Veganism 101 – What You Need To Know

You’ve read articles, you’ve seen beauty gurus claiming their skin glows because they are vegan, and you’ve probably been told to eat more vegetables. We’ve all been there. Thanks, mum.

Veganism is on the rise. Over the last decade, it seems to have gained such momentum that wherever you turn, those words seem to pop up. On the internet, in the supermarket, *shudder* in your house?!?

What’s veganism, you ask? Veganism refers to not consuming any animal product including, meat, dairy and honey.

Now, maybe you are already convinced and want to try it. Or maybe you are still wondering whether it is worth it to give up meat. Let’s debunk some myths first.

1. My grocery shopping will look like this:

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Nope! It’s not just cabbages and kale! You can still have cakes, pizzas, pancakes, ice-cream. Yum! Being vegan does not mean eating loads and loads of greens. Quick and easy recipes are now easily available online. Some of them are also linked at the end of this article.

2. I will need supplements

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Vegans usually do take Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 supplements. Vitamin B12 are present in meat sources, and when you first stop eating meat, you might need supplements. However, these days, almost all food items are fortified. Vitamin B12 is now found in almond milk, soy yogurt and even nutritional yeast (don’t be disgusted, you are going to love it soon). As for vitamin D, that’s something event meat-eaters usually lack in. We just don’t go outside anymore, like ever. (Please do get some Sun for those healthy bones)

3. Anybody can turn vegan

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While anybody can stop eating dairy and meat, should you? If you have any medical condition, especially those affecting your metabolism (diabetes, PCOD, hyper/hypothyroidism), do talk to a dietician first. Don’t just be pulled into the hype.

4. Vegan = healthy

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Drinking 4 gallons of orange juice everyday is vegan. Eating 5 plates of French fries is vegan, but it doesn’t make them healthy. If you want to be vegan and healthy, stick to good whole foods. That includes lentils, whole-grain pasta and breads, fruits, vegetables, and, plant-based milk and yogurt.

5. Veganism is a diet

It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. Did that sound as dramatic as I hoped it would? Being vegan is not just about plant-based food but can also extend to using only vegan beauty and cosmetic brands. A large part of the vegan community exists to fight against animal cruelty in industries. You could also be a part of it.

Studies have shown that a vegan diet is generally lower in calories, proteins, vitamin B12, some fats, calcium and iodine. However, compared to omnivorous diets, vegan diets are higher in fibre, micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and carbohydrates. Vegan diets have also been shown to reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and even diabetes.

Hence, veganism is a blueprint, what you build from it, is up to you. If you are planning to turn vegan, start small. Give up each beloved food item slowly. And, even if you aren’t vegan, do try and consume more whole-foods. Get that fibre in!

I want to learn more about veganism, where do I look?

Here are some youtubers that have helped me not just with recipes, but also adapting to a vegan lifestyle:

1. Pick up Limes

Sadia is a certified nutritionist with videos on deliciously easy recipes, especially desserts. She also dispels myths surrounding sugar and oils.

2. Healthy Crazy Cool

Veganism. Humour. Health. That’s what Miles’ channel description reads, and it couldn’t be more accurate. A former professional athlete who also suffered from an eating disorder, Miles is now an advocate for a healthy vegan diet. He loves Tahini, and if you don’t know what Tahini is, check out any of his videos!

3. Mina Rome

Mina Rome’s videos are calming and great for lazy Sunday mornings. Her ‘What I eat in a week’ videos show a beautiful array of easy, yet tasty recipes. They are also budget-friendly!

4. Caitlin Shoemaker

When you crave food that isn’t vegan, check out the recipes on this channel. She recreates vegan ‘Mac and Cheese’, vegan pizzas and even vegan cheesecakes. All of her recipes are based on whole-foods, so you get the taste and health in one mouthful!

5. Sweet Simple Vegan

Exactly as the name suggests, Jasmine and Chris provide simple recipes that don’t take a lot of effort. If you are vegan or trying to be one, it might seem like a hassle to eat out or find stuff to cook. But fret not, our next article is all about finding vegan food in Malaysia. Stay tuned!

Resources:

Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: Findings from the Adventist cohorts.

Vegan diets: Practical advice for athletes and exercisers

Plant versus animal-based diets and insulin resistance, prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes: The Rotterdam Study

Featured image from Unsplash

Written by Katyayni Ganesan

"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food." - Emma Bombeck

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