Veganism, as part of a lifestyle, advocates a belief system that revolves around a reverence for life and a humane society. The American Vegan Society has adopted the Sanskrit word Ahimsa, which stands for non-killing and non-harming, and is also known as the philosophy of nonviolence practiced and promoted by Mahatma Gandhi. Veganism also encourages the use of alternatives to animal commodities including shoes, clothes, cosmetics, other products for personal use, jewelry made from animal products including fur, leather, silk or wool, and toothpaste containing calcium extracted from animal bones.
Veganism, as part of a nutrition plan, advocates a totally plant based diet excluding animal flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, milk, butter and cheese. Vegans usually derive their protein from sources such as beans, tofu and other soy products, nuts, seeds and some whole grains. Many vegan cookbooks contain chapters with nutritional guidelines, and daily calorie requirements for protein, calcium, and vitamins. A longstanding concern expressed by nutritionists about vegan diets is the risk of nutritional deficiencies, particularly for such important nutrients as protein, minerals (iron, calcium, and zinc), vitamins (vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin A), iodine, and n-3 fatty acids. Below is a table of vegan protein sources in an article available from the Vegetarian Resource Group titled “Sample Menus Showing How Easy It Is to Meet Protein Needs.”
• Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal (6 g protein); 1 cup soymilk (9 g); 1 bagel (9 g).
• Lunch: 2 slices whole wheat bread (5 g); 1 cup vegetarian baked beans (12 g).
• Dinner: 5 ounces firm tofu (11 g); 1 cup cooked broccoli (4 g); 1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa (5 g); 2 tbsp almonds (4 g).
• Snack: 2 tbsp peanut butter (8 g); 6 crackers (2 g).
This menu provides a total of 75 grams of protein, adequate for a male vegan weighing 160 pounds.
• Breakfast: 2 slices whole wheat toast (5 g); 2 tbsp peanut butter (8 g).
• Lunch: 6 ounces soy yogurt (6 g); 1 baked potato (4 g); 2 tbsp almonds (4 g).
• Dinner: 1 cup cooked lentils (18 g); 1 cup cooked bulgur wheat (6 g)
• Snack: 1 cup soymilk (9g).
This menu provides a total of 60 grams of protein, adequate for a female vegan weighing 130 pounds.
Many vegans believe an animal free diet is rooted in the head and a compassionate lifestyle is rooted in the heart. Being vegan can be challenging and rewarding all at once, and only you can decide if being vegan is right for you.