Let’s start off by shattering a stereotype. The reality is that most vegans enjoy Oreos, pretzels, Ritz Crackers, Sour Patch Kids, and more. That’s right. A lot of what you buy in the grocery store is actually vegan. So what other misconceptions are there, and what does it really mean to be vegan? Let’s find out.
What a Vegan is NOT
Veganism is a spectrum. The term does not necessitate that all vegans be environmentally friendly, everything-coconut-oil-and-crystals people. There are vegans who don’t eat any animal products (meaning dairy, eggs, meat, honey). There are “extreme" vegans who don’t eat animal products and apply that to the type of clothes, medicine, and stationery equipment they buy (believe it or not, things like glue contain animal product). Some people eat 75% plant-based morsels, and yes, they too are vegans. Being vegan means having a mindset of eating better for yourself, your body, and the environment through a plant-based diet, and sometimes that looks different from person to person.
The Myths of Soy
Many people are afraid to go vegan because they believe soy to be the main source of protein in a vegan diet, and that soy is bad for you. Myth number one is easily debunked; soy is not the only protein option. Protein finds itself in many vegetables and legumes as well. As for myth number two, is soy really a threat? The argument against soy rests in the idea that today’s soy products are very unhealthy and contain many GMOs. While this can be true, there are many forms of soy that are actually safe and good for you. There is a bad, processed version of almost anything, like most meats, candies, and even grains. Fermented soy is one of the purest forms of soy. It is “processed" (in that there is a process to make it) using traditional methods, so it is not pumped full of chemicals or harmful ingredients. Fermented soy products include soy sauce, tempeh, miso and natto. Whole soybean products include tofu, soy milk, and edamame. These products are safe to eat and quite beneficial. If you still have a concern about soy, you can always buy organic, sprouted soy, which is the best, most natural soy to buy. There are, however, processed soy products, such as vegan “meats" that are neither all that natural nor good to eat. What you often don’t hear about soy is that it lowers cholesterol, improves fertility, and lowers the symptoms of menopause.
Some people also make an argument saying that if you consume too much soy, it has bad effects on the body. Any diet should be based on moderation, so if you eat too much of anything, you will face some issues. It should be noted that eating “too much" soy means eating 7-18 servings of soy a day. You’d have to consume over 47 ounces of soy daily, the equivalent to four packages of tofu, to be in any degree of danger. Spoiler alert: eating that much soy is not a regular practice for anyone. Unless you plan on eating four packages of tofu every day, you’ll be fine.
How Veganism affects the Body
Hopefully you have begun to warm up to the idea that veganism is not as bad as it’s made out to be. If not, stay tuned. Most people know that meat, particularly red meats, are known to cause many diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more. Being vegan, or even just implementing some plant-based meals into your life can not only prevent these diseases, but could also reverse them. Not only does meat affect your body in terms of ailments, but it’s also one of the toughest things for the body to process and digest. It takes an average of 1-2 days (sometimes more) to digest meat. While that meat is making its way through your body, it starts to ferment. As great as it is to eat fermented foods, it’s perilous for food to ferment inside of you. Internal fermentation causes a lot of gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating. Whereas eating vegan is proven to keep you healthier both internally and externally.
How Veganism affects the World
Veganism saves the lives of animals, yes, but the good consequences of veganism go beyond this. There are economical risks to eating meat. The meat industry is one of the largest contributors t o greenhouse gasses because of the massive amount of factory labor and animal waste that it produces. Globally, 30-45% of land is used for animal farms. Also, ⅓ of the earth is used to produce food for these animal farms. Where does this land come from? A good portion of the land used for these machinations is produced through deforestation, which is responsible for wildlife extinction, destruction of habitats, and producing the aforementioned greenhouse gasses.
Being vegan has many benefits. It’s better for your body, the environment, and animals. Veganism is no longer a fad or “trend." It doesn’t need to be a strict lifestyle, because making a simple change to your daily routine even one day a week makes a huge impact on the environment and your body. There are so many tasty, vegan dishes to eat as well. Join the ranks of Paul McCartney, Madelaine Petsch, Venus Williams, Liam Hemsworth, Jenna Marbles, Ruby Rose, Ariana Grande, and so many other awesome vegans!