Vegan FAQ

I have observed a growing interest in people wanting to explore a plant-based diet and reduce consumption of animal products. I believe there are a few contributing factors to this trend including recent media on the topic and current research. Additionally there is a growing concern for the ecological impact of our food choices as well as a shift in thought regarding what foods are considered healthy.

While I have been a vegetarian for 16 years, I am still newer to being a vegan. I made the switch from vegetarian to vegan about 3 years ago. I get asked questions all the time about my family’s diet and thought I would answer some of the frequently asked questions about raising a vegan family.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite question: What do you eat for protein? We eat beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and other whole grains.

And the other favorite question: Why are you vegan? I believe a plant based diet carries great health benefits (primarily in disease prevention) and is an eco-friendly lifestyle choice. I also am not comfortable with the animal treatment practices of most agricultural businesses.

What does being vegan mean to you? For us it means not eating animal products or by products.

What milk substitutes do you drink? Most people assume we drink soy milk, however we don’t. Primarily because we eat tofu and tempeh on a fairly regular basis and I am careful not to consume too much soy. So instead we drink almond, rice, coconut, and hemp milk.

Are you 100% strict all the time? I find being a vegetarian in social situations to be fairly easy. Most people understand what it means and are respectful and even accommodating. However I find being vegan way more challenging in social settings. Most people don’t know what it means and generally there are no vegan options available at social events.  For example at a children’s birthday party there is typically cheese pizza and ice cream with cake. Or a well meaning friend will invite us to dinner and serve bean and cheese burritos or a cheese lasagna. I can appreciate that they have tried hard to prepare a vegetarian friendly meal but don’t fully understand our dietary preferences. Therefore in social situations I am more lax about dairy consumption (not meat though) as I am still figuring out how to navigate the social aspect of veganism with young children. Also since meat is not in desserts, my children don’t feel as though they are missing out not eating a piece of chicken at a picnic. However they sure as heck want a piece of cake at a birthday party and so I bend on those occasions. Also because we choose to be vegan (as opposed to being dairy free due to an allergy) I am comfortable with minimal amounts of dairy here and there.

Does it bother you when people eat meat in front of you? Nope not at all! 🙂

Do you ever crave meat? Rarely. I am pretty sure during my third pregnancy I said something about wanting chocolate covered bacon to my husband 🙂 but 99% of the time the thought of eating meat never occurs to me. I will admit that I usually think ribs smell amazing at BBQs…although at 32 years of age I have never actually eaten ribs despite how yummy I think they smell.

Do you ever crave dairy products? I honestly don’t. I think it’s because I quickly realized how much better I felt once I eliminated dairy from my diet.

Do your kids ask to eat meat? They are very curious about meat and will ask questions about it, but they have yet to ask if they can try some. Granted they are still very young and are at home with me, so their exposure to the meat eating world is still somewhat limited. They don’t yet understand it’s the exception rather than the norm to be vegetarian.

Do your kids ask to eat dairy?  They will ask for yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. There are several dairy-free options for these items made from rice, almond, coconut, or soy so usually I can usually offer them a satisfying substitute.

Will you let your kids eat meat if they want to? Yes. First though I would explain 1) where meat comes from and 2) why we have chosen not to eat it. If they still are interested, then they can choose to eat meat at a friend’s house, at a social event, or at a restaurant. However I will not prepare or serve meat in our home.

Is it possible to be a vegan while pregnant? Yep! I was during my third pregnancy and plan to be during any future pregnancies.

Is it possible to be a vegan while breastfeeding? Yep! I made the switch to vegan while my second son was still nursing and have been vegan the entire past year of nursing my third son.

Is it possible for athletes to be vegan? Yep! While I am not an actual athlete, I do a great deal of running on a vegan diet. My husband is also an avid runner and weight lifter all on a vegan diet. Brendan Brazier is a well known vegan athlete who created a line of vegan protein supplements geared for athletes.

Is it possible for vegans to eat out?  Yes, with limitations. We have found ethic restaurants such as Thai or Indian to have the best vegan options.

Do you think you’ll always be vegan? I can’t imagine not being vegan so while I can’t say for sure what the future holds, my best guess is yes I will continue to follow a vegan diet indefinitely.

For more information about vegan diets check out Vegan Action.

Have you explored a vegan diet? If so what was your motivation to do so? And what was your experience with it?

-Sarah

Tags: ecological impact, plant based diet, raising vegan children, tempeh, tofu, vegan during pregnancy, vegan family, vegan lifestyle, vegan while breastfeeding

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