What is a vegan?
A vegan is someone who chooses to avoid animal products in his or her life. Vegans basically choose not to eat anything that had the ability at one time to avoid their fork. A vegan does not eat meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. Vegans also avoid using leather, silk, wool, etc.

So vegans only eat salad?
Actually, the vegan diet is one of the most varied and creative diets out there. Most “ethnic” foods have many vegan choices, and many vegans find a wealth of different food choices by exploring the cuisines from India, China, Africa, Thailand, and Indonesia to name a few. Vegans also get very creative in the kitchen in order to find the taste and textures that we’ve all grown accustomed to while growing up. Nuts, beans, fruits, veggies, and grains are used to make everything from creamy sauces to veggie burgers.

Are vegans all pale, thin and sickly with their hair falling out from lack of protein?
No. Vegans are a pretty healthy group – mostly because they choose to be. Going vegan is a pretty big decision for an individual to make, and I can’t think of anyone who would make the choice without giving some thought to how to stay healthy on their new diet. The items that all vegans should pay particular attention to are: protein, vitamins B12 and D, essential fats, calcium, and iodine. All of these can be found in a plant-based diet – with the exception of B-12.

Aha - If you can't get B-12 from plants, then that proves that the vegan diet is inadequate!
No, all it proves is that this country needs to clean up and go organic! Let me explain: B-12 comes from bacteria that are found in two places – the soil, and the intestines of animals. Many years ago, we were able to get all the B-12 we needed from the soil and water (and this is still true in many “under-developed” countries) But now, because our soil and water is so polluted by pesticides (and many, many other things) we need to clean our veggies thoroughly, and we purify our water, removing many harmful bacteria – as well as all the B-12. And so every vegan should take some form of B-12 supplement whether in a pill or in enriched foods like Nutritional yeast.

But can a vegan really get enough protein?
Protein needs vary greatly from individual to individual, but everyone can find what he or she needs with a vegan diet. There are a variety of plant-protein sources such as legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. There are also many vegan protein shakes that one can add as a supplement.

What are essential fats?
They are the polyunsaturated fats known as: Omega-6 and Omega-3. Vegans tend to get plenty (if not too much) Omega-6 as it is readily available from corn sunflower, soy, and safflower oils. Omega-3 is a little more elusive. Vegans can find it in Flax oil, hemp oil, or can get DHA (the nutrient that Omeg-3 is converted to in the body) from supplements. DHA is important because it is the major component of the retina of the eye, the gray matter of the brain, and cell membranes – so, yeah, it’s kinda useful.

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