Veganism – What Does It Actually Mean?

What does veganism mean?

What Does Veganism Mean?

The word vegan gets thrown around quite a lot these days. Some might say there is one single definition for the word, some might be a part-time vegan, and some might take the term loosely and do what fits with their own beliefs.

For us, it’s sooo important to do what we believe in, and the same goes for veganism. We believe it’s a subject so open for discussion with so many points of view and always best received by those with open minds.

Having the right values and beliefs to go vegan is crucial.

This was something we’ve always strongly believed in, and eating animal products no longer made sense to us.

We have a cat, and it would never cross our minds to eat it. No, not even if we were stranded on a deserted island (vegans’ favourite scenario to justify going cruelty free…).

And if we weren’t going to eat them, I shouldn’t be wearing their skin, using products that test on them, destroy our planet or the animals natural habitats – the list is pretty long…

What Made Us Want to Change?

Everyone has their own reasons and beliefs – some would have gone vegan because they found out the truth about the dairy industry, some won’t agree with the cruel treatment of animals and for some it won’t make sense to eat animals and put them through pain and cruelty to enjoy a meal.

For us, it was a combination of all 3.

We watched a documentary ‘Forks over Knives’ (you can watch it on Netflix) – it explores the effects of meat and dairy on humans and how it can damage your health and ultimately your lifespan, including bodily functions.

We didn’t fancy the diseases associated with the omnivore diet either, which we were always taught was a “balanced” one.

The documentary also talks about how beneficial a plant-based diet is and how it can prolong people’s lives and cure them or reduce/prevent diseases like diabetes. We made the decision straight after watching the film on a Sunday night, to go vegan from Monday.

We changed our shopping list and researched plant-based recipes, bought plant-based cookery books and carried on from there. We decided that our life is much too precious to cut it down even further by our own diet and by eating meat pumped with drugs that make animals grow quicker in unnatural conditions.

To put it simply, we didn’t want to be putting what once lived and well, pooped, into our bodies…

We wanted to learn more about the dairy industry, because we felt so angry and cheated. Agriculture and diets is not something we were ever taught at school, despite it being a substantial part of our every day and whole life.

A school trip to a farm was always filled with fluffy pigs and goats, but the slaughterhouse just a few miles away was never on the school agenda, understandably.

We found another documentary ‘Cowspiracy‘ (also on Netflix) and we were in complete SHOCK. We had no idea of the cruelty and often torture, that cows and chickens go through every day to lay eggs, to produce milk… and the international scale of it all.

It was almost as if we were blindfolded every time we put milk, eggs and cheese into our shopping trolleys every week.

All we could see was food, normality, what we were used to and that was fine because millions of other people eat it, buy it, they’re part of a “balanced diet” we were told.

We couldn’t be more wrong.

Both films taught us more about food and the agricultural industry in a few hours, than years of going to school and living obliviously, ingoring our ingredients and where they came from.

We never thought to question the process of getting milk from a cow to a supermarket in a bottle.

For example – did you know that newly hatched male chicks are grinned alive because they have no use in the dairy industry? They don’t lay eggs and can’t be used for meat, so they’re minced alive straight away before they even get a chance to see daylight or glance at their mother.

Question and research eating eggs (or anything, for that matter) – eggs are very high in cholesterol and if you’re eating it from protein, all foods have some sort of protein in it. It’s much more important to get minerals and vitamins from food than anything else. Research what you eat, question the products you eat every day.

This doesn’t have to be limited to dairy and meat, research whatever the heck you like! It’s good to know where your food comes from.

Is It Hard To Switch to Being Vegan?

No change is ever easy when you have to completely rethink and alter your eating habits. It’s almost like learning to cook and eat again. Well, almost, we still knew how to use the knife and fork.

We had a plan, and luckily it worked. We didn’t go as far as planning meals for every day of the week, instead we started with simple replacements – everything we used every day, we still put in our shopping trolley, but replaced with alternatives such as:

  • Milk – we replaced with nut alternatives and there are so many to choose from now! We switched to soy, oat and almond as these are our faves with soy or oat being the creamiest and a perfect option if you like tea with milk!
  • Meat – as this is a BIG part of almost every cuisine, it’s almost an essential (or thought to be the main) source of protein. Of course we used to eat meat, just like everybody else, and we didn’t give it up because we didn’t like the taste of it – we gave it up because of the cruelty of the industry, the pain and torture animals go through just for a few moments of nice tasting foods and pleasing our taste buds. After watching the documentaries we also realised how unnatural eating meat actually is. To replace meat, whatever dish we used to cook and use meat (like chicken), we replaced with chickpeas, lentils or any beans – and this is the cheaper option. The other alternative is to use vegan brands that make delicious meat-free alternatives like vicken, burgers, mince or soysages.
  • Cheese – this is a tough one as there are so many cheese lovers out there (and we were amongst them). We actually don’t miss it (yes, to our surprise too! We actually no longer like the smell or idea of it…). If we really craved a pasta bake or a pizza we bought substitutes – Violife are pretty good especially on pizzas.
  • Sandwich fillings/toppings – there’s hummus, vegan cheese slices, meat free slices, chickpea pates and of course peanut butter, jam, marmite. We now tend to make our own chickpea pastes as you can flavour it however you fancy it and we’ll share our secret: whip a can of chickpeas in a bowl once drained, about a tbsp of olive oil, salt and preferred seasoning and herbs, blend in a blender and that’s it. We tend to use yeast flakes and for an eggy taste (like egg mayo filling) we use black salt and a dash of vegan mayo. Voila!
  • Bread – most, if not all, bread is vegan (and some doughnuts, mmm…) so that’s easy no change there!
  • Butter – sunflower spread should in theory be vegan but some brands put buttermilk in, make sure to check the label.

* Useful tip for newbies – milk, egg, dairy and nuts containing products are normally bold on the ingredients list which makes them easier to spot if the product isn’t labeled as “vegan” at the front! *

Here’s some more good news: there are sooooo many alternatives for pretty much ANY FOOD now. From pizzas to sausage rolls, burgers, yoghurts, cakes, chicken nuggets etc etc…

It’s awesome that supermarkets and brands are responding to demands by providing us with more options – just thought we’d clarify in case anyone thought vegans only eat grass and all that…

Not the case, at all.

Some of it can be expensivesure as with any new product it’s about supply and demand – profit needs to be made.

But this is the thing – the more we and everyone around the world buys these products, we all create a greater demand for manufacturers to keep supplying us with these products and eventually they will start to get cheaper.

Is Vegan Food Just Bland Vegetables?

Short answer – nah-uh.

We’ve tried MANY DIFFERENT dishes since going vegan in 2018. Some of the foods we tried we didn’t even know existed!

Going vegan doesn’t mean you’re giving up great tasting food, believe us. Just make sure your cupboard is always full of nice variety of spices, the more flavours you try the more you learn what you like and fancy! Your taste buds change after cutting out animal products – so even an apple might have more flavour than before!

It also doesn’t mean that it has to be expensive, in fact, think about how much you’re spending on meat each week. You won’t need to be spending that amount of money. We prepared a collection of our favourite and low-budget, vegan recipes here.

Is Veganism And Plastic Pollution Related?

In a way, yes. Plastic is polluting our oceans and there is an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans right now, with 8 million more added EVERY DAMN YEAR.

And animals are the ones suffering from the consequences of our waste being thrown into the waters. 

Can Veganism Cause Lactose Intolerance?

No – the truth is, we are all lactose intolerant past the age of 5-6. Our body, as children is able to tolerate and digest lactose found in dairy products. Past the age of 5-6, your body doesn’t need and shouldn’t be receiving any dairy or lactose products. It’s like continuing to be breastfed – as an adult? Not necessary.

Particularly not from a different species. The only reason why some of us can continue drinking milk and can tolerate lactose is that we continue to drink and eat dairy products throughout our later years, allowing our bodies to adapt. 

Drop us your thoughts below on veganism and if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you! Please keep it positive and clean ?  if you’ve recently turned vegan, share your story or best tips below ?

Peace + love, Aggie + Ben

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