We all know about vegans and the stereotypes that surround them, either because we have one in our lives, or we’ve stumbled upon a Buzzfeed about them. They can easily be classified: hippies, animal activists, hip foodies on Instagram, or overly concerned with everyone else’s dietary decisions. While it’s easy to identify them, and even easier to poke fun at them, vegans are a misunderstood bunch.
Choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle usually comes from some grand realization about the food industry, or in my case, envy for a vegan friend who managed to survive December without any post-holiday weight gain. Whatever your reasons for becoming a vegan (or not) one thing is certain, veganism challenges people to think about what they are putting into their bodies. Is that really such a bad thing?
Vegans refrain from using all animal byproducts: meat, eggs, dairy, etc. Aside from the usual assumption that this abstinence helps the animals and our environment, it has an even more direct and personal impact. High in saturated fats, meat and dairy consumption has been linked to numerous diseases. Non-diary alternatives (like soy, coconut and almond) help cut calories and sugar, and boost calcium and vitamins.
A smart vegan diet can increase your energy and immune system while introducing you to many new types of foods, seasonings and cooking techniques. You may also find that accepting the daunting challenge of adopting a vegan lifestyle can be personally rewarding. There’s no harm in trying it. So while you’ll spend a little extra time grocery shopping (those ingredient labels aren’t exactly fun to read), it pays off to know exactly what you’re eating.
There are plenty of recipes you can try at home to turn your favorite dishes into vegan meals, and plenty of local restaurants (like Cafe Yumm, Sizzle Pie and Holy Cow) that offer vegan options. You’ve got nothing to loose, except maybe a few pounds and an inaccurate perception of vegans; try a vegan diet and see how much healthier and happier you’ll feel.