A Pledge To Veg: The Vegan Lifestyle

Healthy lifestyles are becoming more popular in society as words like “vegan” are plastered over several restaurant menus. You may have even seen one of your favorite dishes or desserts be transformed into a vegan-friendly alternative.

The most common question about this diet: How is it different from being a vegetarian?

Being vegan involves an animal-product-free regimen, which means the exclusion of all meat, fish, poultry and animal by-products and even honey from daily food staples. While the elimination of processed foods and some grains can be beneficial, there are always repercussions if this diet isn’t followed properly.

Central Michigan University nutrition professor Anna Most, MS, RD shared the most important thing to keep in mind while adhering to this diet.

“I would not say there are dangers (to this diet) per se, but one must pay closer attention to getting the needed vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12, iron, calcium and others,” Most said.

If you are thinking about jumping on the vegan train, researching and diet planning is absolutely crucial to receive the full benefits. Poor planning could lead to equally as many health problems as if you continued to indulge in your favorite greasy meat-lovers pizza.

Throughout history, there have been many reasons people choose not to put our furry friends on dinner plates, Most explained.

“People choose to be vegan for various personal and health reasons like religion, animal rights issues, political issues related to meat and animal consumption or overall better health,” Most said.

Now that there is an outstanding amount of research that has drawn our attention to the immense health benefits that a plant-based diet can deliver, the vegan lifestyle certainly has the attention of many health advocates.

For Brighton senior Jeff Kelly, he didn’t choose the vegan lifestyle, the vegan lifestyle chose him.

“Foods you always loved are no longer options, which make it difficult just to enjoy the benefits of being vegan,” Kelly said. “The commitment and self-control required to eat vegan, or just healthy, makes any diet difficult. Most of those who kick some of their favorite foods to the curb may find that they are struggling to cut ‘cold turkey,’ (cheesy pun intended).”

If you’re worried you’re going to miss some of your favorite dishes, there are tons of animal-free substitutes out there.   Replace your ground beef for a vegetarian black bean patty. You can eat tofu instead of chicken, use soy butter in place of regular butter or use almond milk with your favorite breakfast cereal.

If you decide to take on this lifestyle, don’t worry. Even though a lot of Mount Pleasant’s cuisine caters to quick and easy meals (which usually translate to unhealthy ones), below are places to indulge in equally as delicious vegan food:

  • Dharma Mojo Tea Bar & Grill: A great all-vegetarian Mexican-American restaurant that has great reviews from both CMU students and Mount Pleasant residents.
  • The Flour Uprising Bakery: Offers a ton of inexpensive vegan baked goods, which is great for a college budget.
  • Tropical Smoothie: A crowd favorite that offers plenty of vegan-friendly options.
  • Midori Sushi: Even though the word sushi may steer some vegans away, there are many options at Midori that will put a smile on any vegan’s face.