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What is Vegan?

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What is Vegan?

In the last 5 years, search trend related to what is vegan, has seen a huge growth. So our first article will start with a detailed piece of information about it. A Vegan is someone who follows a lifestyle which avoids the use of animal and animal products. Vegan also refers to product/lifestyle. Veganism is also termed as a social justice movement to prevent the exploitation of animals resulting from human activities.

CONTENTS

What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Above definition about what is vegan or who is a vegan should give you a fair idea of where this discussion is headed.

FSSAI points out that Vegetarian diet contains everything that doesn’t come from animals except dairy and dairy products. Vegan Diet is One Step further and removes the exception of dairy. That means, vegan diet excludes meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, honey, gelatin, blood, and secretions, including saliva, urine, semen, sweat, tears, skin, hair and digestive juices.

Vegetarianism refers to abstaining from eating meat. Some people follow vegetarianism for religious reasons, while others choose to adopt it to avoid cruelty to animals. Vegans often cite concerns about cruelty toward animals, the effects of factory farming, and the environmental impacts of livestock production. Others may choose not to consume any animal products due to personal beliefs or moral convictions. 

what is vegan

Vegan lifestyle doesn’t just stop at diets, it extends to what we wear, ride, use as well. This would involve  abstaining from using leather, wool, silk, and other animal-derived materials for clothes, shoes, belts. Vegetarianism is only diet based and doesn’t extend to above & below mentioned aspects.

When we buy products such as skin creams and makeup, we want to make sure that the products are safe. Unfortunately, a lot of companies test these products on animals before releasing them to the public. These tests involve putting chemicals on the animals’ bodies and observing how they react to it. When you look at these tests, you will see that they are not very safe. Animal testing is very outdated. It is time to move on from using animal testing in order to provide safer products for us.

These companies claim that they are doing this to make sure that their product is safe. However, some people argue that animal testing is not necessary. They say that human beings are the best testers for their own products. Animals are made to be different than humans. They cannot tell whether a product is good or bad for human skin.

Animal testing was mandatory ealier but now thankfully the restrictions are being lifted country wise and on many products. Animals like dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, frogs are used to conduct these tests which in quite a few cases is fatal. 

A vegan lifestyle would avoid supporting such practices, thereby relying more on natural remedies for skin/personal care, ayurvedic remedies and similar to avoid above specified torture to animals.

Another aspect of vegan lifestyle involves conscious effort to avoid using animals for riding or religious journey or carrying luggage/stones/rocks. A lot of these animals have their legs/backs fractured while carrying people to hill tops of religious places, or carrying 100s of Kilograms of products instead of using motorized solutions. On similar lines, use of horses, elephants in marriages is also not supported by vegans. On having personally witnessed distraught conditions of these animals, some even with broken hooves are dragged to complete the event, I decided to write blog posts and letters in future to authorities with proof, to spread awareness. 

An overlooked area of animal abuse also includes zoo, circuses where animals are held captive for monetory purposes and hardly ever looked after that well. Idea of entertainment by training someone not meant to be doing that act by nature, is another loss for humanity.

Humanity dies by inches with every such cruelty act. Awareness is on the rise, circuses are being shut in certain areas, people have stopped going to some zoos about which there has been horrible reviews. 

Vegan Diet was coined in 1944, but in 1949 Leslie J Cross pointed out that definition of veganism should be “to seek an end to use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal by man.” Source: vegansociety.com

So to answer “are vegan and vegetarian the same thing?“, you would realize that they aren’t by a huge margin! There’s awareness, health, morality & ethics involved.

What do Vegans Eat?

I am sure you have a ton of questions in your mind after reading what is vegan, some of them would be –

  • What Foods Are Vegan?
  • What do Vegans Avoid?
  • Do Vegans Eat Bread? “Yes, non-milk breads”
  • Do I have to give up on Pizza, Ice Creams, Coffees, Teas, pastries, cakes etc? “Definitely, visit us at Elysian Delights
  • Can Vegans Drink Alcohol?

And many more…?

Vegan food includes all fruits, vegetables, grains, leaves, legumes, Oils, Nuts & Seeds etc. And come to think of it, we have most of these items in our daily life already but haven’t consciously felt the need to label it differently. Bread is made with wheat/all purpose flour so as long as it doesn’t have egg or milk, it is vegan. There are brands of bread in the market that are without the mentioned items and are easily available. A lot of the ingredients used in ancient times in India were following Ayurveda. Ayurveda is focussed on healing with the help of natural and plant based remedies. It was normal for them, but in today’s age what is vegan and what is not, has to be checked specifically by reading and researching.

Coming to Fast Food & Sweet items, there can be a limitation in terms of supply at the moment. There are very few outlets in India, where fast food and bakery items are vegan. It is definitely on the rise. Normally vegan cheese on pizzas is made with cashews/soy, buns are made without ghee/butter, pastries are made without egg or dairy. It is easy to find eggless sweets, but dairy free are still a challenge. If you are in Gurgaon, no need to worry because Elysian Delights & Loving Hut have one of the best vegan fast food and Indian Food options in Delhi NCR.

South Indian Food which doesn’t have curd, is also vegan. North Indian Restaurants tend to add Butter on the top of food, or saute vegetables in butter at times. While ordering food, do put your word forward to avoid as much as possible. 

Yes, Vegan can drink alcohol as well. There are several brands which don’t use animal skins to filter the alcohol or have vegan ingredients. You can also check on THIS website to check the brand.

Is Vegan Food Healthy?

Vegan food is defined as food that does not contain animal ingredients. However, is vegan diet is healthy? Is eating vegan at all good? Does eating such a diet even benefit your health at all? The answer to these questions is yes. Vegan food, like any other type of food, can be healthy. However, only if you do it right.

A lot of Junk Food – Fast Food – Fried Food is by default vegan. So if you choose to have more of these items in your diet, then it can become unhealthy. If you balance your diet with right amount of Greens, Vegetables, Fruits & Nuts, this diet could be very beneficial for you. Many people often confuse vegan food with healthy food, although it does help your body but vegan food also contains junk food which isn’t considered healthy. But once people transition to plant based diet, they tend to make healthier life choices as well.

There are many animals who suffer and die in factory farms. Eating a vegan diet reduces the amount of suffering these animals go through and helps to save them from a horrible death. So by reducing the negative emotions and energy in your food, you already are one step towards positivity and being aware of what’s going in your body.

Secondly, eating vegan food helps your body. Vegan diets are usually lower in fat, have no cholesterol, and have comparatively lower calories than omnivorous diets. They also contain more fiber which is beneficial in many ways.

Thirdly, eating vegan reduces the risk of many diseases and other conditions. Adopting a vegan diet can help prevent heart disease and strokes, diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and some forms of depression. Follow a few health pages online to know how that happens.

Fourthly, eating vegan helps the environment. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of global warming and deforestation. When you eat vegan, you help save the earth by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby helping yourself live more cleaner.

List of Documentaries

Studies show that vegans have better heart health and lower odds of having certain diseases. Those who skip meat have less of a chance of becoming obese or getting heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Vegans are also less likely to get diabetes and some kinds of cancer, especially cancers of the GI tract and the breast, ovaries, and uterus in women.” Source: webmd.com

A lot of eye opening Documentaries have been made in this decade. These tell you about medical industry, pharma industry & Government involvement in Food & Environment sectors. Go through some of the ones listed below:

What The Health
Seaspiracy – Just the Trailer Shook me.

The conspiracy involved in destroying the planet bit by bit – people involved in these sectors are doing worse to humans as well, mafia’s involvement seems very realistic based on these documentaries.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and compounds that help protect against diseases like diabetes and cancer. Source: webmd.com

Whole Food Plant Based Diets

We will be talking about WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED DIET  in another article. This is a diet that talks about having the fruit/vegetable as whole without extracting some of it’s part and consuming that. For example, this diet prefers you have the whole olive, instead of extracting just the oil from it and leave the rest. This is because it is understood that every such fruit as a whole comes with both negative and positive parts to it which counteract each other to avoid causing harm. But if we extract 1 part and consume without the other, you may end up with adverse effects overtime. WFPB Diet is considered very healthy and has also been successful in reversing some diseases when followed properly. 

Why do people go vegan?

Ethics

All animals are conscious beings that wish to avoid pain and suffering. They are sentient beings. Source: healthline.com.  Because of this, ethical vegans are opposed to exploiting other beings for personal pleasure or benefit.

Health

Diets high in meat — especially red meat — have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Source: healthline.com. Many more such studies have shown that conscious diet helps lowering such chances in your favour.

In early 1900’s, vegetarian food was followed by vast majority if Indian population. With globalization and commercializing of everything, food producers and non-vegan diets found way into our society. It became a social symbol at one point in time and now majority of Indian Popluation consumes non-vegan food and the number of diseases and cases of above mentioned diseases have gone up by 10000s yearly!

As there is more awareness about health based talks, there is a shift towards organic food and specially after COVID, people are accepting the dietary changes.

Environment

According to recent data, animal agriculture heavily contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs), which cause climate change. Source: healthline.com

The livestock sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, emit large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, which are potent greenhouse gases. Therefore, diets that reduce or eliminate dairy can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Source: healthline.com

Does Vegan mean Gluten Free or Sugar Free or Oil Free?

We, at our Elysian Delights Bakery, have come across this query many times. A lot of people come in expecting cakes/pastries to be Gluten Free because they are vegan. They naturally assume, our breads are gluten free and in many cases have been misinformed about the concept of vegan food. 

Hopefully, for our readers, we have been able to clarify what vegan food is. As for Gluten Free Food, that means any food that doesn’t have gluten in it. This includes majorly WHEAT, MAIDA, SOOJI or any of it’s form. Since wheat comes from plants, it is vegan by default. Food being vegan has nothing to do with being gluten free. Gluten Free Food can be non-vegan as well if they add let’s say eggs in their product. 

In some foreign countries, Sugar is refined with the help of Bone Char and hence it isn’t vegan. But in India, majorly all sugar is vegan, hence being vegan doesn’t mean it’s sugar free. Same way, Oil is vegan as it comes from plants. There are animal based oils as well, those are non-vegan. 

What is the difference between vegan and plant based diet?

As discussed above, Vegan is not just diet, it’s a collection of what we wear, use, eat, ride etc. Plant based diet is basically referring to a vegan diet only. It doesn’t say anything about a person’s choice to wear leather or use animal tested products.

In Short, a person following a vegan lifestyle is following a plant based diet, but it is not necessary that a person following plant based diet is a Vegan! You can figure out the po-tah-toh & po-teh-toh for yourselves!

What is the difference between Vegan and Organic?

vegan and organic

Simply put, Organic food means the food has been produced in a way that doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering. Organic food is produced without herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics or synthetic food additives; and is minimally processed. So all fruits/vegetables/nuts/seeds and other plant based products grown organically or otherwise are vegan. Both of them are not co-dependent terms. Organic food ideally should only refer to plant based food, but in a few articles, we have noticed companies listing their meat products as organic/grass fed and what not to somehow show it’s cleaner. 

What are Vegan Sources of B12 & Vit D?

To conclude the Diet Part of Vegan Lifestyle, let’s quickly discuss how you can get Vitamin D & Vitamin B12 from a Vegan Diet. 

Vegan vitamins b12

Where Does B12 come from?

Vitamin B12 is responsible for health of our nervous system. VItamin D is responsible for the health of our bones and absorption of calcium & better immunity.

Firstly, Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria in the soil. Animals like Cow have it in their stomach because they eat grass and soil goes in with that. Not all places have B12 making bacteria, thereby not every vegetation/animal would have it. 

Secondly, Vitamin B12 takes many months to become deficient in the body. There are several vegan B12 supplements that you can take as per requirement or medical reports. If your reading shows highly deficient, you might need to get B12 booster injections to get that to a normal range and then monitor it. Other than that, fortified foods also contain B12, like fortified cereal and soy milk by some brands.

Vitamin D is important for our bones and immunity. Standing 30 minutes in Sunlight during Sunrise, can help quite a bit. Other than that, we always have vegan supplements to replenish our bodies! Our skins make this vitamin when exposed to UV of sunlight. But staying too long in sunlight can have negative effects as well.

Another natural source of Vitamin D are Mushrooms! Certain Mushrooms have the ability to make this vitamin in sunlight as well. Lastly, fortified foods have Vitmain D as well. 

As for other nutrients like Calcium, Iron, etc, we have green leafy vegetables like Spinach, Broccoli, and fruits like Pomegranate for starters. For Omega related nutrients, you can always count of Chia/Flax Seeds, Nuts. 

vegan sources of protein

Same way when asked where do vegans get protein, you can easily list atleast 5 items like Beans, Tofu, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds, Lentils and so many more. For More information refer to our Complete Guide to 20 Best High Protein Vegan Foods You just need to do slight amount of research and you are set! For a more detailed view on proteins, do visit THIS website.

What is Vegan Leather?

Vegan leather is synthetic material that’s made to resemble leather, but isn’t derived from animal skin. It’s made from polyurethane (or PU) resin, which feels a bit like faux leather, but is much cheaper to produce, so it’s widely used for phones, shoes, handbags, and clothing, among other things. Some faux leathers, such as PU leather, also use animal-based adhesives, dyes, and other ingredients, so it’s best to look for the “100% vegan leather” logo to ensure that you’re buying cruelty-free materials.

Over the past few years, vegan leather has become a popular choice for clothing, shoes, and accessories because it’s cheap to produce, and it’s much more durable than actual leather.

Newest innovations in this area have led to using ingredients like Mushroom & Pineapple Leaves to make Vegan Leather. There is a huge scope for these products at the moment because it does tend to get good quality formal shoes or wallets at affordable costs.

The term mushroom leather is an oxymoron, but due to the way mushrooms grow, it is technically possible to use their leathery tissue to make leather.  A chemical reaction between injected mold juice and the mushroom’s mycelium (the underground part of the mushroom) causes the white mushroom to turn brown and a leather-like skin to form.  This skin is then removed from the mold, air-dried and greased up with a fine wax.  The result is a leather that looks and feels like cowhide, but is actually completely vegan.  Fungi leather is currently in the prototype phase and the only thing holding it back is the high cost of production. Check out this video for more understanding, we will have a different article on Vegan Leather.

Pineapple Leather as the name suggests is a plant based leather made from Pineapple Plant. It is made using Pineapple Leaves. In India, majority of the pineapple leaves are burnt after harvesting pineapples. There’s a huge potential that lies here.  

It is a very strong leather alternative, but it’s also extremely hard to work with. It can last for years without any signs of wear and tear, especially if it is a part of a handbag or a similar fashion item. This material is also incredibly easy to clean, but it needs to be handled with care. Pineapple Leather is very versatile & is much better for the environment. We will write a detailed article on this soon! Have a look at this video for a basic introduction to this sector.

Same way we have Vegan Clothing. In short, cotton & synthetic material to make clothing is vegan. We don’t need wool or silk, where animals are horribly treated & in case of silk – boiled alive. There can be a 1000 reasons for you to not leave silk or wool, but if you can make the connection to the whole process where a being is bred to be mistreated/exploited as much as possible and then left to die or slaughtered, I believe you would think twice before purchasing such a product. Where there are plenty of alternatives, there’s no logical reason for you to choose cruelty.

So far we have discussed Veganism, Vegan Diet & Nutrients, Leather which covers part of what we eat & wear. Now we move to cosmetics & then call it a day for this article!

What are Vegan Cosmetics?

As a new vegan, you’re no doubt curious about the vegan cosmetics options that are available. Vegan cosmetics cover a wide range of products, from makeup to skin care to hair care. More and more people are shunning conventional beauty products in favor of vegan cosmetics. The shift may also be altered by more natural remedies that many influencers on social media are promoting. A cleaner lifestyle with least amount of unknown chemicals is far better.

Our parents used to crush lentils and mix it with yogurt (not vegan at the time as we were very young and weren’t aware), and apply that on face. This used to act as a good facepack, left the face energized and clean after scrubbing it off. Many more such simple techniques will be discussed in another article.

Personal Care & Cosmetic Products have for long been tested on animals before launch. Animal testing was part of the process set by authorities to deem it safe for humans. As awareness about this horrible practice has reached common man, people are slowly shifting to less chemical/or harmful based products. They are now reading the ingredients & researching them for personal benefit as well. 

Vegan cosmetics have become increasingly popular in recent years, and there are a number of reasons why. Vegan cosmetics are cruelty-free, which means they don’t test on animals. They’re also free of ingredients that are harmful to animals, such as lanolin and lanolin derivatives. The best part is that vegan cosmetics are never tested on animals, and they can often save you money. But often some are expensive based on ingredients or if they are going in for a luxury image of the product. For those of you who are unaware of Lanolin, Lanolin oil is a waxy substance derived from sheep.

Conclusion

If you are reading this article and have reached the conclusion part, I believe you have found something noteworthy and interesting about this topic. We hope to have made certain things more straight forward to understand. Clearly this has been a very elaborate explanation of veganism and it’s associated topics on which we would expand in future articles. Do share & subscribe to our newsletter & inform others around you to just have a go at some of our articles to be able to understand what is happening around us and what change we need to our habits for our betterment, environment, our future and animals involved.

Disclaimer: All information provided is for informational purposes only, not for medical opinion. Please consult a Nutritionist/Doctor for medical related issues.

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