Vegan Lifestyle Guide
What Is The Vegan Lifestyle?
According to The Vegan Society, a registered educational charity, veganism is a “philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty”.
As a result, vegans often promote the development and use of animal-free product alternatives which benefit animals, humans and the environment. In terms of diet, the vegan lifestyle aims at suppressing all products derived wholly or partly from animals, preferring instead a diet abundant in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and in somes cases, plant-based dairy, meat and egg analogues.
- Animal rights
- Environmental concerns
- Health reasons.
Joaquin Phoenix: “It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.”
The Vegan Plant-Based Diet
The vegan diet can be very simple.
Focus on products that are not sourced from animals, but rather sourced from plants: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc. or vegan alternatives (vegan cheeses, vegan meats, etc.). These food groups are what constitute a vegan diet and our guide will assist you in your transition!
Going vegan is becoming more accessible every day, as interest in the vegan movement continues to gain traction, and the demand for vegan products continues to grow exponentially. Many chefs and food bloggers are constantly inventing new vegan recipes, or veganizing traditional ones.
Eliminating all animal products can be daunting for some as access to vegan meat, dairy/egg alternatives, and vegan dining-out options can vary greatly based on where you live. However, reducing your consumption of animal products as much as possible will be a great step in the right direction for yourself, the animals and the environment.
The Case For Veganism
[Disclaimer: the following videos depict the horrific abuse and suffering that animals endure on factory farms, some pictures may be disturbing to some viewers]
The meat industry
In 2019, around 70 billion farmed land animals were bred, fed, slaughtered and replaced in order to feed the planet’s 7.8 billion human beings. Farming these billions of land animals raises many concerns regarding gross animal enslavement, exploitation and abuse, as well as skyrocketing chronic disease rates and vast environmental pollution and degradation.
♥ Video: Why I Don't Eat Chicken ♥
The dairy industry
When they’re given the chance, cows nurture their young and form lifelong friendships with one another. However, most cows in the dairy industry are treated like milk-producing machines and are genetically manipulated in order to produce more milk. These cows are intensively confined, leaving them unable to fulfill their most basic desires, such as nursing their calves, even for a single day. Calves are taken away from their mothers when they are just 1 day old and they are fed milk replacers (including cattle blood) so that their mothers’ milk can be sold to humans.
♥ Video: This Is How The Dairy Industry Lied To The World ♥
The egg industry
Chickens are the most abused animals on the planet. In the United States, approximately 9 billion chickens are killed for their flesh each year, and 305 million hens are used for their eggs. The vast majority of these animals spend their lives in total confinement—from the moment they hatch until the day they are killed.
♥ Video: Male Chicks Are The Forgotten Victims Of The Egg Industry ♥
The fishing industry
There are 2.3 trillion wild fish caught every year, which account for 40% of animal products consumed. Two thirds of the world’s fish are overfished and seafood could vanish by 2048 as a result. Fish farming is now overtaking wild fish catch as the primary mode of fish extraction. This is leading to numerous environmental issues, such as the destruction of millions of acres of coastal wetlands and high pollution levels from chemicals used in fish farms.
♥ Video: Greenpeace Shocking Undercover Video: Dirty Tuna Fishing ♥
The reasons to go vegan can change from one individual to another, here are a few reasons to choose veganism (without graphic images).
♥ Video: Why Vegan? ♥
How We Treat The Animals We Eat
One of the main reasons to go vegan is to take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation. Animals are sentient beings who experience feelings, love, pain and suffering just as humans do.
♥ Video: Animals Should Be Off The Menu ♥
The growth in overconsumption of animals, and their by-products, has led to a rise in animal production and, consequently, disastrous living conditions. Factory farmed animals have to deal with overcrowding, disease, experiments, abuse, and bodily mutilation. For example, certain beef cows bear a genetically-modified muscular mutation that maximizes their slaughter weights but forbids natural vaginal deliveries, meaning they are required to give birth by cesarean section on a regular basis.
Moreover, massive animal exploitation often creates perfect conditions for the spread of diseases like E.coli and salmonella. Cutting animal products from our daily diet is also wise for basic health and hygiene reasons.
Health and Veganism
Animal products, according to an increasing number of studies, can raise the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, while many plant based foods can potentially prevent the onset of these diseases, as well as reduce their severity.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, causing one death every 36 seconds. The main risk factors (high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity) are directly linked to animal products, major sources of cholesterol and saturated fats. On the contrary, plant products are often lower in fat and cholesterol and contain many heart-healthy fibers. Vegans are 50% less likely to experience diabetes than other people as their diet can help the body better respond to insulin!
Moreover, plant-based diets can help evade cancer. About ⅓ of cancer deaths are directly linked to alimentation and physical activity, which means they are preventable. The American Cancer Society particularly recommends following healthy eating habits, preferring plant-based foods to red meat and processed meat.
♥ Video: Here's What Happens To Your Brain And Body When You Go Vegan ♥
The Impact Of Animal Farming On The Environment
Animal farming is using a great deal of our planet’s resources. Diminishing their consumption can only help reduce the threat to our ecosystems.
A 150-gram beef burger requires 620 gallons of water, while a soy burger of the same size requires only 41 gallons!
26% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are linked to food production, and more than half of these emissions or 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from animal farming.
Animal farming is also a great vector of deforestation. One third of the Earth’s total habitable land is used for animal farming/feeding and at the current pace could make all of our forests disappear by 2050.
As the climate crisis worsens, food based diseases rise, and our collective health continues to diminish, going vegan will not only benefit the planet and animals, but ourselves as well.
How To Get Started with Vegan Living
No one said transitioning to a vegan lifestyle was easy. We live in a society that is still deeply rooted in the oppression and exploitation of animals. However, uprooting oppression and exploitation in favor of freedom and compassion is always worth it. And, after all, societal change is but the accumulation of individual changes!
Going vegan means completely changing your diet and consumption habits in a way that can be efficient and manageable in the long term. However, it can be much simpler if you follow these easy steps.
Find Your Will
- Identify your reasons
First, identify your reasons for becoming vegan. Always going back to the initial reasons you decided to go vegan will help you stay the course!
Educate yourself. Read articles about veganism. Watch documentaries on Netflix like The Game Changers (for plant-based strength), Cowspiracy (for the benefits of veganism for the environment), Seaspiracy (for the devastating environmental impact caused by the fishing industry) and many others that can support you in making this important lifestyle decision.
According to The Vegan Calculator, being a vegan for 10 years saves 3,650 animal lives, as well as 4,015,000 gallons of water and 109,500 square ft of forest! Becoming vegan is the single decision you can make with the largest environmental impact.
Once you have learned all the benefits for your health, for animals and for the environment, the decision will be easier to make.
- Choose Your Method
Don’t change your habits all at once! Veganism can feel a bit overwhelming and you should find your own way to transition to this new way of life.
Some people will prefer to go vegan gradually by getting used to eating grains, nuts, legumes and other plant-based foods without completely suppressing animal foods at first. Begin switching to non dairy milk (oat milk is the best choice), then try an Impossible or Beyond Meat or black bean burger. Take your time!
Some people will prefer to go vegetarian before going vegan, making the transition easier. Once you're used to consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, you’ll just have to suppress products like eggs or dairy.
Some people also prefer to go full-on vegan and switch their diet overnight. The biggest bang for the buck is to suppress red meat.
As you can see, there are many ways to go vegan and you just have to find what suits you best. Veganism takes time and you should congratulate yourself for every step you take.
Start a Vegan Diet
Planning your plant-based meals is very important as it will bring you essential nutrients, fibers, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. Moreover, poorly planned diets may provide insufficient amounts of iron, calcium, iodine, zinc or vitamin B12. A good plant-based diet provides all essential nutrients except for Vitamin B12, which can be easily supplemented with capsules or liquid form.
What Vegans Will Eat:
One of the major and first steps is to be able to identify what you will and won’t eat.
Let’s first take a look at all the wonderful products that vegans will actually eat.
- Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide you with essential nutrients and antioxydants. Vegetables are some of the most nutritious ingredients on Earth, and you will find delicious vegan recipes at the end of this guide in order to enjoy them on your plate.
Grains like wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, barley or corn are really important as they bring lots of fibers and some proteins, which are necessary for a healthy diet. They can be used to make rice, bread or pasta dishes.
- Legumes and beans
Legumes and beans are the greatest plant-based protein sources. That’s why they represent the perfect vegan protein for meat substitutes: chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, edamame, green beans, black, red and pinto beans, ...
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts provide you with healthy fats which give you an energy boost and help you process the vitamins you got from your fruits and vegetables. Among them, try almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts…
Seeds are often described as superfood, as they bring a whole lot of energy and nutrients to your body. Flax and chia seeds bring omega-3 fatty acids (usually coming from fish) and are really nutrient dense, which has many health benefits to your body and brain and can even help fight depression or anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral boosting your heart health and powering your muscles. Sunflower seeds are good sources of fiber, zinc and vitamin E and lower risks of high blood pressure and heart disease while supporting your immune system and reducing inflammation.
You can eat all these seeds as salad toppings, with cereals or as snacks.
Transitioning to veganism means also changing some of the beverages you drink. Surprisingly, many supposed vegan drinks are made with animal products (dairy, honey, etc.) and we advise you to always check the ingredients before buying anything. The Barnivore website will even tell you if your wine, beer or liquor is vegan.
You can also make your own smoothies, fruit juices, hot chocolates or plant-based milk. You can also make your own smoothies, fruit juices, hot chocolates or plant-based milk. Fortified plant milks (soy, almond, coconut, rice) are a reliable source of vitamin B12.
- Vegan transformed food
Some people will find that depending on vegan substitutes and vegan junk food makes the transition to veganism much easier. These alternatives are often high in protein, fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals, simple to prepare, tasty, and comforting. To buy these products, just find items with the vegan logo!
Here are some vegan logos and animal-cruelty free certifications to help you during your journey:
Vegan Action: no animal ingredients, no animal testing and no GMO’s from animal genes.
The Vegan Society: no animal ingredients, no animal testing and no GMO’s from animal genes.
PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program: no animal ingredients and no animal testing.
PETA: vegan clothing and accessories.
VeganOk: no animal materials.
And many more!
You can find vegan cheese, frozen pizzas, veggie burgers or vegan ice-cream. However, these products are often highly processed foods and, while moving on your vegan journey, try and lessen them along the way.
Find here some delicious plant-based recipes for all your vegan meals!
What Vegans Won’t Eat:
Now, let’s take a look at what vegans won’t eat and what they want to proscribe from their everyday meals. Being a vegan, you will not consume animal products such as:
Meats like beef, lamb, pork and poultry (chicken, duck, etc.) are all off the vegan diet. You can take healthy alternatives like tofu, seitan or beans and lentils, which are all full of proteins.
Fish, sea creatures (octopus, shrimps, clam, crabs, etc.) and even fish sauce should be replaced with foods such as vegan crab cakes or other vegetable-based alternatives.
Dairy products (milk, cream, butter, ice-cream, yogurt, etc.) made from milk are off the vegan diet. However many dairy alternatives made of almond, oat, coconut and soy milk exist and are getting better and better.
The same goes for eggs and everything made from eggs, which are often produced in factory farms in appalling conditions. Applesauce, chickpeas and flaxseed are good vegan substitutes for baking and cooking while tapioca starch and chickpea flour are good binding elements in recipes like omelettes and quiches.
Beware of these non vegan products:
Bee products like honey, royal jelly or bee pollen. Try maple or agave syrup instead!
Conventional mayonnaise includes egg yolks.
Be careful with products containing gelatin. It is a thickening agent coming from the bones and skin of cows and pigs.
Sugar is often lightened with bone char (also known as natural carbon), a product made from the bones of cattle. Use vegan swaps such as organic sugar or evaporated cane juice
We hope you can see more clearly what a vegan will and won’t eat.
All in all, the best way to buy a vegan product is to check the ingredients list and to make your shopping easier by purchasing goods with a vegan certification logo!
Vegan Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping can be intimidating at first. Carefully choosing your products can take some time and be a bit discouraging.
However, buying vegan products will become easier as you learn exactly where to look on the products’ packaging and what ingredients to search for. For beginners, here is an example of a vegan shopping list with products you can find in most supermarkets!
Vegetables & Fruits
Vegetables: onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut, kale, spinach, carrots, zucchinis, asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, garlic, etc.
Fruits: apple, bananas, cherries, grapes, avocados, mango, peaches, pears, watermelon, berries, lemon, orange and all sorts of dried fruits (apricots, cranberries, prunes, dates, etc.)
White kidney beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, green lentils, red lentils, split peas, navy beans, black eyed beans, etc.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts: pecans, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts and nut butter (almond, cashew or peanut butter)
Seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sesame seeds and seed butter (tahini or sunflower butter)
Quinoa, rice (brown and/or white), millet, barley, oats, cornmeal, couscous, sorghum, whole-wheat flour, etc.
Soy, coconut or almond yogurt, cashew cheese, dairy-free milk (almond, oat, soy, rice, hemp, cashew or coconut), nutritional yeast (high in vitamin B12), etc.
Organic cane sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, stevia, dried fruits, etc.
Coconut milk, red curry paste, green curry paste, soy sauce, miso paste, mustard, organic ketchup, sweet chili sauce, vinegar (red wine, balsamic, apple cider, rice wine)
Oils: coconut, flax seed, sesame, olive or canola oil.
Herbs & spices: basil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, ginger, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.
And of course, anything with whole wheat like bread, tortillas, muffins, pitas or pasta!
Next Steps To Vegan Living
Dining Out And Travelling
Attending social events and traveling can make it difficult to maintain a vegan diet. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure you have a good time.
If you’re meeting your friends in a bar or a restaurant, volunteer to choose the place and pick one with vegan choices. Use the Happy Cow app to find vegan restaurants nearby. If the menu doesn’t have vegan options, do not hesitate to ask the chef to make a special vegan dish for you. Don’t forget to bring your wallet for your outings, we particularly recommend this beautiful one, entirely made from real Teak leaves!
If the party is held at someone’s home, cook your favorite vegan recipe to share with the guests or even bring some vegan snacks if you don’t want to be tempted.
When traveling, do a bit of research and preparation to ensure you stick to your vegan lifestyle, even on the other side of the world. For example, you can bring your own vegan condiments in order to make things easier for street vendors. Embrace the fact that it will be much easier to eat raw vegan food and that is not necessarily a drawback! Think about all the salads and juicy fruits you can enjoy while on vacation. Before leaving, familiarize yourself with local ingredients to make your trip to the grocery store much easier! If you need a vegan carry-on, we’ve got you covered:
Veganism isn’t limited to just your diet. . Animal products or animal testing can be found in clothing, beauty products, furniture, soap or even toilet paper!
Beauty & Fashion
Many of the beauty products we consider harmless are often tested on animals kept in a cage during their entire life and euthanized when no longer useful. In addition to enabling animal cruelty, many skincare products often contain animal ingredients such as uric acid from cows, carmine (a red colour made from crushed insects), lanolin (a grease coming from sheep wool) or beeswax. Knowing that your skin absorbs these kinds of ingredients and other chemicals can be quite an incentive to buy vegan products!
Vegan beauty products, made with plant-derived ingredients, are better for your skin and will be absorbed more easily. Vegan formulas also contain more nutrients as plants are the richest source of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals which can help slow down the aging process.
A lot of the clothing fibers we wear everyday involve the mistreatment, pain, and death of farm animals.
Leather, down, silk, and wool are all created at the expense of animals as well as contribute to the income of the meat industry. Most of the world’s Merino wool comes from Australia where, every year, millions of lambs undergo “mulesing,” a mutilation for which strips of skin are carved from the animals’ backsides without the use of analgesics to dull the pain.
However, many vegan alternatives exist in order to avoid animal suffering for your style, comfort or personal care. Vegan clothing is made ethically with synthetic fibers, recycled materials, organic cotton, bamboo, etc. For example, instead of wool you can look for synthetic fleece and acrylic wool which provide the same sensations, are still very warm, and easier to take care of. Vegan fashion can perfectly imitate materials such as leather or suede, as shown by products like these classy Graziano suede shoes and this elegant tote bag.
Vegan Diet For Your Kids
Obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States, increasing the risk of related diseases like diabetes and cancer. Since lifetime eating habits are mostly determined during your childhood, you shouldn’t think twice about getting them used to a healthy, plant-based diet.
However, introducing veganism to your children may not be easy. Veg and fruits can seem less attractive than non-vegan foods.
Here are a few tips to smoothen the vegan diet to your kids:
- Hide the veggies: make carrot cakes, spinach smoothies, zucchini noodles, etc.
- Make sure to pack their lunch: it’s the best way to control what they eat as schools often offer non-vegan and unhealthy food
- Get them used to plant foods: always put vegetables and fruits on the table, your kids will soon get used to them
Discover the best vegan family recipes here!
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Join our vegan community
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Test Your Knowledge On Veganism
Take A Vegan Pledge
By being a vegan for 10 years you will save 3,650 animal lives, as well as 4,015,000 gallons of water and 109,500 square ft of forest! You will avoid pain and suffering for hundreds of others, reduce the impact of animal foods on climate change and avoid products which can be harmful to your body.
Pledge to veganism for a healthier, more ethical and environmentally-friendly way of life!