20+ Frequently asked questions about vegan
- What is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?
A vegetarian lifestyle consists of all plant products as well as dairy products like milk and insect-derived products such as honey and silk. On the other hand, vegan diets avoid all animal-derived products from dairy to leather; meaning it is fully plant-based. It’s a common misconception that it’s harmless to animals if products such as milk, honey or silk are used. In reality, all cattle such as cows and buffaloes end up in slaughterhouses within one-third of their life span upon being deemed ‘unproductive;’ in other words, their ability to produce milk no longer supports the demand. Additionally, they are repeatedly impregnated artificially so they will keep producing milk. Male calves are usually sent to the slaughterhouse to be sold as veal as they considered economically useless while female calves are separated from their mothers within a day or two to prevent her from drinking the milk that is actually meant for her. Similarly, insect-derived products such as honey involve the deaths of numerous bees during the process while silkworms are boiled alive for hours in order to extract silk from them. Such practices are considered the norm for centuries and thus, vegetarianism is often seen as a non-violent way of life. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
- Is vegan food healthy?
Just like any other food, vegan food can be healthy or unhealthy. Typically, if the vegan food is predominantly fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, lentils with no added refined sugar or excessive cooking oils, then it will be healthy. However, if foods are loaded with added sugar, processed flours or excessively fried then they can be unhealthy. So, foods such as chips, candies or beer, despite being vegan, can still be unhealthy whereas salads, tofu, natural nut milks, sprouts, brown or red rice or foods garnished with cold-pressed oil can be much healthier in comparison to other foods.
- Do I need to consult a doctor before going vegan?
Going vegan is a great opportunity to improve your eating habits. Therefore, it is a good idea to do, at least, a one-time consult with a doctor or nutritionist before making the switch. Remember, it’s not to decide whether you should go vegan but rather to figure out what your body needs. It’s a great way to obtain a better knowledge of various nutritional needs and to ensure that you do not face any deficiencies so that you can become the healthiest version of yourself.
- How to order vegan food at a restaurant?
It’s no secret that India loves it’s dairy products. No meal is considered complete without a dash of ghee or a bowl of raita. Luckily, there are still many Indian foods that are already vegan such as idli, plain naan, puri, vegetable samosas, and pakoras. However, it’s always a good idea to ask the ingredients of dishes beforehand, even if they appear to be vegan, in order to ensure that there are no dairy products such as ghee, butter, paneer and so on. You could also mention that you are allergic to dairy and thus require your foods to be free of any and all dairy products.
- What vegan foods can be made at home?
With the rise of vegan-friendly alternatives such as plant milks and mock meat, almost all foods can be made at home. All you need are the right products to substitute non-vegan ingredients with. For instance, substitute paneer with tofu and milk with plant milks such as soy, almond or rice. You can also use vegan alternatives for ghee, butter, cheese, mayo and meat that are both delicious and nutritious!
- Where can you find all vegan alternatives?
As veganism continues to become more mainstream, plant-based alternatives are becoming more commonplace. Many supermarkets offer plant milks and other vegan-friendly foods and products. There are also many online stores such as Vegan Dukan, where you can find all your vegan needs, from plant-based dairy products to mock meat. All products are 100% vegan and made available in one convenient location.
- How do I get B12 when I go vegan?
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacterias with help of cobalt in soil or in the gut of any animal including humans. For Vegans, the only reliable source to acquire a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 is through supplements. B12 is an extremely essential vitamin for nerve function, memory, and energy level. So, it's best to take B12 supplements that are very safe and comes in tasteless capsules or sweet chewable tablets. Supplements are made in controlled and hygienic conditions from the same bacterias. Look for B12 capsules with Methylcobalamin. You should not, however, think that animal-derived products are needed just for the sake of obtaining sufficient amounts of B12 as it’s actually difficult for some people to absorb through animal-derived products due to insufficient gastric acid in the stomach. Attempting to obtain B12 through animal-derived products can also increase your IGF-1 level, a hormone associated with increased cancer or tumor growth, cholesterol plaque, and heme iron, which is associated with oxidative stress and the formation of free radicals.
- How do vegans get enough calcium?
Calcium is an important mineral for many bodily benefits including bone health. It’s a common misconception that dairy is required for an individual to achieve a healthy intake of calcium. Plant-based foods can provide you all the calcium you need. In fact, your body may absorb even more calcium from plant-based foods than dairy as the acidic properties of dairy may present problems with absorption. Leafy greens, nut milk, soy products, and ragi are just a few examples of plant-based sources of calcium. For a more in-depth guide to vegan calcium, check out our blog a vegan's calcium guide .
- How do vegans get enough protein?
Plants have ample sources of protein. Like lentils, soybean, peas, peanuts, cashews, broccoli, etc. There’s no reason to think that plant-based foods have any limitations in terms of protein. It’s important to ensure that the right foods are chosen to supply the body with sufficient amounts of protein. For details, please check the vegan transition guide we have made especially for addressing such popular questions about the vegan diet.
- Is vegan protein powder healthy?
Protein powders, in general, are just another supplement to help increase your protein content, be it for putting on muscle mass or just as a daily nutritional supplement. Just because the protein powder is vegan, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less healthy than its non-vegan counterpart. It simply means that the protein comes from plant-based sources such as legumes, grains, seeds or nuts rather than animal products such as eggs, dairy or meat.
- Is Alcohol Vegan?
In a few wineries or breweries, the alcohol filtering process uses isinglass which is a filter made from fish gelatine. However, in India, there are no such processes involved with popular brands like Sula, Kingfisher, Bira 91, Royal challenge, Knockout, Fosters, Peroni, etc. For hard liquor, the list is long but usually, all Indian liquors are vegan except few unidentified and few imported ones.
- Is Honey Vegan?
No, Honey is not vegan. Bees collect and store honey for themselves for the winters as few flowers bloom in that season. When people claim it's organic honey or jungle honey, they actually push out the honey bees from their natural habitat which is basically stealing. In this process, many bees die as well. In professional honey bee farms, the bees get killed at various stages of the operation and extraction process. Moreover, many beekeepers also replace the bees’ hard-earned honey with sugar water which is actually bad for them as it contains none of the essential micronutrients found in honey and farmers may also clip the wings of queen bees to prevent them from flying off and starting a new hive elsewhere. Honey extraction results in killing or disturbing the natural life of bees, thus honey is not vegan.
- Is Bread Vegan?
Traditionally made with flour, water, and yeast, bread, at its purest is vegan. However, nowadays bread is a little fancier. From brioches to bagels, it has become a little tricky to figure out what's vegan and what's not. It's always a good idea to scan the ingredients to make sure that there are no dairy products such as milk or butter, honey or eggs. There are also certain ingredients such as mono- and diglycerides, enzymes and other additives that could be derived from either plants or animals. The ideology of veganism as defined by the Vegan Society is to stop using animal products as far as is practically possible. So, just make sure you check the label and avoid bread made with dairy including casein and whey, honey or eggs.
- Is Palm Oil Vegan?
In principle, yes, palm oil is vegan. The controversial nature of palm oil arises from the malpractices conducted by palm oil and palm timber industries. Palm oil is not a sustainable product and has led to significant amounts of deforestation in Africa, America, Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia thus destroying the natural habits of several species of animals including orangutans, elephants, tigers, and rhinos. Many native tribes also end up being forced out of their homes as more and more land is cleared for palm oil. The devasting impact on the ecosystems have not only resulted in animals species to be near extinction, but it has also contributed to climate change due to carbon emissions. Thus, as the ideology of veganism lies in ending the abuse and exploitation of animals, many vegans opt to either completely boycott palm oil or use certified sustainable palm oil. Such products are required to adhere to strict production methods that minimize harm to the environment and animals.
- Is Leather vegan?
Being vegan is about abstaining from the use and abuse of animals for food, clothing, entertainment or any other purpose. Leather is made by needlessly slaughtering and skinning cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, dogs, and cats. The hides of whom are then treated with a toxic mix of chemicals including formaldehyde, arsenic, and cyanide, which harms the environment, increase water pollution and risk of disease for both workers and local communities. This entire process goes against the very definition of veganism thus making leather a non-vegan commodity. However, there are various sustainable and cruelty-free vegan leather alternatives that you can use in place of animal skin.
- Should I discard all my non-vegan stuff when turning vegan?
Every vegan has a different reason for going vegan. For some, they do so for environmental reasons or to end animal exploitation. Others do so due to their health and a vegan diet is a necessity. And sometimes, the vegan lifestyle doesn’t extend past their diet. So, they may continue to use non-vegan commodities such as clothing or cosmetics. Others will opt to give away items to friends or donate their non-vegan clothing to charity and use up their non-vegan makeup or other cosmetic products as its more environmental and ethically conscious compared to just throwing it all away. Some, of course, choose to discard every item. It’s all about your own personal preferences.
- What to do when medicines are not vegan and I have to take them?
At some points in your life, you will have to take medicine and it is entirely likely that many of them may not be vegan. In times like this, it’s important to remind yourself that as defined by the Vegan Society, veganism is about excluding the use and abuse of animal products “as far as is possible and practicable.” So, don’t worry too much about this.
- What are some common sources of vegan protein?
Most people assume that excluding meat from your diet means you are facing deficiencies in protein. However, there are plenty of plant proteins available nowadays, especially with the rise in veganism. Here are some common and easily available vegan sources of protein: Lentils, Tofu, Soy Milk, Green Peas, Spinach, Oats, Almond or Peanut Butter, Chickpeas, Chia Seeds and Broccoli.
- Is gelatin vegan?
Gelatin is a protein obtained from Collagen. It is generally used in a vast majority of products so that they have just the right viscosity and so that they remain stable. It is able to be used in said applications and in a wide variety of products because it is colourless and flavourless, while also being a great binding, stabilizing and thickening agent. Answering the question that we began with, Gelatin is not vegan. This is so because of how it is made. It is made by boiling animal body parts to extract the gelatin.
- What is bone china? Is it vegan?
Bone china refers to a specific type of fine tableware, which was originally made using clay, kaolin, quartz and feldspar. However, this recipe was later tweaked (in the 1700) to also include bone ash. This bone ash is made from burning the bones of dead animals and as a result, bone china is definitely not vegan.
- Real Meat vs Mock Meat
Beginning with a simple differentiation, Real meat is meat which is made from actual animals whereas mock meats are meat analogues or meat alternatives which are made for non-animal based ingredients such as soy, wheat gluten, vegetable protein or a mixture of these components. Mock meats are made to mimic the taste and texture of actual meats, without harming any animals and while being healthier for us. Where mock meats face the most resistance is in the taste department. This generally happens either because of misleading marketing from the manufacturer’s side or due to unrealistic expectations from customers. Many customers disapprove of mock meats after eating them as they feel that mock meats simply don't taste as good. While mock meats are generally healthier, there is a great study by Harvard Medical School, which discusses the pros and cons of mock meats from some well known brands such as Beyond and Impossible. The conclusion that they came to was that as far as the pros are concerned, meatless meats are a good source of protein,vitamins and minerals if fortified, while also being good for the environment. However, when discussing the cons, they found out that these specific meats are heavily processed to taste like their meat-based counterparts and as a result, have high saturated fats and sodium levels, both of which are bad for our health. Having said that, there are many brands which sell mock meats which aren’t heavily processed and as such, offer all the benefits of the big brand mock meats, while also being much healthier. Therefore in summary, choosing mock meats over regular meats will always be the better option, which could be improved even further if the consumers choose the products after going through the nutritional facts to pick out the healthiest products for themselves.
- Nutritional Yeast vs Yeast Extract
Yeast Extract is a flavour enhancer which is added in certain foods to enhance the salty and savoury flavours. This extract has quite a few benefits which include beauty, nutritional and health related benefits. The high concentration of antioxidants found in yeast, coupled with its soothing and moisturizing properties, makes yeast extract great for skin care. Its chromium nature helps in lowering insulin and combating diabetes. Its high nutritional value is due to the fact that it is a good source of phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, and lithium. Nutritional yeast on the other hand is made from a single-celled organism, called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. It is a good vegan source of B vitamins and adds a nice "cheesy" taste to raw food salads. It is also a rich source of both fibre and protein, while not having any added sugar. Additionally, it has also been found that consumption of nutritional yeast can help in avoidance of birth defects in pregnant ladies.
- Why is vegan food expensive?
As is the case with most other products, supply follows demand and prices are influenced by supply. To elaborate, the current demand for vegan products is nowhere near the demand for dairy of even meat-based products. As a result, vegan products are still being produced in smaller quantities, especially when compared to their dairy and meat-based counterparts. The low production quantities means that manufacturers are not able to enjoy the benefits of concepts like the economies of scale, and as a result these manufacturers are not able to get similar low prices for production which their counterparts enjoy. This is the basic reason behind why vegan products are expensive.
- Is Paneer Vegan?
Paneer is made by curdling hot milk using lemon juice, yogurt or citric acid. The milk which used is either Cow’s or Buffalo’s and as a result, Paneer is not a vegan food item.
- Are Eggs vegan?
Eggs of any bird are an animal-based product and hence they are not vegan. Now, there are many egg substitutes which you can find here are completely vegan.
- Is Milk Vegan?
The question to this answer depends on the type of milk that you are referring to. If you are referring to Cow, Buffalo, Goat or any other animal’s milk, then the answer is a sad no, since all of these milks are animal-based products and fall under the dairy category. However, if you’re referring to any of the nut-based milks or other alternative milks such as Quinoa, Oat, Rice, Hemp or such sorts of other milks, then the answer is a resounding yes, since none of these are derived from animals.
- Is Coke Vegan?
Coke, and all of its variants, including the regular, lite and zero varieties, are completely vegan. However Coca Cola has stated that some of their suppliers use industry standard practices for grape juice clarification which involves animal by products such as gelatine, which is made form bovine skin.
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