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Is Vegan Eating Right for Me?

It seems like there is more and more news every day of e-coli poisoning in meat or another study linking hormones given to cattle with cancer or even autism. It is enough to make people swear off meat forever, but most people do not realise that swearing off meat is not enough.

The same hormones given to cattle that make the meat perilous to eat is also present in the milk, sour cream and half & half you have in your coffee every morning. It is no wonder then that more and more people are checking out the vegan lifestyle to see if it is for them? Does being a vegan sound fascinating to you? Let us take a closer look at veganism and how it works exactly.

Being a vegan means that you not only do not eat meat, but you do not consume any animal products at all. That includes things like dairy and eggs. This, of course, can lead to some serious problems, especially when it comes to eating out at restaurants, although more and more restaurants, especially in huge cities, are including vegan items on their menu or are noting which already existing items meet the vegan lifestyle.

Vegans also make a commitment to not wear any clothing or buy any products that contain animal parts. Things like a leather coat, a sofa or even a belt would be considered a violation of the vegan code.

One of the coolest things about being a vegan is that you do not have to adhere to every aspect of the code to still lead a mostly vegan lifestyle. And even within vegan circles there are debates about what can be eaten or bought and still be within the general vegan guidelines.

Honey, for instance, has been a major topic for debate for many years among vegans. Some feel that since the product comes from bees, an animal, that it is forbidden, while others believe that since bees are insects that consuming honey is fine. The definition of vegan and what can and can not be consumed is always changing and it is one of the exciting aspects of living a vegan lifestyle.

The term vegan dates back to 1944 when a couple in the UK chose that real vegetarianism should not include things like dairy products, eggs and even the buy of leather or animal products for the home. This saw a deep divide appear between people who simply did not want to eat meat and those that felt that the vegetarianism movement should be taken a step further.

So how many vegans are there out there? While exact numbers can not ever really be known, a recent poll showed that about four percent of the American population, consider themselves to be vegetarians, meaning that they do not eat meat products. Further questioning of those respondents showed that five percent of those people identified themselves as vegans. The poll did not question specifically what kind of vegans the respondents were or how strict they followed the vegan code.

Another recent poll showed that just over one percent of the American population does not eat any of the foods that are considered off limits to vegans, meaning, meat, dairy and eggs. There was still a question mark on the honey issue, which, in the minds of many vegans, renders the poll useless.

Further complications and divisions within the vegan community are apparent when you start to analyse what exactly is an animal product and if people use them or not. Food products like whey, gelatin and even beeswax would ideally be banned products under the vegan lifestyle, but some less strict vegans will partake in these products once in a while. Other than leather, you would have to watch for silk and wool and, of course, real fur.

As you can see the world of veganism is a small complicated and no massive change in diet should be attempted without consulting a doctor first.

Alison Clarke is a French teacher by profession and likes being a Vegan. She is writing a number of articles on the topics of Veganism and Skin Care

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