Ever since I became vegan — in 2017 — I’ve been asked numerous questions about veganism, usually by people who are well-meaning and are simply ignorant as to what being vegan entails. Below, I’ve included some Frequently Asked Questions about my lifestyle and eating habits. Feel free to suggest any additional FAQs.
What do vegans eat?
We vegans eat many of the same things that non-vegans eat, including fruit, [most] bread, vegetables, pasta, and rice. There are also many vegan alternatives to typical animal products, and these days it’s pretty easy to find vegan-friendly options at every grocery store and nearly every restaurant. If you say you don’t like vegan food, then you’re saying you don’t like apples or bananas. And, guess what? Oreos are vegan, even though they do have palm oil, which is bad for the environment (rainforests and, therefore, animals’ habitats, are destroyed for this).
What can't vegans eat?
Vegans do not consume any animal products or byproducts, which includes all types of meat, seafood, and honey. Vegans also do not consume gelatin, which is basically ground animal bones — disgusting, I know — and often found in things like marshmallows and certain candies. Technically, vegans can eat whatever they want, and people who claim to be “vegan” might not eat vegan 100% of the time. I, personally, am very strict and will never purposely consume any non-vegan products.
Do vegans eat fish?
Of course not! (See above) I like to say that I won’t eat anything with a face and/or with a mom.
Do vegans eat honey?
Theoretically, vegans should not be consuming honey, as it is an animal byproduct. However, some vegans may consume food or utilize products that contain honey, especially if you know it’s from an apiary where the bees are treated well. Yet, bees who are used for their honey-making can be taken away from their essential duties, and they may also be exploited similar to the ways in which farm animals are exploited.
What can't vegans wear?
Just as vegans don’t consume animal products or byproducts, we don’t wear anything that come from animals. This includes, of course, leather (and suede), silk, wool and sheepskin, exotic skins, and more. But, don’t worry, there are plenty of vegan options for clothing, accessories, and footwear!
Do vegans get enough protein?
Of course! Believe it or not, vegans can get plenty of protein through meat alternatives such as seitan, tofu, and tempeh. Vegans can also get plenty of protein through lentils, beans, soy milk, oats, chia and other seeds, and nuts and nut butters — to name a few. In addition, plant proteins contain the same essential amino acids as do animal proteins.
Don't humans need dairy?
Contrary to popular belief, humans don’t need to consume dairy. In fact, the nutrients in cow’s milk are meant to be given only to calves. So, I like to say that if you’re not a baby cow, then there’s no reason you need to consume dairy. Even if you’re not certified lactose-intolerant, really everyone is, because you’ll feel and be healthier without that in your system. Plus, can you think of another species that consumes the milk of a different species? Answer: No. It’s just, plain weird.
Aren't dairy cows happy?
Whenever you see pictures of supposedly happy cows on dairy farms, they can’t be truly happy. I won’t go into details (you find that stuff on YouTube), so let me just say that calves are taken away from their mothers in order for you to enjoy milk. Sometimes, when women become mothers, they relate to dairy cows and can’t bear the thought of mother and child being separated — no matter the species. To top it off, girl calves will follow in their mother’s footsteps and be forced to lactate, while boy calves will most likely be sent to slaughter.
Are cage-free eggs OK to consume?
Technically, no eggs are really okay for humans to consume — plus, I’ve always found them gross (way before I was vegan) — and eggs that are supposedly from “cage-free” hens aren’t necessarily any better. While the chickens may not have been in cages, they could have still been in cramped spaces and not treated well. If you absolutely must have eggs, the best way to do so is via backyard chickens. However, even if you’re buying eggs locally from a place where you know they’re cared for properly, these animals are specifically bred to produce many more eggs than they’re mean to; plus, consuming eggs in general is not healthy for we humans.
What do animal sanctuaries do with eggs, wool, etc.?
Obviously, true animal sanctuaries should be selling or utilizing any animal by products, and it is up to the individual sanctuary as to what they’ll do. Many will opt to give eggs back to the chickens, which — as gross as it sounds — is actually good for them, nutritionally-wise. Of course, all sheep need to be shorn in order to avoid being overheated in the summer, and sanctuaries may opt to add wool and fiber to their composting material.
In addition to going vegan, what else can I do to help animals and the environment?
Great question! You can also eliminate all kinds of animal by products from your life, including what you wear, and try to opt for toiletries, cosmetics, and cleaning products are vegan, cruelty-free, and good for the environment. How can you tell? Look for labels on the products; cruelty-free products typically have the Leaping Bunny logo.
What is a raw vegan diet?
A raw vegan diet is exactly what you think it is: a diet consisting solely of raw, vegan foods. Obviously, not everyone who’s a practicing raw vegan will do it the same, although the most devout among them will not eat anything that is cooked and/or processed. That means no bread, pasta, rice, etc. The bulk of a raw vegan’s diet would be fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. I haven’t been able to last more than day or so on a raw vegan diet, which is quiet difficult for someone like me who primarily relies on prepacked/premade food.
But, isn't going vegetarian enough?
No, it’s really not. While I will agree that it’s better to be vegetarian than it is to be a carnivore, if you really want to make a difference for animals — and for your own health and for the environment — you need to eliminate ALL animal products. That said, I do praise carnivores for deciding to go vegetarian, and am especially in awe of people who have been meat-free for many years (some people were even before vegetarian), as I became vegetarian less than a year before going vegan. On that note, if a former cheese lover like myself can give up dairy, why can’t you?