Archive for the ‘Veganism’ Category

Advantages of a Vegan Lifestyle

Friday, July 27th, 2012

A vegan is someone who neither consumes nor uses any animal products. There are many different reasons for becoming a vegan, such as improving health, ethics or for environmental concerns. Veganism has many advantages and adopting this lifestyle can be a positive affirmation.

Depending on the foods consumed, a vegan diet can be either healthy or unhealthy. However, when a diet is based on a variety of whole foods, complete nutritional requirements are received. In general, vegans typically have lower rates of heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Since animal products create inflammation, a vegan diet may benefit conditions such as arthritis, asthma and fibromyalgia.

Questions may be raised about vegans obtaining adequate protein and calcium. Protein is abundant in many foods such as beans, legumes, nuts, whole-grains and vegetables. The theory about combining proteins in a meal was made popular when Frances Lappe wrote “Diet for a Small Planet.” However, ten years later, she recanted this information, stating that as long as a variety of foods are consumed and caloric needs are met, plant proteins do not need to be consumed in the same meal.

Calcium is adequately supplied from sources other than cow’s milk. It is abundant in foods such as almonds, greens and beans. Animal products can actually decrease calcium levels because as they raise the body’s acidity, calcium is leeched from the bones in order to maintain a balanced pH.

The main nutrients which vegans must be careful are iron and vitamin B12. Iron is found in meat as heme and plants as non-heme. Heme is more readily absorbed than non-heme, but by consuming vitamin C in the same meal, iron absorption is dramatically increased. Vitamin B12 should be supplemented, as it is not found in plants. But vitamin B12 does not come from meat and dairy; it comes from bacteria which grows in meat and dairy. So if vegans wash their fruits and vegetables, they will need to find an alternative source of vitamin B12.

Many choose to be vegan for ethical reasons. By omitting meat and dairy, vegans make a commitment not to support the killing and abuse of animals. According to organizations such as Vegan Peace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, factory farms and slaughterhouses result in overcrowding, improper diet, filth and contamination. Animals are often fed grains, chemical concoctions and antibiotics when they should be eating grass. When the animals are killed, the procedure is often brutal to minimize time and maximize profits. Even when animals are treated humanely, they still must die for meat consumption. Dairy cows are often confined and artificially impregnated. Many spend their whole lives pregnant and attached to pumping machines. They live three to five years and are killed because they can no longer physically stand or produce milk. The calves are usually removed from their mothers; the females are used for dairy production and the males are used for veal.

Many become vegan for environmental reasons and in her article in the Guardian, Felicity Carus states the detriment caused by cattle grazing and fish farming. Rainforests are used for grazing livestock and to grow their feed. A big portion of the world’s grain is used to feed livestock. Air, water and soil are contaminated due to animal waste, antibiotics, hormones and chemicals. The nitrogen and phosphor emitted by manure leaks into the groundwater and creates pollution. Ammonia is given off through manure and can cause acid rain.

Wildlife is threatened in water as well as on land. Due to the concern of the impact of large-scale fishing, there is increased use of agriculture in the ocean. These farm-raised fish are fed wild-caught fish and are treated with chemicals that are being released into oceans to treat the disease resulting from overcrowding.

Adopting a vegan lifestyle can improve health, strengthen ethical values and benefit the planet. Though it may take some determination to overcome challenges, the benefits that people will find from becoming vegan are worth the extra effort.

References

Carus, Felicity. “UN urges Global Move Toward.” The Guardian. 02 June 2010. Web. 13 Jul 2012.

“Dairy.” Vegan Peace. 2008. Web. 11 Jul 2012.

“Environmental Destruction.” Vegan Outreach. Web. 12 Jul 2012.

“Environmental Destruction.” Vegan Outreach. Web. 12 Jul 2012.

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Web. 11 Jul 2012.


Written by: elanger

A Closer Look at Raising Vegan Children

Friday, July 27th, 2012

As healthier eating and organic food becomes more popular, the veganism lifestyle is always close behind. Essentially, a vegan diet consists of anything that isn’t an animal product. While vegetarians will often just avoid meat, vegans avoid all food that is derived from animals including eggs and dairy. This also applies to other aspects of animal products, such as fur or leather.

A vegan diet essentially contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that are important, as well as covering each food group. Although more with is initially required, the benefits of a vegan diet soon become apparent. In terms of veganism applying to a child’s diet, encouraging them to eat healthily can avoid a multitude of health issues in the future, as well as teaching them about caring for both the environment and their personal ethics. The main danger many people face when raising children is the mixed messages that come from the mass media. While some may believe that vegan diets can actually affect a child’s development, vegetables as well as products like soy offer more than enough vitamins such as calcium to ward off deficiencies.

In terms of food, vegan children who ate fruit and vegetables were more likely to do so in later life. Additionally, by placing children in a purely plant based diet, several immediate health benefits can be gained in adulthood. A vegan diet was shown to lower hypertension, cholesterol, cancer rates and even illness related to obesity. By encouraging this kind of diet in a child’s development phase, parents can ensure that the habits are carried on to later life.

When it comes to buying vegan ingredients, the rising popularity of these diets has meant that finding vegan food is much easier. It has come to a point where even local grocery stores stock healthy foods as well as substitutes specifically for vegans. Products like soymilk, tofu and dairy substitutes are much easier to find, especially if looking in a bigger store. If what you’re looking for is more specialized, it is always a good idea to look around natural or health food stores. These can be great places to find more specific ingredients such as seitan or other soy products, so be sure to check around the local area for health stores if you are looking to try a vegan diet. By encouraging these foods in a diet for vegan children, you can bypass having to break a child’s habit and start them off on vegan food.

Being a vegan isn’t just restricted to food however. Many vegans also focus on what they’re wearing, ensuring that nothing is made of animal products. Wool, for example, is something that most vegans try to avoid. Because some sheep are often specifically raised for wool production, vegans take their philosophy into what they’re wearing as well as eating. With this in mind, finding vegan clothing for vegan children can often take a little longer but can be equally as fashionable and affordable as other clothing products. As with food, always check the label of the clothing to determine the material, avoid things like wool and cashmere while looking out for animal friendly materials such as hemp, bamboo and manmade fibers.

Researching different clothing brands can also determine whether they have a special line of vegan clothing. Use the Internet or ask in store to find out exactly what they might have. Many stores pride themselves on selling only vegan products and a quick Internet search can often point customers in the right direction. Finally, do not assume that because the clothes are vegan, they are also expensive. Because of the difference in production, costs are often heavily reduced and thus vegan clothes end up being much cheaper. Discount stores or charity shops can often end up with a stock of vegan clothing that is not just “healthy” but also fashionable, something that is important for children in the present day.


Written by: Tom Hodson

Raising Vegan Children

Friday, July 27th, 2012

There is a misconception among many who do not understand vegan diets that raising vegan children is unhealthy for the child, takes away from childhood fun, or can lead to social stigma. However, vegan children tend to eat healthier than meat eating children do as they have a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables. Even vegan junk food is healthier, tending to be baked rather than fried and using whole grains rather than processed starches.

Dr. Spock, himself, raised controversy by advising parents to raise all children over 2 with a vegan diet. Vegan children are exposed to less food that causes allergies and tend not to have the obesity problems that their meat-eating counterparts have.

Balancing the Needs of the Vegan Child

Having a vegan child involves carefully balancing the needs of a growing child with the no-animal product vegan diet. There are many meat substitutes available in supermarkets to give kids a more “traditional” diet such as pizza with soy cheese, grilled cheese with soy cheese, soy-based chicken tenders and tofu hot dogs. There are also many kids’ favorites that are still vegan such as vegan cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and spaghetti with sauce. You can still give you child an interesting diet even if they are vegan.

Common Myths Regarding Vegan Children

Many people worry about social stigmas or taking away of childhood experiences related to raising vegan children. This doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t need to send your child to school with tofu every day to give them a healthy diet. You can send them with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, juice, a vegan cookie and some carrot sticks and there would be nothing to make the child’s lunch stand out from any others. For parties, you can send a vegan dish with your child for everyone to share so your child has something to eat. Holidays may be the hardest because of their association with chocolate and gelatin based candy. However, substitutes for these candies can be found.

Things to Remember When Raising a Vegan Child

There are a couple of things that you need to take into consideration when raising vegan children. It is important to make sure your child is eating enough calories every day, as a vegan diet is lower in calories. Fortunately, feeding your child a well-balanced vegan diet can give them the calories they need. There are also many vitamins and minerals that children eating a meat-based diet get from meat and dairy such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. Finding good vitamin supplements and vitamin and mineral fortified vegan products can help with this.

There are many websites available that sell vegan-friendly shoes and clothing, and a good guide of vegan clothing stores is found on PETA’s website. However, one of the main sites for vegan children’s wear closed in April 2012. It is suggested that you ask at vegan clothing stores if they have children’s sizes.

Having a vegan lifestyle is more ethical towards animals, saves the environment and is all around healthier. While the idea of raising vegan children is controversial, it can be done safely so that your child is healthy and gets all the nutrients they need. Vegan children don’t have to miss out on childhood favorites such as baked goods, hot dogs or candy. Vegan children tend to be healthier and have more energy and can still have childhood fun.


Written by: Andrea Gressman

The top 7 Reasons to be Vegan

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Being vegan can help you lose weight, be healthier, be more ethical towards animals and improve the environment. Many celebrities and public figures are vegan such as Alec Baldwin, Fiona Apple, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman and even former president, Bill Clinton. Here are the top seven reasons you should go vegan too.

1. You Will Save Animals

By being vegan you can save up to 100 animals a year from horrible living conditions and death. Being vegan is the best way to help animals ethically by refusing to contribute to cruelty towards animals that exists in the meat, dairy, egg and leather industry. Animals used for food can be just as intelligent as a household pet can yet they are kept in horrid conditions that include overcrowding and feeding them hormones and antibiotics.

2. You Will Lose Weight

The average vegan weighs twenty pounds less than meat eaters. Unlike fad diets that come and go, being vegan is a lifestyle change. This means you don’t gain the weight back on don’t get left feeling tired and without energy. Vegan food is lower in saturated fat than meat giving you a healthy way to lose weight.

3. Vegan Food is Good for Your Health

Besides the general health benefits from losing weight when you are a vegan, going with a vegan lifestyle can also help you be healthier in general. Vegans are less likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer than meat eaters are. You can still get all the nutrients that a person needs to be healthy as a vegan without unhealthy things such as cholesterol and saturated animal fat.

4. More and More Vegan Food Is Available

Gone are the days when being vegan meant only eating salads. You can now have pizza, burgers and even ice cream as more and more companies come out with soy and vegetable-based food especially for vegans and vegetarians. Being vegan no longer means giving up the food you love. More and more supermarkets sell substitutes for the foods that you eat every day without the ethical and health drawbacks.

5. You can Help With Worldwide Hunger

For every pound of meat that you consume, it takes 16 pounds of grain to raise that animal. That amount of food could go to much better use feeding those in poverty.

6. It is Better for the Environment

The meat and dairy industries cause massive amounts of pollution that damage the world’s environment and releases carbon and methane into the atmosphere. Eating meat helps contribute towards adding greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and greatly influences climate change. Being vegan is one of the best things you can do to help the environment.

7. Meat can Cause Diseases

Meat is often contaminated with various types of diseases including E. coli and salmonella. It is contaminated with feces, blood and other fluids that can spread disease and cause food poisoning. Meat related food poisoning could cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and even death. Even scarier is what the meat industry is doing to try to eliminate food poisoning in meat, including irradiating your meat or treating it with chemicals.

By going vegan, you will be able to lead a much healthier lifestyle. You will be consuming the foods rich in healthy nutrients and be eliminating many of the unhealthy items you shouldn’t be consuming. You will also have a great deal more energy as well.


Written by: Andrea Gressman

Three Great Reasons to Go Vegan

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Former meat eaters understand how beneficial going vegan is to the body. Many of the ways individuals eat today contributes to a number of health issues that, when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, are a recipe for disaster. Veganism should not be mistaken for being a vegetarian. Vegetarians may still eat some foods that are the by-product of animals, such as dairy and eggs. For a true vegan, these products are off-limits. Done properly, the vegan lifestyle increases energy levels and decreases the risk for many ailments that haunt us throughout our lives.

Heart Disease: Eating a vegetable-focused diet removes a ton of saturated fats. Meat and animal by-products are a higher source of artery clogging saturated fats that can lead to a greater instance of heart disease. Not only is this bad for your health, it can take a toll on the wallet, too. Heart disease can lead to higher medical costs. Some sufferers undergo life-saving surgery and rely on medications for the remaining portion of their lives. This is no way to live.

Obesity and Diabetes: Yes, there are overweight vegans. However, obesity is not as much of a factor among practicing vegans as it is for those who chow down on fried chicken, cheeseburgers and processed foods and drinks. Sugar is also not as much of an issue since it does not provide the nutrients necessary for good health. Sugar sabotage is rampant. It is not filling, and because of that, it is consumed in overwhelming amounts. Along with obesity comes a high rate of diabetes. Unchecked, diabetes itself turns into a lifetime of trouble for those who cannot get it under control. It can lead to problems with eyesight, renal failure and loss of limbs, heart attack and death.

Cancer: Cancer rates in vegans tend to be lower. Being a more conscious bunch when it comes to meal planning may be the primary reason. They are able to avoid many of the contaminants found on grocery store shelves. Vegans tend to avoid unnatural dyes, added salt and sugar, hormones and antibiotics found in meat, animal by-products, snacks and processed foods.

For those who decide to make the switch, it is not a life of bean sprouts and carrot sticks. It is possible to get a well-balanced meal. A healthy vegan does not usually take things to the extreme and indulges in plenty of great eats. They enjoy luscious desserts and tasty snacks. Mac and cheese is not off the menu; neither are flavorful soups and creamy side dishes. Many vegan restaurants have cropped up, making it dining out a pleasure, rather than a game of Russian roulette. The environmentally conscious will love the fact that eating a plant-based diet does not impact the environment on the level that raising meat does.

There are fat vegans who manage to eat poorly. Snacking daily on bags of salty potato chips or gobbling ten vegan cupcakes is not a healthy way to live and eat. As with any diet, everything in moderation is ideal. Approach this lifestyle wholly to gain the health benefits and really enjoy the food.


Written by: Rokkee

Benefits of Raising Vegan Children

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The benefits of raising vegan children can far outweigh any challenges that may arise. Vegan children are often faced with scrutiny and placed into social situations where they must defend both their health and their beliefs. These instances require a sense of maturity and in the long-term help to strengthen their confidence in their ethical values and decisions. Other challenges that may arise are finding healthy foods, good clothing and shoes that are both durable and stylish. Because research may be required, a strong work ethic may be developed. With proper support and resources, parents and children will find that being a vegan is a great way to grow up.

Vegan children are just as healthy as their non-vegan peers are. Though there may be concern that they are meeting all of their nutritional requirements, vegan children often enjoy a variety of foods and usually experience less health problems than their meat-eating peers, such as obesity, asthma and allergies. Challenges may arise in social situations when they observe their non-vegan peers enjoying foods such as hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza. In these situations, non-meat substitutes such as garden burgers may be used. Plenty of cookbooks and internet resources are available for fun and nutritious foods for children.

Another advantage of raising vegan children is knowing that they are being raised to live by their values. By having to defend their beliefs, vegan children will learn to handle difficult situations in a mature manner that will benefit them throughout life. Vegan children can take strength in knowing that through their choices, they are not contributing to the exploitation and cruelty of animals while simultaneously benefiting the environment.

Finding clothes for vegan children is not usually a problem. Most clothing is made of either plant or synthetic materials such as cotton and polyester. Materials to avoid are leather, wool and silk, felt, down and fur.

Because veganism is a lifestyle, vegan children may also have concerns as to how the clothing was produced. Just as avoiding the exploitation of animals is important, avoiding the exploitation of humans may also remain a priority. In order to ensure that the clothes were produced in a humane way, parents may opt to wear organic materials free from processing and not made in sweat shops. Cruelty-free clothing may be found on the internet or in specialty shops.

While finding clothing may not be difficult, finding appropriate shoes for vegan children can be challenging. Shoes must be durable and offer support. Finding good shoes is also difficult because children can outgrow shoes rather quickly. Leather shoes usually offer good support and it is necessary to find an adequate substitute to prevent foot problems. Materials to look for in shoes are hemp, jute, bamboo, pleather and microfiber. Vegan shoes may be found on the internet or even in stores, though different brands may have to be researched.

Any challenges that must be met can simply create stronger individuals. Because it may seem that vegan children have to do more research and their choices may require more knowledge, vegan children have the opportunity to develop and strengthen their values.


Written by: elanger