How to become a vegan step by step?
A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS
How to become a vegan step by step is a complete guide for beginners. Find out everything you need to know on how to get started with a vegan diet easily in no time. The purpose of this detailed article is to help you lead a vegan way of life. This guide will answer all your questions about what is vegan diet and how you can easily switch to a vegan life style. Let’s dive in right away!
Table of Contents
Who is a Vegan?
Vegan – a term derived from VEGetariAN, is not just a food religion like its parent term, but a whole new way of life. It is not mere abstinence from eating animal based products, but it also includes abolishing all lifestyle products that have traces of animal produce in it. Be it wearing leather or using a glossy lipstick or taking a prescription medicine (to many this is controversial and debatable), a vegan lifestyle upholds practices that aim at abolishing cruelty towards animals in any form. The aim of a vegan is simple, to make planet earth a calmer, peaceful place for all living beings. A place which has equal living rights for animals as it has for humans.
Veganism is the practice of such a lifestyle. Though there have been many proponents of the veganism culture like Poet Shelly and Mahatma Gandhi, to the latest ones like James Cameron and Ellen DeGeneres, the origins of this society were rather humble.
Origins of Veganism
Starting in 1944 in Leicester, England, with just 23 members (including founder Donald Watson) The Vegan society has come a long way. Since then the society has grown manifold with currently the number of vegans in U.K. totaling nearly half a million. This is three and half times more than the 2006 numbers making veganism the fastest growing lifestyle movement.
So, what is there in this relatively modest way of living that has attracted so many people in such a short span of time? Apart from giving the satisfaction of being ethically correct, what other benefits does this movement offer? Why so many people are leaving behind various culinary delights in favor of a simpler no frills cuisine? Let us find out.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
There are various health and environmental benefits associated with the vegan way of living. We have listed some of them here.
Several studies have indicated that a vegan diet leads to various health benefits and prevention of many fatal lifestyle diseases.
Some of the results of these studies are:
- Vegan and vegetarian diets reduce the risk of cancer by nearly 15%.
- People following the vegetarian diet are about half as likely to develop diabetes when compared to non-vegetarians.
- Vegans have a lower heart disease mortality rate.
- A plant based diet is associated with overall lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Studies have indicated that whole-food, plant based diets especially the uncooked variety alleviate the symptoms of Arthritis.
- By substituting red meat with plant based proteins like soy in a diabetic patient’s diet, the renal function of the patient shows improvement.
- Plant based diet reduces the number of medications a person has to take to treat various diseases.
- Vegetarian diets are associated with lower mortality rates.
- The body mass index was found to be lowest in people following the plant based diet.
- Vegetarian diets are linked to lower body weight.
- Weight gain is lower in people following the vegan and vegetarian diet.
- Alcohol and meat consumption has been found to be closely associated in the rise of Alzheimer’s disease in Japan.
- Red and processed meat results in higher rate of mortality.
- Red meat consumption is linked to higher cancer mortality
- Processed meat consumption is closely linked to increased cardiovascular disease mortality rate.
- Red and processed meat has been associated with the increased risk of many chronic diseases.
- Antibiotics used on animals do not harm humans if used in moderate quantities, but an overuse might lead to development of drug resistant bacteria.
- Studies have shown that resistant strain of particular bacteria is commonly found in retail ground meats.
- Use of milk production hormone on animals has raised concerns about its impact on public health.
- In the absence of any regulation, the animal farming industry is using various animal drugs that have harmful chemicals which have an adverse effect on the health of humans.
This and many more benefits have been observed when people consume only plant based products. With so many health benefits, there is no doubt why the vegan diet is gaining popularity among people of developed nations.
Many would argue that a plant based diet is actually a cause for deforestation and water scarcity, since it requires land for tilling and water for irrigation. But you will be surprised to know that animal farming consumes far more land and water than plant based farming.
Producing one kg of beef requires 43,000 L of water whereas producing the same quantity of cereal requires just 1000 L of water. In USA alone, irrigating crops for beef cattle requires nearly 13,000 billion L of water.
Looking at deforestation figures, the perfect example is the Amazon Rainforest deforestation. The National Institute of Space Research of Brazil estimates that people are using nearly 65% of the forest for cattle pastures and not for food crop production. This mass felling of tress for the purpose of cattle farming has led to coining of the term “the hamburger connection”.
As we know plants absorb CO2 and hence deforestation leads to increased level of this gas in the atmosphere.
Deforestation also destroys natural habitat of many animal and plant species leading to their extinction.
Hence, a plant based diet discourages deforestation and saves water. An ideal way to decrease your carbon footprint will be to adopt the vegan way of living.
Nothing sums up the ethical side of veganism better than a quote by Linda McCartney, wife of Beetles member Paul McCartney, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian.”
According to most vegans like Linda, when you see with your own eyes the cruelty inflicted on animals, so that you can have a meal three times a day, you will want to opt for a vegetarian diet.
Did you know that nearly 60 billion land animals are killed every year to just satisfy the human taste buds?!
And till the time they are killed, they are kept in deplorable conditions and they suffer from injury, disease, hunger, malnutrition and huge amount of stress. Vegans believe that not only do all animals have a right to live, but they have a right to live in good conditions and in their natural habitat.
Making this belief a part of their lifestyle, vegans opt for a diet that is wholly plant based and has nothing to do with animals. This, according to them is their contribution towards improving the living standards of animals all around the world.
What is a vegan diet?
So, what is a vegan diet all about that is inspiring many to leave their love of meat and turn to plant based products instead. A vegan diet includes plants and plant based products and excludes all animal based products like meat, fish, eggs, milk, and honey and so on. Depending upon how you consume the various products you can divide the diet into the following types.
Various types of vegan diet
It includes whole, unprocessed plant based food items such as whole grains, legumes, whole fruits instead of juice, vegetables and nuts.
It is a starch based diet which also includes fruits and vegetables like Potatoes along with corn, barley, rice, millet, wheat and quinoa and so on.
The diet includes raw food. The food is not cooked above 118 degree F, as cooking food destroys its nutrient value. It includes fruits, dry fruits, sprouted grains and raw vegetables.
It is a very popular diet which emphasizes on fruits and raw vegetables. It includes all fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
Generally, people who turn vegans due to ethical or environmental reasons and not for health reasons, follow this diet. This diet includes food products like Oreos, fried food and packaged food.
People following the thrive diet eat small portions of food several times a day. They include foods that are closest to their natural state like seeds, beans, green leafy vegetables, fruits.
- Raw Till 4 Diet
This diet plan includes eating raw food till 4 p.m. followed by a cooked dinner.
Hence, you can either eat vegan food entirely raw or you can consume it after cooking. Now, let us see what is a vegan diet definition and what all food you can include in your diet plan.
What is a vegan diet plan?
- All organic and seasonal vegetables. This will include green leafy vegetables, lemons, and mints and so on.
- Dried fruits, Nuts, Seeds are rich in protein and omega 3 and omega 6. Studies have shown that plant based foods introduce more antioxidants than the non-plant based foods.
- For sweeteners include unprocessed stevia, 100% organic maple syrup and Zulka. White processed sugar contains animal bone char and is hence not vegan.
- Use tofu, bananas, chia seeds and flax seeds as egg substitutes.
- Lentils, beans, soy, chick peas, hemp seeds, Amaranth are all a good source of proteins. Studies have shown that you can improve the nutritional quality of various cereal grains by sprouting and fermenting them.
- Some plant based meat substitutes include tempeh, Seitan, Chickpeas.
- Whole grains items include Quinoa, brown rice, Spelt, bulgur, Teff and farro.
- Milk substitutes include hemp milk, soy milk, cashew milk, almond milk.
- Nutritional yeast is a good substitute for cheese on popcorn.
Once you know what all food items you can consume, you will next have to learn about the food products that you need to avoid in order become a vegan. Following is the list of such food items.
Which food to avoid?
Vegan food does not include animal products like meat, fish, eggs and milk. But you have to be careful while shopping in order to avoid seemingly harmless products like shampoo or deodorants that might contain some animal ingredients. Healthline has a comprehensive list of 37 items that you will need to avoid completely. We have listed some of them here:
- Animal food like meat, poultry, fish, dairy and bee products.
- Additives from animals like E120, E322, E542, E901, E904, gelatin, shellac, and whey and so on.
- Food like bread, wine that might contain animal ingredients.
Always check the label of the products you are buying. You can also take help from mobile apps like Is it vegan? Educate yourself about vegan friendly ingredients and then shop accordingly.
What is a vegan diet deficient in?
If you do not plan a diet correctly then it will have nutritional deficiencies. Similarly, an incorrect vegan and vegetarian diet can have the following nutritional deficiencies:
- The long chain fatty acids are found to be low in vegans than non-vegetarians.
- Vegans maybe at a risk of low iodine and young vegan women should supplement their diet with iodine supplements daily.
- Children following a strict vegetarian diet might suffer from iron deficiency.
- Vegans are found to be at a higher fracture risk because of their low calcium intake.
- Zinc intake has been found low in the vegan and vegetarian diets.
- Vegetarians and vegans are at a risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- DHA is found in a very limited amount in the vegetarian diet.
Here are some ways in which you can improve the nutritional quality of your vegan food:
- Avoid intake of processed vegan food and increase plant based food.
- Fermenting, cooking or sprouting are other ways to increase the nutritional quality of your food.
- Use iron pots for cooking to increase overall iron intake.
- Consume food fortified with vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12.
- Avoid coffee or tea with your food as it inhibits iron absorption.
- Use iodized salt or seaweed to increase iodine intake.
- The DHA requirements should be taken care of by supplements like algae oil since our body cannot convert sufficient amount of ALA to DHA. Dietary requirements of children, pregnant women and older people should be especially taken care of.
If a proper diet plan is followed then vegans have been found to have the healthiest diet as per the US Dietary guidelines for Americans. According to the American dietetic association, a well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy for individuals in all the stages of life cycle.
Supplements to take along with the regular diet
- Zinc: Cereals are the primary source of zinc. But absorption level of zinc is low from a vegetarian diet than a non-vegetarian diet. Hence, necessitating a zinc supplement.
- Calcium: It is important to note that excessive calcium intake can prevent zinc absorption; hence a dose of 500mg at a time is advised.
- Iodine: Include iodized salt in your diet.
- Iron: Take iron supplement only if tested and found deficient in iron. An overdose of iron will lead to other complications that can be even fatal.
- DHA: As mentioned previously, source it from algae oil.
- Vitamin D: Vegan vitamin D supplements from Nordic Naturals.
- Vitamin B12: Supplement available in cyanocobalamin
What is a vegan diet menu?
At first glance people find vegan menu options quite limited because of the seemingly limited food choices. After all how many types of salads can you make with the same ingredients? But with the growing awareness and popularity of veganism, people are experimenting with various food options and are coming up with great recipes. You will find some mouth-watering meal ideas at Vegan Society and Greatist websites. Here are some more breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas:
Some Vegan Snacks
Other than some tasty meals three times a day you can also whip up a number of healthy snacks with available vegan products in the least time.
- Cereals with plant milk
- Hummus and vegetables
- Carrot and lemon spread with crackers
- Cherry basil crumble bars
- Brazil and hazelnut rissoles
- Homemade yogurt
- Potato scones
- Roasted chickpeas
- Homemade muffins
- Fruit and nut bar
- Chia pudding
Eating out on vegan menu
These days when you go out for dinner, you can be sure that you will no longer have to answer the question what is a vegan diet? The popularity of veganism has reached restaurants and bars and they are ready to adjust their menu in order to satisfy this new breed of customers. There are just a few pointers that you will do well to keep in mind while dinning out. This will help avoid disappointment and a hungry stomach.
- Before you make reservation make sure the restaurant serves vegan cuisines.
- If you have come to the restaurant without a booking then make sure that they serve vegan cuisine before you take your seat.
- You can even select some regional restaurants like Mexican or Indian which generally serve good vegetarian food.
- Make use of online resources such as vegguide and happycow to find out vegan eateries.
- You can also use apps like vegman and veganxpress.
- You can always ask the chef to remove the poultry items from a dish to make it vegan.
- If nothing works then order many side dishes.
Despite the popularity there are still some misconceptions about the vegan way of living. People generally ask the following questions:
- What’s the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?
Vegetarians consume dairy products and some even consume eggs. Vegans include only plant based products and no poultry and dairy products.
- Is veganism healthy?
Veganism is definitely healthy if you follow a correct diet plan.
- Do vegans eat only raw food?
No. Some vegans eat raw food whereas some vegans eat cooked food.
- What are milk substitute?
Plant milk like soy and hemp milk are good milk substitutes.
- What are egg substitutes?
Chia, flaxseeds, bananas, tofu are some good egg substitutes.
- Is honey vegan?
No, honey is animal product and hence not vegan.
- Are alcoholic drinks vegan?
- Are medicine vegan?
Mostly medicines are not vegan because of animal testing. But the vegan society allows the use of such prescription drugs. Always talk to your doctor about it first and do not stop taking medicines on your own.
- Can vegan food help me lose weight?
Studies have shown that a vegan or vegetarian diet helps people lose weight.
- Is soya/soy good for the health?
Not all vegans eat soy. Soy is a healthy protein source and you can reliably make it a part of your diet.
- Is being a vegan expensive?
Real vegan foods are not expensive. But if you are into processed vegan food then it will definitely be a little expensive.
- How to become a vegan?
It takes time and patience to become a vegan. Follow our tips and you will find that you are able to make the switch quite smoothly.
Now that we know what veganism is and what a vegan diet comprises, our next step is to learn How to become a vegan. Since we know that veganism is a way of life, adapting to this lifestyle will mean changing your eating habits, your grocery list, maybe even your wardrobe to a certain extent. And like any lifestyle change, it will need to be done step by step. And this is the aim of this article, to guide you on How to become a vegan step by step.
Here are our techniques on how to become a vegan successfully. These steps will help you to make the transition to the vegan lifestyle easily and smoothly.
Step 1 – Reinforcing the reasons
Why do you want to be a vegan? What aspects of this lifestyle inspired you to make changes to your life? Knowing and understanding this aspect is very important to not only start, but to continue with this new way of life. If your reasons are not strong enough, then there is a possibility of returning back to the old ways. Hence, whether it is ethical, environmental or physical, reinforce your reasons by reading and watching as much literature as you can on veganism.
Some good resources for this are:
Positive videos of animals: The Gentle Barn
- Scott Young – How to Become a Vegetarian
- VegCooking-Making the Transition
- Ask MeFi-Can a carnivore become a vegetarian?
- Vegetarian Society-Going Vegetarian
- Others – British Meat, PETA, Vegan Society
Sometimes watching the production process of certain food items makes you averse to eating them. By watching videos and movies and reading books your belief in a vegan lifestyle will get strengthened.
You will also benefit by discussing it with friends or even strangers who are vegans. Join support groups or forums to know more about veganism. These groups will also help you with shopping and even with preparing meals by sharing recipes.
Some online vegan groups are listed here:
To take a more practical approach you can even join a How to become a vegan step by step cooking class. It will certainly make things more interesting and help you learn many new things hands-on and faster.
Step 2 – Choose a method
This is a vital step in your how to become a vegan step by step guide. There are various ways in which you can start your journey towards complete veganism. Some of them are discussed below:
Some people prefer this way of changing their food habits. They would rather forgo all animal products at one go than tease themselves with one item at a time. This generally works if you are fully equipped with all the knowledge about vegan food items. It also works if you have a vegan friend to help you out. Since you already know which animal based items to substitute with which plant based items you can quickly change your way of life without having to worry about what to buy or make.
The rest of the methods will take time and patience and will involve learning new things at each step.
One food item at a time
Choose one particular animal based item from your daily diet which either you use a lot like eggs or something you like the least. Find the vegan substitute for that item and find out how to prepare your usual meal with that item. Like instead of using egg find out how to prepare a tofu omelet instead. Replace that item in all the meals. For example learn to make scrambled “egg” without egg, bake a cookie without egg and so on.
Once you achieve success in banishing this food item from your life you can pick up the next one on your list and continue similarly.
Hours at a time
In this method you can choose to be a vegan till 4 p.m. or you can become a vegan after 4 p.m. This way each day you will be eating some portions of full non-vegan meals and some full vegan meals. It will give you time to experiment with various food items and you will not have to forgo one item fully at one go.
One meal at a time
Similar to the above method you can choose one meal of the day and make it completely vegan. If you are in a hurry in the mornings and do not have time to experiment, then you can only choose to make your dinner fully vegan.
One day of the week
You can choose one day of the week and concentrate on eating only vegan food items on that day. You can choose one of the weekend days since you will have time to shop and experiment with recipes. Once you gain confidence in preparing different types of meals you can shift the vegan days to weekdays and make it a part of your daily routine.
Only at home
Another way to start is to be vegan at home only. You can prepare vegan food at your home but when you go out to dine or visit someone you can be non-vegan.
Hence, instead of being overwhelmed with the plethora of resources and trying to make many changes at the same time, it will be wise to concentrate on one part of your life at one time.
Step 3- Fill your cupboards and fridge
Generally, people associate veganism with cutting out on food items. Instead of looking it at this way, if we think about adding items then it becomes easier to plan meals. It works in favor psychologically too. Having cupboards and fridge filled with vegan food items will motivate you to use them and try some new recipes.
You will need to prepare a grocery list of vegan food items that are healthy and affordable. We will give you a comprehensive list of such items in our next section. But before that let us clear some doubts that can come up during the course of your How to become a vegan step by step tutorial.
Doubt 1- How to become a vegan and stay healthy
Where will the calcium come from if I don’t take milk? And proteins without meat and eggs!? Not knowing the right substitutes will make you doubt on the nutritional values of vegan food items. Oldways vegetarian network lists some good plant based sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B 12. For example, you will get enough protein from Lentils, Beans, Tofu and many more such items. For your calcium needs you can take plant based milks fortified with calcium. Other good sources of calcium are raw Kale, broccoli and almonds.
Doubt 2- How to become a vegan and still eat out
You no longer have to worry about this question. Now even fast food restaurants are offering vegan options in their menu. Denny’s has various vegan dishes alongside its traditional meal options. The Cheesecake Factory offers vegan salad and veggie burgers.
Before booking a seat you can always make sure the restaurant offers vegan meals or not. Good options for dinning out are Indian, Mexican, Italian and Ethiopian restaurants.
PETA has a comprehensive list of many such chain restaurants.
Doubt 3- How to become a vegan on a budget
Vegan food is not expensive. At least the real food is not, but the processed one can be. Try to buy whole food items at farmer’s market and community supported agriculture groups. Dry food items like beans, nuts and grains can be bought in bulk and stored appropriately to avoid spoilage.
Always buy seasonal fruits and vegetables because they will be more economical. You can get a list of all seasonal fruits and vegetables at the Fruits and Veggies website. Accordingly you can make your shopping list.
Now that you know how to start off on a vegan diet we have summarized some tips for you to remain a successful vegan.
Tips on How to become a vegan (and remain one!)
- Set your own pace and adhere to it.
- Relax and be easy on yourself.
- Don’t be too anxious about breaking rules. Remember it is your choice and hence, your rules.
- Do it quietly at first. It will save you from bombardment with questions from friends and well-wishers. Later on, when you are more prepared and confident you can involve your family and friends.
- Join a vegan support group.
- Plan your outings.
- Be prepared to experience new tastes and textures. Do not expect your tofu scramble to taste similar to an egg scramble. It will be good or even better but not same.
- Use more whole foods and fruits and vegetables than processed vegan food items to stay healthy.
- Have fun and choose healthy options.
Hopefully we were able to provide answers to the question of How to become a vegan step by step in a comprehensive way. As we said in the beginning, that to be a successful vegan you will need to make changes gradually. Changing your diet is a good starting point. Change your grocery list and learn about various new products. Later on, you can shift towards wearing vegan clothes, footwear and cosmetics and so on.
Some people might think that practicing veganism is easier said than done. Facing real issues like preparing a list of foods that vegans eat, how to make them, where to buy the ingredients and so on sometimes deter people from this path. But you no longer need to worry because with increasing awareness, not only a plethora of food items are available on the shelves of grocery stores but various restaurants and big brands are offering ready-made vegan food options too. Hence, preparing a vegan food list for beginners is no longer an uphill task.
You only need to know the various options and substitutes available in the market before you start your shopping. And this is why we are here. We will help you make a vegan grocery list for beginners that will not only list down products but will also state their nutritional value. So let us begin by listing down some vegan substitutes, followed by some vegan staple diet items.
Meat, Egg and Milk Replacements
So, where should we start first? Meat? Let us start with the first item that you might be thinking is difficult to replace. Nutrient wise meat can be easily substituted with a variety of plant based products because any plant based product that is rich in protein is your meat substitute. Beginners who find it difficult to replace meat because of the texture and taste will find various options in packaged vegan meat.
List of foods that vegans eat instead of meat
Plant based substitutes: Not only are these products made from plant based whole foods like wheat or soy but they have a chewy consistency too. Consequently it makes them an ideal meat substitute.
Branded packaged vegan meat: If you are having a difficult time to go meatless then these processed food items will help you. Though these are good options for beginners, they should be replaced by whole food items gradually. These are expensive than whole foods and not as nutritious.
- Beyond meat sausages
- Beyond meat Chicken strips
- BOCA veggie ground crumbles
- Gardein beefless burgers
- Tofurkey vegan Roast
Next are egg substitutes
Since egg is used in a variety of recipes it will be better if we list the substitutes according to the recipes.
Vegan grocery list for beginners looking for egg substitutes
Breakfast substitute: Tofu is generally a good substitute for breakfast dishes but people who are allergic to soy can use chickpea flour as an alternative.
- Tofu for preparing scrambled tofu or an omelet
- Chickpea flour for omelet, scramble or quiche
Baking substitute: Eggs are used as a binder in baked goods. It will be a good idea to use substitutes for food items that require just 2-3 eggs at a time. This will not only be more convenient but will give better and consistent results. You can use these substitutes for baking cookies, pancakes and muffins.
- Chia seed
- Pumpkin and sweet potato
Branded egg substitute: They are also good egg replacements and are made from high quality ingredients.
- Red Mill egg replacers
Next item on the list is Milk
Probably you are thinking that this item is impossible to replace but those doubts will vanish once you have a look at our vegan grocery list for milk.
Vegan milk substitutes for beginners
Following are some milk substitutes:
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Cashew milk
- Hemp milk
- Soy milk
- Rice milk
There are a number of brands that sell a variety of vegan milk like almond, rice, soy and so on.
Following are some of the vegan milk brands:
- Silk Almond milk (vanilla and original)
- Almond Breeze (Original almond milk)
- Dream Rice milk
- Edensoy soy milk
- Pacific natural oat milk
- So Delicious coconut milk
After milk substitutes it is natural to look for cheese and butter substitutes also. And why to forget ice cream! Just remember that products labeled as lactose free are not necessarily vegan and hence you will need to choose carefully. Here are some branded substitutes as well as plant based substitutes.
4. Vegan grocery list for beginners looking for milk product substitutes
Following are some branded substitutes:
- Earth Balance butter, coconut oil, buttery spread
- Tofutti cream cheese
- Field Roast Chao cheese slices
- Cashew milk ice cream by So delicious
Again, processed food items are not a very healthy option and it will be better to gradually turn to the following home made whole food based substitutes.
- Roasted garlic and herb cream cheese
- Tofu Gouda made from potatoes and tofu
- Raw cashew almond cheese
- Frozen banana cashew ice cream
- Nutritional yeast for popcorns
Now that we have finished looking at substitutes, let us start with the staple items. There are various types of food grains that will help make a base for your dish, condiments that will add flavor, natural sweeteners and various other plant based food items. Following is our list of foods that vegans eat mostly.
1. Whole grains and legumes
The plant based whole grains will not only provide you with enough energy to keep going throughout the day but they are also packed with minerals and fibers that are necessary for a healthy body and mind.
- Brown rice
Next in the list are legumes that are high in protein, low in fat and have tons of vitamins in them.
2. Fruits and vegetables
Try to shop for seasonal fruits and vegetables because they will be more economical, fresh and tastier. Though your vegan grocery list will depend upon what particular dish you are preparing some regular fruits and vegetables are listed here.
Vegetables are packed with nutrients and they can be either eaten raw, or cooked.
Fruits are not only a great source of vitamins and minerals that help prevent diseases but they are also quick energy providers. You can either eat them raw or juice them or make some delicious smoothies.
3. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are healthy fats that also provide you with antioxidants. You can add the following to your vegan grocery list.
- Cashew Nuts
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
4. Condiments, herbs and spices
Condiments, herbs and spices will not only help to add taste to your prepared vegan food but will also add to the overall nutrition content. You can add some of the following to your grocery list.
- Chili powder
White sugar is not vegan because it is dusted with animal bone char for whitening purpose. You can use the following alternatives instead.
- Maple Syrup
- Date syrup
- Coconut sugar
We have tried to cover some popular items in each category. There are many more items and you will discover them as you go forward in your journey towards veganism. The list is mostly for beginners so that they can start with the vegan way of living without any hiccups. Hopefully our vegan grocery list for beginners was useful to you and helped you in your transition journey from a non-vegan to a vegan.
It is true that the word Vegan comes from the word “Vegetarian”. But in no way are its roots related to its parent word. Vegetarian is a diet, whereas Veganism is a way of life. People take to veganism out of choice. On the other hand people become vegetarian because of religious or cultural pressures. The motivation, diet and lifestyle differ a lot between the two. And this is the purpose of this article. The article will talk in detail about the difference between vegan and vegetarian. By the end of the article you will understand why, if you call a vegan, a vegetarian by mistake you will get cold stares!
Let us start with finding the difference between vegan and vegetarian roots. Vegetarianism is a very old concept. It is as old as the Indus or Greek civilizations. Greek thinker Pythagoras viewed vegetarianism as a way to make peace between humans and animals. For him it was a way of letting humans and animals live together in peace. In the eastern countries like India, practicing vegetarianism is the first step towards practicing a particular religion. Persons born in households following a specific religion become vegetarian by birth.
Veganism, on the other hand has a very recent origin. It was started in 1944 in England. At that time some people felt that their views on “non-dairy vegetarianism” were not recognized. They wanted to give a voice to their opinions. Hence, The Vegan News, a quarterly newsletter was started. With it veganism was recognized as a different way of life.
Another difference between vegan and vegetarian is the motivation that makes a person a vegetarian or a vegan. A person becomes a vegetarian because of cultural pressures or medical reasons. Eating red meat and processed meat is linked with many chronic diseases like cancer and heart problems. People take to a vegetarian diet to prevent such diseases.
A person changes from a non-vegetarian diet to a vegan diet for ethical reasons. They want to save animals from all the cruelty that they suffer because of human greed. And this is the reason they make changes to their lifestyle too. These changes include saying no to wearing leather, fur or wool.
When it comes to diet the difference between vegan and vegetarian is very clear. Both the groups do not eat meat. But vegans go a step further and do not eat or drink any animal produce. This will include things like eggs, honey and dairy products. The reason behind veganism is prevention of animal cruelty and for them the production process of milk is the cruelest of all.
According to vegans, all animal species stop taking their mother’s milk once they grow up. They take other form of diet for growth. It is only humans who do not stop taking milk even when they become adults. In order to satisfy this greed, breeding of cows is done mercilessly for milk production. The same applies to the production process of eggs and honey.
Vegetarians are not so clear about their diet preferences. Depending upon the diet, vegetarians are divided into various types.
Lacto-Ovo: Eat dairy and eggs but no meat, fish and poultry.
Lacto: Eat dairy but no egg, fish, meat or poultry.
Pescatarian: No meat or poultry but allow fish.
Though vegans are very clear about foods they want to avoid their food preparation method differs from person to person. Some vegans eat raw food only whereas some eat cooked food. Similarly, some vegans take more of whole grains whereas some consume more fruits and vegetable. There are some vegans who thrive on processed vegan food only.
There is a lot of difference between vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Most vegetarians do not eat animals but use animal products. They do not eat meat but they do not mind wearing leather products.
A vegan on the other hand does not use any form of animal products in his/her life. Vegans do not use cosmetics because of animal testing reasons. The vegan society has not extended this restriction to medicines. But some vegans like to check medicine composition and ask for a replacement from their GP if it has non-vegan ingredients.
The difference between vegan and vegetarian health benefits are:
- Since vegans do not consume milk products like butter or cheese, their body mass index is much lower than the vegetarians (especially the lacto-ovo vegetarians).
- Vegans also tend to gain less weight than vegetarians.
- Prevalence of type 2 diabetes is less in vegans (2.9%) than lacto-ovo (3.2%) or semi-vegetarians (6.1%).
- Vegan diet protects from overall and female specific cancers whereas the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet protects from gastrointestinal tract cancers.
- Vegans are also at a lesser risk of developing hypertensive diseases than vegetarians.
According to the US dietary guidelines for Americans, both vegan and vegetarian diets are suitable for all life stages. The diets do not lack in any nutrients. As long as people chose food from various nutrition groups they will not require supplements.
Like any diet, if you do not plan your vegetarian and vegan diet properly then they will have nutritional deficiencies. A non-meat diet generally lacks in vitamin B12, iron and zinc and a non-dairy diet lacks in calcium and vitamin D. Hence, there is a difference between vegan and vegetarian diet nutritional deficiencies too. Most North Americans get their iron, zinc and vitamin B12 from meat and poultry products. A vegetarian and vegan diet tends to lack in those. A poorly planned vegan diet might lack in calcium and vitamin D as well. This raises the risk of fractures.
Hence, it is important to include proper plant based substitutes of these vitamins and minerals in your diet plan.
Turning to vegetarianism is also a stepping stone towards complete veganism. Some people start by becoming vegetarians and gradually become vegans. Since the grocery list for both vegans and vegetarians is somewhat similar, it makes the transition easy. But other than that there is no other similarity between the two. The difference between vegan and vegetarian can be summed up in a single phrase – “No Animal Exploitation”. Veganism is very clear about it and there are no two different views.