Whether you’re thinking about going vegan or know somebody who is vegan, you probably have questions. I was a vegetarian for almost 25 years before making the leap and going vegan, so I’ve had plenty of experience with most of these. Still, a few were questions I had myself!
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Where do vegans get their protein?
Ah, here it is. The number one question any vegetarian or vegan will ever get asked. When I became vegan I realized how silly it was that anyone ever asked me as a vegetarian. Dairy and eggs have a ton of animal protein! Why did anyone ever think I wasn’t getting enough?
And what is “enough” anyway? Actually, it’s probably less than you might think. Take your weight in pounds and multiply by .4 for an easy conversion. This equates to 46 grams for the average sedentary woman. The more exercise you do, the more protein you’ll need to help repair and build your muscles. Still, that’s a lot less than the meat and dairy industry would have you believe!
Protein is found in every
Oatmeal, bread, seeds, peanut butter…it’s easy to get more than enough protein in a vegan diet.
Why don’t vegans eat eggs?
A vegan diet eliminates anything made from an animal, or that came from an animal. Eggs come from chickens, so vegans avoid them.
My family had pet chickens when I was growing up. They roamed free around our yard during the day and then slept in a chicken coop in our backyard at night. They laid eggs, and we never ate a single one of them. We ate eggs we bought from the grocery store instead! Don’t ask me why. It just kind of grossed us out, honestly.
However, I don’t think the chickens would have cared if we had taken their eggs for food. Eating chicken eggs
That said, the reason I don’t actually eat eggs is sort of in protest to the entire egg industry. Only female chicks are beneficial, so the male chicks are discarded – often by being tossed into a grinder while alive. No, I’m not making that up or describing the plot of a horror movie. It’s actually a common, standard practice in the industry. So for every chicken that lays eggs, another one had to die a horrible death. Avoiding eating eggs helps ensure I don’t participate in that practice.
Of course, factory farmed eggs are also a huge problem, as the chickens live pretty miserable lives churning the eggs out. But that’s a whole other blog post!
Isn’t meat the only complete protein?
Protein is made up of amino acids – 20 of them. 9 of them we have to eat because our bodies can’t make them on their own. When a protein source contains all 9 of these essential amino acids, it’s often referred to as a complete protein.
But, first of all, it isn’t necessary to eat all 9 of these amino acids in one source. As long as you are getting all 9 of them over the span of a day, it doesn’t matter if they’re found in one single protein source at one single meal!
Secondly, it’s extremely easy to combine foods to get all 9 amino acids in one meal. Beans and rice are a common example because they go so well together and have been a staple in many diets for centuries.
Finally, there actually ARE vegan sources of complete protein! Soy contains all 9 essential amino acids and is often a staple of a vegan diet anyway. A few other foods are also complete proteins, such as hemp seeds. I sprinkle hemp seeds on my oatmeal every morning and did before I even knew they were a complete protein. So it’s entirely possible to eat complete proteins in a vegan diet without even trying.
Don’t cows get sore if we don’t milk them?
This is a really weird myth, and it involves a fundamental misunderstanding of how cows milk is produced. I myself never even really thought about it for most of my life, and just assumed cows = milk. But, just like with humans and breastmilk, cows only produce milk after they have given birth. The milk they produce is for their newborn calf. So, how do humans get it? We take
So, sure, cow udders do get sore if we don’t milk them. But they wouldn’t need to be milked if we didn’t force the cows to have babies in the first place! It’s a weird, horrible cycle and it definitely isn’t fun for the cow. Can any of you mamas imagine having your baby taken away right after giving birth so that someone can manually pump your breast milk and drink it themselves?!
Do vegans wear leather/fur/pearls/etc?
In short, no. A vegan lifestyle seeks to reduce the amount of harm that a person is responsible for in the world. Being vegan doesn’t simply mean not eating meat or dairy, it means avoiding leather and using makeup that wasn’t tested on animals.
If someone claims they are vegan and yet wears fur, they are misunderstood about what vegan means. That person may eat a plant-based diet, but they are not really vegan.
That said, everyone’s journey is different, and that person may only be wearing fur because they bought it in their pre-vegan days and don’t want to part with it while it is still useful. But if they are still activity buying animal products, they are not vegan.
Do vegans have to read the label of every single thing they eat?
Yes and no. When first going vegan, you’ll want to check everything to ensure there are no sneaky milk byproducts in it. Seriously, milk is in everything! Even things labeled “non-dairy” like a lot of coffee creamers, still have milk derivatives in them and are not vegan.
But, after a while, you settle into more of a routine of knowing what you can and can’t have. With the allergy labeling standards in the US and many other countries, milk and eggs will be listed in bold letters after the ingredients list and easy to spot. Even my boyfriend is able to flip a package over, scan the ingredients, and hand it to me in seconds, deeming it safe.
Don’t vegans need to supplement with B12?
Yep! B12 is the only vitamin that isn’t naturally found in plant food (except in tiny trace amounts). The kicker is that isn’t naturally found in animal food either. The animals raised for meat are given a B12 supplement, so when they are killed and butchered, the meat contains the vitamin.
B12 is naturally found in the soil, and this used to mean that anyone could ingest it with their
So basically, everyone supplements with B12, either directly or indirectly!
I am not a doctor, and I don’t know your personal situation. A very small percentage of the population may be unable to go vegan for health reasons. There are also people who live in places like the arctic circle, where animal fat is still pretty necessary to survive.
For most people in the developed world, going vegan is very easy these days. If you’re interested in attempting the diet and lifestyle yourself, check out my posts on tips to going vegan and
Finally, if you have any further questions I’d be happy to answer them! Let me know in the comments what is confusing to you about the lifestyle, or what is holding you back from attempting it.