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A Beginner Vegans Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Veganism

October 7, 2020

Veganism is a way of living defined by the practice of abstaining from all forms of exploitation and cruelty against animals, especially the consumption of animals. Not only do vegans abstain from eating animal foods such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Veganism is not just a dietary choice; it is a lifestyle.

History Behind Veganism

The term “vegan” originates from the word “vegetarian”. The first vegetarian societies were founded in England in the 1840s. (Fun fact: the inventor of Graham Crackers, Rev. Sylvester Graham founded the first American Vegetarian Society) At the time Graham and other vegetarians abstained from meat, and practiced living by a vegetable and fruit-based diet, but still consumed dairy and eggs. It wasn’t until 1944 when British woodworker Donald Watson broke off from Leicester Vegetarian Society, an offshoot of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, that the term Vegan was coined. Watson believed the Vegetarian society was not doing enough and that still consuming dairy and eggs was wrong. From there he started his own Society, The Vegan Society, created in 1944. At the time of his founding of the society there was a tuberculosis outbreak among British dairy cows and Watson took advantage of this outbreak to preach about abstaining from the consumption of meat along with dairy and eggs. In his 2002 interview Watson said, “unless the consumption of dairy products was limited, [vegetarianism] could be an even more cruel diet than the [conventional, animal eating] diet.” Watson created the Vegan Society for vegans to have a community, and the Vegan Society is still active to this day.

How Veganism Has Changed

The Vegan Society recorded that there were just 25 members when Watson first founded the society. Over the years that number has grown tremendously. The number of vegans in America grew by 600% from nearly 4 million in 2014 to 19.6 million in 2017 alone. Not only are Americans adopting the vegan lifestyle, but trends show that this movement is expanding throughout the world. Data from Google shows there has been a worldwide increase in the interest of Veganism from 2004 to 2018. The top regions are Israel, Australia, Canada, Austria, and New Zealand. The U.K, the U.S, and India encompass the top three vegan countries by percentage, with India being in first having a 27% vegan population.

Grocery stores and restaurants are also seeing a growing trend in vegan options. In 2018 sales of plant-based foods including meat, cheese, milk, and eggs grew 17% over the past year, while overall U.S. food sales rose only 2%. And in 2018, veganism was a major food industry trend for chefs around the world. Veganism is growing more each day giving vegans a variety of food grocery stores and restaurants to shop and eat at. With that being said, what exactly can vegans eat?

Homemade Vegan Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Tomato and Basil

Foods Vegans Can and Cannot Eat

As a vegan, it’s important to stick to a 100% plant-based diet. That means not only abstaining from meats, but abstaining from dairy, eggs. Vegan’s diet is comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, and pulses, which can all be prepared to make an endless number of combinations of your favorite foods. Dairy products can be replaced with plant milk such as almond milk, soymilk, and coconut milk. Eggs can be replaced with tofu, and honey can be replaced with plant-based sweeteners like maple syrup.

A vegan diet is not exclusive to just eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Being Vegan doesn’t mean you have to compromise the foods you love. There is almost always an alternative vegan option for the foods you love to eat. As mentioned earlier, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, and pulses can be made into all your favorite foods. Burgers, pizza, tacos, desserts, candy, all 100% plant-based. When shopping for vegan food products be sure to read the label to know if the product is 100% plant-based. If you’re new to veganism, PETA has comprised a list of animal-derived ingredients to be on the lookout for when buying vegan products. You can also shop if you want to be sure you are getting the best quality 100% plant-based ingredients.

Benefits of Veganism

There are many proven, science-based health benefits to being vegan. A vegan diet is also richer in certain nutrients. Several studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. They also are richer in potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E. Vegan diets also appear to lower blood sugar levels, improve kidney function, lower the risk of heart disease and protect against certain cancers. These are just a few of the health benefits of being vegan.

Availability based on location

Although veganism is growing rapidly all over the world, not every state has caught up to the lifestyle of veganism making it hard to find viable vegan options depending on where you live. The top ten states with the most vegan availability based on population are as follows:

10. Massachusetts with a population of 6.7 million has 22 vegan restaurants.

9. Washington State with a population of 7 million people has 27 vegan locations.

8. Rhode Island is number 8 on the list with 4 vegan locations and although that doesn’t seem like a daunting number, Rhode Island still makes the list because of its small population of only 1 million people.

7. New Hampshire with a population of 1.3 million and 5 vegan restaurants.

6. Hawaii has a population of 1.4 million people and 6 vegan restaurants

5. California is number 5 on the list with a population of 39 million people and 168 vegan restaurants (the most restaurants of any state in the U.S).

4. New York with a population of 20 million people and 86 vegan restaurants

3. Maine with a population of just over 1 million and 3 vegan restaurants

2. Oregon with a population of only 4 million and 22 vegan restaurants

1. And Washington D.C with the highest volume of vegan restaurants per capita, with 10 vegan restaurants and a population of 700,000.

If you want to find vegan options available for your state visit NoPigNeva offers an easier option for getting vegan food without having to drive far to find a restaurant. Now you can order your favorite vegan food and have them delivered to your door.

People around the world are realizing that veganism is not just a trend, but a lifestyle. Since 1944 when Watson founded the Vegan Society, people have committed to abstaining from the use of animal products and the exploitation of animals. Veganism has many proven health benefits, to not only benefit you but benefit the world around you. Now with the surge of vegan restaurants and online grocery stores such as NoPigNeva, being vegan has never been easier. Help us celebrate World Vegan Day on November 1st by going vegan and signing up for our mailing list. Remember, “It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” – Joaquin Phoenix

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