Vegan Culture

Being Vegan

Walking through the market the other day, I caught a glimpse of heaven – cascades of the season’s fruits – cherries, nectarines, peaches, mangoes, kiwis, and oranges. Next to the fruit stores were olives of different colors and sizes, some deliciously stuffed with garlic. After walking for half an hour through the market, I got lost and ended up at the meat section. Now this was no ordinary, ‘run-of-the-mill’ meat section. There were no little steaks and chops and packets of mince ready to be purchased – not at 7.30 in the morning. What lay before me were full carcasses of meat. Now, although I personally eat meat and love it – I am a South African, I could not handle looking at those dead animals carried by strong men ready to be sliced and diced – I found it disgusting. I bent my head down and quickly walked as fast as I could through the section just so that I could get away from it. The image just stuck in my head.

meat

The more I live in my present country, away from Africa and close to the Mediterranean Sea, the healthier bodies I see. Streets are covered with little stands that make fresh juice every morning. People are running every morning, through the city and on the beaches. It’s really quite heavenly. The call to become a vegetarian and just eat fish, eggs and cheese for protein becomes stronger every day.

Vegan fruits

Who I really take my hat off to are the vegans – those who won’t eat produce from any animal in any respect. A big reason behind this is that they respect animals too much. A lot have been to farms or seen documentaries exposing the horrors of meat, milk and chicken produce. These documentaries show calves being taken away from their mothers. You see tears in cows’ eyes. It’s really quite unbearable to watch. Often, vegans grew up with pets and adore animals too much to eat them.

In certain cultures and religions – like the Hindus in India and around the world, the cow is very sacred and would definitely not end up on anyone’s dinner plate. It’s interesting how a lot of the cultures in the Eastern world are vegans.

But where did it get popular – where did it start?

It was in November 1944 that the Vegan Society was founded. It originated in the UK by Donald Watson and Elsie B. “Sally” Shrigley, amongst others. The whole concept goes way back as early as 500 BCE, when the very famous Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras promoted a vegetarian diet. Close to the time, Buddha discussed vegetarianism with his followers. In the 19th Century, one of the major English Romantic Poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was amongst the first to stand his ground against dairy and eggs on an ethical basis.

When the vegan society became a registered charity in 1979, the Memorandum and Articles of Association updated this definition of “Veganism” as:

“[…] a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

*Taken from https://www.vegansociety.com/about-us/history

Vegan Protein

People who want to become vegan sometimes worry about how they are going to get their protein requirements if not from meat, dairy or eggs. Here is a comprehensive list of protein derivatives:

source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=158

Nuts 1/4 Cup Protein (grams) Calories Fat (grams)
Peanuts 9 207 18
Almonds 8 206 18
Pistachio 6 171 14
Hazelnuts 5 212 21
Pine Nuts 5 229 23
Cashews 5 197 16
Walnuts 4 164 16
Seeds 1/4 Cup Protein (grams) Calories Fat (grams)
Hemp Seeds 15 232 18
Pumpkin 9 187 16
Flaxseed 9 187 16
Sunflower 8 205 18
Sesame 6 206 18
Legumes 1 Cup Protein (grams) Calories Fat (grams)
Soybeans 29 298 10
Lentils 18 230 16
Split Peas 16 231 16
Navy Beans 16 258 12
Garbanzo Beans 15 269 12
Black Beans 15 227 15
Kidney Beans 15 225 11
Lima Beans 15 216 13
Pinto 14 234 15
Soy Foods
Protein (grams) Calories Fat (grams)
Soybeans 1 Cup 29 298 10
Tempeh 4oz 21 21 13
Edamame 20 240 10
TVP 1/4 cup 12 80 0
Soy Nuts 11 200 1
Tofu 4oz 9 86 5
Soy But Butter 2 tbs 7 170 11
Soymilk 1 cup 7 100 0.5
Grains
Protein (grams) Calories Fat (grams)
Amaranth 1 cup 9 238 9
Quinoa 1 cup 9 254 4
Wholewheat pasta 8 174 6
Barley 7 270 14
Spelt 4 oz 6 144 4
Oats 1 cup 6 147 4
Brown rice 1 cup 5 216 4
Whole wheat bread 4 128 3