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Veganism (pronounced VEE-gunism) is the act of refusing to consume or use animal products, the participant is referred to as a Vegan (VEE-gun).  There are different types vegans from dietary to ethical to environmental.

Dietary Vegans:

Dietary Vegans do not consume animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy products or other animal related substances.

Ethical Vegans:

These Vegans not only refrain from consuming animal products but also will not use any animal products for other purposes such as products developed through the testing of animals. They do not use leather, wool or silk products as well.

Environmental Veganism:

Environmental vegans stay clear of any animal products on the belief that using animals as a product is not only environmentally destructive but also unethical.

Where the Term Veganism Comes From:

In 1944, Donald Watson created the expression "veganism" when he was the co-founder of The Vegan Society in England.  Originally the term meant vegetarians who also refused consumption of all diary products.  Later on, the concept evolved into man being able to live without the manipulation and abuse of animals.

Vegetarianism actually dates back to cultures in both ancient Greece and ancient India but the actual term came about in the 19th century meaning to avoid meat.

The American Vegan Society:

The American Society was first founded in 1948 by Catherine Nimmo (1887 - 1985) and Rubin Abramowitz in California.  Nimmo, a native of the Netherlands, had been a Vegan since 1931 when the society was first founded in England.

H. Jay Dinshah (1933 - 2000) had visited a slaughterhouse and read many of Watson's literature.  He turned from all animal products on Feb. 8, 1960 and started the American Vegan Society in Malaga, NJ.

Vegetarianism vs Veganism:

Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry or fish.Vegans go further by avoiding all animal products such as milk, cheese, eggs, honey, the use of leather, wool and silk.  Across the board, vegetarians find their diets healthier, it's better for the environment and their ethical beliefs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics confirms that a vegetarian diet offers all nutritional needs and is key to healthier living.  As with other diets, the idea is to have a large variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, whole grain, seeds and beans.  Also, as with other diets, laying low on sweets and fatty foods.

Facts Regarding the Vegan Diet:

Research in 2009 showed that vegetarian/vegan diets are higher in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C and E, magnesium and phytochemicals.  These diets are lower in saturated fats, cholesterol, calories, long-chair omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

As a vegetarian/vegan diet does not provide vitamin B12, it is suggested that you incorporate a daily supplement of this vitamin.

The Growing Popularity:

More reports are showing the decline in consumption of animal meat.  Although there are various reasons for this decline, studies have shown that health concerns lead the list.  The higher costs of animal products, especially red meats, have also played a big role with consumers.  Although there is not a great deal of data regarding the well being of animals, many consumers are turning to leafy diets due to animal treatment.

Like all diets, dieters come and go with the latest trend. Those who have chosen vegan diets for ethical reasons seem to remain vegan dieters.  These people are really concerned about the treatment of animals, the raising of animals in order to slaughter them for food.

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How To Transition From Other Diets to a Vegan Diet:

People have changed their diets in various ways by slowly changing their eating habits.  Some people prefer plant-based foods that resemble animal products while other simply removes animal products all together.  Some people have become quite creative by incorporating various international cuisines that are animal free. Many have found growing their own produce is not only healthier but also cost efficient.

Grow Your Own Foods Hydroponically:

Start your own hydroponic garden and grow vegetables and leafy greens for fresh, year-round excellent foods.  Hydroponic gardens are actually quite easy to setup from purchasing or building a grow box and setting up grow lights or plant lights.  Starting an herbal garden will add wonderful flavors to your salads.  Home gardening has never been easier or more rewarding.  More gardeners are turning to hydroponic gardens because there are no harmful additives and water filters and treatments allow for healthier plant growth. Hydroponic nutrients create a more robust plant growth as well.

Get Creative:

For years, many people have played around with salads by incorporating their own fruits, vegetables, spices and salad dressings.  With a Vegan Diet, grab a cookbook, experiment with various foods and find those that best suit your taste. Grow these foods in your own hydroponic garden and discover fresh, tasty foods right at home. You'd be amazed how easy it is to create wonderful dishes every day.

Some Suggested Replacement Foods:

Dairy:

Soymilk and other milk products that do not contain real milk.

Nut milks such as almond and coconut

Soy margarine and soy sour cream

Eggs:

Egg replacers found in natural food stores or other egg solutions for those who have no tolerance to real eggs.
Bananas are a great replacement for sweet dishes such as pancakes

Tofu

Cornstarch

Vegetariansim and Veganism in a Nutshell:

Go online and read up on people who have turned their eating habits in a healthier life style.  Find great recipes and talk with others to help guide you to the best choices for starting a vegetarian or vegan diet.  If you think your diet will be limited, you couldn't be more wrong!  There are so many wonderful, tasty, healthy foods out there that you will absolutely amazed!  So come on over and learn to live a healthier life.