What Do vegan Eat List [ and what they don’t ]
Just the other day a dear friend of mine asked me if there is such a thing as a “what do vegan eat list?”
At first, I laughed; the idea of a vegan food list never occurred to me maybe because I kind of take it for granted and don’t really need a list to go shopping or to know what I choose to eat or don’t eat.
But the question itself made me also think that what I do take for granted many other people do not have a clue about and that’s where the idea of this post came from.
Every day more and more people are embracing a vegan lifestyle or are attracted to the idea and begin to experiment with it.
Even the one that love meat, despite not being vegan, want to understand more about this philosophy of life, understand the reasons behind this choice or simply are curious to know why this movement has grown so much in the last few years.
I guess if you are new to the subject it is only fair to clarify a few points about the Vegan life, so this is what I am going to try to do today.
The Vegan Life: What does it mean?
There are many questions around the topic of veganism; what does it mean to be a vegan? What food do vegans eat? What food do vegans avoid? What are we allowed or I should say choose to drink? What we do not want to drink?
I want to emphasize the word choose here rather than allow to because to me, being a vegan is a choice it is not a prohibition; people think when you become vegan you give up a lot of stuff, but on the contrary the only thing vegans give up on is Cholesterol, High Blood pressure, bad eating habits.
The definition of a Vegan
A vegan is a person who does not eat food of animal origin or its derivatives and who rejects animal exploitation in all its forms.
Being vegan is a choice, an ethical one, that goes beyond diet and that influences multiple aspects of a person’s life.
Vegans will not use any products made with any part of an animal, and this includes, cosmetics, creams, shampoo; vegan will not wear leather shoes nor silk nor wool.
The fact is there is plenty of choice in the Natural World of the Plants that in reality we have No needs whatsoever to exploit any animal in any form. The problem is we have never taken the time to look for that.
To explain it in a better way, one can read the official definition of a Vegan:
«A philosophy and a lifestyle that tries to exclude – as far as possible and practicable – all forms of cruelty and animal exploitation for the purpose of food, clothing or any other purpose.
By extension, it promotes the development and use of alternatives free of animal cruelty for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.
In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived totally or partially from animals “.
So, A vegan Is like a Vegetarian?
I have been asked the question more than once and my answer is always the same: NO.
I guess it is easy to mix the two if you don’t have a clear understanding of what being a vegan means, after all people know Vegans don’t eat meat and neither do Vegetarians.
But there are some clear and major differences between the two:
Vegans do not eat meat, fish or any food that derives from the exploitation of an animal.
Vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, but unlike vegans do eat honey, eggs, milk and derivatives.
It should be also specified that within the Vegetarian world there are those that do not eat meat, fish or milk, but they do eat eggs and those that not eat meat, fish or eggs, but still drink milk and dairy products.
What does a vegan eat?
Now that we have established what vegan eat, let’s have a look at a list of food I would normally find in my kitchen or go and buy:
Vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic lettuce, chard, spinach, beet, asparagus, carrots, leeks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, soy, …
Cereals: oats, rice, wheat, corn, spelled, amaranth, millet, quinoa, buckwheat …
Legumes: beans / lentils, lentils, chickpeas, …
Fruits and citrus fruits: apricot, berries, coconut, orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, grapefruit pear, apple, bananas, mango, papaya, kiwi, melon, peach, pineapple, strawberries…
Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, cashews …
Seeds: chia, quinoa, pumpkin, sesame, flax …
Vegetable meats: tofu, seitan, tempeh, textured soy, Quorn, …
Obviously, you could be a Vegan, avoid all animal products and still eat very unhealthy, like fried chips, and a lot of preserved stuff as long as you stay away from the animals, but remember that in any diet, it is advisable to avoid or limit the consumption of refined and processed products.
Raw vegan? Too Extreme?
If anything, I wish I was a raw vegan, I have not go to that point yet and for me it seems only a natural evolution of the choice made, Raw vegans are eating Nature at its best, but unfortunately, I grew up in Italy, I used to eat lots of Pasta when I was young and I am not ready yet to give up on my pasta, not yet anyway.
The raw vegan diet is the diet followed by a vegan who chooses to take only raw products of vegetable origin (such as fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts for example) or cooked at low temperature (vegetables between them).
Choosing raw foods allows to benefit 100% of all the natural properties of vegetables and fruits, factor that is reduced when you are cooking your food.
What do Vegan Eat List (And what they don’t)
Do we drink Milk? NO
The milk industry is one of the most deceptive.
To produce milk animals like cows are being exploited and more than you could ever imagined, unless you have watched one of those documentaries made to expose the truth about milk.
Ads and packaging always show animals free and happy to move around the countryside.
However, the reality speaks of animals locked in intensive farms, with little or no access to the outdoors.
Separated from their calves so that all the milk is destined for human use. Females inseminated artificially so that they do not stop having babies and milk.
The animals live in precarious conditions, suffer and are exploited to ensure maximum productivity and therefore, their life expectancy is usually low.
There is an incredible amount of vegetable milks that can substitute animal milk: oat milk, soy milk, rice, almond, coconut, hazelnut are the most common examples.
What about the Cheese? NO
Cheese is a product derived from animal milk, therefore vegans can not eat it. The good news is that the market offers us vegetable cheese alternatives that you can find in the best bio stores. Not only: you can also make your own homemade vegan cheese. And it’s easier than it looks!
Eggs are not allowed
It might be hard to believe but also eggs come from the exploitation of the hens in the farms. So as a vegan, eggs are not in our list of food to eat, but there are alternatives to eggs too and some that you can even do at home by yourself
Any kind of sweet or dessert?
Vegans can eat desserts as long as they do not contain ingredients of animal origin.
So as long that you cake is made with ingredients that are not eggs, milk, butter but you have used some plant based alternatives you can crack on…and eat all the sweets that you want.
Can a vegan eat chocolate?
Good news, is YES , as long as it is not a milk chocolate but the dark pure chocolate which, by the way is so much healthier anyway than the milky version.
When you go shopping for food, always read the label of the product in order to be sure that it does not contain any dairy products, butter, or honey.
Even Ice Cream is allowed as long as it is made with soy milk or oats, coconut or even sherbets, made with simply fruits.
I am afraid it is a NO To produce honey, bees must be exploited, causing suffering or even death. In addition, honey does not offer nutritional substances relevant to human nutrition.
There are plenty of natural and healthy alternatives to honey, such as Agave Syrup, Sugar Cane, brown Sugar (a million times better than the white one) Stevia; so to give up Honey you will not even notice it.
Can a vegan eat meat?
I know it will sound like an obvious and silly question but I have been asked that! And to simply answer, it’s NO.Meat is the first element that a vegan eliminates from its diet like the vegetarian do.
Being a vegan is based above all on respect for the life of other sentient beings. It is the pure essence of veganism, which rejects everything that comes from animal exploitation. And meat, chicken, sausages, burgers are the direct consequence of these abuses.
Nowadays it is possible to substitute animal meat with vegetable meat: soy, seitan, tempeh and tofu are the main alternatives. There are plenty of alternatives that you can find in many stores like Beyond Burger for example or if you prefer you can even do them at home and make your own Vegan free meat recipes.
Talking about meat I would like to specify that in the meat section I am including fish as well. I know a fish is fish and a cow is a cow but they are both animals and neither of them should be exploited or killed to satisfy our eating habits.
My Favorite: Pasta?
I am pleased to say yes, as long as it does not contain any egg. In this case it would be suitable for vegetarians, but not for vegans. So always keep an eye on the list of ingredients of the pasta, especially when you buy the fresh one.
Luckily, there are many types of pasta without egg traces and even without gluten. For example, those of legumes (red lentils paste), spelled or buckwheat. And many brands suitable for vegans.
Can a vegan eat pizza?
Yes, but it depends on the ingredients and the dough.
For a pizza to be 100% vegan, the dough must not contain milk, so you need to look at the ingredients before you buy any or you can make your own homemade pizza with vegan dough
What about the wine?
A good part of alcoholic beverages is not vegan, either because of its ingredients or because of the filtering process).
However, you can find wine or other types of alcohol that are Vegan so, once again you will have to look at the label and in particular for alcohol, it should be marked as Vegan since the vegan part is in the making of the wine rather than the ingredients itself.
Is the vegan diet healthy?
Of Course, it is, despite what many people will tell you in the attempt to dissuade you from following a vegan diet. Like eating a big piece of red meat was so much healthier
The vegan diet is healthy; not only: a plant-based diet helps to prevent or reduce the risk of serious diseases or to have under control serious pathologies such as diabetes. But remember it is healthy provided it is accompanied by a balanced and varied diet.
An unbalanced diet, full of sugars, saturated fats and ultra-processed foods, could not be considered healthy or beneficial, even being 100% vegan.
Why do vegans need Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is important for the proper functioning of the brain and our nervous system.
In addition, it helps in the production of red blood cells, has an important role in the process of cell division and also helps to release energy from food. B12 is only found in foods of animal origin.
It is not present in foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains, therefore, if you follow a vegan diet you will need to integrate it in other ways. The solution to maintain a level of B12 suitable for a healthy life, is to take supplements of this vitamin under medical supervision. On the other hand, you can accompany the use of supplements with the integration of foods with B12 added, such as vegetable drinks fortified with vitamin B12 or breakfast cereals with that vitamin added, for example.
Do athletes follow a Vegan Diet?
One of the most awaited and spoken movies about Vegan and Diet is the Game Changers of James Cameron, where he clearly documents how many well-known athletes have embraced and are embracing a Vegan type of Diet.
Even at a professional level.
Among the famous vegans there are elite athletes of great notoriety, like Venus and Serena Williams, Chris Smalling, Lewis Hamilton to name just a few.
How to start a vegan diet
The truth is that there is no perfect answer.
Each person has different reasons to start feeding on vegetables and each reason are usually very personal, whether they are ethical, environmental, religious or health. In addition, the change from a “carnivorous” to a plant-based diet can be very abrupt for some, and easy for others.
The way of changing is very subjective.
For example, some people prefer a slow transition from consuming meat gradually, who chooses to make a radical change from one day to the next, and who chooses to make an intermediate stage starting with a vegetarian diet before taking the step towards eating vegan
If you are not clear about how to eat correctly, follow the advice of a trusted nutritionist, so that they can tell you which is the best way for you to go accordingly to your needs.
Similarly, if you are an athlete or you are pregnant and if you want your children to be vegan, it is of vital importance the medical advice to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Whatever you decide, it is your decision and only yours, do not let anyone convince you otherwise, or try to advise you why you should or should not do it.
I know there are a lot of vegans that are very extreme and can be judgemental towards people that eat meat. I am a vegan but I have not forgotten that there was a time when I use to eat meat and enjoy it to.
I believe with love, compassion, patience, education many things can happened and many more eyes can be opened.
Any step, for as small as it might be is a step in the right direction and for every step I am grateful.