Becoming a vegetarian a big life changing choice. But what about being vegan? Both of this paths are more humane to the world and a healthier choice than consuming meat. But which one is better and which one is for you? Should be a vegetarian or go all out vegan?
What is a Vegan?
A vegan is a person who does not consume or use any products that have animal content in them. They do not eat, drink or partake in food that have come from animals because they believe that animals are sentient beings and eating them is a violation of their rights. Veganism is not just a food choice, it is also a life style. It goes beyond a person’s plate. If you declare yourself vegan, you will not use any products which has caused harm on animals. You will not wear leather or fur, will not use animal tested cosmetics nor will you ever eat desserts that have milk in them.
Veganism means living a life that is full of respect for other beings, may they be human or not.
1. No dairy – Being vegan means saying no to dairy. The white milk you see in the super market is not white when you get it. It has red in it. Red from the blood of the mother cow. A lot of young cows are forced away from their moms, killed at a young age because they cannot share the milk which is to be sold to the market.
2. No eggs – Eggs, in order to be put on your table required hundreds of hens all cooped up in tight, dark and damp spaces where they can barely move. They are made to lay eggs all their lives and when they are past their prime, they are disposed alive in garbage trucks or bins. Some are put in grinding machines alive with their bones being broken while they are still alive.
Male chicks are ground up alive because they are unable to produce eggs so they are regarded as waste. Many documentaries have been made about the egg and poultry industry.
3. No leather or fur – Leather comes from crocodiles and alligators. They are killed for their precious hide. Fur come from furry animals. They are normally shaved to the point of bleeding. Wool is also a by-product of cruel sheep trade.
4. No meat of course – Aside from being more humane, not consuming meat means that you leave a smaller carbon foot print. One pound of meat requires sixteen pounds of grain to produce. Livestock produces methane gas which causes air pollution. Studies have shown that if livestock were not raised we can minimize green house gases by 65%
What Should You Eat if You Go Vegan?
Being vegan is a life path that may be difficult but rewarding. Many people think that they will lose out on protein but many plant based sources provide a healthy alternative to meat. Aside from the common tofu and mushroom there are other alternative choices that you can have to add protein or just get that umami or meaty flavor and taste.
1. Tofu – Tofu is one of the most popular meat substitutes out there. Since the dawn of time, tofu has been used as a meat substitute by Buddhists in the east. It is made from soybeans, a rich source of protein. It has a nice texture and can be marinated for more flavor
2. Texturized vegetable protein – TVP is a good source of protein. It is made from extracting oil from from soybeans. This is a good substitute for animal protein because when it is dry, it can have about 50% protein. It can be rehydrated by adding vegetable stock or water and it will double or triple in size. It can come in chunks, grains and different shapes and sizes.
Personally, this product is best for spaghetti or “chicken” curry. It does have a really good and chewy taste that mimicks meat.
3. Mushrooms – Mushrooms are used as a meat replacement for a very long time. Shitake mushroom has a very meaty texture and has that umami taste. Portobellos are hearty addition to pastas and soups. Black fungus has a fun and chewy feeling to it.
4. Gluten veggie meat or Seitan– Gluten veggie meat comes from gluten from wheat. It is one of the oldest forms of substitutes for meat dating back to the 6th century China. It was made firstly to go with noodles. It is commonly known as mock beef, chicken or mock duck in the east. Many buddhists consume this because it has a stringy texture similar to beef or pork.
5. Eggplants – Eggplants have a nice texture that is both squeeshy and firm that resembles meat. It is good in pastas, soups, fried or grilled. It is good for those with soy allergies or gluten intolerance. Mediterranean cooking uses a lot of eggplants as a meat replacement.
Being vegetarian means not eating any meat. You may be consuming eggs and or cheese or not. Cheese and dairy consumers are called lacto vegetarians, egg eaters are ovo vegetarians. Some who eat both are called lacto ovo. You can also be a pure vegetarian who does not consume any food product that comes from animals.
On the other hand, vegetarians can still use animal products like bags, clothes, shoes and other house hold items. They do not have a much stringent life as compared to full vegans. Going into this direction can also be the first step before becoming a full on vegan.
What to Eat?
Aside from the ones stated about, vegetarians have a wide spectrum of food that they can eat. Omitting meat is the only thing to consider. If you eat eggs and consume dairy, you will be able to eat most food and desserts except those meat dishes. On the other hand, if you don’t consume eggs or dairy, you can still have specialized desserts such as those using almond mink or soy milk.
Vegetarian or Vegan?
Ultimately this question is yours alone to answer it asks if you are willing to stand for animal rights or if you want to just live a healthier life. It asks how committed you are to something.