The Basics: What is “Vegan”?

Hi there! I hope you’re having a fantastic day!

Many of you reading this blog might be new to veganism. Being “vegan” means you do not eat or use any animal products. This includes meat (including fish), dairy (milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter, whey, etc.), eggs, and honey. Vegans also don’t wear leather, wool, cashmere, and other animal byproducts.

Below are a few links that tell you more about what being vegan means and give more examples of animal byproducts:

http://animalsmart.org/feeding-the-world/products-from-animals

http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy-eating/special-diets/vegan

However, there are still SO MANY foods you can eat as a vegan. Flavorful and sweet fruits, delicious and savory vegetables, crunchy nuts and seeds, good fats (like avocados and peanut butter), and lots and lots of delicious vegan desserts! And yes, vegans can still eat chocolate!

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People choose to go vegan for various reasons. They choose veganism so they can eat healthier, so they help the environment, and so they can help animals. Some people eat a vegan diet because they don’t feel right about eating the other animals we share the Earth with.

*Side note that sort of relates to the above: Did you know vegans save almost 200 animals a year!? (Source: PETA)*

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I first became vegan to eat a healthier and more vibrant diet. Being vegan has helped me to incorporate many more fruits and veggies into my diet. It has also prompted me to try new foods like chia seeds, coconut oil, flax seeds, mangoes, kale, and artichokes (to name a few). However, NOW I am vegan because I love vegan food, I think the food is better for my body, eating vegan saves the environment, and I am vegan for all of the cute animals of the Earth!

Below, from left to right : smoothie made with kale from our garden, me + veggies harvested from our garden, & our (somewhat overgrown) square foot garden.

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My Vegan Story:

I first learned about veganism about four years ago. A lady at the yoga studio my mom works at was holding a vegan 28 day detox. This meant that for 28 days, the participant could only eat vegan foods. A year later, I decided to try it out with my family. The first day, we had absolutely no idea what the heck we were doing. We made green smoothies in the morning, salad for lunch, and salad for dinner. Needless to say, my little brother dropped out after the first day. As the days went by, though, we learned more and more about what we could eat and we found great recipes! I loved doing the detox! I felt great when eating vegan food, and the detox prompted me to eat more fruit and vegetables!

After the detox, I went back to eating meat and dairy… but it just didn’t taste the same. I didn’t enjoy eating meat anymore. I was (and still am!) revolted by it! So a few weeks after putting meat back into my diet, I took it back out again. For good. A few months later, I did the same thing with dairy. And then I became vegan for good! My friends thought I was crazy (and some still think I am) for not eating meat or dairy! However, some have enjoyed my veganism. It’s gotten me to cook and bake more, and they sometimes get to be taste testers of the food I make!

Back to the detox: without it, I wouldn’t be vegan. The detox was a catalyst for a drastic change in my lifestyle! I am so thankful for it!

I would recommend a detox-like approach to anyone interested in becoming vegan, or even just incorporating more fruit and vegetables and less meat and dairy into your diet. Start off incorporating more wholesome foods into your diet, and wean off non-vegan foods. For example, if you eat meat twice a day, start eating it once a day and continue until you are eating no meat at all! However, going cold-turkey (or cold tofu in this case?) works too! You can transition however you’d like! The main advice I have on this subject  is to try out a vegan or vegetarian diet! If you’re debating… just go for it! It’s a fun way to try new foods!

Now I hope you know what veganism is, and some of the things vegans eat. I also hope you’ve learned a little bit more about me! If you’re still curious, and feel like jamming out, watch this fun music video all about what vegans eat.

xx Ellie

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