Looking to learn more about the plant-based way of life?
Detailed below, you’ll find concise answers to a series of important and often asked questions on veganism and plant-based nutrition:
Q. Is a vegan diet healthy?
The short answer is yes – a vegan diet can be exceptionally healthy at any stage of life. Excluding animal-based products does not have to mean adversely affecting your intake of key nutrients in any way.
This is why vegan diets are not only approved, but are actually recommended by many leading public health authorities worldwide.
Q. Is a vegan diet safe for kids?
Again, the answer is yes – a vegan diet can be safe and healthy for kids. From toddlers to teens and everything in between, a healthy diet means ensuring kids get all the nutrients they need every day in the right quantities.
It is therefore not necessary to include meat or animal products in their diets, if you choose not to do so.
Q. Where do vegans get their protein from?
This is one of the main concerns shared among those transitioning to vegan for the first time. Contrary to popular belief, however, getting plenty of protein as a vegan is actually quite easy. Around 50g of protein per day is all a healthy adult needs, and can be obtained from a long list of plant-based products and ingredients.
Just a few examples of which include seeds, nuts, beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu and so on. All of which are not only packed with protein, but also various other incredibly beneficial nutrients.
Q. Isn’t iron deficiency an issue with veganism?
Another common nutritional concern is that of satisfying iron intake requirements, without eating meat. Though once again, there is an abundance of options available for ensuring you get plenty of iron on a daily basis, while enjoying consistently delicious meals.
Some of the most abundant sources of iron available include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, lentils and beans. Many breakfast cereals are also packed with iron and other key nutrients, making it easy to meet your minimum daily requirement.
Q. Do vegans need to take calcium supplements?
Various vegan staples have a comparatively high calcium content, including things like almonds, baked beans and green leafy vegetables. In addition, the vast majority of vegan milks are fortified with calcium to provide the same all-round nutritional benefits as conventional dairy products.
However, calcium supplements may sometimes be recommended by nutritionists, or simply preferred by vegans. As with any lifestyle, it is advisable to ensure that any nutritional gaps left in your diet are supplemented accordingly with suitable products.
Q. What about vitamin B12?
You may have heard that it can be difficult to get your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 as a vegan. There is a degree of truth in this, as while there are various plant foods that contain B12, this form of the vitamin is not absorbed efficiently by the body.
It is therefore important to ensure you consume plenty of vegan products that are fortified with vitamin B12, which is added to a wide variety of foods during the production process. Again, daily supplementation may be preferable or recommended.
Q. Why do people become vegan?
The three most common motivations for going vegan are as follows:
- To prevent the suffering and exploitation of animals
- To tap into the health benefits of a plant-based diet
- To help make a positive impact on the environment
Interestingly, veganism resulting from a genuine dislike of the taste of meat is comparatively rare. Some vegetarians and vegans happily admit they often struggle with temptation.
Q. How do I go about becoming vegan?
It is not always advisable to go cold turkey… no pun intended. Rather than attempting to completely cut out all animal products without exception all at once, for some cutting down gradually can be a more effective approach.
This is particularly true if your lifestyle currently includes a lot of meat and dairy product consumption. For obvious reasons, it is much easier to go vegan if you did not consume many animal products in the first place.
Q. How hard is it really to become vegan?
Different people have different experiences, but most admit it is not nearly as hard as they thought it would be. This is primarily due to the fact that going vegan in no way means compromising your enjoyment of food or the scope of meal options available.
For those who enjoy a challenge, it can be an incredibly satisfying experience. Even where moving away from meat and dairy products does become difficult, the end more than justifies the means.
Q. How do I know if something is really vegan?
For something to be labelled vegan, it must contain no animal-based ingredients whatsoever. You should be aware, however, that products labelled vegan may still have been produced in an environment where there is the potential for trace cross-contamination with animal products (milk is a common culprit). For some vegans this is an issue, for others less so.
Aside from meat, the obvious non-vegan products to check for are dairy and eggs. As these are major allergens, it is a legal requirement in the UK for their presence to be clearly flagged up on food packaging and so they are easy to spot. However this is far from a sufficient safety net as there are many other less obvious animal products to keep an eye out for - honey, gelatine and some E numbers for example. Even some vitamins used in fortified products can be from non-vegan sources.
Unless it states that it is 100% vegan on the package, there is a good chance it isn’t. If in doubt, research the manufacturer and see how they produce their products, before purchasing them.
Q. How easy is it to eat vegan at restaurants?
These days, eating vegan at restaurants is not particularly difficult at all. However, there are still plenty of restaurants that make little to no effort whatsoever to please vegan diners.
Rather than risking disappointment, it is always better to check what vegan options are available before booking your table.
Q. What is wrong with eating dairy products?
Lastly, the reason for many vegans to abstain from dairy products is the tendency for the dairy industry to be a surprisingly cruel trade. Without going into too much detail, it is not only animals reared for meat that are treated poorly and slaughtered brutally at a young age.
To consume dairy is therefore not compatible with a compassionate vegan lifestyle.