By Sydney Bartos
In recent years, veganism has become a growing trend within mainstream culture. Many people have made the switch to a plant-based diet for health, environmental, or animal rights reasons. Is this a passing fancy or the diet of the future?
Opting to go vegan means cutting out all animal products and byproducts, including meat, dairy, eggs, even honey. While these may seem to be major dietary restrictions, veganism can be affordable, healthy and delicious.
Making the transition to a plant-based diet comes with many health benefits. According to Dominka Pieaseck, a spokesperson for The Vegan Society, vegans consume less saturated fat while keeping their diets full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Piasecka said supplements are not always necessary for vegans.
“You can get all the vitamins and nutrients from a healthy, balanced vegan diet,” she said.
Although Piasecka noted that some vegans may choose to take supplements, simply for peace of mind.
Piasecka pointed to vitamin B12 as a common supplement because the vitamin is not present naturally in the vegan diet, as it is found in abundance in eggs, fish and milk.
According to The Vegan Society, vitamin B12 speeds up certain reactions in the body, which prevents anaemia and damage to the nervous system. Piasecka said vegans can obtain this vitamin through milk alternatives, nutritional yeast or through a plant-based B12 supplement.
The vegan diet consists primarily of fruits and vegetables, but a balanced vegan diet should also include a variety of beans, lentils, and nuts. Tofu, tempeh and lentils are perfect as meat substitutes, and are an adequate source of protein and iron, according to Canada’s food guides.
Pasta with tomato sauce or rice with stir-fried vegetables make for filling meal options throughout the day, while fruit and vegetables with hummus or nuts make for tasty snacks—all of which are very affordable.
Vegans have the option of choosing from an of array milk alternatives available at local grocery stores, including almond, cashew, hemp, soy or coconut milk. Brands like Daiya Foods and Amy’s Kitchen offer fun alternatives like easy-to-make mac’ n’ cheese, microwavable chilli, pad thai, and burritos – all affordable options for vegan students.
There are also a lot of “accidentally” vegan snacks available in convenience and grocery stores. Oreos are a perfect example of a snack-food for vegans. The cream inside the Oreo contains no real dairy whatsoever.
Piasecka says some of her favourite vegan meals are vegetables and meat-substitute stir-fry, Japanese curry with rice and vegan mac’ n’ cheese. She keeps it cheap by buying in bulk and choosing local farmers markets.
Vegan eateries to check out in the downtown Toronto area include Urban Herbivore in Kensington Market and Hogtown Vegan on Bloor Street.
Going vegan may seem like an onerous endeavour, but, considering the boundless vegan substitutes available, giving veganism a try may not be as difficult as it seems.
You may have to give up pizza, but don’t fret! - Pizza with vegan cheese is just as delicious.