Vegan Basics


What is a Vegan?

The term vegetarian is familiar to nearly everyone.  Its generally accepted definition is “one who does not eat meat”.  There are several different types of vegetarians including; ovo-vegetarians (they eat eggs), lacto-vegetarians (dairy products), pesca-vegetarians (fish) plus combinations such as: ovo-lacto, etc.  Vegans (vee-guns) are a more strict or extreme form and might be described as the purists among vegetarians.  They consume no eggs, no dairy and no fish, i.e., no animal products at all.  There are also vegans who don’t wear fur, leather, etc. but these are issues outside of diet and get more into the political arena which isn’t the subject we are trying to address here.


Who becomes a Vegan?

The stereotypical vegan (and/or vegetarian) is a young counter-culture type protesting the exploitation of animals and fighting for animal rights.  While many vegans may fall into this category, there is a large and growing number of older people (50 plus) who are adopting the vegan diet primarily for health reasons.  Many in this age group note that as they become older, their health starts to deteriorate at an alarming rate and may eventually find themselves diagnosed with a life ending illness or condition.  These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.  They seek help from the health care industry and are a put on a regimen of drugs, chemicals, radiation and surgery, treatments where the cure is often worse than the disease.  Eventually, as they despair of ever regaining their health, they lose their faith in the medical establishment and begin looking for options.  Others look ahead, see what is in store for them and refuse to turn themselves over to the health care industry before beginning their search for alternatives.  Changing to a vegan diet is the alternative that the fortunate and the lucky find.     


Why become a Vegan?

There is a dirty little secret out there.  It is that the “western diet” (the diet that Americans, the people of Western Europe and the affluent around the world eat) is making us sick and killing us before our time.  While there is a lot of evidence to prove the above statement, the most impressive fact is that cultures that do not eat our high fat, high protein, high sugar, processed food diet do not have heart disease, do not have high blood pressure, do not have adult-onset diabetes and have very low rates of cancer.  Wait a minute!  If this is true, why aren’t our government officials and health care professionals out there shouting this message from the rooftops?  Well, some are but there are billions even trillions of dollars being made by entrenched industries that are selling us what passes for nutritious (or maybe just convenient) food in today’s society.  Billions are also being made by the drug, medical and health care industries that minister to the sick and preside over the final days of the dying.  An ongoing campaign of obfuscation and disinformation has prevented most of us from realizing what’s going on.  Becoming a vegan solves the problem, gets us off the bad food treadmill that’s making us sick, puts us on the road to recovery and can eventually restore us to health.  


How Does One Become a Vegan?

Becoming a vegan is a journey, a series of steps.  Few would be able to jump into this instantaneously.  The best way to get started is to find someone who has successfully made the change and solicit his/her help.  Also, there are programs that offer education on background and philosophy and provide instruction on food preparation.  Your local nutrition store should be able to provide you with appropriate reading material and identify contacts and resources to help you get started. 


Written by Julian Linder