You see vegans pop up around you like mushrooms… You confuse them with vegetarians. You know that it’s not the same thing but you don’t really know the difference between the two. You flirt with the idea to remove meat from your diet entirely but you’re still “looking into it”. And then if you don’t eat meat what are you? Vegetarian or vegan? Don’t worry about it at all! You will find all of the answers you need right here - if you finally decide to embrace vegetarianism (meaning strict or complete abstinence from meat) – and also find the best recipes so that you don’t feel you are missing out on anything!
In the following lines, I’ve put together some useful information that will help you have a clearer picture of the… green fields ahead! After that, it’s in your own hands.. and mind to move forward in any direction you prefer… ;-)
- Vegetarian or vegan; Yes there is a huge difference! Being a vegetarian means that you completely exclude meats and fish from your diet (even though there are some vegetarians that exclude meat but do eat chicken or fish). Being a vegan means that you completely exclude meat and any other animal products.
- A vegan says “no”… to meats and to fish. Furthermore they don’t eat dairy products, eggs, honey and don’t ever use clothes or objects that may come from animals or have fur, leather, hair, bones or feathers from birds or other animals. They also turn their backs on jewelry made from pearls or corals. Last, they avoid any products that have connection with animal testing.
- A vegan says “yes”… to soy products. They love mushrooms, beans (since they are a good source of protein) cereals and grains. They use avocado instead of butter (if it is melted it can really work wonders). Fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, bread and – generally – anything that does NOT come from something that is alive or contain some product that comes from a living creature!
- It may seem difficult but really it’s all in your mind! Yes, basically everything is in your mind. It depends on how determined you are to change your life. Because when you really get down to it, a decision like this will change your life for a while. It will put you in a position to think twice before your perspective changes and you switch things around to make your new thought a “way of life”. The only sure thing is that there is no right or wrong way for anyone to do this. You can start off as a vegetarian (excluding meats and fish from your diet as a start) and gradually ease into the second phase, excluding eggs… then slowly excluding dairy products and slowly the rest of the products that don’t have any place in your diet… IF you want to call yourself a vegan that is.
- You may need to “fortify” your organism in some way… What does this mean? That it is possible your body may need iron or vitamin B12 supplements, since their absence may make you feel tired or in a bad mood; while at the same time it may create problems as far as your “good relationship” with the bathroom. Now, as far as iron is concerned, beans and dark leafy greens may offer you extra iron, while broccoli and peppers will help your body absorb them better. Last, for some extra things that may be missing from this particular type of diet… such as calcium, zinc, iodine and Vitamin D… it would be best to check your bloodwork so that your doctor can give you more specific details for you.
- You will start to… read. Read articles on line, or look through books and keep notes as well as “decode” restaurant menus. Above all, you will begin to read the labels on the products you want to buy, to make sure they are in accordance to your new… principles!
- You will start to see things differently… and certainly in a more positive manner! You see, the absence of meat and more specifically of an acid (arachidonic acid), which has the power to… ruin your mood and make you feel more angry… will make you feel in a better mood all around. Research has shown that in spite of the low consumption of EPA/DHA (Omega 3 – the good fats that are necessary for your organism), veganism can lower the percentages of depression. If to this you add the happiness of the fact that you are protecting animals and the planet in general (that are benefited from your new vegan life style), then you will really start to understand how much better you are feeling!
Following, are some super tasty vegan recipes, which – as I already said – will make sure that nothing is missing from your diet or your taste buds! They are full of aroma, flavor and healthy, nutritious and above all homemade!
Tell me what you think of all this! I am waiting for your comments ;-)
*This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Dietitian Anna Maria Volanaki MSc, BDA, SENr.