Updated: Mar 15
A lot of people have questions about going vegan, being vegan, living vegan and staying vegan. Whether they are vegan or not, there is always something that people aren't sure of. Sometimes the questions that you can be asked will seem silly, but it's important to remember that people really don't know and that they are genuinely interested.
I've put together a list of 15 frequently asked questions, these are all questions that people have asked me and I get asked these questions quite often. Sometimes the questions can be answered quickly, others can take a lot more thought, especially if the person that you're talking to can't relate to what you're telling them or simply doesn't believe you.
What Is A Vegan? A vegan is someone that lives in a way that minimises harm to animals, the environment and the planet. They don't eat meat or anything that is derived from animals such as gelatin, which is made from pigs or cows. They don't drink milk or eat eggs. They also stay away from animal skins, like leather, and don't use clothes made with feathers. Vegans will also avoid things that require animal exploitation such as circuses with live animals and many will shun zoos and aquatic centers, after all, non of the animals chose to be there.
Why Do People Go Vegan? There are different reasons for people initially going vegan, most people say that they did it for health reasons, they had an illness or disorder that wouldn't go away and so they went vegan and got better. Some people go vegan for the animals, they don't want the animals to suffer for them to eat and many people say that they don't see why cats and dogs are loved while cows and pigs are mistreated. Because of this they refuse to eat meat. Then there is the environment; factory farming is the largest single cause of greenhouse gases being released into the environment and they are damaging the planet every second of every day. By going vegan you massively reduce your carbon footprint.
Is It Hard To Go Vegan? As many people say, and I experienced myself, it's quite easy going vegan, especially if you can cook. Many meals can be made vegan by simply removing the meat, others can be adjusted by switching the meat for lentils, chickpeas or another type of bean. Tofu is another option as well as meat replacements. Meat replacements or meat substitutes are the least healthy option but they make transitioning really easy and they still far healthier than meat.
How Do I Know Whether Or Not Something Is Vegan? You'd think that it was as easy as reading the ingredients list on food to figure out if something is vegan or not, but it's really not that simple. A lot of ingredients that come from animals are named separately such as carmin which is made from ground up insects, lactic acid which is made from milk or lecithins that often come from milk. The other day I went to buy a jar of olives, I wasn't going to check the ingredients, it was a jar of olives, but I decided to check and there it was, lactic acid, a milk derivative. I put them back, I was still moaning weeks later, it took me that long to find a jar of olives that were okay for me to eat, especially as I can't have dairy, it causes me skin problems. There is also the issue of E numbers, some are vegan, others aren't, but you have to know what each number means, I google them when I'm not sure.
What Must Vegans Know About Nutrition? The first thing vegans need to know is that plant based eating is very calorie light, a plate full of food with meat involved will contain many more calories than a vegan meal of the same size. It is really important to eat more food so that you get enough calories and don't end up under eating. The second thing is to get a B12 supplement, you will not be able to get this from foods unless they are fortified and even then they won't give you 100% of your daily requirements, supplementing with B12 is massively important as without it your health will suffer, you will become very ill. The third thing I would say is eat the rainbow, eat a bit of everything. Doing that will make sure that you get a least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, you'll get protein, lots of fibre all of your vitamins and minerals. You'll also get phytonutrients that only come from plants and can do amazing things like fight cancer. Plus you'll have that really satisfying full, but comfortable feeling every time you eat and the great feeling that comes from being full of goodness.
Can Vegans Be Protein Deficient? Vegans can be as protein deficient as anyone else, the thing with protein deficiency is that it's really hard to get. If you are eating food you will be getting an amount of protein, even if it's not quite enough and this is because protein is in everything, even vegetables. Deficiency normally only happens in cases of starvation or eating disorders, in both cases protein deficiency is not the main concern and, in both cases, veganism is not the cause, it's not consuming enough food. If you are eating in a healthy way protein deficiency will not be something that you'll have to worry about, vegan bodybuilders manage just fine.
Can Vegans Play Sport? Absolutely. There are several famous vegan sports people, they include Lewis Hamilton, Serena Williams and David Haye. When sports people go vegan they often say that their game improved when they cut animal products out of their diet.
Is Honey Vegan? No, honey isn't vegan, it uses bees in a way that is unnatural and also stresses the bees. Bees make honey so that they will have food for the winter, when humans take that food the bees then have to go out and collect more nectar to make more honey, it's exploitation. Read my post on is honey vegan for more information as bees are also farmed to take advantage of their pollinating skills, it's not fair.
Is Makeup Vegan? Some is, some isn't. This is the same as food, some companies only sell cruelty free, vegan, makeup, other companies are completely cruelty free with some vegan products and others are neither. If you're not sure check labels and websites before spending your money, mascara and eyeshadows are key here. Mascara often contains beeswax and eyeshadow, particularly red colours can use ingredients made from beetles.
Do Plants Feel Pain? Hmm, a tricky one. Plants don't have a central nervous system, which is thought to be required to perceive and respond to pain. Plants do have a reaction to things that we would consider painful, they will release sap, sometimes poisonous, sometimes bitter to stop an attack, they may let a damaged area die, someplants can move leaves and stem away from a threat, they will try to generate a new leaf or branch close to where the previous one was, but were they actually hurt? Because plants don't run away or scream or obviously fight back it's not easy to know. We do know that plants taste good and that plants do this on purpose, the ones that don't want to be eaten taste awful and can be poisonous so it seems that, even if they do feel pain, they want us to eat them.
If Everyone Went Vegan What Would Happen To The Animals? If everyone went vegan in the blink of an eye there would be millions of animals that would have no purpose beyond trying to survive, just like us. But, where would they go and what would they do? The thing is the animals that are farmed today are completely unnatural, they have been bred to produce as much milk and meat as their bodies will allow, this leads to poor bone growth, diseases and all kinds of health issues. Without human assistance they won't survive long. Farmed chickens grow so much breast meat that by the time they are a month old they can't stand up anymore. If they try to stand they stumble and fall, their legs breaks under the weight, animals like this won't last long at all unfortunately. If people were to stop eating these animals they would gradually die off; pretty much all of the chickens would be gone after six weeks as they wouldn't be able to move to get food and water and predators, such as foxes, would catch them.
What Does The Bible Say About Veganism? The Bible is a little all over the place with this, at the beginning animals are our friends and companions, then they're sacrifices, some are okay to eat while others aren't, then there's the message to eat what you want as long as you feel good about what you're doing. Sorry, no help there.
Where Do Vegans Get Their Iron? There are many ways to get iron on a vegan diet that don't involve supplements and, quite often, the amount of iron that your body absorbs increases on a vegan diet because there is vitamin C in the food, vitamin C helps the iron get into your body and there is no vitamin C in meat. Kidney beans, brown rice, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables like kale all contain iron, if you are eating a varied diet you'll be fine.
Should Vegan Take Calcium Supplements? Generally speaking vegans don't need calcium supplements any more than anyone else. Broccoli, bread and fortified foods and drinks all contain good amounts of calcium, just as with iron and protein, if you are eating a varied diet you will get enough calcium without having to focus on it.
What About Foods That Contain Traces Of Milk, Egg, Gluten Etc.? Most of these foods will be vegan as long as they don't have any animal products in the ingredients list. The contains traces of message is more of a warning for people with allergies as food is processed in factories and these factories will produce lots of different foods. This means that, if the factory makes food with milk when they make the vegan food there may be teeny tiny amounts of milk in your food. They don't mean for the milk to be there and the food is still vegan and, unless you have an allergy, it will be safe for you to eat.
So, there you go. Do you get asked these questions or have you ever asked these questions yourself? Share this post to help anyone that has confusion or doubts about veganism.