By now you’ve probably heard of the term “vegan” and it might seem like an annoying, inconvenient diet more than anything else. I absolutely hear you.
When I moved to San Francisco from small town, meat-eating, junk food haven Southern Illinois, I was MORTIFIED to see all of the health food here. Why the heck would anyone want to drink wheatgrass or eat kale when steak is perfectly suitable? Where I’m from, we have potatoes with our steak. Or steak with our steak. Nothing green.
And um, do you put bacon, eggs, and cheese in that smoothie bowl? If not, I’m not touching it. No thank you.
I actually steered clear of anything vegan-including vegans-for the longest time. I even added bacon to a vegan Caesar salad they gave me in LA. Yes, I’m that bad.
It was so bad that I thought vegans were a certain type of crazy, health nut, yoga loving person who talked like they were better than everyone. I also thought they were super condemning and unapproachable to non-vegans.
When I found out how animals were treated I actually started crying. I’m such a dog lover that I couldn’t handle when other little baby animals were suffering. If you want to know what converted me from a small town, meat eating girl to vegan, the video is included below.
So, now I’m apparently one of those. It still freaks me out when I associate myself with vegans, but luckily I know enough cool, non-yoga, junk food vegans (I seriously hate how most yoga, aside from that one time I did yoga with kittens) that I’m okayish with it.
Okay, so now I’m vegan *shudder*, but what exactly is a vegan and what don’t those crazy people eat and do?
Basically, a vegan…
Well, in a nut shell, vegans eliminate all animal products. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from animals, use any animal products, or support animal entertainment.
They pretty much focus on ending all animal cruelty. There are multiple reasons for going vegan like diet or saving the environment, but let’s explore what a vegan is and what they don’t do and consume.
What vegans don’t eat
To start off, vegans don’t eat meat, fish, or anything that comes from animals. They don’t eat eggs, dairy, or any animal products.
This includes things like:
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Gelatin (popular in marshmallows and candies)
- Lard (popular in tortillas and pizza dough)
- L-cysteine (popular in breads and bagels)
- Animal fats and oils
- And many wines and beers (filtered with fish bladders)
There are a myriad of other ingredients and chemicals that come from animals too. I’m not going to give you a list and explain what they are and where they come from because I don’t want to freak you out.
But, for the brave and curious though there’s a link at the bottom. Trust me, you’ll be like, why in the world does human hair or duck feathers go in my food (ahem, l-cysteine)?? I certainly was!
By the way, there ARE alternatives to all of these things. Even things like Mac n cheese! Often times, the alternatives are just as good. But you know you hit the jackpot when they are better.
‘Cause you know how I like my bacon.
But veganism isn’t just about diet. It’s about using animal products too.
Vegans don’t buy:
- Bathroom/make up products containing animal derived ingredients
- Beeswax candles or lip balm
- And a host of other things
Also, anything tested on animals isn’t vegan. Even things like tampons are tested on rabbits and should be avoided completely at all cost.
Because no one wants to sedate a bunny and stick a tampon up there for hours to see what happens. Yeah I almost vomited when I heard that too.
On the topic of fur, Prada is going to be a fur free by 2020, following the footsteps of many California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco who ban the manufacturing and sale of fur. Pretty soon all of California will ban fur because of an approved fur ban bill.
Are zoos and circuses vegan?
Another thing that vegans don’t do is partake in things like:
- Going to zoos
- Circuses with animals
- Sea world
- Horse Races
- And anything with animal entertainment
When I found this out I was more horrified about this than giving up Mac n cheese! (It also doesn’t hurt that London has great vegan Mac n cheese, so I didn’t really have to give it up. Link below!). I understand not killing or testing on animals, but not going to the zoo? That was my favorite thing to do in new cities! I love animals!
Buuut the reasoning makes sense. If I really, really love animals then I won’t want to confined them to cages all of their lives. Me looking at them every once in a while they live their lives locked up doesn’t seem worth it. *Tears*
Overall though, vegans are just trying to do an animal good.
Vegans are for the voiceless
To sum up, what veganism boils down to is ending the exploitation of animals. It’s more than not killing animals; it’s about livelihoods.
For some people, their reason for vegan centers around health or the environment which is great. Or because their yoga teacher tells them too *blanche*. But regardless of the reason, it’s all about the animals.
Now, you might be thinking, “isn’t this vegan thing hard?” Well, yes and no. It requires effort but it’s not as hard as you think. I promise.
It’s mostly about knowing what isn’t vegan and then tweaking that. Substitutes are popping up all over the place, which you probably know about from Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, or Little Caesar’s new meatless meat pizza.
And, did you know Taco Bell has a ton of vegan food? Despite my background, I really am a wannabe health nut so I really shouldn’t say any of this. But it’s SO good.
I’m sorry I can’t deny it, I had Taco Bell at least once a week growing up. When I got my license it turned into at least 4 times a week. Now, I have Mexican food at least once a day because I live in the Mission in SF. It’s our Latino neighborhood and their Mexican food is on POINT.
If you are an actual health nut and aren’t interested in substitutes for meat and cheese, I understand. In that case, you’ll need to learn how to cook different foods and tweak your favorite foods.
And, when vegan food is done well it tastes even better than meat. You just have to find it.
For further resources on veganism…
- Check out the 12 minute video that made me and two friends go vegan:
- Interested in health? Read The China Study. I’m actually reading it a second time because it’s so good!
- Don’t like books? I got you covered. Forks Over Knives on Netflix goes over a lot of the same information as The China Study.
- Care about the environment? I’ve heard great things about Cowspiracy. I haven’t watched it yet but please let me know how it is!
- Here is the link to London Mac n cheese and all things right with the world – 10 Best Vegan Food Spots In London
- Lastly, here‘s PETA’s alphabetical list of ingredients that aren’t vegan and where they comes from. Enjoy being freaked out 🙂
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