Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making the step from Veg, to Vegan

I know the main reason why I didn't become vegan sooner was because I didn't know how simple it really was. I was vegetarian for quite some time, but never understood why vegans took not eating animals so far. The truth is, the animal is suffering more to give you that milk, or those eggs, than it is to be slaughtered. How sad is that? Think of it this way. Would you rather be tortured for extended periods of time? Or just to be killed to get it over with? No living creature deserves that, and I can't figure out why humans think they have the superiority to decide the fate of another living, feeling, breathing being.

I think the only hard parts about being vegan are eating out, and knowing every single ingredient on a label that could possibly be animal derived. I honestly have an app for the second one, which helps me out. And for the first one, it's relatively simple to make a restaurant meal vegan once you know what to look for that is an animal bi-product.

The first things I always look for are the main ones: milk, whey, eggs, egg powder, egg whites, cheese, lard, butter, meat of any kind, and gelatin (made from pig skin/hooves). Remember, labels state whether there is soy, milk ingredients, and egg in a product, but not if it has gelatin.
The harder ones include sugar or white vinegar (refined through animal bone), Red dye (possibly from beetles), l-cysteine (animal hair or feathers), mono or di-glycerides, and additives in beer or wine such as isinglass fish, or another animal based thinners and refiners.

It becomes easier and easier once you get more acquainted with what is or isn't an animal bi-product.

Making the switch in your diet:

I've come up with a list of products that replace non-vegan ones that I've personally tried. I hate processed foods for the most part, but for some reason there are periods of time where I really love them. For the most part, I suggest whole foods, and not processed.

Non-vegan: Milk
Vegan alternative: I prefer Almond milk. It's rich in calcium and tastes great. It's a bit thicker than regular milk, but it works great in cereal and tea. Soy milk is alright, but unless it's organic I won't touch it. GMO Soybeans are VERY common, and production destroys rainforests. I've never tried rice milk, so you're on your own for that.

Non-vegan: Cheese
Vegan alternative: Daiya. I've tried quite a few vegan cheeses, but none melt and taste as delicious as daiya. I'm in a faze where I eat it almost everyday... but i don't suggest it. It puts your digestive system on a roller coaster. But for a family pizza, or just a bit melted on a sandwich, it's wonderful. However it is awful not melted so be warned.

Non-vegan: Butter
Vegan: Earth Balance. They make a great variety of organic, whipped, regular and soy free margarines that don't have the same possibly non-vegan additives. It tastes great and works just like butter.

Non-vegan: Honey/Sugar
Vegan: Organic Sugar, or raw agave. Agave is made from a type of plant, so there is no animal harmed here. It tastes great and is very sweet, so you need far less than actually sugar. I suggest raw because high temp agave might as well be high fructose corn syrup.

Non-vegan: Yogurt.
Vegan: Almond yogurt (rare, but the best choice), coconut yogurt, or soy yogurt. There are some great options out there than can be delicious. Don't think they'll taste like your favorite original though. Soy yogurt has a VERY different taste, and coconut yogurt does as well. The almond yogurt has the best flavour, but I have yet to find it in Canada.

 Non-vegan: Ice-cream
Vegan: Almond dream, soy delicious, rice dream, and coconut milk ice-creams are all great alternatives. Personally, I'm going to have to go with the almond again on this one.

Non-vegan: Meat
Vegan: Tons. Everything from patties to sausages, they now make them all. But seriously, these are so processed that they really aren't great for you. But if you crave that morning sausages and waffles, well, who am I to stop you. I recommend organic tofu or seitan instead, as it can be made into great meaty dishes without the additives. If you don't like tofu one, what on Earth is wrong with you?! and two, you just haven't tried it enough different ways. It's very versatile, and can take on tons of great textures.

There is nothing that the non-vegan diet has that the vegan one doesn't. Don't be afraid to try new things, and remember, your strongest backer is your ethics, and morals. I see food I used to love all the time, but it's not difficult at all to say "No Thanks".
I know I'm making the right decision, and making the world a better place.

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