Our eating habits and lifestyle choices are really a very personal thing. However if you have allergies or intolerances or follow a certain eating plan for personal or religious reasons, people generally have a lot of questions to ask. You will find that some people ‘don’t agree’ (silly really when it has nothing to do with them) others will genuinely be interested in.
While you of course don’t have to explain anything to anyone, if you’re preparing to embark on veganism there are a number of questions that you’ll likely be asked. If you feel like explaining, here are some responses to efficiently sum everything up- and who knows, maybe the person asking will learn a little and adjust their own habits even if very slightly.
No one wants to have views shoved down their throat, but when people ask and seem genuinely interested it could be a good chance to educate them a little. After all, going vegan is highly beneficial for the environment, for animal welfare reasons and for health reasons which you’ll already be well aware of if you’ve taken the plunge yourself. Here are just a few of the questions that people are likely to ask when they know you don’t eat animals or animal products.
Where Do You Get All of Your Vitamins?
We all know that animals are a good source of protein, dairy is a good source of calcium and fish is a good source of omegas. So when you tell people that you’re cutting out these food groups, their first question is likely to be ‘where do you get all your vitamins?’ Some people are shocked to know that you can get everything you need purely from plants and plant based products, the only exception to this is vitamin b12. This is a vitamin that’s found in animal tissues and isn’t something that vegans are able to acquire in their diet. However a b12 supplement is all that’s needed, and everyone (regardless of their diet choices) should be taking supplements anyway.
There are lots of great options for those who don’t eat meat or animal products these days, from plant based omega 3 to multivitamins and other supplements. All you need to do is check the label first. Vegetables contain all of the protein and calcium we need in our diet- and a good mixture of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, sprouts, vegan milks and products such as tofu (made from soybeans) and mycoprotein (made from a mushroom- like fungus). At first, it’s a good idea to use a tracker like MyFitnessPal to make sure you’re getting enough of everything you need. In time it will become like second nature, but when you’re completely changing your eating habits and getting your nutrients from different sources, it doesn’t hurt to check. Plant products provide all of the amino acids, nutrients and vitamins that the body needs. Lots of snack foods are ‘accidentally vegan’ however if you’re not eating junk and focusing on a healthy vegan diet it’s extremely good for the body. You avoid eating saturated fat which lots of types of meat are high in. Cured meats like ham and bacon are high in salt and nitrates which you avoid when you go vegan. You avoid hormones that are given to animals which can end up in your own body and cause all kinds of issues. Instead you will be eating lots of foods with incredible health benefits. Plant based products are high in fibre, packed with vitamins that do wonderful things to the body. They’re low in fat, low in calories meaning it’s easy to maintain your weight. In terms of health, its a great choice and so when switching to a vegan diet, you certainly won’t be lacking. For many people, you’re likely to be a lot healthier compared to your previous eating habits.
Isn’t It Expensive?
Buying lots of fresh foods can mean doing a lot of shopping, when you’re buying produce it’s not the kind of thing that can sit in the cupboards for weeks on end until you’re ready to use it. However more shopping doesn’t mean more expense- actually it’s meat and animal products that are some of the priciest things on most people’s grocery shop. Fruit and vegetables, especially if you shop for things that are in season are usually very cheap. If you have a market nearby that sells fruit and veg then you’re in luck- it will cost you even less. Some vegan products can be a little more expensive, for example branded vegan sausages and meat alternatives aren’t always that cheap. But these things shouldn’t be the staple of your diet anyway. Thanks to more and more people catching onto the great benefits of veganism, supermarkets sell more and more items to cater for them. Vegan milk such as coconut, oat and rice milk for example are now widely available and aren’t too pricey.
Is It Time Consuming?
Cooking from scratch as opposed to buying convenience foods or ordering takeaways is always going to be more time consuming whether or not you’re vegan. However there are ways to make life easier for yourself. Batch cooking meals such as a vegetarian chilli or bolognese at the weekend, portioning it out and freezing in Tupperware boxes means you have convenient food at a later date. It’s still healthy, home cooked and vegan so ideal if you don’t have the time or inclination to cook one night. You could make up a big batch of rice or pasta salad and keep it in the fridge, it’s an easy side dish or you could grab a small portion as a snack during the week. You could spend some time cooking ahead, steamed vegetables, mashed potato and grains like pasta and rice will all last well in the fridge if you store them properly. It’s no more time consuming than eating a healthy diet that includes meat too. Because veganism is so accessible these days, you don’t even need to spend time researching restaurants if you go out- just about any place you go to will offer vegan dishes or the chef will be more than happy to adapt a dish if you ask nicely.
How Does it Help The Environment?
Most people are vaguely aware that veganism is good for the planet, but not everyone understands exactly why this is. The reason eating meat is back for the environment is due to keeping livestock. We use billions of tonnes of crops, water and energy (which burn fossil fuels) to keep and feed livestock. It causes the degradation of coral reefs, water pollution, ‘dead zones’ in coastal areas and a whole range of health problems too. Chemicals and fertilisers are used on crops, and antibiotic resistance can come about from overusing these drugs to keep animals fit for meat. Because we don’t need meat in our diet, it would be much more efficient to simply grow crops that we can eat directly. We wouldn’t need to breed, feed, medicate and kill animals which is good on both an environmental and moral level. Instead the crops grown could simply be utilised by humans directly. When you eat vegan, you help lower the demand for animals to be created and used in this way.
As a vegan, chances are you’re likely to get questions about your choices. If you’re with friends and family and order a coffee with non-dairy milk or a vegan meal in a restaurant, people will likely be curious. Hopefully this article helps you to be equipped to answer them, and the person asking might well learn something too.