Frequently Asked Questions
What is Veganism
Veganism is defined as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.
Veganism is a lifestyle and the idea that we should avoid harming animals in any way. Vegans avoid –
- Food – meat, dairy, eggs, fish, honey, gelatin, casein or any other animal by-products
- products tested on animals
- animal derived fabrics (silk, wool, leather, fur, down)
- personal care products containing animal ingredients (beeswax, keratin, lanolin, etc.)
- animals as entertainment (circuses, races, rodeos, etc.)
How did the word ‘vegan’ originate
It was coined by Donald Watson. The term “vegan” was chosen by combining the first and
last letters of “vegetarian.”
What do Vegans eat
Vegans eat plant-based food – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes & pulses, nuts & seeds. A well balanced plant-based diet has all the nutrition needed.
Vegans chose not to consume meat, dairy, eggs, fish or any other animal derived products
Eg: honey, gelatin
Why do people go Vegan
Vegans usually choose to avoid animal products for ethical, health and environmental reasons.
Ethical / Animal cruelty-
Many people go vegan for moral reasons, to avoid the exploitation of animals. For some, it’s a belief that all sentient creatures have a right to life, and that killing to eat is wrong. And for
others, it is affection for animals that makes the idea of harming one to put food on their own plate difficult. Many abstain from animal products because they find factory farming cruel and inhumane, the slaughtering of animals for meat and the cruelty of the dairy and egg industries. Free Range and Organic is also not as humane as it is projected.
Many people become vegans to reduce their impact on the environment. Animal agriculture requires huge land and water resources to support livestock. This leads to deforestation, soil degradation and a decline in biodiversity.
Pesticides and fertilisers are the cause of pollution of our waterways. Animals themselves generate waste and pollution. Livestock contributes to 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (CO2 equivalent) — that’s more than emissions from transport.
Livestock farming produces 37% and 65% of our global methane and nitrous oxide emissions respectively, released through various sources including animal waste and fertiliser use. Both gases are much more potent than carbon dioxide.
Industrialized animal farming is a huge factor contributing to environmental degradation and climate change and anyone seeking to live a more sustainable lifestyle needs to question the impact of their food choices on the environment. If people ate only plant-based food, agriculture would produce food directly for human consumption, reducing the environmental footprint.
Some choose a plant-based diet for its potential health benefits. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits, legumes & pulses are low in fat and cholesterol and rich in fibre, magnesium, potassium and many vitamins.
Vegans typically have lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, and a plant-based diet has a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. It is also clear of all the side effects linked to the antibiotics and hormones used in animal agriculture.
Why is honey not used by vegans
Honey is an animal product and is therefore avoided by vegans. Bees produce honey for themselves not for humans. They are often harmed in the honey gathering process.
Commercially, an exploitative process, a lot of bees are factory farmed and live in unnatural conditions. The queen is often artificially inseminated, her wings are clipped to prevent her from leaving the hive and is replaced (killed) after 1 or 2 years (normal life span is around 5 years).
Many bees are killed when the hive is smoked to take out honey. They are transported to pollinate crops and many die in this process.
Culling is a process done either at the end of the pollinating season or when there is an outbreak of disease, where the colony is killed to save costs over the winter months as it’s cheaper to start with a new batch of bees when the season begins again, rather than to look after their existing colony.
A bee only makes a 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime.
Honey can be replaced in your diet by date syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses and we should avoid purchase of products containing beeswax and honey.
What about products that mention ‘May contain traces of…’?
‘May contain traces of…’ generally means that the product is made on the same production line, or in the same factory as others which do contain those ingredients. The wording is generally there as a disclaimer in case someone has an allergy to that particular ingredient eg. eggs, dairy, seafood and peanuts.
How do I get B12
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system.
It is made by bacteria in the soil but the sanitized methods of food production nowadays have made it difficult to obtain. Nowadays even animals are given B12 shots. Vegans can easily obtain the recommended levels of B12 via B12 supplements or foods that are fortified with B12.
Nutritionists recommend that vegans take a multivitamin or vitamin B12 supplement or eat foods that are fortified with this essential vitamin. For most vegans, the easiest way to ensure B-12, is to take a cyanocobalamin-based tablet.
B12 or Cobalamin is not required in large amounts as it is stored in the liver for years. Since it plays an essential role in our health, vegans simply need to make sure they have a reliable source of this essential nutrient. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for healthy adult men and women is 2.4 mcg.
Protein for Vegans
It’s a misconception that one can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet. Protein is found in almost every food and is it almost impossible to be protein deficient as long as you have a balanced diet. It’s easy to get what is needed from beans, nuts, seeds, grains, soy and vegetables.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, needed for growth and repair of the body and maintenance of good health. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 0.8 grams per kg. of bodyweight. Unlike animal proteins, plant proteins are high in fibre and without the added saturated fat and cholesterol.
Vegan Food is expensive
It’s a common myth that vegan food is expensive. Vegan speciality restaurants, might be pricey but that is not unlike any food that we eat outside. Keeping junk and processed food to a minimum can lower your expenses and keep you healthier too. A vegan diet is made up of fruits & vegetables, legumes & pulses, whole grains, nuts & seeds. None of these foods are expensive, its best to eat local and stay healthy.
You can end up spending a bit more only if you indulge in buying mock meats and cheese, the vegan alternatives to animal products. But alternatives are simply available if you need it and not necessary, also it’s only a matter of time before they become more cost effective as the demand is increasing.
Don't we need milk for Calcium
Milk is for infants and adult mammals do not require milk, especially not of another species. If we really needed milk, don’t you think we’d keep on drinking it from our mothers.
Animal farming is a cruel industry and also the cause of deforestation. Many scientific studies have shown detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. More than 65% of the global population is lactose intolerant and milk is linked to osteoporosis, obesity and heart disease.
Calcium is found in lots of non-dairy foods including beans, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts like almonds, sesame seeds and dried fruits. Many foods are fortified with calcium like cereals, soya milks and even orange juices. Unlike cow’s milk, plant sources of calcium don’t come loaded with generous amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol and with the risk of disease.
What are dairy alternatives
Since vegans don’t consume any animal products, they don’t have any dairy products like milk, cheese, paneer, yoghurt, ghee.
There are many alternatives which easily replace these like soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk, rice milk, vegan cheese, tofu, soy curd, peanut curd, vegan ghee. Most of these are easily available and can be made at home too.