Have you ever thought about going vegan, but have no idea where to start? Do you worry that you’ll make a mistake, or just end up eating bowls of dry cereal or spoonfuls of peanut butter? Do you know someone who is vegan and admire their choice, aspire to also become vegan but are too shy to ask for help? Enter the Ultimate Vegan Encyclopedia. Full of helpful tips and a few fun facts, use this as a go-to resource when you’re stuck in a rut with your diet or have no idea where to begin. Whether for your health, the planet, or the animals, veganism is the way to go!
This guide is here to help you make the transition and enjoy the experience!
The Ultimate A to Z Vegan Encyclopedia
An apple a day keeps the doctor way? Actually, a plant-based diet could do just that. From preventing and reversing diabetes, obesity, and even cancer – plus decreasing inflammation, your recovery time for injuries and common colds, going vegan could drastically reduce your health bill (and medical insurance bill).
Move over boring white vinegar; apple cider vinegar (ACV) is your new pantry staple. ACV is an all-purpose ingredient that’s great for baked goods, flu-fighting teas, mouthwash, cleaner, and more.
Many people may not know that not all alcohol is vegan-friendly. Some breweries still use isinglass (a gel-like substance made from the swim bladders of fish), gelatin, egg whites, dairy, honey, or other animal-based ‘fining agents’ – the original source is not required to be labeled. This website is designed to help you with all your boozy vegan questions.
Any bakers out there? Aquafaba is vegan baking magic. It may sound fancy, but all it is is the brine from a can of cooked chickpeas. Once whipped, it mimics the baking properties of egg whites, allowing you to create light-as-air vegan merengues, fluffy cakes, and even brownies. The possibilities are endless!
Your mama was onto something when she made you eat those greens. Broccoli is packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, and is also low in calories. Not a fan of the flavor? Why not incorporate it into some creative recipes such as a creamy broccoli and almond soup, or a ‘honey’ and lemon broccolini tagliatelle?
Bread is a dietary staple for nearly every culture across the globe. While some processed bread is not suitable for vegans, a traditionally-made loaf is likely to be “accidentally vegan,” only containing simple ingredients such as flour, water, sugar, salt, and yeast. There are also several varieties of gluten-free bread available at most major supermarkets, just check labels for egg whites or milk derivatives.
Craving something meaty? Reach for a Beyond Meat burger or sausage. Available in grocers in the US and restaurants in the UK and Canada, Beyond Meat products taste, smell, look, and chew like traditional meat products, without the animal cruelty! Find them at Veggie Grill, A&W Canada, and more.
Cashews are one of those magical ingredients that can veganize the seemingly impossible. From creamy cheese sauce to decadent desserts, cashews are a vegan pantry staple.
Have you wondered whether you can have healthy vegan children? Many studies have concluded that yes, it is safe for people of any age to eat a well-planned, balanced vegan diet. Official government dietary guidelines in most countries confirm this also. Children naturally love animals, so kindly teaching them about how veganism and caring for their furry friends interlink is important – here are four tips.
Vegan cheese has emerged from the dark ages. What was once admittedly a flavorless waxy product has evolved into a gourmet category of its own. Make your own or simply purchase one of the many stellar vegan cheeses on the market like Miyok’s or Follow Your Heart.
Prone to stomach aches? Go vegan! Plant-based foods tend to be higher in fiber than animal products, and fiber helps the body to digest food. Raw foods in particular help decrease digestive problems. Goodbye belly bloat!
Vegan donuts have taken over the world! From independent vegan donut shops to dedicated vegan display cases at traditional shops, you can find a delectable vegan donut in most westernized metropolitan areas.
Can your dog be vegan? Absolutely! While this isn’t true for all animals (ahem, cats), dogs thrive on a plant-based diet. Vegan dog food companies like V-Dog and Wild Earth will keep your pup strong, playful, and healthy.
A frequent side effect that people experience when going vegan is increased energy, which may explain why so many professional athletes are going vegan. Exercise becomes so much easier on a whole food, plant-based diet!
Vegan eggs are a thing thanks to the creativity and science of a few plant-based entrepreneurs. Follow Your Heart, Spero Foods, and JUST make vegan egg products that scramble like a traditional chicken egg, without the cholesterol or environmental impact.
Need to replace an egg in a brownie, muffin, or quick bread recipe? Combine 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a few minutes to gel. Add to the liquid portion of your recipe and wha-la! Perfect baked goods every time.
Although stereotypical, fries really can be a vegan’s best friend when eating out (just, maybe not every day). Yes, it’s becoming ever-increasingly prevalent for restaurants and eateries to offer a one, if not many vegan meal options. However, when all else fails, there’s usually always fries to sustain energy until adequate nourishment can be obtained.
Fats are often frowned upon, particularly for those trying to lose weight or gain muscle. However, the reality is quite contrary. Fats are an essential part of any diet, not only helping your body function properly but fats satiate hunger well, meaning you can stay full for longer and thus eating less than you would a meal without fats. Plant-based diets are free of cholesterol, so vegans have a lower chance of developing heart disease. Some ‘healthy fats’ (monosaturated) include avocados, nuts, seeds, tahini, olive oil, and soybeans.
Why would any vegan or vegetarian eat ‘fake meat‘, right? Firstly, it’s important to understand that plant-based meat alternatives aren’t ‘fake’, as they are often dubbed. While they are free of meat and animal products, they aren’t fake as they are made from real foods and behave as a real meat product would. For some, eating plant-based meats feels familiar with the way they grew up or helps them feel connected to their culture and their family. Ultimately, no matter the reason for choosing, or not choosing, to eat vegan ‘meat’ products – a significant influence boils down to the taste, which is often very flavorsome.
Going vegan doesn’t have to mean ditching gluten too, however, whether by choice, allergy, or intolerance – the demand for food free of animal products and gluten seems to be growing by the day. Diagnosed coeliacs cannot eat gluten, however, the scale of healthy gluten consumption differs from person to person, if you’re concerned about gluten in your diet, seek the advice of a health professional. Frankly, a self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity/intolerance could be a digestive problem or diet inbalance – excessive sugar and animal product intake could even be the real root of the problem.
Many people would love to go vegan, yet have no idea the first place to start. Groceries are these people’s new best friend (and worst enemy). Most physical and online food stores are becoming increasingly accommodating to vegans and alternative lifestyles, hence finding food that suits you isn’t a struggle. Due to an abundance of vegan recipes, shopping plant-based on tight budgets isn’t impossible either. Live in the ‘middle of nowhere’? You can be vegan too. So, why not save animals by stocking your fridge with the all those plant-based foods?
Arguably one of the most effective pro-vegan awareness efforts yet is a Netflix documentary called ‘What The Health‘, a film so hard-hitting many thousands have adopted a plant-based diet since watching. As public health issues show no sign of slowing down and more people become educated on how diet, longevity, and personal wellness are interconnected – choosing a vegan diet is a viable solution to those who open their heart to living kindly.
Hummus – one of the most popular spreads there is. With millennials’ love for vegan food and a loyal hummus-lovers meme page, the market value of hummus has soared to over $1 billion. Heck, there’s even dedicated hummus bars! Regardless of if someone is vegan or not, chances are that a platter of crackers, crudités, and hummus in some form has been served at some stage during their lifetime. Originating from the Arabic word for ‘chickpeas’, hummus (or houmous) is made from blended chickpeas, tahini, and assorted seasoning. Creamy, potentially spicy, chunky or smooth – however you like your hummus, it’s rather difficult to mess up making it. There are many pre-made hummus tubs in stores that are almost always accidentally vegan so are a go-to for many animal-free munch times. Try these 10 recipes for hummus addicts.
Asking for help or advice on how to become vegan, continue a vegan lifestyle, find inspiration, or mix up a vegan diet is nothing to be ashamed of. Chances are high that most vegans or vegetarians would be willing, if not happy to assist someone else to transition into a more animal-friendly diet. From vegan social cooking nights, Facebook support groups, local meet-ups, plant-based eateries, ‘vegfests‘, and more – there’s no shortage of people in this changing world who were once veg-curious themselves.
Like many industries, most things are tried and tested. The solution? Innovation. Thinking originally, on your feet, and creating solutions to market gaps or problems can be one of the best methods to succeeding within a business-wise career. Recent examples of vegan innovation include growing ‘clean meat’ from stem cells, replicating the exact composition of meat using plant sources, tailoring food selections to the trend taking over the world, releasing plant-food food that trumps the nutritional value of animal products and fighting food waste with tofu.
If you’re a new vegan or looking to reduce your animal product consumption, it’s fortunate there are many plant-based ingredients you can swap your old favorites for. Some common vegan ingredients can seem unusual (what the heck is aquafaba and nooch, right?), but if you think about it – they’re more natural than eating something from an entirely different species. From online guides to borrowing or buying vegan transition/recipe books at your local library, it’s useful to do some reading up to help you understand new recipes.
Some people like to keep food diaries or journals to keep track of what they eating and help improve or maintain their diet. Others like to write in a diary to read back on life events, day-to-day things or their transition to veganism. This can be a really useful thing to do, not only for self-reflection, but to help empathize with others who are in the veg-curious situation you once were, or give tried and tested advice to people considering a kinder lifestyle. Try making your own from a blank journal to have a more personal touch or a guided journal such as The Beautiful Life.
Vegan jerky is a great snack for on-the-go, hiking, camping, mid-afternoon or post-workout protein hits. While often made from vital wheat gluten (seitan), many companies are also offering gluten-free vegan jerky made from an alternative flour. Heck, there’s even watermelon jerky! As some of these products are strikingly realistic to the taste, texture, and appearance of real meat, plant-based jerky isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, yet it helps meat-lovers reduce their carbon footprint or transition to a vegan lifestyle.
Miss the meat? No need. Jackfruit makes an excellent substitute for pulled pork, carnitas, and other meaty favorites. It naturally has a tender, stringy texture, so slater on the sauce and enjoy your barbecue staples without packing on the pounds or the cholesterol.
There are 13 proteins needed to make blood clot, Vitamin K makes four of them; therefore is an important part of the diet to ensure remains stable. Researchers have discovered Vitamin K also plays a role in building bones. Vitamin is not like most other vitamins, it’s actually a group of compounds, K1 and K2. The former is mostly found in leafy greens, colorful salads, and lettuce – whereas the latter is in natto (fermented soy food eaten in Japan) and small amounts can be found in gut flora.
Follow the trend – kale can be a huge part of a vegan diet. Don’t just eat it raw, though. It’s great steamed, sauteed, braised, and even roasted into kale chips. For kale salad you’ll actually crave, massage the kale leaves for a few minutes before you add dressing, then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. This will turn the rough leaves into tender mouthfuls of nutrient-dense goodness.
Lactose intolerant is something that most people across the globe struggle with in some form. 3 out of every 4 people are ‘lactose mal-absorbers’ – meaning their bodies can’t digest milk. Considering there is an abundance of plant-based milk varieties to choose from, all of which are naturally lactose-free and combined with the drastic rise in veganism taking the world by storm – dairy milk is set to be a thing of the past.
Want to make, pack, or buy your own vegan lunch? Totally possible and practical. Heck, it’s so easy to vegan nowadays you can even do it while thousands of miles in the air! Although some people believe eating vegan is a luxury or too expensive – a plant-based diet can actually be far less expensive than one with meat and other animal products. Not to mention the downright delicious, nourishing and versatile foods you can make.
Lentils are an easy way to pack in some plant-based protein. One cup contains 18 grams of protein, plus a ton of satiating fiber. Simply simmer with some veggie broth, or throw in a can of coconut milk and spices for a hearty lentil stew.
More and more people are realizing milk doesn’t have to come from a cow or any other animal for that matter. From soy, almond, oat, rice, coconut, pea, hemp, quinoa, banana, peanut, even macadamia milk is available – and the range of plant milk just keeps on expanding. It’s not only vegans hopping onto the dairy-free movement, even non-vegan companies are calling plant milk ‘the future of milk‘. The plant milk market is growing so fast that it is expected to exceed a US $34 billion value before 2024.
Mobile phones are arguably one of the most useful technologies for new vegans, potential vegans, and experienced vegans helping others. Not only do these helpful devices provide the means to call anyone, from any place in the world, but smartphones are becoming more advanced with every model that hits the market. From apps designed specifically to help people transition to veganism, mobile recipe books, social networks, chat rooms, video calls, custom google searching for vegan recipes, and many more – in many ways the world, is quite literally at our fingertips.
Mushrooms are the new meat. Sure, there’s the white button variety, but portabellos and oyster mushrooms are really where it’s at. Try this recipe to make amazing vegan scallops or this one for an authentic mushroom satay.
Nutritional Yeast (or ‘nooch’ as it is often called) is like the name suggests, a nutrient powerhouse, made of deactivated, fortified yeast. Add this frequent staple ingredient to any vegan pantry to any food, which gives the dish a cheesy, nutty and savory taste. Full of B12, B vitamins, folic acid, protein (9 grams per 1/4 cup serving), zinc, selenium. Can’t go wrong with a good sprinkle of nooch!
Niacin (or vitamin b3) is important for the body to function properly, process fat in the body and lower cholesterol. Most people can meet the daily RDI (recommended daily intake) through a balanced and healthy diet, although there are supplements too. Peanuts, avocados, sunflower seeds and green peas are among the 10 foods with the highest sources of niacin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function, as the brain is comprised of 60% fat. Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, walnut oil and canola oil are brilliant sources of plant-based ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. Chia and flax seeds are so high in ALA that by eating merely 1 TBSP per day, anyone can meet their body’s ALA needs alone. For best absorption, use ground seeds – try adding the powder (or walnut/canola oil) to smoothies!
Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition that causes bones to become extremely brittle and weak – to the point where fractures can be caused by something as simple as coughing or little movements. Bone is a bodily tissue, living and constantly having cells replaced – when bone tissue is broken down faster than the cells are regenerated, this is where osteoporosis occurs. Eating lots of meat causes bone density to decrease and as plant-based foods have more absorbable calcium than animal products – vegans are highly likely to have a higher bone density and reduced risk of developing osteoporosis.
A common misconception is that those on a vegan or vegetarian diet will quickly become deficient in protein – however, this is far from accurate. Anyone who is consuming sufficient calories for their personal body needs, through a balanced diet is already consuming enough protein. No fancy, expensive protein powder needed.
Despite the common reputation that pizza is unhealthy and should be consumed as a comforting treat, however, this is mostly only the case for pizzas that are covered in processed meat and mounds of dairy cheese. Pizza can actually be made to represent the perfectly balanced meal ratio. It’s even healthier when made plant-based!
Peas are a brilliant source of protein, fiber, and nutrients. Pea protein (the soluble fiber from split yellow peas) is higher in protein than milk, eggs, and almonds – plus, peas are free of top allergens.
Potassium is a nutrient which high sources of are found in bananas, avocados and more. As potassium is found in plentiful plant sources, vegans and vegetarians rarely have to think about consuming sufficient potassium.
Dried shitake mushrooms and dried pepeao (street name “jew’s ear”) are both close to having 22g of pantothenic acid (vitamin b5) per 100g serving. Rice bran and roasted sunflower seeds are also reasonable sources of plant-based pantothenic acid – which is vital for using carbohydrates, fats, and protein for energy.
Quinoa may have been popularized by vegans, but now everyone seems to be eating it. This protein-packed grain easily subs for most rice dishes, and can also be served as a sweet porridge opposed to everyday oats.
Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that helps reduce swelling and helps the body get rid of free radicals – which damage cell membranes, alter DNA and kill cells. This antioxidant can also be preventive against cancer and heart disease. Quercetin can be found in cucumber, green tea, blueberries, kale, red wine, tomatoes and other dark-colored, nutrient powerhouse plants.
Riboflavin (or vitamin b2) is a water-soluble vitamin (all B vitamins are water-soluble) which helps prevent cervical cancer, migraines, acne, muscle cramp, blood disorders, eye conditions and more. Oats, mushrooms, almonds, green vegetables, quinoa, apple and kidney beans all contain riboflavin.
Alike any foodie or most people, eating out and going to restaurants is a part of casual, social and work life. While they are many restaurants in countries across the world which have fully vegan or vegetarian kitchens, even though who aren’t exclusively plant-based are offering more and more vegan dishes.
Raw foodism (eating only uncooked and unprocessed food) is gaining more popularity, alongside the rise in veganism. From picking up a raw dessert here and there to eating a fully raw diet – many people are familiar with the raw eating concept. Raw food diets are not limited to being strictly vegan, however as most people who choose to eat only raw food make that choice for health – they are also most likely to find out the benefits of a vegan diet and eat mostly or all – raw, vegan foods.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, part of a group of compounds which act like antioxidants. This polyphenol can be found in the skin of peanuts, berries, grapes, therefore red wine too. Resveratrol is said to anti-aging and disease-fighting properties.
Seitan is a popular vegan meat alternative, as the texture is chewy and close to flesh and when seasoned well, also takes on a meaty flavor. Most brands of vegan meat use seitan in their products. Seitan is said to have originated in the seventh century when Buddhist monks in China discovered how to separate the gluten from wheat (hence the alternative name for seitan: [vital] wheat gluten).
Brazil nuts, rice, beans and whole grains are some foods which are rich in selenium. While there is a misconception that selenium intake is to do with your diet, vegans and vegetarians in the U.S are shown to consume adequate selenium and selenium intake is related to the content of selenium in the soil, more than what we eat.
It may come as a surprise that many of your long-time favorite sweets, junk food, chips and other snacks are accidentally vegan. Vegan food often has a longer shelf-life, stability and is cheaper to produce; all of which are persuasive reasons for companies to omit animal products from their food. Be wary of carmine, animal fat humectant, Cera Alba (Beeswax), lanolin and more – it pays to double check before buying.
Plant-based foods are abundant in fiber; the optimal dietary source. As vegans eat a diet based on plants – they consume more fiber than those who eat meat and other animal products. There are two types of fiber – soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, both of which are essential. Soluble fiber is found in foods like flax seeds, oat bran, legumes and more – soluble fiber is broken down during digestion to slow food absorption through the walls of your intestine, which can also help normalize blood sugar and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL).
Despite the common bad reputation that soy can cause cancer that gives men breasts – this really isn’t the case. A new study concluded quite the opposite; that soy can actually fight breast cancer. Soy is not only versatile but also a great source of nutrients and yes – even protein.
Tofu and tempeh are two of the original vegan meat alternatives, and despite the advancements in vegan products, they still have their place in a healthy vegan diet. Tofu is terrific in replicating egg dishes like quiche, eggs benedict, and tofu scramble. Top with some tempeh bacon and you’re good to go!
Thiamin(e) is a water-soluble B vitamin which can be found in plant-based foods such as pine nuts and soybeans – this helps your body turn carbs into energy. According to the NIH, “Thiamin is naturally present in some foods, added to some food products, and available as a dietary supplement. This vitamin plays a critical role in energy metabolism and, therefore, in the growth, development, and function of cells”
Tomatoes are the fruit of a tomato plant which is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6. Lycopene, Thiamin, Folate and many more. Aside from how fantastic and nourishing this fruit is, tomatoes are also highly versatile and can be used in seemingly endless combinations and dishes – they go with (just about) anything. There’s even a raw vegan tuna now available that’s made with tomatoes!
Although some say umami flavor can only be derived from meat, we beg to differ. Mushrooms and miso paste are just two plant-based ingredients that deliver major umami flavor bombs!
Vital wheat gluten is used to make seitan, which is often used to replicate meat. It’s dense, chewy texture makes it perfect for vegan roasts, sausages, burgers, and barbecue. You can find it in the flour section of most supermarkets, so you can make your own meaty meal.
V is for Vegan! The term encompasses everything from a diet to a lifestyle choice. No matter where you are at in your vegan journey, know that there is a welcoming, thriving community cheering you on!
Vitamins are important for vegans and those who eat animal products, with the latter more prone to vitamin deficiency than those on a plant-based diet. Darker colored plants tend to have a higher nutritional value than those light in color – so eat the rainbow!
Whole foods are natural foods, unprocessed foods. Whole Foods Market happens to be a place where you can find whole foods, along with an abundance of vegan-friendly products and ready-made meals from the hot bar.
Need some more inspiration before making the switch? “What the Health” is an environmental documentary that convinced countless viewers to go vegan, many of them on the spot. The film had a profound effect on its audience, swaying everyday people to celebrities and athletes like Austin Amelio, Ne-Yo, James Arthur, and Lewis Hamilton. It is available to stream on Netflix.
Xylitol is a natural, plant-based food which looks and taste like sugar – without the calories. It is often used to sweeten supplements and other food products, similar to stevia.
Yogurt isn’t just made from dairy products – from coconut, soy, oat, almond and more, vegan yogurt is on the rise and becoming a popular alternative to dairy milk. Try brands like Ripple, Good Karma, and the Coconut Collaborative for creamy, thick vegan yogurts that pair perfectly with fresh fruit and granola.
Although some people argue that as yeast is a living bacteria and it isn’t suitable for vegan consumption – yeast is categorized among the plant and probiotic kingdoms and is not consider to be a sentient being. So go ahead and make some homemade bread and enoy that giant vegan pretzel at the pub – this single-celled fungi won’t be jumping off the plate anytime soon.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for human health. It supports the immune system, helps wounds heal, and helps you properly taste and smell amazing plant-based food. Find zinc in a variety of beans, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. We suggest a roasted sweet potato with black beans, steamed kale, and quinoa. And of course, plenty of salsa and guac!
Zucchini is another magic food that has a variety of applications. It can be served in both savory and sweet dishes, such as zoodles, soups and stews, raw lasagna, baked goods, and even shredded into a bowl of stovetop oatmeal (just try it). When all else fails, there’s nothing like a good vegan zucchini bread or muffin, icing optional, but highly recommended!
Note: this guide is intended to be taken as advice and guidance, not for self-diagnosis. If you have a concern or question about your health, please contact a nutritionist or health professional promptly.