First, the difference between a vegan lifestyle and a vegetarian lifestyle needs to be defined. A vegetarian tries to eat a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts. In addition to these foods, some vegetarians also consume eggs, cheese, milk, and yogurt. Such a type of vegetarian is considered to be an ovo-lacto vegetarian, or a vegetarian who allows for the consumption of dairy products in their diet. This type of vegetarian eats nothing that has to do with animal flesh, however; you will not see one of them eating a chicken leg any time soon. Some people practice semi-vegetarianism. The difference between this and an ovo-lacto vegetarian is that they will consume shellfish and dairy, but no beef, pork, or chicken. Usually somone who is a vegan is much more selective in their diet than either type of vegetarian. They choose to not consume any animal by-product or meat product. This includes cheese, milk, honey, and items not related to food consumption. Fabrics, furniture, household cleaners, makeup, and other items can also be affected in the choice of a vegan lifestyle. Usually this has to do with additives to a product that are made from a part of the slaughtering process.
Isn't a vegan lifestyle unhealthy? No, not really. In many ways, a vegan lifestyle is more practical than a traditional lifestyle. Dietary supplements can make up for a lack of meat products in the diet, but many times a vegan can choose to eat certain foods to make up for the nutrients not obtained from animal products. Bean, nuts, and legumes make up for protein not gained. Iron can exist in foods other than fatty meats. Still, a dietary supplement is not a bad idea for anyone, regardless of diet. Milk can be traded for soy or rice milk, and keep calcium supplied to the body. Really, it is difficult to miss animal products once the consumption of them has stopped for a short time. In fact, trying to consume such products after an extended absence can have poor effects on the body and make the consumer temporarily ill as their body tries to deal with this 'strange' food. A vegan might also have a cheaper grocery bill. While opting for all organic items at the supermarket can seem expensive, it is really not too different when more fresh, healthy food is purchased and meat if left behind at the meat counter. Lots of times the bill is comparable or cheaper, depending on the products selected. The biggest benefit is on one's health: some doctors recommend patients to adapt this form of food consumption for high blood pressure, obesity, and heart-related problems. Most vegans, when their diet is carefully controlled and supplemented, are by far healthier than the average member of the population.
So, if one has chosen the vegan lifestyle, how should they go about relaying this choice to the world? Some people do not like to accommodate what they consider to be a 'picky eater' but a vegan can be prepared for this type of encounter by preparing and bringing their own snacks with them to a meeting or party. This is not meant to be rude by any means; try to share your food if this is your choice so others might not feel so offended. Or, let a host know ahead of time and something small can be waiting on you. Selecting certain products that have not been procesed in a way that harms animals (think animal product testing) is another idea when choosing non-food items to use in everyday life. Organic markets such as Trader Joe's can be a great place to shop because nearly everything in the store is geared toward this type of conscientious consumer. Researching companies and products before buying can matter because not everything is disclosed on packaging. Also, consider investing in a few vegan t shirts to tell the world that you are a vegan and what you believe in. Odds are that you will get a lot of questions, but think of it as educating the masses one person at a time. Being true to your beliefs and expressing them in passive ways are the way to reinforce positive lifestyle changes.