Vegan FAQ

Vegan-Holiday-recipeIf you are trying to become a vegan for the first, second, or even third time, you know it can be quite challenging. Here are some of the top questions readers like you have asked. If you feel there are questions that are not on this list please email us all your questions at comments@eatingwell101.com.

1. Is becoming a vegan hard?

It certainly can be. If you try to change everything overnight, you are asking to fail. Instead try the gradual approach of cutting down rather than cutting out. Every meal that you leave out animal products is one more step in the right direction. Try eating one vegan meal per week first. Then go to every other day, till you eat a vegan meal every day. Then do this until all you are eating is vegan meals.

2. Is a vegan diet expensive?

It depends on where you shop and what you buy but it doesn’t have to be. Remember meat is an expensive part of the American diet. Although meat and dairy substitutes can be expensive, taking care of your health is always a good investment. Seasonal produce however, can be very cheap. Shop for what is in season first.

3. Must I take vitamin supplements?

Taking a multivitamin is always a good idea no matter what your diet. However according to the American Dietetic Association… “an appropriately planned vegetarian diet, including total vegetarians or vegans are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

4. What about organic foods?

This is a common mistake. For something to be labeled organic, it must be grown or raised according to the standards protecting the environment, health and animal welfare. Which generally means no pesticides or harmful chemicals etc. It is not necessarily vegan.

5. Do I have to give up chocolate?

Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean. So it starts out vegan. However, most chocolate after processing contains milk fat or milk solids. Chocolate does also contain caffeine. High quality dark vegan dishchocolate usually contain only caffeine, cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar. If you want a caffeine free chocolate, try carob. It has all the taste of chocolate with none of the caffeine.

6. What do I tell my friends or co-workers that invite me for dinner?

Simply explain that you don’t eat animal products. Most people who are inviting others to dinner want to know about their dietary preferences. Typically because people are allergic to all sorts of things these days. Just don’t expect them to create an entire menu around you.

7. Can I still eat out?

There is a saying; “here a little, there a little, everywhere a little, little…” Sure you can still eat out as many restaurants offer vegan options. If you are looking to be on the go you can take a little from a few different restaurants to make up a good vegan meal. Online sources can also help you find restaurants that have vegan dishes and meals.

8. But you don’t understand baking is my passion; how can I bake without milk and or eggs?

Don’t despair. Using almond, soy, or cashew milk instead of dairy works quite well. You can also find vegan or dairy free margarine. For an egg substitute look for powdered egg replacer.  You can easily follow the directions on the box to prepare it. Be careful of the cartons that say “egg substitute” they are usually egg whites.

vegan burger9. Will I lose weight?

When it comes to losing weight fat is fat. This means even if you just consume “good” or healthy fat, you will still gain weight if your calorie output is less than you calorie input. However, if you eat a balanced vegan diet and exercise, burning more calories than you consume, you can lose weight.

10. What about bread, is yeast vegan?

Yeast is typically a one celled fungus and is as vegan as any other plant cell. In fact, naturally leavened bread is made with the yeast cells found naturally floating in the air around us. Most supermarket breads however do contain dairy products. Stick to European style baguettes or ciabattas. Most importantly, read labels carefully. You could trying baking a loaf yourself with a bread maker.