A vegan refers to someone who doesn't use or eat animal products. Unlike vegetarians, who don't eat meat, vegans:
- don't eat any animal products: meat, dairy, and eggs
- avoid cosmetics and products that test on animals
- don't wear fur, leather, or wool
People follow the vegan diet for three main reasons:
- Animals. The demand for milk, eggs, and meat has created a system of factory farms. Animals are often kept in inhumane conditions.
- Environment. America's large demand for animal products has created an overuse of land, water, and fertilizer. For instance, over half of the water used in the US goes toward animal agriculture.
- Health. Certain animal products are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. If not consumed in moderation, meat-eaters are at risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
You must properly alter your diet once you give up milk, meat, and eggs. It is more difficult for your body to absorb certain nutrients from a plant rather than a meat (like iron), therefore experts recommend that vegans consume higher doses of that food. To stay healthy, a person should be ready to eat large amounts of greens to replace that steak.
Additionally, certain nutrients like vitamin B-12 or vitamin D only occur naturally in animal products. Therefore, vegans need to eat foods that have been supplemented with these nutrients.
If you choose the vegan diet, follow it responsibly.
"You can't live on soda and fries, which are vegan, but definitely not a healthy diet," says Marta Holmberg, Division Manager of Youth Outreach & Campaigns at peta2.
A vegan diet isn't for people wanting to exclusively lose a few pounds or to replace that chicken breast with something unhealthy. But if you're ready to replace animal products effectively—snack on, my friend.
American Heart Association
World Health Organization
Pan American Health Organization
The Humane Society of the United States