What is veganism- A beginners guide to turn vegan

What is veganism- A beginners guide to turn vegan

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Veganism, or a vegan lifestyle as defined by The Vegan Society, is ‘a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals, for food, clothing or any other purpose’. Following a vegan diet means you should not consume any food derived from animals like meat, honey, egg etc

Difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat or consume any kind of animal product. They exclude meat, poultry and even seafood from their diet, however, they may go on to consume dairy products such as milk and eggs. Likewise, vegans avoid meat, poultry and seafood but they take a little step ahead by not consuming milk, eggs, honey or any product/by-product made from animal/ animal skin.

How vegan diet can help the world

Eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined. Below are 3 environmental benefits of going vegan.

1) Cut Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The impact of animal agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions goes a lot further than just cows producing methane gas. Meat production requires vast amounts of energy. Not only do you have to grow the crops to feed the animals, but fossil fuels are also burnt in the raising, slaughtering and transportation of animals. In fact, livestock and their by-products account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. So if you choose to eat meat, your greenhouse emissions can be twice that of someone on a plant-based diet. Alongside this we need to remember that livestock consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, as most of the energy taken in by animals is used for their bodily functions and not converted to meat, eggs or milk. In fact, as Cornell University found, producing one calorie of food energy from beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy, whilst producing one calorie of human-edible grain takes only 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy.

2) Preserve Habitats and Species

Eating animals is the largest contributing factor in habitat loss and extinction. First, producing meat requires large amounts of land to raise animals on. Every second, an area of rainforest equivalent to a football field is cleared to rear and graze animals. It is estimated that 1lb of beef is equivalent to 200 square feet of destroyed rainforest7. And overall, it’s estimated that eating meat requires three times more land than is needed for a vegan diet.

Second, poorly managed animal waste products from the meat industry are polluting our environment and destroying habitats. Many pollutant waste products get washed into our water systems, the nitrogen and phosphorus found in this waste cause algae to grow on the water and starves the fish of oxygen. This process leads to the creation of ‘dead zones’, places where few species can survive. As of 2011, 530 marine areas were identified as dead zones.

3) Conserve Water

Whilst it may seem that water is plentiful, especially on very rainy days, fresh water is actually a very scarce resource. Only 2.5% of all water on our planet is fresh water, and only 30% of that is available to us and not frozen as ice. Water scarcity is a very real issue, with over a billion people living without sufficient access to clean water. Food choices can have a big impact on water demand. Unlike the majority of plant-based foods, raising animals requires vast amounts of water. This is because animals need water to drink, wash, clean their living spaces and cool themselves during hot periods. In fact, a study comparing the water footprint of different foods found that whilst a soy burger has a water footprint of 158 litres, a beef burger has a water footprint of 2,350 litres, which is over 14 times as big. This situation begs the question: if so many people are living in areas without access to fresh water, why are we wasting so much of it producing animal products when we can get all the nutrients we need from plant-based foods? The production of plant-based foods is a more efficient use of our resources, as it requires less energy from fossil fuels as well as less land and water. By removing animal products from our diet we can play our part in reducing humanity’s damaging impact on our environment.

Types of Vegans

  • Ethical Vegans: They are the most common who evidently put their ethics forward instead of their stomach and inherit their love and care for animals and environment. Ethical Vegans do not consume any dairy product be it milk, eggs, cheese, honey  and avoid the usage of any product made by animal skin or parts.
  • Plant Based Vegans: They go on to live on plants based foods, which grow from the ground only.
  • Raw Vegan: They do not eat any animal by-product and anything that is cooked above the temperature of 115-degree Fahrenheit as they believe that such food will lose its nutrients and enzymes completely.

Health benefits of a vegan diet


1. Nutritional value

Several studies have reported that vegan diets, when followed correctly, tend to contain more fibre, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E. Vegan diets are packed full of essential nutrients, but in the absence of meat, it is vitally important that we make sure we are still consuming all of the correct amounts of proteins in other forms.

Protein is made up of small parts called amino acids, which aid your metabolism and help to keep you muscles, skin and organs healthy. Vegan options include nuts, peanut butter, seeds, grains and legumes.

Iron is another key nutrient and plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells which help to carry oxygen throughout your body. Good sources include or iron includes beans, broccoli, raisins, wheat and tofu. 

2. Our moods

Research has revealed that vegans may be happier than their meat-eating counterparts. In fact it was discovered that vegans and vegetarians had lower scores on depression tests and mood profiles when compared to fish and meat-eaters. There is an element of freshness to most plant based dishes, especially when it comes to organic produce – so this is bound to purify our minds and keep our thoughts positive.

The best vegan dishes in London

3. Disease prevention

Due to the fact that they contain fewer saturated fats, vegan diets have been shown to reduce heart disease risk and what’s more, data shows conclusively that vegans and vegetarians suffer from fewer diseases caused by a modern Western diet (e.g. coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity type 2 diabetes, diet-related cancers, diverticulitis, constipation, and gall stones, among several others).

Why? This can be attributed to a higher intake of fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Foodborne illnesses, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, poultry, and seafood when compared with plant foods, (particularly organic fruits and vegetables). Vegans also consume less processed food as a rule.

Benefits of Kale: low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat

4. ​​Fewer migraines

As well as playing its role in reducing the risks of certain diseases, the vegan diet can also help to reduce the onset of migraine attacks. Migraines are often linked to our diets and food is a common trigger. Foods like chocolate and cheese are also common culprits. Vegan diets, especially organic ones are much purer and much less likely to be triggers for an attack.

Here’s your ultimate vegan shopping list

5. Weight loss

A bonus to sticking to a vegan diet is the positive effect it has on our figure. Vegans typically weigh less as a result of a diet comprised of fewer calories in the form of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Vegans are also generally more aware of healthy food and therefore tend to eat better.  Plant foods tend to be easier on your digestion too.

6. Improving athletic performance

While most active individuals focus on protein intake, more and more athletes follow a high-carbohydrate, good-fat, and vitamin and mineral-rich vegetarian diet for optimum sports performance. Conflicting studies exist, but the number of world-class vegetarian sportsmen continues to rise, world tennis stars and sisters Venus and Serena Williams for example, announced they were going vegan in 2011.

7. Our skin

People following a vegan lifestyle tend to have better vision and less macular degeneration – all that extra vitamin c and consequent collagen leads to much better skin.

8. Protecting the environment

A plant-based diet is better for the planet as it requires much less energy and farmland to feed a vegan. The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment– from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. Protecting the environment is beneficial to us all. 

Going green: vegan diets can be better for the environment

9. Balancing hormones

Hormones such as oestrogen can be responsible for causing breast cancer if levels become too excessive. A New York study found levels of oestrogen can be increased by animal fats. Vegans have significantly lower oestrogen levels than non-vegans, in part because of the lower fat content of their diet. In addition, they have more of certain carrier molecules, called sex hormone binding globulin, which circulate in the blood and have the job of holding onto sex hormones– keeping them inactive until they are needed. Fatty foods do the reverse: they increase oestrogen.

10. ​Longevity

Vegans have been found to enjoy longer and healthier lives when compared to meat-eaters.

Disadvantages of a vegan diet

Sources- Healthscopemag

Sticking to a strict diet

In addition to not eating meat, fish, or poultry, vegans steer clear of any animal products and by-products. That includes honey, eggs, dairy, cosmetics derived from animal products, and more. If you choose to go vegan, you may have a hard time choosing from the menu when dining out.

Potential vitamin and mineral loss

There are vegan sources for most nutrients, but it might be a challenge to consume enough of them. Take iron and vitamin D for example. Vitamin D isn’t typically found in the vegan diet, but can be obtained through exposure to sunlight. When people think iron, they typically think meat. But beans and leafy greens are also good sources, and you can increase iron absorption by coupling them with foods that are rich in vitamin C. You’ll also need to supplement vitamin B12, which only occurs naturally in animal foods.

A lack of protein

A healthy diet should incorporate some form of protein into every meal. Since vegans forego typical protein sources like meat and eggs, they have to incorporate it through different means. If you’re thinking about going vegan, it’s time to stock up on soy, quinoa, lentils, and beans. And beware of overly-processed meat substitutes, which can be packed with sodium and preservatives. Check labels before opting for that frozen tofu burger!

Vegan meal plan- Diet to start a vegan lifestyle


Homemade hummus

Breakfast: Vegan-friendly muesli topped with fortified soya yoghurt, a tablespoon of ground linseed (flaxseed) and berries

Some store brought muesli can contain honey (which is not vegan), unlike most non-vegan ingredients it is not in ‘bold’ as an allergen so make sure to look out for it.

Lunch: Baked sweet potato with houmous and salad

Evening meal: “Meat” balls (or chopped vegan sausages) in a spicy tomato sauce with peas and sweetcorn mixed into brown rice sprinkled with 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes

Vegan sausages can be found in most supermarkets and health stores. Pre-made vegan meatballs can also be found in health stores.

Fortified nutritional yeast flakes can be found online and in health food stores. If unable to access it, replace with a sufficient amount of other foods with added vitamin B12 or take a supplement.

Snacks: Glass of fortified plant milk, apple, cashew nuts and a couple of Brazil nuts


Breakfast: A glass of fortified plant milk and a muffin 

Lunch: Wholewheat spaghetti and soya mince and grated carrot bolognaise sprinkled with 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes

Soya mince can be purchased at most supermarkets and healthfood stores, but if you’re unable to find it you could substitute in lentils and/or mushroom mince. 

Evening meal: Wholemeal wrap filled with spicy rice, beans and vegetables

Snacks: Banana smoothie made using fortified plant milk, kiwi fruit, cashew nuts and a couple of Brazil nuts



Breakfast: Banana and peanut butter on wholemeal toast and a glass of fortified plant milk

Lunch: Chickpea and couscous salad including grated carrot sprinkled with 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes

Evening meal: Stir-fried marinated calcium-set tofu and vegetables with rice noodles

For crispier tofu make sure you press it first, this removes excess water which means not only can it absorb more of the marinade, but also fries better.

Snacks: Walnuts and a couple of Brazil nuts, an apple, satsumas


Breakfast: Wheat biscuits and fortified plant milk topped with six walnut halves and chopped banana

When purchasing cereals be careful to look out for vitamin D3 as this is not vegan.

Lunch: Bean and pasta salad sprinkled with 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes

Mixed bean salad is available tinned in most supermarkets, and you can then add the pasta of your choice to it.

Evening meal: Chickpea, sweet potato and pepper curry with peas mixed into brown rice

To make a simple vegan curry sauce combine a curry paste with light coconut milk.

Snacks: Fortified soya yoghurt, an apple, satsumas and a couple of Brazil nuts


Veggie burger

Breakfast: Porridge made with fortified plant milk topped with apple, raisins, a tablespoon of ground linseed (flaxseed) and cinnamon

Lunch: Tortilla filled with houmous, sweetcorn, grated carrot, 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes and salad

Houmous is readily available at most supermarkets, but it’s also really easy to make your own.

Evening meal: Veggie burger in wholemeal roll with salad

Veggie burgers are available at most supermarkets (be careful to make sure they are vegan as some contain dairy!) or you can make your own.

Snacks: Glass of fortified plant milk, banana, cashew nuts and a couple of Brazil nuts


Breakfast: Baked beans and tomatoes on wholemeal toast sprinkled with 5g fortified nutritional yeast flakes

Lunch: ½ baguette from part-baked filled with falafel and salad

Evening meal: Baked sweet potato with soya chilli and cooked vegetables followed by fortified soya yoghurt

Plain soya yoghurt is also a great vegan alternative for sour cream, so you could have this with your meal to accompany the spicy soya chilli.

Snacks:  Banana smoothie made using fortified plant milk, walnuts and a couple of Brazil nuts, apple


Breakfast: Vegan sausage, onion and mustard wholemeal sandwich and orange juice

Lunch: Vegan-friendly vegetable soup with pasta and 5g nutritional yeast flakes added followed by fortified soya yoghurt

When buying soup be sure to look our for dairy ingredients like milk powder as these can sometimes be added to soups. Also watch out for meat stock as this can sometimes be added to vegetable soups too.

Evening meal: Seitan steak with BBQ sauce, sweet potato oven chips, peas and carrots followed by fruit salad, including kiwi fruit

You can buy vital wheat gluten to make seitan at health food stores and online, or make a steak from tofu or tempeh instead.

Snacks: Glass of fortified plant milk, walnuts, a satsuma and a couple of Brazil nuts


“Nothing will benifit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet” -Albert Einstein

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