Most people have a fairly good understanding of what a vegetarian is. In essence, they are people who choose not to eat meat. Things become a little bit murkier, however, when you start talking about vegans. What can vegans eat? What foods should they avoid? In order to get a better sense of what a typical vegan diet looks like, you first need to understand a little bit more about veganism.
Veganism got its start in the mid-1940s. It is a lifestyle that excludes the use of any animal products. In terms of diet, that means that vegans not only don’t eat meat like vegetarians but they also don’t eat other animal products including eggs and dairy products.
When you really start to read ingredient lists, it is amazing how many products contain ingredients that are derived from animals. For instance, when you look at a bowl full of Jell-O, you wouldn’t imagine that it came from an animal. In fact, however, the gelatin that is used as a gelling agent is derived from animal collagen. Vegans even have to avoid certain types of vitamins and supplements since they are often made with gelatin, as well. The supplements and snacks vegans each are pretty limited. TheVeganLife.com does a good job outline some snack box ideas worth considering.
While it may seem like a vegan diet would be extremely limited, there are actually an amazing number of foods that they can eat. For instance, they can eat fruits, vegetables, baked goods, nuts, seeds, legumes, and pasta. In most cases, their diets contain a lot of tofu-based products, simply because it is such a rich source of protein.
When people first hear about vegan diets, they often mistakenly believe that a diet that excludes animal products doesn’t meet the nutritional requirements of humans. In fact, however, people can get almost all of the nutrients that they need without eating meat. The only real exception is vitamin B12, which is primarily found in animal products. In order to make sure that they are getting enough of this essential vitamin, most vegans either eat fortified foods or take B12 supplements.
There is also a common misconception that vegan diets are deficient in protein. As it turns out, however, it is completely possible to get all of the protein that you need without consuming animal products. It is just a matter of making smart food choices and eating the right combination of various types of plant-based protein.
Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what foods vegans can eat and which ones they should avoid.