Vegan Diet Plan

A guide to eating vegan foods.

A vegan diet doesn't necessarily mean wasting away on grains and water. Vegans have a wide range of food choices and recipes, and a growing number of alternatives to animal-based products. The term vegan was coined in 1944, by the first Vegan Society which was founded in England. A typical vegan diet eschews all forms of animal products. This includes meat, dairy, and anything else that comes from animals. Vegans do however, eat vegetables, grains, and fruits, as well as a number of other food products that do not come from animals, including soybeans, mushrooms, and wild rice.

So for those interested in learning more about the vegan lifestyle, or those thinking about trying it out themselves, here is a list of unacceptable vegan products and their vegan alternatives. Some of them may surprise you, but you'll find a wide variety of specialty shops and foods to serve up almost any type of food in a vegan manner, everything from vegan cheese dip to vegan bacon. So check out this introduction to a vegan diet, and decide if its right for you.

Meat: The most basic vegan no-no, meat is off the menu. This includes red and white meat; thus, chicken, beef, pork, and any other animal is an automatic no. Fish, shellfish, and other crustaceans are also not included in a vegan diet. There is, however, a common meat substitute called seitan, made from bean curds, that has the approximate consistency of meat. Other meat products, using ingredients such as tofu, soybeans, or nuts and grains, emulate the taste and texture of a number of meat products, including sausage, salami, and even roasted duck. From Japan come a number of fake fish and shellfish products, including one brand of fake shrimp that features a small wooden tail, to complete the effect.

Dairy: Unlike vegetarians, who do not eat meat but can eat dairy, vegans do not partake in the consumption of any animal products, dairy included. This means milk, cheese, butter, and any other dairy product. There are many, many, substitutes available for milk, including soy-based beverages and some with very high levels of sugar to improve their taste and texture. For butter substitutes, margarine is the obvious choice, being made from soybean oil or sunflower oil. There are even a wide number of vegan cheeses available, including types of mozzarella, cheddar, and pre-sliced sandwich cheese.

Eggs: Because they come from chickens, eggs are off limits for vegans, as well as vegetarians. They are one of the few animal products which do not have a vegan alternative, much to the dismay of many breakfast-loving vegans. Egg-white omelettes, which are used with eggs, though not the yolk, are still considered an animal product, and thus, they are not included in a vegan diet.

Jell-O: Like most gelatin products, Jell-O and its brethren are not for a vegan. One of the ingredients in the gelatinization process is horse, and another is animal hoof, distinctly not animal-friendly. There are a few gelatin products out there that are made with vegan ingredients, but they are fairly rare. For the same reason, gummis and any other candy made using gelatine are also to be avoided.

Sweeteners: Though some vegans are stricter than others, honey is occasionally avoided by the stricter vegan adherents. Some decide based on whether the bees are raised in an environmental fashion, though others tend to accept honey as a biological, animal-friendly product. Refined sugar, on the other hand, is definitely off the vegan's list, as one step in the refinement of sugar involves passing it through bone marrow, usually of a cow or horse. Instead, raw brown sugar, from either sugar cane or sugar beet, is used as a sweetener.

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