Veganism isn’t just for hippies anymore! Hollywood celebrities, like Ellen DeGeneres and Tobey McGuire, are going vegan to slim down and get healthy. According to the National Restaurant Association, the hot new trend in the restaurant world is vegan entrees. However, veganism is still on the fringe for many eaters, so let’s see if we can bring it into the mainstream. Here are the answers to some common questions about vegans.

  • How is being vegan different from being a vegetarian? The main difference is vegetarians avoid eating animals, while vegans don’t eat anything that even comes from an animal. That includes thing like honey, eggs and milk.
  • Why bother? The truth is going vegan can be a hassle; you can’t just slap together a cheese sandwich when you’re hungry. The health benefits can be huge. Studies have shown that vegans have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and a lower risk for diabetes and some cancers. Why? Because vegans usually eat less saturated fat and more nutrients, fiber and vitamins. They also tend to eat fewer processed foods, which is where most of us get the bulk of the sodium, sugar and fat that we consume.
  • Vegans also tend to weigh about 15% less than non-vegans, which is about 25 pounds on average. Not all of them. There is such a thing as a junk-food vegan. Think about it: there are no animal products in chips, and cookies made with coconut oil are technically vegan but they’re also high in calories, corn syrup and saturated fat. If you go vegan to lose weight, you need to fill up on healthy proteins like beans and tofu and eat junk-vegan food in moderation. 
  • Since vegans don’t eat animal protein, they miss out on some essential nutrients and can become anemic and lethargic. You can make up for it by eating a variety of fruits and veggies for essential nutrients, and soy and legumes for protein, iron and zinc. You might also need to eat nuts and flax seeds for vitamin B-12, an important nutrient that keeps you cells operating properly and is usually found in fish and eggs. For more tips on going vegan check out VeganSociety.com.