VEGAN FOR BEGINNERS: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (2017 UPDATED)

VEGAN FOR BEGINNERS: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (2017 UPDATED)

Perhaps you have a few friends who are living a vegan lifestyle. Or, maybe you are searching for a healthier lifestyle. For whatever the reason, veganism has peeked your interest.

The truth is:

Switching to a vegan lifestyle comes with a lot of questions and concerns. There is a lot of information circulating, and you can't choose the best one to read.

So you come to the right place!

In today's topic, I'm going to look at the top questions that you may have as you start your research and give you all the information in the easiest way to understand.

It’s an ultimate guide that will show you how to enjoy your healthier life immediately and why transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is one of my best choice of life.

vegan life

​The Ultimate List Of The Vegan Guide
For Beginners

onion

CHAPTER 1: 
What Are The Differences Between
Vegan Vs Vegetarian?

Chances are you understand vegetarians, and there is a high chance you know a few people who eat this diet style.

Vegetarians don't eat any meat, fish, and poultry.Vegans follow a stricter diet than vegetarians. They don't eat meat, fish or poultry.

begin vegetarian

Also, vegans use absolutely no other animal products and by-products, such as eggs, dairy products, leather, honey, silk, fur, wool, and any cosmetic or bath product made with animal products.

The term vegan was created in the 1940s by Donald Watson and Elsie Shrigley, founding members of the Vegan Society.

They used the word vegetarian to derive vegan, using the first three and last two letters.

While many believe that veganism is a diet, it is a lifestyle, a sort of worldview.

Vegans are typically health and environmentally conscious people, forced on proper animal husbandry and unjust treatment of all beings.

avocado

CHAPTER 2:
Why Do People Pick Veganism?

animal welfare

With such a limited diet, one has to assume vegans opt for this lifestyle for good reasons.

Most site health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Let's take a closer look at them:

  • Ethical (Animal) Reasons: One of the top reasons for becoming a vegan is to prevent the exploitation of animals.

    Many people feel as if they have emotional attachments with animals. Other people believe all animals have the right to life and freedom. Animal rights activists take a stand against animal cruelty.
  • Health Reasons: There are actual benefits to a vegan diet such as increased energy and clearer, healthier skin.

    While some enthusiasts go a bit crazy with their health claims, countries that eat fewer animal products on average tend to live healthier lifestyles.

    People assume that a diet based on plants cannot be healthy, but well-planned diets are rich in iron, calcium, protein, and other essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • Environmental Reasons: You start to recycle and bicycle to work.

    Overall, your family is working towards living a greener, eco-friendly lifestyle.

    However, animal products harm our environment.

    The production of these products puts a burden on the Earth, from the massive amounts of crops growing to all of the water required for the animals. 

    The entire system puts a burden on our planet, sending tons of chemicals and gas into the atmosphere.

ORANGE JUICE

CHAPTER 3:
Are There True Health
Benefits To Veganism?

Being skeptical is easy. Everyone has benefits and opinions they value. No one can know for sure if the benefits of something are scientifically proven or if they are made up to prove someone's point.

So you need to carefully search for answers, especially if you are considering switching your diet.

There are actual health benefits of veganism. A plant-based diet consists of more than just fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds make up a substantial portion of this way of eating.

healthy vegetarian diet

Vegans rely heavily on all of these staples to receive all of their vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Vegans eat a significant amount of these healthy foods, so they have more access to vitamins B1, C, E, folic acid, magnesium, and iron.

At the same time, their diets are low in cholesterol and saturated fats that can lead to adverse healthy consequences.

Western diets are quite unhealthy. Obesity is on the rise and type 2 diabetes isn't far from becoming an actual crisis.

A plant-based vegan diet reduces many conditions that Westerners regularly experience such as: 

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Certain cancers

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

CHAPTER 4:
Why No Dairy?

It is easy to understand why vegans cut out meat products, which come from the death of an animal.

Dairy products are seemingly unharmful, so why do they include these items in the no-eat list?

The avoidance of dairy comes because dairy farms use artificial insemination to create cows.

Males are often sent to the butcher rapidly. Female cows are forced to start reproducing earlier than nature intends.

The goal is to force these animals to produce milk continually.

Drinking milk results in veal. Most dairy calves become veal cutlets.

Farmers restrict muscle growth and deprive them of iron. People kill them at the tender age of four months.

A new trend keeps the calves separate from their mothers, creating a nervous environment for their few short months of life.

It is easy to see that milk, and its products, aren't necessarily the issue. Vegans avoid dairy products because of the process involved.

The reality of these cows and their lives are enough to steer most vegans away from dairy products altogether.


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CHAPTER 5:
Easy Substitution Ideas for Vegans

Slowly, you will get the hang of eating a vegan lifestyle. Soon, you realize that you can make numerous recipes if you understand easy substitution in recipes.

If you want to try some of your old favorite recipes, learn how to replace animal ingredients with vegan ones!

almond milk
  • Milk: Replacing milk is probably the easiest thing. You can use soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and almond milk.

    If you need to make buttermilk, just add 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of milk. When substituting milk, measure cup for cup. There are no differences.
  • Cheese: There are many vegetarian kinds of cheese on the market. Always read ingredients to make sure there is no casein. 

    If you want to replace cottage or ricotta cheese, try crumbled tofu, but it won't create the same creaminess that you would want in the recipe.
  • Eggs: One of the hardest things to substitute in recipes in eggs. If you want to make scrambled "eggs" for breakfast, give tofu scramble a try.

    Most stores even sell Tofu Scrambler in boxes. This recipe is kid friendly, so you can quickly adapt with vegetables or vegan bacon bits.

    If you are baking, there are a variety of choices for egg substitutes.

    Applesauce, pureed soft tofu, Ener-G egg replacer, flax (3 TBSP of water with 1 TBSP ground flax seeds), or mashed bananas are the most common choices for vegans.

    It may take trial and error to determine which substitutions work best in each recipe. Applesauce is a great choice for muffins!
  • Butter: If your baking recipe calls for butter, there are a few options available. Vegan margarine works well for most recipes, but always be sure to read ingredients. 

    Oils, such as canola, sunflower, olive, or corn, are great substitutes for butter. Earth Balance is a popular choice for vegan butter.
  • Honey: Replacing honey in your recipes is fairly straightforward. You do have to consider the consistency and sweetness you are wanting before making a substitution choice.

    Ratios will also need trial and error before perfection is discovered. You can try maple syrup, liquid FruitSource, agave syrup, corn syrup, malt syrup, light and dark molasses, and brown rice syrup.
  • Chocolate: A lot of people would probably opt not to go vegan if there wasn't some substitution available.

    There are non-dairy vegan chocolate chips, chocolate bars, and cocoa powders found in most grocery stores today.
  • Sugar: When they refine sugar, some companies add bone char from animals. Many vegans do without refined sugar altogether, opting for honey substitutes.

    If you need a crystalline sugar for a recipe, you can use beet sugar, fructose, organic sugar, unbleached cane sugar, date sugar, maple crystals and granulated FruitSource.

MUSHROOM

CHAPTER 6:
Simple Meal Ideas for Vegans

New vegans may be overwhelmed by the choices, or the lack of options when creating their meal plans.

Here are some ideas for each meal during your day. You may be surprised to see that you could be eating vegan meals on a regular basis!

Remember, you can create most meals in a vegan form.

veggie burger
  • Breakfast:

    Cold cereal with non-dairy milk

    Oatmeal or hot cereals

    Bagels with vegan cream cheese

    Toast and jelly

    Smoothies with vegan yogurt

    PancakesTofu scramble with veggie sausage
  • Lunch and Dinner:

    Veggie burgers or hot dogs

    Vegetable stir fry

    Mock lunchmeat sandwiches

    Veggie soups such as minestrone or tomato basil

    Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

    Bean burritos

    Veggie pizza

    Pasta and tomato sauce

    Lasagna with vegan cheese


Other sources you should know: 

MUSHROOM

CHAPTER 7:
Essential Vitamins For Vegans-  How To Avoid Vitamin Deficiencies

Let's take a look at the vitamins vegans need to spend extra time focusing on, and what foods provide these nutrients.

  • Protein: Everyone needs protein in their diet. It is an essential nutrient for your bones, skin, muscles, and organ health.

    Typical sources of protein include meat, eggs, and dairy products, but vegans have to source protein from other foods.

    They can eat a variety of plant-based foods to find enough protein each day. They can opt for vegan foods made by soy including soy-based meat substitutes and tofu.

    Other choices include black beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanut butter, almond (almond butter), nuts and seeds, popcorns and whole grain products.
  • Calcium: Your doctor is likely to have told you the importance of calcium for your teeth and bones.

    Without proper levels of calcium, your bones can become brittle.

    Most people source their calcium from milk and dairy products, but vegans have fantastic other sources of calcium.

    There are plenty of other foods that offer calcium, unknown to many people!

    Plant-based food that contains calcium includes kale, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and calcium-fortified foods like cereal, soy milk, tofu, and juice.
  • Iron: Low levels of iron are bad for your health, leading to a condition called anemia. Iron is essential for your red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout your body.

    You can get iron from dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains, dried beans and peas, red fruits, and enriched cereals.

    Often times, vegans increase their consumption of vitamin C to enhance the absorption of iron. Citrus juices and tomatoes are fantastic sources of Vitamin C!
  • Vitamin B12: We need this water-soluble vitamin for the creation of red blood cells. Typically, you can only find Vitamin B12 in animal products.

    Vegans have to eat foods with added Vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, and fortified soy milk are common sources of vegan Vitamin B12. Of course, you could also opt for a supplement.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These nutrients are essential for your brain and heart health. Vegans can use flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and soybeans.
vegan vitamin

These are just a few options for vegans. Food manufacturers have caught onto the vegan trend and are creating more mock meats than ever before.

Created from plant protein, you can find mock meats in a variety of textures and shapes including burgers, hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, bacon, meatballs, deli slices and ground meat!

If you are a dairy fan, giving up all of the delicious foods that derive from it can seem like torture.

However, there are many dairy alternatives on the market. These choices are derived from soy, rice, nuts, seeds and plant starches.

Find a few minutes in the vegan or natural aisles at your local grocery store, and you are likely to find vegan milk, cheeses, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurts and ice cream!


bean

CHAPTER 8:
Can Pregnant or Nursing Women
Be Vegan?

vegan for pregnancy

A common question surfaces when a vegan woman finds out she is pregnant.

Can you continue to eat a vegan diet if you are pregnant or breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, the valid scientific studies are slim, so there isn't much good information to base your decision.

The most important thing you need to know is that, during pregnant, a nutritious diet matters the most.

Vegans can opt to live more or less healthy lifestyle. Meat eats can choose a healthy or unhealthy diet as well.

Just as any mother would do, vegan mothers need to pay extra attention to their vitamin intake. Iron and B12 are essential nutrients during pregnancy.

If you want to pursue a vegan lifestyle and discover you are pregnant, there is no reason to reconsider your decision.

Instead, take the safe route and thoroughly plan out your diet with your baby's growing needs in mind as well.


CUCUMBER

CHAPTER 9:
Soy: A Risk or Benefit?

Soy is a controversial food product. Many people in the camp exclude soy from their diet entirely.

However, many vegans rely heavily on soy foods as the main portion of their dietary protein. Soy is used to create mock meats and cheese, and many other products.

The question remains can soy play a safe role in our diets?

For vegans, soy contains all eight essential amino acids necessary for all of the protein you need daily.

High levels of phytochemicals called isoflavones could reduce cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon.

There is some evidence that supports soy as a way for women to gain stronger bones and reduce hip fractures.

soy good or bad

However, there is always another side to every story. Soy plays a huge role in the food industry today, and there are many concerns about whether it decreases cancer risk, specifically hormonally driven disease like breast cancer.

There is a strong belief that soy foods can contribute to reproductive or fertility problems. Phytochemicals exert estrogen-like effects on tissues inside of the body.

It can be hard, as a vegan, to know which thought the process to believe. On the other hand, you want to believe that soy isn't harmful at all.

If true, you can take advantage of all of the delicious fake, soy foods on the market, enriching your diet even more.

Chances are there is a slight nagging voice in your head that asks what if the theories are correct. The best route is to eat soy in moderation, just like everything else.


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CHAPTER 10:
Weight Loss Through Veganism

I can attest to those vegan weight loss stories as I lose around 7 pounds every time I go vegan.

weight loss vegan

Not only sweets, rice, and potatoes are also sources of carbohydrates you have to trim. Even in the vegan family, there’s still weight to gain.

Fruits, on the other hand, are ideal for weight loss. It’s not only light, but it also enhances your digestive tract’s ability to lose more weight.

Veganism is a good start for weight loss. The fact that you’re avoiding meat means a lot to prevent excess amounts of sodium, fat, and cholesterol. 


Is Veganism Right for You?

Laura Founder/Editor

Ultimately, only you can decide if veganism is the right lifestyle for you and your family. Many families, including those with children, switch to a vegan lifestyle and have excellent results.

Before making any dietary changes, it is always a great idea to speak to your doctor. They have unique insight into your individual health problems and needs. Together, you can decide if this is a lifestyle that is emotionally and physically the right choice.

2 Comments

  1. Idriss
    February 15, 16:20 Idriss

    Great article ! Lots of helpful information and a must read for anybody who is looking to improve their diet, and add more plant food to it.

    reply Reply this comment

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