Veganism, at face value, is often thought of just as a diet, but it is a lifestyle that consists of many different beliefs and practices.

Veganism, by definition, is abstaining from the consumption of food and products that come from animals, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Vegans avoid eating dairy products, eggs and meats, but also avoid animal products, such as leather and wool. Vegans are also against any practice that exploits or harms animals, such as circuses, zoos and any form of animal testing.

Vegans typically eat legumes, fruits, nuts, vegetables, tofu and other food to maintain a nutritional diet. Variation also exists within veganism. For example, a branch of veganism is practiced where followers only eat whole foods.

People choose to become vegan for a variety of reasons. Plattsburgh State’s Campus Dietitian Jeff Vallee explained these reasons.

“It might be to lower cholesterol for medical reasons, or it could be a belief to promote the way animals are treated, so they want to promote that belief to stand against that type of treatment,” Vallee said.

Director and Chair of PSUC’s Nutrition program Jorunn Gran-Henriksen also cited religious reasons for people becoming vegan. Many Orthodox Jews, according to Veganmainstream.com, practice veganism.
Gran-Henriksen said vegans would be less at risk of heart disease and cancer than non-vegans because their diet consists of less saturated fats.

Veganism has negative aspects as well. Vallee said vegans have vitamin B12 deficiencies. B12 assists in the formation of red blood cells throughout the human body, which only can be consumed naturally from eating animal products. Vegans will become anemic if they don’t take B12 supplements, but Vallee encourages students to consume B12 naturally.

“Whenever you take those type of supplements, it puts stress on your kidney because you have to increase your water intake,” Vallee said.

Because of the many nutrient deficiencies associated with veganism, Gran-Henriksen urges possible vegans to read up before they become vegan; however, Gran-Henriksen doesn’t recommend becoming vegan.

“I have a philosophy of food first, supplements second, so if we can get what we need from foods, I like that approach more,” Gran-Henriksen said. “I think being a vegetarian, including eggs and dairy, is a lot easier.”

The cost of eating a vegan diet varies on what you eat. Vallee said that fresh meats are typically more expensive than fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, so a healthy non-vegan diet is more expensive than a vegan diet.

Vallee also believes PSUC offers a considerable amount of vegan options to students. Vallee meets with a food allergy and nutrition group every two weeks to observe the two-week food menu of every dining venue on campus for people on an alternative diet. Vallee said that a lot of vegan students don’t know where to eat to receive special food services or about special food services offered to them on campus.

Like many students at PSUC, vegans around the world adhere to their lifestyle for specific reasons. This lifestyle, according to vegans, contributes to a healthier life.

Email Nate Mundt at fuse@cardinalpointsonline.com

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