We explain what a vegan is, how it differs from vegetarianism, and what foods vegans eat.
What is a vegan?
Vegans are those who adhere to the philosophy of veganism, that is, the rejection of the consumption and use of all products of animal origin. The invention of the term in 1944 is attributed to Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society of England, in the first issue of the magazine. The vegan News. There, Watson compared animal exploitation to human slavery and accused the lacto-vegetarian of collaborating with an unethical paradigm of human nutrition.
Veganism passed in the last decades of the 20th century from a minority philosophy to a common one, because, along with the complaints of animal abuse in slaughterhouses and intensive farms, medical studies advising against a diet high in meat and fat have been made public, making it responsible for many of the contemporary endemic diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
In this way, there are different types of veganism, depending on your level of commitment not only to human health, but also to respect for the dignity of other living beings, including animals and plants, for example:
- Ethical veganism. One that shows repudiation of the undignified conditions in which many farm animals are treated on farms and slaughterhouses, through a moral rejection of the consumption of any product linked to these industries: white and red meat, dairy products, leather, etc.
- Environmental veganism. Their main motivation has to do with environmentalism and the preservation of species biodiversity, which is why they understand the abandonment of all types of consumption of animal products, edible or not, as a necessary measure of force. They view with concern the impact of agriculture and livestock on the environment and deforestation and other industrial activities on the planet.
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Differences between veganism and vegetarianism
The term “vegan” emerged in the 20th century., as has already been said, a product of the need to distinguish simple vegetarianism, which adheres to a diet free from meat of all kinds, from its more extreme variant, which rejects all foods of animal origin, including eggs, milk, honey or any product made with them.
Until then, they were called “total vegetarians”., as they represented a more extreme view of vegetarianism, which simply avoided meat but not other animal products.
In fact, the vegan philosophy not only embraced food issues, but also promoted a paradigm for the manufacture of objects that also avoided the use of animals as raw materials: leather shoes and bags, fur coats, etc.
What do vegans eat?
the vegan diet It focuses on the replacement of foods of animal origin with others of plant origin, which makes it difficult to obtain certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12 (excluded in animal feed), vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, zinc, selenium and iron. Therefore, they must take vitamin supplements or plan their diet very well.
- proteins. For protein, vegans often turn to legumes: soy (and its derivatives such as tofu or soy milk), peas, peanuts, beans, chickpeas (with which a flour or paste like Humus Arabic); or grains: quinoa, rice, corn, barley and wheat. Nuts (almonds, walnuts) or hemp or sunflower seeds are also used.
- Calcium. To provide all types of dairy, vegans should turn to fortified soy milk (with added calcium), or almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, vegetables like broccoli (low oxalate), turnips, cabbage, spinach and, above all, they should make sure they consume vitamin D, which is essential for fixing calcium.
- Iron. An essential element for the transport of oxygen, it can be obtained in a vegan diet by consuming foods such as lentils, black molasses, quinoa, beans and chickpeas. Iron absorption can also be improved by consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or cauliflower, and generally avoiding foods rich in tannins, such as coriander, turmeric, pepper, and tamarind.
- Essential fatty acids. As they cannot be synthesized in the body, these acids must be consumed and can be obtained primarily from various types of oils as part of a vegan diet: chia, sage, flaxseed, camelina, rosehip, soy, peanut or canola oil; as well as chia seeds, walnuts, raspberries or flaxseeds.
- Iodine. Iodine, so abundant in fish and shellfish, is vital for the body’s hormonal process, but is scarce in vegetables. Your required quota can be met through the use of fortified salts.