Sunday, July 29, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions About Veganism

IT'S MY VEGANNIVERSARY! One year has passed since I made the switch and I never regret it once. Making a difference in this world as a vegan can be an empowering feeling. I may sound a little preachy at times but I only want to plant a seed of compassion. In honor of this milestone, I will be sharing my personal views on the most common questions about veganism.

What made you decide to become vegan?

I went vegan for health reasons after watching What The Health on Netflix. I could never consume meat and fish again. I went on to research further about animal cruelty on industrialized factory farms, which made me swear off eggs and dairy too. Check out Earthlings, Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and Gary Yourofsky's Speech on Youtube.

Who else is vegan in your family?

My husband is also vegan. After recommending the documentary, he immediately switched to plant-based a week earlier than I did. It was easier for him since he's lactose intolerant. We're trying to convince my mother-in-law to go fully vegan. She started promoting plant-based eating to her patients so I guess we're doing a great job!

Isn't it expensive to go vegan?

It depends on what you buy. If you are transitioning, faux meat and vegan alternatives may cost you more. A typical vegan diet generally consists of the cheapest food items in the market like whole grains, beans, lentils and potatoes. You can stay in budget by cooking food at home and purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season. Most products in Fiji are imported so the price difference of non-dairy milk and cow's milk in my area is just a matter of few dollars. But I would like to start a petition for coffee shops to stop charging extra on soy milk. Who's with me?! Overall, it's definitely less expensive than paying for medical bills when you suffer from heart disease or diabetes.

Is it difficult to prepare vegan meals for someone who can't cook?

Not at all! Don't focus on cutting out non-vegan food in the beginning. Stick to the flavors that you would normally eat. Unlike meat, cooking vegetables won't take too much of your time. Easy vegan dishes include stir-fry, curry and pasta. All nutritious foods are readily available in the market so making your own salad bowl is not even that hard to pull off. Besides, you can "veganize" your favorite meals by replacing meat with tofu and mushrooms. Learning about vegan food is a continual process. Tofu tastes amazing if you know how to cook it right. I also like the challenge of making different meals and getting creative with sauces, herbs and spices. The only struggle as a vegan would be dining out at restaurants.

I really don't understand where the notion of vegan food being bland came from. I mean...

When I was a newbie, @avantgardevegan cooking videos on Youtube were my favorite. I recently bought his first cook book. I can't wait to try all the recipes!

Do you still have any cravings?

BOK CHOY! But really, cravings for processed sweets or junk food will fade once you feed your body with proper nutrients. I used to be a picky eater but my taste buds changed after a month. I would only constantly crave for the crunchiness of greens and sweetness of fruits. What meat eaters get wrong is they think we're salivating over a strip of bacon. It's gross. Food adverts of a grilled steak, cheeseburger or chicken make me cringe. I only see an image of a helpless animal and the smell of its decaying flesh.

What do you need to start a vegan diet?

As you change your diet, think of the purpose why you're doing it. Your beliefs should align with your actions. I took the plunge and dived right in to veganism. Health and animal rights are my personal reasons that keep me motivated. I don't want to inflict unnecessary suffering on animals just to satisfy my taste buds. If you want to start a slow transition, that's okay too. Eat the right food and vegucate yourself to stay committed. Before you believe articles that claim dairy, eggs and meat are good for the health, check who's funding the research.

What happens to your body when you follow a vegan diet?

An obvious change at first is better digestion. You get frequent pooping due to more fiber intake, which is a good thing. Animal-based products are extremely hard for our body to digest that often cause severe bloating. I also noticed an increase of energy after eliminating meat and dairy. In my experience, I didn't find any health risks as long as you follow a diet that is rich in whole foods. There are more benefits in the long run like my rosacea clearing up, helps alleviate period pains, weight loss, no headaches and barely getting sick. I had my blood tests done this month and all results came out normal. No nutrient deficiency, whatsoever—even B12.

What is the effect of veganism on the environment?

According to a recent study at the University of Oxford, "Veganism is 'Single Biggest Way' to Reduce Our Environmental Impact On Planet." Cutting out meat and dairy from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint up to 73 percent.

I'm still in the process of learning about livestock and greenhouse gas production but it's becoming increasingly clear how veganism can help fight climate change.

Being vegan for a year can save:
401,500 gallons of water
14,600 lb of grain
10,950 sq.ft. of forest
7,300 lbs of CO2
365 animal lives
Source: Vegan Calculator

Now imagine how our world could change if everyone suddenly went vegan.

What should I do with all the leather, silk and other animal products I owned before turning vegan?

If it makes you uncomfortable, you can donate it. I still keep some items that hold sentimental value but I have no desire to purchase more. Wearing vegan clothing is a moral choice but it also has to be natural, organic and sustainable. Being vegan is not a pledge to perfection. Some of the things we use on a daily basis are made out of animal ingredients like toothpaste, detergent and even computers. Veganism is about trying to reduce your contribution to the suffering of all sentient beings. Compassion is our main goal. You can start by simply living a more conscious lifestyle based on values and priorities. Do not support the exploitation of animals for entertainment and products that perform any kind of animal testing.

And lastly, where do you get your protein?

If you have anything more to ask or share, let me know!


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