Vegan Basics

A compilation of basic vegan information right here at your fingertips:

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There are a lot of misconceptions about veganism. Many people understand the basics: Veganism is about a lifestyle that seeks to reduce or eliminate animal suffering and exploitation. People might understand that vegans don’t eat meat, but lots of people aren’t sure where the line is drawn. And they have other questions. Thus, here is a collection of some of those questions along with links to the answers.

Q. “But what about the plants?”

A: First, we know for certain that animals feel pain. Plants probably don’t feel pain. Animals definitely feel pain.
Second, meat, dairy, and egg production is inherently inefficient. Feeding plants to animals and then feeding animals to people is wasteful.
Third, meat, dairy, and eggs increase your risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Q: “I’m a new vegan. Can you help me?”

A: Yes, please take a look at The Post For New Vegans or How Do I Stay Healthy? Check this out, too. If you need a sample day’s diet, look here. (More sample menus here) Want ideas for vegan lunches? Check this out. Ideas for vegan breakfasts? We got you covered here. Oh, and here, too.

More resources: Vegan Starter Kits- Just download or order one online and get vegan recipes, info about nutrition, and all sorts of other stuff.

Don’t forget, the nutrition experts agree that a vegan diet is not only able to fulfill your nutritional needs, but it also has health benefits. And here are some basics about Vegan Nutrition:

Q: “What about protein? Where do you get your protein?”

A: Vegan protein sources include: tempeh, tofu, seitan, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, quinoa, TVP, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, lima beans, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, black eyed peas, peanut butter, almond butter, soy milk, hemp milk, vegan protein powders, soy yogurt, fortified foods, amaranth, spirulina, chorella, split peas, whole wheat, even potatoes have some protein!

We can talk about how much protein you need and whether or not you should seek out protein-rich foods, but there’s no question that plenty of vegan protein-rich foods exist.

Here are some more detailed resources regarding vegan protein:

Q: “I’m vegan. Everyone asks, ‘Where do you get your protein.’ How should I answer?”

A: Each vegan is different and you’ll find the answer that suits you best, but till then here are some suggestions. “Plants” is a good answer, but you might enjoy saying “your mom” more.

Q: “It’s too expensive to go vegan.”

A: That’s not really a question, but we’ve got an answer for you. The truth is, going vegan is cheap!  Iowa State University says, “Protein comes from both plant and animal sources. Plant protein is usually less expensive than animal protein.”

Q: “But I like meat.”

A: That’s OK! Lots of vegans like the taste of meat. They choose to avoid eating it though because of the terrible suffering it causes animals, the damage to the environment, the health problems, and the exploitation of farm workers. Check this post out: “I Like Meat”

The evidence against animal-eating is overwhelming… with or without animal rights philosophy.

Q: “But I love cheese!”

A: Check out the post about dairy alternatives >>
And try this step-by-step cheese-elimination process >>

Q: “What do vegans eat? Is it all just salad and tofu?”

A: No, we eat a wide variety of foods. In fact, many people eat more of a variety of foods after they go vegan than they ate before. See for yourself what vegans eat! Click here.

Q: “Do you have vegan recipes?”

A: Yes, take a look at the food section. And we also offer a recipe search that finds vegan recipes from a collection of vegan websites. Check out the recipe search here >>

Q: “What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?”

A: There are two ways to look at it:

  1. Vegan is a type of vegetarian. Generally, vegetarians don’t eat animal flesh, but they eat animal secretions. For example, they don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish, but they do eat dairy and eggs. Vegans don’t eat any animal products. For example, they don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy.
  2. Vegan is a lifestyle whereas vegetarian is a dietary choice. Vegans, however, avoid all animal products including leather, fur, wool, silk and they also abstain from animal circuses, zoos, and other forms of animal exploitation. Vegetarians don’t eat animal products but they might wear leather or fur.

Ultimately it depends on the individual. Some people prefer to call themselves vegetarians even when they live like vegans and others prefer to call themselves vegan. It’s an identity issue.

Some non-vegetarians call themselves vegetarian and likewise some non-vegans call themselves vegan. They do that for various reasons, but one reason is simplicity: it’s easier to say “I’m vegetarian” and have your dietary choices respected than to say “I rarely eat meat” because if you say “I rarely eat meat,” meat-eaters will often pressure you to eat meat “just this once.”

Some people avoid either word and say things like, “I eat a plant-based diet” or “I’m a raw-foodist.” Often, people who avoid the terms “vegan” or “vegetarian” eat like vegans for health or environmental reasons, but not for animal rights, spiritual, or ethical reasons. Often, people who embrace the word “vegan” do so primarily for animal rights or ethical reasons, and secondarily for health and/or environmental.

Products or menu items labeled “vegan” should be free of all animal products, even trace ingredients. Likewise, products or menu items labeled “vegetarian” should be free of animal flesh, even trace ingredients. Some companies will label only foods that are vegan as “vegetarian” whereas other companies will label foods that contain dairy or eggs as “vegetarian.” It’s a good idea to ask or read the ingredients because in the US, there is no legal definition for the terms “vegetarian” or “vegan” yet.

Q: “I want to encourage people to go vegan. How should I do it?”

A: You know yourself, your resources, and the people you interact with best, so you’re the best judge of what you should do to help animals. However, we do have some suggestions: Browse the activism section for ideas or news about activism. Leave A Link, Change A Life is worth a read, as well as 10 Kinds Of Vegan Activism. Also, there’s Being An Effective Advocate For Animals, How To Be A Blogger Activist, PETA Tips On Getting Active, Getting To Your Friends And Family.

Two of the most effective methods of “vegangelism” are: leafletting and videos. Here are some videos:

Q: “I have more questions.

Such as, what about fish? What about insects/ honey? Vitamin B12? Iron? Is it possible to be a vegan athlete - a serious athlete? Is refined sugar vegan? Doesn’t the Bible say we should be eating animals? I have food allergies. Can I still be a vegetarian or vegan? What about free-range? Isn’t seafood healthy? Plants feel pain, too., don’t they? Animals are killed in plant agriculture; what about them? Isn’t soy dangerous? What would happen to all the animals if humans didn’t breed and eat them? Are most vegetarians liberals or conservatives? I have cancer/diabetes/other disease, can I go vegan?”

A: Please use the search function. Vegan Soapbox has covered a wide variety of topics that can easily be accessed through the search function.

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