In today’s society there is always a new trendy, fad diet. One diet in particular that seems to be becoming more popular is the vegan diet. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is proving to be popular not only because of the amazing health benefits, but because it helps protect the lives of innocent animals. A vegan eliminates any meat and animal by-products, such as eggs, milk and gelatin from their diet.
Amanda Schottlander a third year Criminology student made the transition from vegetarian to vegan two years ago. After researching the effects that the dairy industry has on animals, she decided that becoming a vegan was the next healthy, compassionate step in her vegetarian diet.
“I have always been an animal lover and realized how harmful it is to us and them [to be] eating meat and dairy [products]. Animals feel just as we do. Now I have way more energy, feel great [and] I lost weight,” says Schottlander.
Choosing to live a vegan lifestyle can be difficult in terms of finding alternative food sources. But it is also difficult, as many people do not understand why others choose to live a plant-based diet. Schottlander is one of the lucky ones as those who are closest to her have also chosen a vegan lifestyle.
“My boyfriend is [my] biggest supporter as he is vegan himself. My whole family is supportive [as my] parents and my sister are also vegan. But some of my friends aren’t as supportive. They think it is unhealthy or hippie like and extreme. So I always ask them is it extreme for me to know what is going into my body? Is it extreme to know how my food choices effect other beings that were [once] living?” says Schottlander.
It can be emotionally exhausting and socially difficult to live a vegan lifestyle. There are often judgmental questions about the diet as well as food cravings to overcome.
“Socially it was very hard at first. A lot of people are quick to judge, as soon as they hear the word vegan. I also found in the beginning [that] giving up cheese was hard. But now I [am] repulsed by it,” says Schottlander.
When first starting out as a vegan, it can be difficult to find food to eat outside of your own kitchen. It is important to not get frustrated by the lack of food choices, but rather become an expert on making alterations to menus. Over time it will become easier to adjust non-vegan menus so that they suit your diet.
“ Always ask what ingredients are in the food [being ordered]. I usually [tell] the server […] I have a dairy allergy and choose vegetarian options. Do not let what others think of you matter when you order,” says Schottlander.
Now that the veganism lifestyle has become a popular movement, it is easy to find delicious vegan foods in your neighbourhood grocery store. Sobey’s, Zehrs, and even No Frills offer vegan friendly sections, with options from tofu to veggie bologna. There are also specialty stores such as Whole Foods, Goodness Me, and The Organic Garage in Toronto that have a variety of options, making vegan grocery shopping a breeze.
If you are ever in the Burlington area, KindFoods, Kelly’s Bakery, and the Naked Sprout offer tasty vegan lunches and baked goods. Once you try a mile high vegan brownie from Kelly’s bakery, or an OMG grilled ‘cheese’ sandwich from Kindfoods, you’ll never want to go back to eating processed animal products.
For options in Brantford, Sophia’s Bakery often offers a tasty vegan Chili (hold the sour cream) and gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Just be sure to check their website or call ahead to see if these vegan treats are on the daily menu.
Choosing to become a vegan is a big decision full of dietary responsibilities. It is a great way to eat healthy and help save the lives of animals. Just be sure to do your research, get lots of vegetable protein, and remember to not give up when it seems as though there are no tasty alternatives. Experiment with recipes and learn to check out a menu before heading out to a restaurant. With time struggling with your vegan lifestyle will become a thing of the past!