The thought of being a vegan often scares most individuals because you eliminate all forms of meat, fish or animal bi-products from your everyday diet. It is not only a test of will power, but moral dedication as well.
There are many positive aspects to maintaining this lifestyle change but, there are also can be negative downfalls.
One major positive is you are helping save the lives of animals while on the contrary, you may or may not, depending on your meal plan habits, be consuming the proper vitamins and nutrients in your own body which may lead to some health issues.
This lifestyle change has many important lessons behind it and also brings an immense amount of awareness but, a thought that often crosses the minds of many people leads to the question of whether depriving yourself from these certain foods indeed good for you.
So why do it? Why become a vegan if there are health risks or that you are constantly going to be hungry? Why turn your life upside down?
Long-term registered dietitian with the Ontario College of Dietitians and member of Dietitians of Canada, Marilyne Petitclerc says that there are many reasons to why people turn to veganism rather than just cutting out all unhealthy foods and products.
“I think there any many different reasons to turn to veganism. One of them is ethical reasons, so an advocate for animal rights, for instance, for environment reasons as well because raising animals needs a lot of water, a lot of soil as well, a lot of grains, that’s one of the big reasons,” Petitclec explains.
People who turn to veganism have a serious purpose behind it. They either want to make a change in their life or they want to feel as if they are making a change in this world or better yet, they want to make a drastic change in their everyday diet.
But, what people should be aware of is the lack of vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, B-12 and Zinc that could potentially lack in the foods that you are allowed to eat when sticking to the vegan diet plan.
Petitclerc explains that they are alternative foods that vegans should be eating in order to maintain their vitamins and nutrients.
“If they eat a large variety of legumes, then they get anti-oxidants, fibers, and protein as well. So you don’t necessarily need to eat meat to get all your protein requirements,” Petitclerc says.
This is a misconception that most people have and an obstacle that tends to get in the way for new comers to the vegan way of life.
Joseph Buscema, a 24-year-old Italian raised vegan believes that being a vegan is more than just not eating animal meat or their bi-products, it’s understanding that by making the sacrifice, you are helping an animal and you are making a difference.
“Growing up as a kid, I was exposed because of my family heritage to eat a lot of meat as well as my grandparents being immigrants in Canada, they would like to prepare their own meat and as a kid I would first hand see them soldering animals in their backyard so it shocked me as a kid and as time went on, through popular culture, social media and the music scene, I was exposed to different ways I cannot eat meat and help save animals and notorious ways of doing it,” Buscema explains.
Buscema, a former vegetarian of four and a half years, decided to take the jump and converted into a vegan about a year and a half ago because he wanted to further his contribution into saving animals.
The young activist not only wanted to better his health, but he wanted to make a contribution into helping the world, even in a small way by not eating meat.
“It’s for peace of mind knowing I didn’t have to eat an animal that died for my meal. It makes me feel good and I realize it’s not for everybody and I realize that not everybody thinks that way, but it’s very personal and it warms my heart,” Buchema explains.
Barbi Lazarus, donor and volunteer resources coordinator at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, who is also a Vegan, says that the vegan population is growing not only with people, but consumers are now providing vegan friendly options.
“Even by consumers, you can see how fast it’s growing so right now we have Pizza Nova who one of the biggest most widely found pizza chains is offering vegan cheese on any of their pizza’s so it’s really easy for example for you to call up a pizza place and order. The fact that things like that are happening shows how much it’s changed and how much demand there is,” Lazarus says.
There are many difficulties in maintaining the willpower to not eat meat or any animal bi-products. Associations like the Toronto Vegetarian Association provide counselling and moral support when taking the plunge to better your health.
Although it is a difficult task to take on, it is definitely not an unhealthy one.