There’s a lot of information out there about being vegan, the benefits and how to adapt to a new lifestyle, but with so many details to consider we thought it might be helpful to put together this little FAQ which answers some of the more common questions in one handy dandy place. So, let’s get to it!
What’s the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?
Whilst vegans and vegetarians both don’t eat meat, vegetarians may still eat dairy products such as milk, cheese and egg. A vegan avoids all animal products, sometimes including non-food items such as leather, wool and silk. Another way to put it is that vegetarianism can be considered a dietary preference, whilst veganism is a lifestyle. Of course, every individual is different with their own views on what their personal preferences/beliefs are, but vegans are often a lot more careful about what they use and consume.
Is a vegan diet truly healthy?
The short answer is yes! Vegan diets consist of a wide range of fresh veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains which provide fantastic natural nutrition, with the added bonus of higher antioxidants and lower saturated fats. Animal products are often higher in fats and don’t provide fibre whilst plant-based foods are the opposite. However, not all ‘vegan friendly’ foods are particularly good for you. For instance, foods such as ready salted crisps or chips are technically vegan friendly but are by no means healthy!
How do I know if a food is vegan?
If you are following a vegan lifestyle you will have to pay a little extra attention when looking at food packaging to make sure there’s nothing in there you wouldn’t want to consume. Vegetarian and vegan foods are often labelled to indicate their safety but it’s always worth having a look to see if there is any mention of dairy, eggs or fish. If you are eating out, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking the servers which menu items are vegan friendly, or if they have any vegan alternatives.
Would I get enough calcium and protein in a vegan diet?
For non-vegans the most common sources of protein and calcium come from meat and foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, all of which are animal products. One concern a new vegan might have is whether or not they have to make an extra effort to include these in their diets. It’s actually just as easy as there are plenty of vegan substitutes readily available. For protein you can use a range of foods including avocados, beans and soya. For calcium, you can enjoy almonds, spinach, curly kale and sesame seed spread. Find out more about vegan sources of protein and calcium.
What are some common substitutes to eat?
There are plenty of tasty alternatives to common foods that fulfil both nutritional and practical needs.
- Almond, rice and soymilk are popular choices for vegans and can still work fine in baking or a cup of tea!
- Tofu and soy are the go-to meat replacements as they are so versatile in their preparation and also provide essential protein. Vegans using these can make anything from veggie burgers and sausages through to sandwich fillings and soup thickeners.
- Creams, desserts and chocolates can also be made by using non-dairy milk from almond, rice, soya and other options and still taste delicious!
- Read up on more dairy-free food alternatives
What are some great vegan snacks?
Well, other than Nakd bars (which are probably the best vegan snack in the world) there are a whole bunch of nibbles you can enjoy in between mealtimes.
Nuts – Packed with protein and ‘good fats’ nuts are calorie dense and great for you! Find out more about just how nutritious nuts can be.
Seeds – With omega-3, vitamins, healthy fats and other essential micronutrients, seeds are a fantastically light and healthy snack. Find out more about super seeds.
Fruits - Next time you feel the rumble, reach for some fruit instead! These beauties provide a whole range of macro and micronutrients including potassium, vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants.
Isn’t a vegan diet expensive?
It doesn’t have to be! Veganism is a very popular lifestyle choice and as such, the number of products, recipes and cooking options have increased dramatically. Sure, you could spend a little more on the branded vegan meals (that can actually be quite processed) or stick to a simple, affordable raw-food diet. Think fruits, grains, salads, potatoes and cereals which are equally popular amongst non-vegans and are often inexpensive.
A big bag of rice or lentils can go a long way and once you get some recipes under your belt, you’ll be surprised at what you can do. Meat is often expensive, so you really aren’t losing out on your weekly shopping budget by going vegan – in fact you might save some!