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The Vegan Lifestyle: Why It’s Healthier Not To Eat Animals

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More and more people today are adopting a vegan lifestyle. It feels like everywhere you look, someone just turned vegan. There are also many celebrities who have chosen to be vegans like Joaquin Phoenix. After winning the Oscar for the movie Joker, he admirably took his few moments up on stage to give his voice to the movement and gave a profound speech about it.

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Joaquin has been a vegan since the age of three, and actively participates in protests advocating animal rights. He obviously feels strongly regarding the rights of animals. But what exactly is the vegan lifestyle, and how can it benefit you?

Veganism Explained

Being a vegan means abstaining from all animal products, particularly in relation to diet. This means that, besides cutting out red meat, there will be an avoidance of poultry, eggs, fish, all dairy products, as well as honey. Often, people follow this way of eating because of their dedication to animal rights. 

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Being a vegan also means excluding any form of exploitation and cruelty to animals for the sake of clothing, beauty products or any other product that requires the infliction of pain on an animal to produce it. According to the Vegan Society, veganism “promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.” So, when and where did it all begin?

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The History of Veganism

Donald Watson came up with the term “vegan” 76 years ago in 1944, when he co-founded the Vegan Society in the United Kingdom. In the beginning of the movement, a vegan was defined as a “non-dairy vegetarian,” and by 1945, the term meant abstinence from honey, eggs, milk, butter and cheese. From 1951, the definition of being a vegan by the Veganism Society was “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”  

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The idea of avoiding animal-flesh-consumption can be traced much further back though, to ancient Medierranean and Indian societies. All Buddhists, Hindus and Jainists believe that pain should not be inflicted upon other animals, nor should they be sacrificed for consumption. In 500 BCE, famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos promoted the idea of being kind to all species, including humans and animals. Find out which countries have the highest population of vegans in the world!

Vegans On The Rise

There are millions of vegans worldwide, and the number is growing every day. From the young to the old, more and more people around the world are adopting a vegan lifestyle. Australia has the third-fastest growing vegan population behind China and the United Arab Emirates.  

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The largest percentage of vegans by country is Israel, followed by Sweden, Japan, Poland, United States, UK, Germany, Italy and then Spain. As you can see, veganism is spread around the world, and is practiced especially in European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The countries that do not really follow veganism are countries like Argentina and South Africa whose food culture is based around meat-heavy meals. Veganism is particularly practiced in countries with strong economies, where a vegan lifestyle can be easily followed. Learn which vegan dishes are enjoyed by different countries and cultures around the world.

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Famous Vegan Dishes Around The World

In the Middle East, dishes that are hugely popular are falafel and hummus. Both are made using chickpeas, and enjoyed by millions on a daily basis. Turkish coffee is also enjoyed, without the need for milk. In Thailand, there are many dishes available, such as Pad Thai, a delicious dish made with rice noodles and vegetables, where seafood, chicken, or beef is replaced with tofu.

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In Greece, dolmades are popular among the locals. Dolmades are vine leaves cooked with rice inside. In Italy, napoletana pasta is famous for its rich tomato taste and is a firm favorite around the world too, found in many Italian restaurants. In Mexico you will find many different dishes using beans. Find out next where to find the meat taste you crave, without the actual meat inside!

Faking Meat – The Leaders In The Industry

For some, the hardest part of becoming vegan is giving up meat. It’s not only the delicious taste of meat they crave, but years of psychological conditioning making them believe they have to eat meat every day. That’s where companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods step in. These two companies are the frontrunners in the “fake meat” consumerism market today.

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Both these companies put every effort into making their “meat” taste as close to real meat as possible. Some of the ingredients in Beyond Meat are pea protein, beet juice extract (for the red color), and mung bean protein. In Impossible Burgers, you will find heme (soy leghemoglobin) – an ingredient that adds flavor and color to their burgers so that it “bleeds” just like regular meat. Impossible Foods takes this (heme) out of the roots of soy plants, inserting it into yeast that is genetically engineered, and then begin the process of fermenting it. These companies have a huge market cap as they fulfil the needs of the fast-growing vegan community. Even fast food chains such as McDonald’s added vegan burgers to their menu based on their products. Want to know what will happen to your body if you give up meat? Read on…

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Giving Up Meat – The Pros and Cons

Meat does a lot of good in the body. It is there to supply the body with the proteins necessary to build and repair tissues, bones, skin, blood, muscles, and cartilages, and also makes enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Red meat gives the body a good supply of vitamin B12, which helps keep the nervous system and red blood cells healthy, and also supplies the body with zinc, which helps the immune system function at its optimum levels.

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Those are all the great things about meat, but there is a downside to red meat too. Red meat (lamb, beef and pork), have a high concentration of saturated fats – much more than fats found in vegetable proteins. The fats found in red meat (saturated and trans fats) can raise your blood cholesterol and worsen heart disease according to the American Heart Association, which was established in 1924. So what protein substitutes can you eat?

The Best Meat (Protein) Substitutes

When giving up meat, you really need to be aware of how much protein you take in every day. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams (0.03 ounces) of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams (0.01 ounces) per pound. Basically, you are looking at 56 grams (1.97 ounces) per day for men, and 46 grams (1.62 ounces) per day for women. 

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The best substitutes of protein to look at, when giving up meat, are tofu (contains 10-19 grams of protein per 100 grams), green peas (9 grams), quinoa (8-9 grams), and nuts. Nuts contain different grams of protein, and the most protein you will find is in raw peanuts (7.3 grams per ounce), followed by almonds (6 grams), brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and then walnuts (all providing 4 grams per ounce). Vegetables containing the most protein are broccoli, sweet potatoes, asparagus, spinach, brussel sprouts and regular potatoes. Great high protein fruit choices are mulberries, bananas, guavas, nectarines, cherimoyas and blackberries. What will happen with your digestion when you start eating this way?

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Digestion on a Vegan Diet 

Obviously, when you change the way you eat, your digestion will need to adapt. First off, you are going to be consuming a lot of fiber, found in fiber-rich vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Because of this, you really need to drink a lot of water, at least two liters a day. If you don’t do this you may get gas, constipation, and bloating.

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On the opposite side of the coin, if you are used to eating mainly meat and suddenly change to a fiber-rich diet with a lot of water, you may get severe diarrhea (in the beginning) as your body adjusts to the new change. It may take a few weeks until your body gets used to its new diet. As a rule, always keep hydrated, and keep a water bottle nearby. Find out one of the best things a vegan diet will do for your body!

Increased Energy Levels

Because veganism includes a diet and lifestyle where you are eating food that doesn’t take a long time to digest, you also gain sustained energy. Added sugars, carbohydrates and saturated fats can slow your body down, and without these your body works more efficiently. Kendrick Farris is an olympic weightlifter who follows a plant-based diet. He says that after switching to a vegan lifestyle, his body recovers quicker, he feels lighter, his mind is a lot clearer and his focus is better.

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Venus Williams is without a doubt one of the greatest tennis players in history, and follows a vegan lifestyle and promotes it greatly. Eating vegetables, grains and fruit supplies the cells of the body with enormous amounts of energy, boosting energy-levels for the day. Find out what the fittest vegans on earth have to say about their diet..

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Changing The Game

In 2018, millions watched the Netflix documentary The Game Changers. It’s about the benefits of a plant-based diet for athletes. It covered many stories of very successful athletes who are vegans and referred to scientific studies as proof. The documentary follows James Wilks, who is a former UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter, who researches nutrition and travels internationally to talk about his findings with elite athletes who also follow a vegan lifestyle. 

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Wilks interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dotsie Bausch (an American cyclist) and Patrik Baboumian (a German-Armenian strongman and former bodybuilder), among others. Schwarzenegger explained that meat consumerism is all about marketing, and he thrives on a plant-based diet. Baboumian said, “when I stopped eating meat (in 2005), I got stronger and bigger.” With regards to changing her diet to a plant-based one, Bausch said, “I became like a machine. Anything I asked my body, at any time, it was able to deliver.” A plant-based diet also leads to this wonderful side-effect…

Do Vegans Have Better Skin?

According to a study done in Turkey, people who consistently ate a lot of sugar had a 30% bigger risk of developing acne, and those who frequently consumed many pastries and cakes had a 20% greater risk. The risk may be connected to the effects refined carbohydrates have on blood sugar and insulin levels as high levels of insulin aren’t good for acne sufferers.

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Two other studies found that young adults who often drank milk and ate ice cream were four more times likely to get acne. A study of more than 5,000 Chinese teenagers and young adults found that high-fat (junk food) diets increased the risk of developing acne by 43%. Dermatologist Papri Sarkar says that her patients who primarily eat a vegan diet have brighter complexions and less bloating in the face. You just need to look at celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Billie Eilish who are vegan, and have perfect complexions, to know that could be true. Is your favorite celebrity a vegan? Find out now!

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Celebrity Vegans

One of the reasons people have switched to veganism is the fact that their favorite star is vegan, and they see the benefits. After watching 2018’s The Game Changers, Dolph Lundgren became a vegan. Other celebrities who follow the vegan lifestyle, and may inspire you, are Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer, Natalie Portman, Moby, Liam Hemsworth, Alicia Silverstone, Jenna Dewan, Russell Simmons, and Darryl Hannah, among others.

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Not many know this, but Sir Paul McCartney is a vegan – possibly a reason he looks so good for his age. A-lister Zac Efron also switched to a vegan diet, giving him the perfect physique. Ariana Grande is a vegan, stating to Mirror UK, “I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding.” Czech model Petra Nemcova stopped eating animal products in 2007, after learning about the depletion of fish in the ocean due to seafood consumerism. Singer Ellie Goulding told The Cut, “Once I fully understood where meat came from…I found that concept quite hard to live with. If you don’t need meat to survive, I don’t see why you have to have it.” Some celebrities are quite conscious of becoming vegan for ethical reasons. Getting to the heart of the matter – going vegan for humane reasons…next!

Going Vegan For Humane Reasons

According to vegans, the exploitation of animals goes much further than just the meat and dairy world. In order to make alligator shoes and bags, poor baby alligators are tortured as their skin is ripped off while they are alive – all in the name of fashion. Many beauty products exist today that are first tested on animals, causing poor defenseless animals to go blind and have skin disorders – just so that someone can own the perfect anti-aging cream.

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Many celebrities have put a voice to this. Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix’s girlfriend, owns Hiraeth, a woman’s clothing and accessories label with partners Sara Schloat and Chrys Wong. It is a vegan line of clothes that is completely free of animal products. Drew Barrymore’s line of makeup, Flower Beauty, is animal-cruelty free. Is that the only benefit? No, learn how veganism impacts the environment!

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How Veganism Affects The Environment

Factory farming is terrible for the environment. It adds to water and air pollution, as well as deforestation. Animals that are factory-farmed, create more than a million tons of manure on a daily basis, which can contaminate water, and they emit harmful gasses every day which is really bad for the environment. There is an imbalance with greenhouse gas caused by all of this, affecting forests and plants.

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Manure can be great for the soil – but not when it comes from the manure of factory farmed animals whose feces contain a lot of added hormones and additives. The plants that grow from this soil are not healthy for human consumption. One also has to look at all businesses involved in the production of meat products, from factory farms to slaughterhouses and butcher shops. They use an enormous amount of energy from fossil fuels, which, in turn, harms the environment. The more the world turns to veganism and less demand is created for animal products, the less factory farms will be created, or even carry on. A whole world of new recipes awaits you!

Discover New Recipes

Because we were raised on meat and dairy, we forget how many recipes actually exist out there, that are truly tasty and exotic using only vegetables, spices and herbs. One can do amazing things with tofu or seaweed, and beetroot and avocado can be used to create sweet desserts.

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One just needs to take the time to learn all about vegan recipes. There are also so many cultures that have recipes without meat in them. Many Indian dishes are spicy and delicious and contain no meat, and it’s the same with many Thai dishes. You just need to explore your taste buds and see what you like and stay curious. There are also many different types of fruits out there you just need to try like dragon fruit. Check out the hottest vegan restaurants in America!

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The Hottest Vegan Restaurants In America

Planta, a US based restaurant chain, offers delicious all-plant-based dishes like sushi, dim sum, and dumplings.They also offer pizzas such as “Buffalo Cauliflower” including cashew mozzarella, avocado, scallions, arugula and ranch dressing, pastas and burgers. You may even bump into Mark Wahlberg, Bella Hadid, and Adriana Lima at their South Beach, Miami, Florida branch. Cafe Gratitude is found in multiple locations across America, and offers dishes like roasted brussel sprouts, Indian curry, and a Mediterranean Meze platter. You may even see Rooney Mara, Anne Hathaway and Mena Suvari here.

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If you are craving a “meaty” burger, head out to Monty’s Good Burger, found in several locations, and take it with a root beer, or brownie. Jaden Smith and Travis Barker are fans. Little Pine is found in Los Angeles, California, opened by singer Moby, and all profits go to animal-rights organizations. The menu includes delicious gluten free pastas, flatbread pizzas and interesting salads. Leonardo DiCaprio and Lisa Edelstein are fans. Raising the new generation as vegans…

How To Raise Kids As Vegans

Obviously, it is easier to be a vegan if you were born that way and have been eating that way since you were a child. This is the reason many people raise their kids as vegans. The truth of the matter though, is that this has to be done very carefully with a pediatrician, nutritionist and dietitian – all who have experience in children and their diet.

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According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, United States’ largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets…are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.” Raising vegan children has to be done with care and you need to make sure they are getting their daily requirements of protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. How a vegan diet is great for your budget!

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Save Money on Food

By eating a diet that is more plant based, you will be saving so much money every month. Usually, meat is the most expensive food item at the supermarket or in a restaurant. Salads and food that just contains vegetables are usually much cheaper and offer more variety.

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A vegan diet will also allow you to use food over a long period of time. One steak will feed you in a meal, but one head of cabbage can be used in soup and for coleslaw and even in some mexican dishes. However, in countries that are less developed, where the economy is weak, like third world countries, a vegan diet could cost more. The future of veganism…coming up!

The Future of Veganism

After Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar speech many people were affected. Actress Lena Dunham said that his speech has turned her vegan. Not many people know this, but Leonardo DiCaprio was an early investor in Beyond Meat and firmly believes in the product. 

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Bill Gates invests in vegan meat and says of eating it, “What I was experiencing was more than a clever meat substitute. It was a taste of the future of food.” He says that eating plant-based food could help the fight against climate change and help to preserve the environment. One thing is for sure, veganism is on the rise and the more people who give a voice to the animals whose rights have been taken away from them, the more ethical and humane a planet we will be.

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