graphic imagery, and I feel that should be watched to get the full effect.

There are many other YouTube videos out there that will help better your understanding of the vegan lifestyle. There are also 2 movies that should be on Netflix that should also be watched. They are “Forks over Knives” and “Cowspiracy”.

If we all started the journey to veganism, we could do anything we wanted! We could end world hunger! We could live healthier, more compassionate lives.

If this helped to better your understanding of the vegan lifestyle, or if you have any questions please comment and I will be more than happy to elaborate!

 

8 thoughts on “What is the Vegan Lifestyle?

  1. Hi! Thanks so much for this very informative and in-depth article.

    I have been wanting to go vegan for a long time for both health and ethical reasons, but I simply don’t know where to begin.

    You suggested the book by Dr. Greger. Do you know if he tells you how to change gradually or is it more about why we should go vegan?

    1. Thank you for you comment! Dr. Greger’s book is definitely more about the science of food, and how it interacts with the human body. However, I am currently in the process of writing a post of how to start going to a plant based diet and should have that out in the next couple days so please look for it then. It should be up by Wednesday at the latest.

  2. this was a very insightful article. even as a vegan i definitely learnt a few things about the vegan diet that i was previously unaware of and could benefit me in the future so thanks a lot for that.

    i think its great how the vegan diet is becoming more and more popular in recent years and i think the internet definitely has a huge role to play in that in the success.

    ill be sure to check out the rest of your website for more useful information

    1. Hello. Thanks for commenting!

      I’m so glad that my blog is helping to educate, not only people who don’t know the term vegan, but also those that do.

      It was the internet that allowed me to take my blinders off when it comes to veganism, so I totally agree with you!

      Happy surfing,

      Michelle

  3. Hey Michelle. Have you seen “What the Health?” It’s a vegan documentary on Netflix. My gf and I were browsing Netflix one day and we decided to watch it. Before watching the show, I have already cut out all dairy products and most meats except for chicken and fish.

    After watching the show I decided to eliminate chicken too. I am down to eating one fish a week. My diet is over 90% vegetables.

    My problem is that I can’t seem to go full vegan because my stomach starts to hurt as if I’m starving. I know that sounds weird and I know I don’t need the fish. I go days with just eating beans and other vegetables. Then the pain and hunger returns in my belly and the only thing that soothes it is eating some steamed fish with my food.

    Maybe fish is like a drug addiction too. It takes time to ween off of it? I know u aint no doc but what’s your thoughts on that conundrum?

    Say have you tried steaming? It is my primary way of cooking now. I steam almost everything, no frying or nuking ever. I cook AND reheat with steamers…it beats the nuke like a bully haha. Scope out my site if ya want. I did a top ten review on the best steamers.

    1. Hey. Thanks for commenting on my post. I’ll be sure to check out your site, I need a new steamer!

      Yes, I have watched “What the Health?” and it is a very informative documentary. Have you seen “Forks over Knives”? It’s a little drier than “What the Health?” but still an awesome thing to watch.

      As for your stomach problem it could be that you are getting a vitamin from the fish that you aren’t in your plant foods. Talk to your doctor and make sure you are eating a well balanced diet. Plenty of colorful fruit and greens, but don’t forget your fats and proteins either. Any leafy green vegetables should be consumed with some sort of fat.

      To learn more I would say check out the YouTube channel Healthy Crazy Cool. He’s a registered dietitian I believe, and helps people make better food choices for themselves.

      Hope things go well for you,

      Michelle

  4. Cool, I will watch Forks over Knives and Healthy Crazy cool. I eat tons of veggies, and all the vitamins. I eat avocado’s and almonds. Plenty of water and berries. Leafy greens and fruits. But u are prolly right. I’m missing something. hmmm. The last thing i want to go do is see a medicine prescribing doctor. =/

    1. I completely understand that! If I can avoid the doctor is at all possible I totally will. Are you eating a healthy fat with your greens? The fat will help you absorb the vitamins and nutrients better. I would also go in for a yearly physical. Get your blood work done if you haven’t in a while and it might tell you what’s wrong.

      Have a good one!
      Michelle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *