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There is no doubt that veganism is a very controversial and talked about lifestyle. Veganism is usually known as a type of diet; one that excludes all animal products and byproducts such as dairy, eggs, and honey. Basically, there are two groups of vegans. One of them lives the vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons and the other for health reasons. A few of the main arguments non- vegans make include, but are not limited to; the logistical challenge to cook and organize vegan food, that vegan food does not fully supply the body with all essential nutrients, and also; research shows there is no health reason to completely avoid animal products and foods.
Veganism is now an increasingly popular lifestyle, with around 2.5 percent of America’s population considering themselves vegan. Although not vegan, research shows 33 percent of Americans say they eat meatless meals on a regular basis. Many organizations for animal rights, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Vier Pfoten, Pro Animale, etc.
are joined by Vegans, because they want to fight for better conditions for animals. The productive livestock, which is kept in mass stocks, suffers from poor living conditions, such as little space, no natural habitat and social distance. Often animals are stuffed with medicine, for example antibiotics or anti-invectives to keep them alive. Also, growth hormones are used to get more profit in shorter time.
As stated earlier, one of the main reasons people are vegans is for a healthier lifestyle. The Vegan diet naturally contains little to no cholesterol and even less fat, saturated fat, and calories than vegetarian diets because they exclude dairy and eggs.
Scientific research shows that health benefits increase as the amount of food from animal sources in the diet decreases, making vegan diets one of the healthiest diets to follow, overall. Also, in 2009, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or A.N.D. (formerly the American Dietetic Association) published an updated position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets and confirmed it’s support of them. The A.N.D. concludes that “well-planned vegetarian diets, including vegan diets, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can even help prevent and treat chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes”; which was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in July 2009.
To go more in depth on the arguments against veganism; many people argue vegan diets do not include enough of the correct nutrients. One study shows that 92% of vegans are deficient in the critical nutrient B12, which is rarely found in plants and which you typically would eat meat to obtain. Another reason people tend to be leery or suspicious of vegan diets, is the anecdotal evidence related to them. Vegan diets are proven to have health benefits for a lot of people; at least in the short term, before the nutrient deficiencies can possibly kick in, and typically do. Although, this usually doesn’t stop many people from being part of the Vegan lifestyle; the following is growing quite rapidly. Many people think a Vegan lifestyle costs a lot, and it can, but doesn’t have to be.
A vegan diet consists of only plant-derived foods. Vegan eat fruits are vegetables liberally, as they compose a large percentage of their food. They also consume a lot of pastas, whole grains, breads, and cereal; as they are usually made without animal products anyway. Vegans tend to eat 2-3 servings of fortified dairy substitutes per day, such as almond/soy milk, soy cheese, and vegetable-based meat substitutes. Aside from those main food groups that Vegans consume, they also eat legumes, seeds, and beans. Sparingly in their diet they will use vegetable oils and fats, some sweets, salt, spices, and nuts.
Now that we know what the Vegan diet consists of, you also might be wondering how they can eat at restaurants, when so many menus are based on the ‘Standard American Diet’. For one example, vegans can enjoy just about every dish a meat-eater can by cooking with veggie burgers, “ham,” “hot dogs,” and “turkey” made out of soy and with less familiar staples such as tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and seitan, or wheat gluten. These can be added to spaghetti, soups, salads, lasagna, stir-fries, and chili. When it comes to eating at a restaurant, many times a vegan could order a salad, but they might say, “leave out the cheese”, or “could you leave out the ham”. When it comes to fast-food, Burger King serves a veggie burger; the BK Veggie. Also, the popular Mexican grill, Chipotle, offers braised tofu Sofritas, with many vegan toppings. Overall, the vegan diet doesn’t have to be very expensive and it can have great health benefits, if followed carefully.
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