To some folks, vegan food is a mystery. But it really isn’t! vegan food is everything that you have always eaten. Vegan food has always been your food, minus the animals. Fruit, vegetables, grains, rice, pasta, potatoes, nuts, beans, a lot of dark chocolate and many breads are all vegan food. Let’s dispel some myths about vegan food:
1. What Is “Vegan Food”?
Technically, vegan food is no meat/flesh, no dairy, no eggs and no honey. No foods with a heart or a mother. Vegans, as we know, avoid eating animal products. Ethical vegans “extend the vegan philosophy into other areas of their lives, and oppose the use of animals or animal products for any purpose.” -Wikipedia
Let’s also clear up the difference between vegan and gluten free:
“A gluten-free diet (GF diet) is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten.” -Wikipedia
So a person can be celiac and/or gluten free and an omni or carnivore. A vegan menu isn’t necessarily gluten free, with gluten free items clearly marked, and vice versa. However, I do think that all food awareness has helped create more vegan menus!
No! HappyCow’s Berlin, Germany Ambassador James Topping comments, “I think that carnists often forget that vegans and carnists eat the same things, except vegans don’t eat the animal products. It’s not like ‘vegan food’ is a different class of foods that is exclusive to vegans. It’s just a plant-based diet after all.”
I think that many omnivores don’t understand that vegan food is really just normal food, minus the animal products.
HappyCow’s Editorial and Social Media director Shannon Browning comments, “My uncle was just visiting last week and mentioned that vegan food was gross. I reminded him, ‘You eat vegan food every day, hello!'”
3. Is Vegan Food Bland?
Not at all. Vegan food has many flavors and can be found in every culture. If you visit a Thai or Indian restaurant, I’ll bet you can find some very flavorful, spicy vegan food. Curries, garlic dishes, black bean dishes, schezwan, kung pao, sweet and sour dishes, most of them can easily be vegan.**
4. How Does A Vegan Live Without Cheese?
There are so many healthier and tastier options. Vegans can make or purchase “cheese” made out of nuts like pistachios, cashews, macadamias, walnuts and almonds. There are many cheesecakes made this way, and we can have pizza, lasagna, burritos, etc. We can also make any pesto we want with these choices. Many non-vegans with lactose allergies choose these cheese alternatives as well. Many newer restaurants and pizza places are now offering vegan cheeses.
5. Is Vegan Food Health Food?
Not necessarily. Fried food can be vegan. Chips can be vegan. Soda can be vegan. Peanut butter containing bad fat (the cheapo brands) is technically vegan food. Many existing GMO processed foods are vegan. Real French fries are vegan food*.
6. Why Would Someone Be Vegan If It Wasn’t To Lose Weight Or Be Healthy?
For the animals. For environmental reasons.
For example, folks that are vegan for ethical reasons might eat vegan fried food and vegan ice cream all day, which are not the healthiest choices, but they still avoid contributing to the suffering of animals.
Some folks are vegan for spiritual/religious reasons and their goal could be to stay regulated, not necessarily to lose weight.
(see 6 above)
Just because we are vegan doesn’t mean we can eat unlimited foods. Peanut butter and jelly is vegan but we can become obese if we eat bread and saturated fats from low quality peanut butter all day. Vegan foods include fried foods, processed carbs and not everyone can eat unlimited nuts and pasta. Sugary drinks are considered vegan too. All candy that is free from gelatin, eggs or dairy is also vegan.
Anyone can avoid being an obese vegan or omnivore by eating more organic plant foods.
8. Can You Be A Vegan And Eat No Vegetables?
Surprise! Yes! Rice and pasta are plant foods too. You can technically be a vegan and never eat any fruit or vegetables or salad. I advocate health and lots of green plant foods, but yes, you can eat only egg-free bagels and noodles and still be a “vegan”.
I advocate eating as many vegetables as you can, no matter what your dietary preference is. There are benefits that we reap from the phytochemicals in plants that are fantastic for our health.
When I was a new vegan over 20 years ago, Thanksgiving caused anxiety for me…but that didn’t last long! Thanksgiving is actually a great example of how much vegan food we’re already eating, and how much delicious vegan food you can pack in. Almost every Thanksgiving side dish is either already vegan or can be converted quite easily. Stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, bread, cranberries, pie, and side casseroles can all be made vegan very easily (if they aren’t already vegan). You can even find vegan marshmallows to melt on your yams. Include mushroom gravy and you’re already there. For my first vegan Thanksgiving I made dill mashed potatoes and had fresh cranberries for the first time ever…yum!
So remember: vegan food is not some weird food or from Mars. It’s just everything that you’ve already been eating your entire life, minus the animal products. Pile on some plant foods and gain some health benefits. Easy Vegan Cheesy!
*(not the fast food fries that are presoaked in beef fat)
**yes we have to ask some questions and read some labels. Thai dishes, like Pad Thai, might include fish sauce (you can ask to omit). Mexican food can commonly contain lard or “Manteca” from pork fat. Rice dishes and soups can be commonly made with chicken broth base. New restaurants and menus are starting to disclose this information more and more. Support the places that make it easy for your weight, your health and for vegans!