What does Veganism or Vegan mean?
A VEGAN (pronounced like "begin", VEE-gin ) (some say veg like beg) is basically someone who shuns all animal products, from their diet, their clothes, and even other items they use.
While some choose being vegan for health reasons and environmental reasons, most choose it because they don't believe in causing any pain to any creature, particularly since it is so unnecessary, and/or they believe we just should let all animals live their own natural lives, without our interfering.
The main difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is that a lot of vegetarians still use dairy and egg products and aren't as strict in their lifestyles.
Some people are vegetarians for health reason, and/or environmental protection reasons, while some are for anti cruelty/animal rights. Although cutting down on any animal product does help, but to be truly the best for peoples health, the planets health, and to reduce animal cruelty to a minimum, one must be a vegan.
BUT, it is important to note that ANY steps a person can take, to reduce their consumption of animal products is a good thing, and hopefully lead to more...
For a more in depth look , please see the REASONS for being a VEGAN page. There you will see reasons why a vegan diet is best for everybody!, and might be surprised at some of the facts.
Something important to think about, when with a vegan, or a vegetarian for that matter, is to consider their feelings while they are around. If you plan on ordering something with meat, or serving something similar, It WILL offend a lot of people, and could hurt them deeply.
Look at it this way. What do you believe the strongest in?
If someone was with you who didn't believe what you did. would you like it if they acted against YOUR beliefs in front of you? Whether it be religion, abortion, smoking, drugs, WHATEVER.
Sometimes it is impossible to control what goes on around us, but just to be aware of what someone else might be feeling, often makes a big difference.
Being VEGAN is a lot easier than most people think. It is usually the non vegan family or friends that make the biggest fuss over it, thinking that serving a vegan is so difficult, when it actually isn't, but you are right, they won't eat just anything, but they will, most likely, eat anything non animal.
A lot of people ask.. "What DO you eat then???" If you aren't vegan, look at your own meals.... do you only eat meat??? I didn't think so. What else is on your plate?? Potatoes, spaghetti, refried beans, rice, vegetables, salad, fruit, peanut butter.........There is a lot of vegan food there that you arent aware it is. But there is an infinate amount of amazing vegan recipes and vegan food waiting discovery
What do I serve a vegan?
The easiest way for a non-vegan to cook for a vegan is to just serve your vegan guest bigger portions of these "side dishes", and they will be happy!
Or simply substitute a fried or baked piece of tofu in place of the meat, (Check Tofutips.com for ideas) and top with whatever sauce you are making... (It's probably vegan already.... or easy to convert to vegan.)
Yes, it is that easy!
Plus there are countless ready made vegan foods at your store, and even more at the health food store. Many are so close to the real thing, that you can fool everyone, and they would be healthier for it!
Plus there are thousands upon thousands of recipes and other food and meal ideas for easy vegan cooking and your vegan guests will be thrilled! As you should be too!
Simple substitutions will make your whole meal vegan. Vegetable broth, plain soymilk (only soybeans and water on the label!) Olive oil... or vegan margarine... Click the substitutions link for more help, information, and ideas
EATING or TRYING VEGAN FOOD
Like all recipes and items, (meat or no meat) there are many different styles and tastes and finding the "best" for your taste buds sometimes takes time. There are so many different choices now in stores than just a few years ago, and more appear every year that you will be amazed at what actually can be done with a soybean or wheat gluten.
Some people expect or want a meat substitute to taste exactly like that meat. Often this can be done since every single meat product is altered by cooking and spices. No one eats plain unadulterated meat. It is how it is cooked and what is put in with it that gives it the most flavor.
It should be noted though, that not all meat substitutes are made to be exactly like their meat counterpart. Most meat analogs on the market are made so they can be USED in place of the meat product most people are familiar to, not as an exact copy. For example, you will find several varieties of burgers, some you will like some not. Some, like an original "Boca burger," when topped with all the fixings: ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, etc you will have a hard time telling it from, say, a "Burger King" burger, where as a "Garden Burger" is made to be very different, with mushrooms, and peppers and intends to be nothing like a "Burger King" burger, and tastes better for that reason!
There are substitutions for pretty much any style of meat, and unless served side by side with meat, they are very difficult to tell apart.
A lot of vegans actually don't like meat substitutes, whereas they are too reminiscent of meat and remind them of what "meat" actually entails.
Dairy substitutes are a bit harder to copy and must be looked at as their own product and flavor completely. Things like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk etc. and each brand have unique flavors, but can easily be used in place of milk.
People often have to "get used" to going from whole milk to skim milk, and it will probably take time to get used to a different flavor here too.
There are sweetened and unsweetened options, vanilla, plain, chocolate, etc... so depending on what you are doing with it, putting it on cereal or making a cream sauce, will initiate you to try different ones.
For ice cream alternatives, there are some wonderful flavors, like Soy Delicious brand that are incredible!
Cheese seems to be the most difficult item to give up when becoming vegan for a lot of people. As far as I know there is no "perfect" cheese substitute out there yet, but the best one I have found is the Vegan gourmet, Follow your heart brand. Companies are coming up with new products all the time too, so keep up with the new brands and give them a try.
Be sure and check the substitution page to make just about anything vegan.
"It is all very well to say that individuals must wrestle with their consciences—but only if their consciences are awake and informed. Industrial society, alas, hides animals’ suffering. Few people would themselves keep a hen in a shoebox for her egg-laying life; but practically everyone will eat smartly packaged, “farm fresh” eggs from battery hens."
The Economist, “What Humans Owe to Animals,” 8/19/95
It is interesting to note, though, that most people are, in fact, some how allergic to, are lactos intolerant or do react to milk products in some negative way, Causing eczema, asthma, and gastro-intestinal problems yet they simply ignore it.
People also know it is healthier to not eat meat, and that smoking is terrible, but they do it anyway, and hope for a pill to cure them of the disease, or problem.
How can that be?
Shouldn't we all take a personal responsibility for our health and the health of the planet too? and not force animals to suffer on farms and in laboratories just because we choose to, say, keep smoking, or to be glutens at the the table?
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Have a great day!