A vegan is someone who doesn't eat, wear or use anything that comes from any animal, dead or alive. This differs from a vegetarian, who is someone who doesn't eat any part of a dead animal. A vegetarian will still eat dairy products and eggs, whereas a vegan will not. Nor will a vegan wear leather, silk or suede, or use body lotions with lanolin or beeswax. With all of these restrictions, living a healthy vegan lifestyle may seem boring or difficult. However, there are many choices available for a healthy vegan diet, with more becoming available all the time.
The key to having a varied, healthy vegan diet is to achieve balance. Our bodies need protein, fat, iron and other vitamins, which are frequently obtained via meat consumption. However, it is entirely possible to get these requirements from non-animal sources. Protein, for example, is available from many non-animal sources such as beans, peas, soy, nuts and seeds. Fats can be found in nuts and seeds (and their butters), as well as vegetable oils. A multivitamin can also be added to a healthy vegan diet for those concerned about getting the recommended amounts of iron, calcium and other essential nutrients.
Being a healthy vegan doesn't mean giving up everything you used to like. You won't be reduced to eating vegetables and seeds for the rest of your life. There are many commercial preparations that are perfect for a healthy vegan diet. If you like milk, substitute soy milk. Soy milk is made from soy beans (high in protein) and comes in a variety of flavors great for adding to cereal or drinking right out of a glass. There are also vegan cheeses and even ice creams available in many supermarkets today. You can even still enjoy hot dogs and sausage, with many vegan and soy options on the market today.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are still plenty of dessert options. Even though milk chocolate is out, there are still several brands of semi-sweet chocolates that are vegan-friendly. When you go camping, you can even still participate in the Smores experience with vegan marshmallows. Traditional marshmallows are made from gelatin, which comes from animal sources, but there is now non-animal based gelatin available so you can make your very own vegan marshmallows and roast them right along with your fellow campers.
Finding vegan clothing is also relatively easy. Just remember no leather, silk, fur or wool. You'll still be able to choose from a wide variety of clothing made from cotton or man-made materials such as nylon, fleece and polyester. Shoes can be a bit tricky, especially for men. There are many man-made and canvas options that are great for the summer, but finding boots for the winter can take some searching. There are companies out there, easily accessible via the Internet, that specialize in vegan-friendly footwear and clothing. Just plug vegan footwear into your search engine and start browsing - you'll be sure to find something you like.
Living a healthy vegan lifestyle is becoming easier all the time. With new products available online and in supermarkets and health food stores, the world is your proverbial oyster (made with soy, of course!).