This section is intended as an overview of the most common questions and answers about vegan and vegetarian living we come across. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, please contact us! We will be happy to answer any serious inquiries. Your inquiries and suggestions help us build this section and keep it relevant. You can also browse our links and video galleries for more in depth information and resources.
What is a Vegan?
A vegan is a person who avoids the consumption and use of all animal products, including food products, clothing, home furnishings and body care products.
Because animals have their own value and it is wrong to subject them to unnecessary suffering. Being vegan is our commitment to the belief that animals have a value in and of themselves that does not include being a resource to humans. Vegans believe that the unnecessary suffering and violence to animals for food and other forms of enjoyment is not morally defensible. Learn more about the fate of animals raised for food on our Why Vegan? video gallery.
Is Going Vegan Hard?
Going vegan is only difficult for some in the anticipation of the act. Once you’ve arrived, the rewards are so overwhelming and the new food discoveries are so plentiful, you can’t imagine why you made it such a big issue! Many people find vegan kickstart programs very effective. Browse our vegan kickstart links.
What Do Vegans Eat?
Everything that grows in the earth! Most people who become vegan discover an enormous amount of new foods they would never have discovered as a non vegan. The diversity and bounty of options is there for you to explore! We’re building a sister site where you will soon find a comprehensive set of resources for learning what to eat and how to cook, shop and dine vegan. Check out our sister site, heartyveganrecipes.com.
Are Vegans Deficient in Any Nutrients, Like Protein or Iron?
No. Not if they eat the right plant foods rich in all of the essential nutrients. Everyone, both vegans and non vegans, need to balance their diet with the proper foods and portions, to ensure they get good nutrition. Like anyone else, vegans can eat a junk food diet and get sick and fat or they eat a well-balanced diet and get all of the nutrients they need. For authoritative nutritional information and advice, please browse our Vegan Health Links.
What about the Vegan “Defectors?”
Some vegans return to their old meat eating ways because they were overwhelmed by social pressures. Recent studies strongly support this fact. Although some vegans claim they got ill from their vegan diet, there is no scientific or empirical evidence to suggest that a vegan diet could be dangerous to your health. On the contrary, most of the traditional diets of the world thrive and have thrived for centuries on a predominantly plant-based or vegan diet.
If I Go Vegan, How Do I Handle Meals with Non Vegan Family and Friends?
When you are invited to dinner, let them know in advance that you are vegan. Offer to bring a vegan dish. You may be surprised how family and friends that are sympathetic to your values will find ways to veganize their own dishes. If you are going to a restaurant, call in advance and find out what vegan options are available. Don’t be afraid to ask for vegan meals even if they aren’t on the menu. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate you. And lastly, join vegan groups and learn from your new vegan friends how they handle dining with non vegans.
How Many Vegans Are There in the US?
There are currently 7.5 million vegans, approximately 15 million vegetarians and about 100 million flexitarians who eat a significant amount of their meals vegetarian, according to a recent report by the Vegetarian Resource Group.
Why Aren’t There More Vegans in the US?
Veganism has been largely misunderstood and even stigmatized by some as an extremist lifestyle and ideology for many decades, but that is changing as veganism begins to permeate mainstream culture. Exposure to animal agriculture practices and animal sentience is also greatly increasing thanks to the internet, causing many to re-evaluate their assumptions about food and animals.
Why Not Just Vegetarian?
Being a vegetarian does help save animals’ lives but a vegetarian still consumes and supports industries that exploit animals and perpetrate unnecessary suffering and violence to animals. If you believe it is wrong to cause animals to suffer unnecessarily, then the only consistent expression of this belief is to be vegan.
What about Flexitarian?
Flexitarians add vegetarian meals to their diet to varying degrees. Any reduction in the consumption of animal products helps save animals’ lives. Some flexitarians view the flexitarian diet as a step in the direction of their desire to become vegetarians or vegans out of their moral concern for animals or for health or environmental reasons.
Why Not Omnivore?
Most people believe that it is normal, natural and necessary to eat a combination of animal and plant products since this is the dominant view in the western industrialized world. But a deeper analysis of the issues reveals that the way we use animals today is anything but normal, natural or necessary. Furthermore, upon closer inspection, the human health and environmental impact of the typical “omnivore” Western diet is anything but normal, natural and necessary. That is what this site is all about, so explore and feel free to ask us more questions if you don’t find your questions answered.
How about Humanely Raised?
Most people’s expectations of what the so called “humanely-raised” claims are on product packaging are far higher than the actual agricultural practices. Higher welfare programs have evolved to a great degree, particularly at Whole Foods Market where a five tier animal welfare program has been established. The important point is that even the best welfare programs still view animals as a commodity, as mere pieces of property, rather than the sentient beings they indeed are. The philosophy behind the welfarist approach is to regulate rather than denounce exploitation. So for welfarists, it’s still okay to use and kill animals for unnecessary purposes, as long as they are treated better. The problem is animals are far worse off now after 100 years of “humane” welfare reform than they ever were.
What about insects, plants and other life forms?
While some may believe that all life is sacred, not all life is sentient. Vegans believe in avoiding unnecessary harm to sentient beings, those who we know are sentient. Sentience is generally defined as the ability to think and feel (experience emotional states and feel physical pain, for example). The fact is there is still much we do not know, but we can and should certainly act on what we do already know. What we do know for certain is that all the animals used for food, clothing, testing and other such uses, are all sentient beings that think and feel, avoid suffering and seek pleasure, just as we do.