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Practical Issues > Health - Index > Vegan Index


Vegan's Most Frequently Asked Questions


This FAQ was compiled by mailto:traub@mistral.co.uk, and originally converted to HTML by Leor Jacobi of Vegan Action.

    Why Vegan?

    Is This Group For Me?

    Definitions Of Words Commonly Used

    What Are Good Books For New Vegans?

    How Is "Vegan" Pronounced?

    A Little History

    What's Wrong With Free Range Eggs?

    And Normal (Battery) Eggs?

    What Can Be Substituted For Eggs?

    What's Wrong With Dairy Products?

    But Don't I Need Eggs And Dairy Products?

    Are Soy Cheeses Vegan?

    What About Honey?

    What Is Gelatin? Is There Any Alternative To It?

    What's Wrong With Wool?

    What's Wrong With Silk?

    What's Wrong With Down?

    What Is Cochineal/Carmine?

    What About Those Bugs, Flies Etc?

    Why Not Leather?

    What About Wines And Beers?

    And Sugar?

    Apples?

    Dried Bananas?

    Bread?

    Cereals?

    Crisps (Potato Chips)?

    Sheesh! Anything Else?

    What About Non-Food Household Items?

    Should I Be Worried About Getting Enough Protein On A Vegan Diet?

    Do I Need To Combine Proteins On A Vegan Diet?

    What About Vitamin B12 On A Vegan Diet?

    Should I Worry About Iron In A Vegan Diet?

    What About Calcium?

    What About Vitamin A?

    What About Vitamin D?

    Is Breastfeeding Vegan?

    Is Oral Sex Vegan?

    What About Infants And Children?

    What Is Miso?

    What Is Tofu?

    What Is Tempeh?

    What Is TVP?

    What Is Seitan?

    Can You Feed A Cat (Or Dog) A Vegan Diet?

    What Is Nutritional Yeast? / Which Ones Provide B12?

    What Are Some Groups That I Can Join Or Get Information From?

    Is That It?

 


Why Vegan?

Veganism may be defined as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

In dietary terms it refers to the practice of dispensing with all animal produce - including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, animal milks, honey, and their derivatives.

Abhorrence of the cruel practices inherent in dairy, livestock and poultry farming is probably the single most common reason for the adoption of veganism, but many people are drawn to it for health, ecological, spiritual and other reasons.

"Land, energy and water resources for livestock agriculture range anywhere from 10 to 1000 times greater than those necessary to produce an equivalent amount of plant foods. And livestock agriculture does not merely use these resources, it depletes them. This is a matter of historical record. Most of the world's soil, erosion, groundwater depletion, and deforestation -- factors now threatening the very basis of our food system -- are the result of this particularly destructive form of food production" (Keith Akers, p. 81, "A Vegetarian Sourcebook", 1989).

Is This Group For Me?

If the above section doesn't make any sense to you then probably not. Please don't join this list and then denigrate those who have chosen the above lifestyle. It will not be appreciated. If after reading this FAQ you decide VEGAN-L is not for you, simply unsubscribe by sending the message "signoff VEGAN-L" to listproc@envirolink.org. If you are an ethical vegan or an experienced vegetarian and have now decided to move to veganism on ethical grounds then please stick around. If you're vegetarian or "vegan" for health reasons only then there are a couple of other groups you may prefer:

Fatfree (covers very low fat vegetarian and vegan food). To subscribe:

email fatfree-REQUEST@fatfree.com
subject add

Veglife (a general vegetarian list, covers all sorts). To subscribe:

email listserv@listserv.vt.edu
body sub veglife (your name)

If animal rights is your main concern then you may prefer:

AR-News (Animal rights news). To subscribe:

email listproc@envirolink.org
body subscribe ar-news (your name)

AR-Views (Animal rights discussions). To subscribe:

email listserv@animal-rights.net
body subscribe ar-views

Please use AR-News for all AR news postings, not VEGAN-L.

If you're after a general veggie chat list try:

Veggie (general vegetarian chat list) To subscribe:

email mailto:majordomo@.bath.ac.uk
body subscribe veggie

Please don't post general chit-chat messages to VEGAN-L or messages unrelated to veganism, no matter how important you feel the subject is.

In case you've received this FAQ file from a friend and you aren't actually a member but you are a vegan or an aspiring vegan, please join us by sending the following message to listproc@envirolink.org subscribe vegan-l (your name)

(Example: subscribe vegan-l John Smith)

If you want the digest (a whole day's messages combined into one file) version add the line "set vegan-l digest" after the subscription line when joining.

Definitions Of Words Commonly Used:

Vegan: excludes animal flesh (meat, poultry, fish and seafood), animal products (eggs and dairy), and usually excludes honey and the wearing and use of animal products (leather, silk, wool, lanolin, gelatin...). The major vegan societies all disallow honey, but some "vegans" still use it.

Strict vegetarian: originally meant vegan, now can mean vegan or vegetarian. Pure vegetarian: as per strict vegetarian.

What Are Good Books For New Vegans?

Vegan Nutrition, a Survey of Research by Gill Langley MA PhD
Vegan Nutrition, Pure and Simple by Dr. Michael Klaper
Friendly Foods by Ron Pickarski
The Vegan Cookbook by Alan Wakeman and Gordon Baskerville
Diet for a New America by John Robbins
The Gourmet Vegan by Heather Lamont
Power of your Plate by Neal Barnard
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen by Lorna Sass
Pregnancy, Children and the Vegan Diet by Dr. Michael Klaper
Compassionate Cook by PETA
The Seventh-Day Diet, by Chris Rucker and Jan Hoffman

How Is "Vegan" Pronounced?

The word was invented by Donald Watson in the 1940's. It is pronounced "vee-gun". This is the most common pronunciation in the UK today. No one can say this pronunciation is "wrong", so this is also the politically correct pronunciation. In the US, common pronunciations are "vee-jan" and "vay-gn" in addition to "vee-gn", though the American Vegan Society says the correct pronunciation is as per the UK.

A Little History

Here are some of Donald's own words from the early years (1945):

'Vegetarian' and 'Fruitarian' are already associated with societies that allow the 'fruits' of cows and fowls, therefore.. we must make a new and appropriate word... I have used the title 'The Vegan News'. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as the vegan diet and we should aspire to the rank of vegans.

What's Wrong With Free Range Eggs?

In order to get laying hens you have to have fertile eggs and half the eggs will hatch into male chicks. These are killed at once or raised as table birds (usually these days in broiler houses) and slaughtered as soon as they reach an economic weight. So for every free-range hen happily scratching around the garden or farm who, if she were able to bargain, might pay rent with her daily infertile egg, a corresponding male from her batch is enduring life in a broiler house or has already been subjected to slaughter or thrown away to die. Every year in Britain alone more than 35 million day-old male chicks are killed. They are mainly used for fertiliser or dumped in landfill sites. The hens are also culled as soon as their production drops. Also be aware that many sites classed as free range aren't really free range, they're just massive barns with access to the outside. Since the food and light are inside the chickens rarely venture outside.

And Normal (Battery) Eggs?

The battery hen, from which the vast majority of all eggs are produced and almost all products containing eggs (especially cakes) suffers an even worse fate. The battery hen is an anxious, frustrated, fear-ridden bird forced to spend 10 to 12 months squeezed inside a small wire cage with up to nine other tormented hens. There are usually many tiers of these cages in gloomy sheds which hold a total of 50,000 to 125,000 birds. Caged for life without exercise while constantly drained of calcium to form egg shells, battery hens develop the severe osteoporosis of intensive confinement know as caged layer fatigue. Calcium depleted, millions of hens become paralyzed and die of hunger and thirst inches from their food and water. Battery hens are debeaked with a hot machine blade once and often twice during their lives, typically at one day old and again at seven weeks old, because a young beak will often grow back. Debeaking causes severe, chronic pain and suffering which researchers compare to human phantom limb and stump pain. Between the horn and bone of the beak is a thick layer of highly sensitive tissue. The hot blade cuts through this sensitive tissue impairing the hen's ability to eat, drink, wipe her beak, and preen normally. Debeaking is done to offset the effects of the compulsive pecking that can afflict birds designed by nature to roam, scratch, and peck at the ground all day, not sit in prison; and to save feed costs and promote conversion of less food into more eggs. Debeaked birds have impaired grasping ability and are in pain and distress, therefore eating less, flinging their food less, and "wasting" less energy than intact birds.

What Can Be Substituted For Eggs?

Ener-G Egg Replacer, which is make from potato starch, tapioca flour, leavening agents (calcium lactate (vegan), calcium carbonate, and citric acid) and a gum derived from cottonseed. It's primarily intended to replace the leavening/binding characteristics of eggs in baking, but it can be used for nonbaked foods and quiches.

Alternative replacements (quantity per egg substituted for)

2 oz of soft tofu can be blended with some water and substituted for an egg to add consistency. Or try the same quantity of: mashed beans, mashed potatoes, or nut butters.

1/2 mashed banana

1/4 cup applesauce or pureed fruit

One Tbsp flax seeds (found in natural food stores) with 3 Tbsp water can be blended for 2 to 3 minutes, or boiled for 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved to substitute for one egg.

1 tsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water to substitute for one egg.

What's Wrong With Dairy Products?

Dairy cows are made pregnant yearly to ensure they produce adequate milk. In nature the calf would suckle for almost a year but nature, like the calf, is denied by the dairy industry. Some calves may be separated from their dams on the first day of life; others might remain for just a few days. But as the inevitable by-products of relentless milk production each will have to endure one of several possible fates. The least healthy bobby calves will be sent to market to be slaughtered for pet food; to provide veal for veal & ham pies; or for rennet to be extracted from their stomachs for cheesemaking. Some females will be reared on milk substitutes to become dairy herd replacements and begin, at 18-24 months of age, the cycle of continual pregnancies. Some will be sold at market at 1-2 weeks of age for rearing as beef in fattening pens and slaughtered after 11 months, often without sight of pasture. Up to 80% of the beef produced in the UK is a by-product of the dairy industry. Over 170,000 calves die in the UK each year before they are three months old, due largely to neglectful husbandry and appalling treatment at markets. A few will be selected for rearing as bulls, spending their lives in solitary confinement serving canvas 'cows' and rubber tubes. Artificial insemination is now responsible for 65-75% of all conceptions in the dairy herd. In the US the vast majority of unwanted calves are reared for veal, all but around 12% of them spending their short miserable lives in narrow crates (5'x2') on wooden slats and without straw. Whilst none suffer such a fate in Britain they are now exported for the purpose. In solitary confinement, unable to turn around or groom themselves they must drink the only diet they are allowed - a milk substitute gruel. Deliberately kept short of the iron and fibre which would redden their fashionably white flesh, they will suffer from sub-clinical anaemia and gnaw at the crates and their own hair for the roughage they crave. Fed large doses of hormones and antibiotics to promote growth and prevent the onset of infections caused by the stress of confinement and malnutrition, they will suffer scours, pneumonia, diarrhoea, vitamin deficiency, ringworm, ulcers or septicaemia. After 14 weeks, barely able to walk, they are taken over long distances to slaughter.

In 1905 the Lord Mayor's Cup at the London Dairy Show was won by a 24 year old cow. Today it is impossible to find a dairy cow of that age. The cow is usually sent for slaughter at five to six years, less than one quarter of their expected lifespan. Ketosis, laminitis, rumen acidosis, bse, mastitis, milk fever, staggers, liverfluke, lungworm and pneumonia are just some of the diseases facing the short life of the dairy cow.

 

But Don't I Need Eggs And Dairy Products?

Just as the meat manufacturers would have you believe that you need to eat meat, the egg and dairy producers are now spending vast amounts of money promoting the healthy aspects of eggs and dairy products. Eggs and dairy products contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, which is considered a major cause of heart disease. In a 1985 study published by the J. Am. Med. Ass. dairy products were the major source of saturated fat and cholesterol for 75 adult vegetarians living in the USA, whose blood levels of cholesterol were higher than those of vegans who ate no dairy produce. Dairy products contain lactose, a milk sugar which the majority of the world's population is actually unable to digest and is often found to be the cause of digestive problems. Casein, the milk protein, has been shown to cause iron deficiency anaemia from internal bleeding in many infants and is suspected of causing juvenile diabetes. Milk products can also be a cause of eczema, rash, mucous buildup, wheezing, asthma, rhinitis, bleeding, pneumonia and anaphylaxis in children and adults.

Are Soy Cheeses Vegan?

Some soy hard cheeses contain casein which is a milk-product. Just because something is "lactose free" doesn't mean it's dairy free. The only true VEGAN hard cheeses in the U.S. are SOYMAGE and VEGAN RELLA. In the U.K. there are vegan hard cheeses called SCHEESE and TOFUCHEESE. There is also a vegan pre-grated parmesan style cheese called PARMAZANO in the U.K.

What About Honey?

Bees are often killed in the production of honey, in the worst case the whole hive may be destroyed if the keeper doesn't wish to protect them over the winter. Not all beekeepers do this, but the general practice is one that embodies the attitude that living things are mere material and have no intrinsic value of their own other than what commercial value we can wrench from them. Artificial insemination involving death of the male is now also the norm for generation of new queen bees. The favoured method of obtaining bee sperm is by pulling off the insects head. Decapitation sends an electrical impulse to the nervous system which causes sexual arousal. The lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate. The resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe.

What Is Gelatin? Is There Any Alternative To It?

Gelatin (used to make Jell-o and other desserts) is made from the boiled bones, skins and tendons of animals. An alternative substance is called Agar-Agar, which is derived from seaweed. Another is made from the root of the Kuzu. Agar-Agar is sold in noodle-like strands, in powdered form, or in long blocks, and is usually white-ish in color. Some Kosher gelatins are made with agar-agar, most are not. Some things that are vegan that are replacing gelatin are: guar gum and carrageenan. Only some 'emulsifiers' are vegan. Gelatin is used in photography. Although the technology exists to replace photographic film, its price is currently prohibitive and there is insufficient demand. Hopefully, with the growth of vegetarianism and veganism, this situation will soon change.

What's Wrong With Wool?

Scientists over the years have bred a Merino sheep which is exaggeratedly wrinkled. The more wrinkles, the more wool. Unfortunately, greater profits are rarely in the sheep's best interests. In Australia, more wrinkles mean more perspiration and greater susceptibility to fly-strike, a ghastly condition resulting from maggot infestation in the sweaty folds of the sheep's over-wrinkled skin. To counteract this, farmers now perform an 'operation' without anaesthetic call 'mulesing' in which sections of flesh around the anus are sliced away, leaving a painful bloody wound.

Without human interference, sheep would grow just enough wool to protect them from the weather, but scientific breeding techniques have ensured that these animals have become wool-producing monstrosities.

Their unnatural overload of wool (often half their body weight) brings added misery during summer months when they often die from heat exhaustion. One million sheep die in Australia alone each year from exposure to cold after shearing.

Every year, in Australia alone, about ten million lambs die before they are more than a few days old. This is due largely to unmanageable numbers of sheep and inadequate stockmen.

Of UK wool, 27% is "skin wool," pulled from the skins of slaughtered sheep and lambs.

What's Wrong With Silk?

It is the practice to boil the cocoons that still contain the living moth larvae in order to obtain the silk. This produces longer silk threads than if the moth was allowed to emerge. The silkworm can certainly feel pain and will recoil and writhe when injured.

What's Wrong With Down?

The process of live-plucking is wide spread. The terrified birds are lifted by their necks, with their legs tied, and then have all their body feathers ripped out. The struggling geese sustain injuries and after their ordeal are thrown back to join their fellow victims until their turn comes round again. This torture, which has been described as "extremely cruel" by veterinary surgeons and even geese breeders, begins when the geese are only eight weeks old. It is then repeated at eight week intervals for two or three more sessions. The birds are then slaughtered. The main countries using this cruel process are China, Poland and Hungary, where some 60 per cent of down produced is live-plucked. The down market in the UK alone is worth around 2.6 million pounds per year. The "lucky" birds are plucked dead, i.e. they are killed first and then plucked.

What Is Cochineal/Carmine?

Cochineal is a bright red colouring matter made from the dried bodies of a Mexican insect Dactylopius coccus. Billions of these insects are raised and destroyed each year for a red colouring that is used in desserts, some strawberry soya milks, clothing, etc.

What About Those Bugs, Flies Etc?

Why kill even insects if we don't have to? The same applies to using killed insects for broaches, crushed insect wings for irridescent eye shadow, or dying insects in jumping beans. Why promote even at this level a callous disregard for living things around us?

I think for good reason, based on ethical intuition, that we are more impressed by the kind-hearted soul who nets the flies to let them out of the house alive versus the person hunting them down for certain chemical death with a bottle raid. Even if our great White Suburban hunter of houseflies uses a fly-swatter for ecological reasons, the more admirable course pertains to the person who uses a butterfly net to simply capture the fly for relocation outside.

This doesn't mean we have to let our houses be over-run by pests or let our gardens be destroyed either. Common sense should prevail.

 

Why Not Leather?

Many leather goods are made from the byproducts of the slaughterhouse, so while you may not be contributing to the destruction of animals, you will be contributing to the profits of these establishments. Some leather is purpose made, i.e. the animal is grown and slaughtered purely for its skin.

The Nov/Dec 1991 issue of the Vegetarian Journal has this to say about leather: "Environmentally turning animal hides into leather is an energy intensive and polluting practice. The Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology states, "On the basis of quantity of energy consumed per unit of product produced, the leather-manufacturing industry would be categorized with the aluminum, paper, steel, cement, and petroleummanufacturing industries as a gross consumer of energy." Production of leather basically involves soaking (beamhouse), tanning, dyeing, drying, and finishing. Over 95% of all leather produced in the U.S. is chrome tanned. The effluent that must be treated is primarily related to the beamhouse and tanning operations. The most difficult to treat is effluent from the tanning process. All wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many other pollutants involved in the processing of leather are associated with environmental and health risks. In terms of disposal, one would think that leather products would be biodegradable, but the primary function for a tanning agent is to stabilize the collagen or protein fibers so that they are no longer biodegradable."

What About Wines And Beers?

Wine is clarified, or cleared, after fermentation. Some of the ingredients used include:

- edible gelatines (made from bones)
- isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)
- casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins)
- animal albumin (egg albumin and dried blood powder)

In the UK beer (bitter) is also commonly fined using isinglass. Many bottled bitters and most lagers are vegan. Guinness is not suitable for vegans. Most spirits are vegan except for Campari (contains cochineal) and some Vodkas (passed through bone charcoal).

And Sugar?

Some refined sugars use bone charcoal as a decolourant. In the UK Tate and Lyle and Billingtons sugars are free of animal substances. British Sugar, trading as Silver Spoon (the largest UK supplier) state that their white sugar is vegan but they cannot guarantee their brown sugars as some bone charcoal may be used by their suppliers. No data is presently available concerning sugar in other countries.

Apples?

In the UK the shiny Washington red apples are glazed with shellac, which is a resin produced from insects.

Dried Bananas?

Many are dipped in honey. In the UK they often don't mention this on the label.

Bread?

Some bakers grease the tins with animal fat. If you're using a local bakery ask them what they grease their tins with. In the UK Allied bakeries (makers of Allinson wholemeal) have stated they only use vegetable oils.

Cereals?

In the UK all Kellogs products are unsuitable for vegans as Vitamin D3 (of animal origin) is added. In the US some of Kellogg's cereals are apparently vegan, Kellogg's Nutri-Grain cereal (plain "Wheat" variety only) is a good vegan source of B12. Be careful though, the almond- raisin variety contains animal based glycerin.

Crisps (Potato Chips)?

Many manufacturers use whey as the flavour carrier. Check with your local vegan society as to what crisps are vegan.

Sheesh! Anything Else?

For sure. If a manufacturer can stick some part of an animal in something, chances are they probably will. Learn to be a fastidious label reader and avoid products not properly labelled unless you know for sure that they are suitable for vegans. Buy products from companies who make their stance on animal products known. Look out for ethically vegan companies and support them when possible. Some foods have "E" numbers listed in the ingredients, with no mention as to the source of these E numbers. Ones to definitely avoid include:

120 - cochineal
542 - edible bone phosphate
631 - sodium 5'-inosinate
901 - beeswax
904 - shellac
920 - L-cysteine hydrochloride

Un-numbered:

calcium mesoinositol hexaphosphate, lactose, sperm oil, spermaceti

Possibly animal derived:

101,101a,153,203,213,227,270,282,302,322,325,326,327,333,341a,3 41b,341c, 404,422,430,431,432,433,434,435,436,470,471,472a,472b,472c,472d ,472e,473, 474,475,476,477,478,481,482,483,491,492,493,494,495,570,572,627, 635

Un-numbered:

calcium hepatonate, calcium phytate, diacetin-glyceryl, glyceryl diacetate, glyceryl triacetate, glycine, leucine, monoacetate, monoacetin, oxystearin, triacetin and any unspecified flavourings.

What About Non-Food Household Items?

Just about everything you see on the cleaning/personal hygiene shelf of the supermarket has been force fed to animals and smeared in rabbit's eyes. Worst of all they don't tell you that this is the case, and they don't tell you what animal ingredients go into these products. Buy products labelled as "Cruelty Free" or "Not tested on animals" and "Contains no animal ingredients" when shopping. Some suitable suppliers are listed in a later section. Oh, and when buying your plates remember that "Bone China" really does contain bones.

Should I Be Worried About Getting Enough Protein On A Vegan Diet?

No, not as long as you're taking in enough calories. Official recommendations suggest that eating 8% of our daily energy as protein will provide an adequate amount. National and international recommendations for protein intake are based on animal sources of protein such as meat, cow's milk and eggs. Plant proteins may be less digestible because of intrinsic differences in the nature of the protein and the presence of other factors such as fibre, which may reduce protein digestibility by as much as 10%. Nevertheless, dietary studies show the adequacy of plant foods, as sole sources of protein as does the experience of healthy vegans of all ages.

The main protein foods in a vegan diet are the pulses (peas, beans and lentils), nuts, seeds and grains, all of which are relatively energy dense. As the average protein level in pulses is 27% of calories; in nuts and seeds 13%; and in grains 12%, it is easy to see that plant foods can supply the recommended amount of protein as long as the energy requirements are met.

Do I Need To Combine Proteins On A Vegan Diet?

Frances Moore Lappe popularised the idea of protein combining in her book "Diet for a Small Planet" in the '70s, however in her revised edition: "Diet for a Small Planet 10th Anniversary Revised Edition" she has since renounced it.

The 1988 position paper of the American Dietetic Association emphasized that, because amino acids obtained from food can combine with amino acids made in the body it is not necessary to combine protein foods at each meal. Adequate amounts of amino acids will be obtained if a varied vegan diet - containing unrefined grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and vegetables is eaten on a daily basis.

"Food combining" is another term for the Hay diet and has nothing to do with the concept of protein combining.

What About Vitamin B12 On A Vegan Diet?

The data on B12 is still coming in, so it is impossible to say "It's no problem....", however, the latest information suggests that acquiring enough B12 is not as problematic as it was once thought. If you are concerned about inadequate B12, there are many foods which are fortified with B12, in addition to vitamin pills. Here is the most recent information: From the book:

Simply Vegan: Quick Vegetarian Meals, by Debra Wasserman and Nutrition Section by Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D. Published (1990/1991) by the Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, (410) 366-VEGE. ISBN 0-931411-05-X

Summary: The requirement for vitamin B12 is very low. Non-animal sources include Nutri-Grain cereal (1.4 ounces supplies the adult RDA) and Red Star T-6635+ nutritional yeast (1-2 teaspoons supplies the adult RDA). It is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children to have reliable sources of vitamin B12 in their diets.

Few reliable vegan food sources for vitamin B12 are known. Tempeh, miso, and seaweed often are labeled as having large amounts of vitamin B12. However, these products are not reliable sources of the vitamin because the amount of vitamin B12 present depends on the type of processing the food undergoes.

Other sources of vitamin B12 are fortified soy milk (check the label as this is rarely available in the US), vitamin B12 fortified meat analogues (food made from wheat gluten or soybeans to resemble meat, poultry or fish) [Midland Harvest products contain B12.], and vitamin B12 supplements. There are vitamin supplements which do not contain animal products.

Should I Worry About Iron In A Vegan Diet?

To quote Vegetarian Times (August 1992, p. 60):

"Iron deficiency, unlike protein deficiency, sometimes is a real problem, but meat is not the answer. The American Dietetic Association said in 1988 that vegetarians don't have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than nonvegetarians.

If you are concerned about getting enough iron, avoid eating iron- rich foods along with substances that inhibit iron absorption: phyates (found in high-bran and unmilled cereals), polyphenols (such as tannins in tea) and calcium. Eat iron-rich foods along with foods containing vitamin C, which aids absorption. Good sources of iron include dried figs and prunes, dark-green leafy greens, legumes, certain whole grains such as quinoa and millet, blackstrap molasses, nuts and nutritional yeast. Acidic foods cooked in cast-iron pans are also good sources of the mineral."

What About Calcium?

Green leafy vegetables such as kale are as good or better than milk as calcium sources. Other good sources include: White/Wholemeal bread, Taco Shells, Oats, Soyabeans, Tofu, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pistachios, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flax Seed, Carob, Carrots, Cabbage, Garlic, Parsley Spirulina, Chives, Seaweed, Cauliflower, Okra, Cassava, Figs, Papaya, Rhubarb, Molasses...

The National Research Council itself (which set the RDA values in the first place), acknowledges that people have been able to maintain calcium balance on intakes as little as 200 - 400 gm/day. They recommended the 800 mg/day because of the excessively high protein diet of most Americans (see NRC, Recommended Dietary Allowances, 9th Ed., 1980, p. 120-29)

What About Vitamin A?

Preformed vitamin A is not needed by the body, it can be synthesized by ingestion of carotene (often called provitamin A). Excess consumption of pre-formed Vitamin A can be dangerous. Good Carotene sources include: Green leafy vegetables, yellow fruits and vegetables.

What About Vitamin D?

Preformed vitamin D is not needed by the body, it can be synthesized by exposure to sunshine of dehydrocholesterol present in the skin. Vitamin D created this way lasts in the body for many months such that it is possible to "top-up" one's vitamin D levels over the summer for the coming winter. Excess consumption of pre- formed Vitamin D can be dangerous. The Vitamin D in cow's milk is artificially added. In the UK margarine is fortified with vitamin D by law and some soya milks are also fortified.

Is Breastfeeding Vegan?

Don't be silly! Of course it is. It harms no creature (don't tell my wife I said that) and provides vital sustenance for another. Vegan mothers commonly breast feed for longer periods of time than other mothers, as they are unwilling to use dairy based infant supplements. Vegan infant formulas are available now.

Is Oral Sex Vegan?

Is that you again? Go away! :-)

Oral sex is vegan even though it may involve putting flesh in your mouth, as it shouldn't really involve any cruelty or exploitation, and said flesh is taken out again eventually and returned to its rightful owner. If you decide to swallow any bodily liquids, well, once again, no one else has suffered to provide them, so it's up to you... I doubt if anyone has done very much research on the health aspects of this, though.

Oh and by the way, many condoms have casein added. Two that are vegan are "Excalibur" and "Vis-a-vis" from Sagami.

What About Infants And Children?

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can meet all nitrogen needs and amino acid requirements for growth. A vegan diet, to be on the safe side, should be well planned, and probably include fortified soy milk. If you live in a cold climate and you don't intend to get your child out in the sun a lot after you finish breastfeeding then a vegan source of vitamin D should be added to their diet. Children need more of the essential fatty acids than adults so a bit more fat in their diet is a good idea. Also keep the fiber content down, their under-developed digestive systems can't handle it. Generally the energy content of their meals should be higher than for adults. You should also ensure that they get a regular supply of B12.

What Is Miso?

Miso is made from fermented soybeans, and usually is found in a paste form. It is used as a flavoring agent, and for soup stocks. Storing Miso: If it is a dark miso, like hatcho miso, or red miso, it will keep for a while unrefrigerated, especially if it is 3 year miso. However, it does not hurt to refrigerate it. If it is sweet miso like yellow, mellow white, or sweet white, it will not keep unless refrigerated. Also, if the miso has been pasteurized, it should be kept refrigerated. Warning! Some Japanese brands of Miso contain fish stock!

Nutritional value, per tablespoon:

calories 36 g. protein 2 g. carbs 5 g. fat 1 g. sodium 629 mg.

(from Pennington, "Food Values of Portions Commonly Used")

What Is Tofu?

Tofu, or Soy Bean Curd, is essentially curdled soymilk minus the liquid (a parallel is the way cheese is made from dairy). Its natural flavor is quite mild, but its natural ability to absorb the flavors of other ingredients has led it to be called a culinary chameleon. It's found in several varieties, from soft (silken) to extra-firm style. Soft tofu is often used to make frostings for cakes, dips for chips and vegetables, while the firmer styles are often found in stir-fries and soups. Frozen tofu is an excellent substitute for ground beef in many recipes. Tofu is usually found in the refrigerator sections of stores, near the vegetable or dairy sections.

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a somewhat meatlike substance made from cultured soybeans. It is used in dishes like barbeque, and has a rather strong taste compared to tofu.

What Is TVP?

Textured Vegetable Protein (or TVP) is a meat-like substance that is used to boost the nutritional content of meals, while still remaining relatively attractive-tasting. TVP usually contains "defatted" soya flour, and is very low fat. It is quite often sold in mixes for meat substitute dishes, and can often be found in bulk bins in health food stores. It is sold in a dehydrated form and requires re-hydration before using.

What Is Seitan?

Seitan is a form of wheat gluten. It is a high protein, low fat, no cholesterol (of course, all vegan food is cholesterol free) food that is usually found in the refrigerated section of most organic groceries/health food stores. It is usually near the tofu and typically comes in small tubs (like margarine tubs). It is brown and sometimes comes in strips 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick. Seitan is made from whole wheat flour which is mixed with water and kneaded. This dough undergoes a simple process of rinsing and mixing, to remove the starch and some bran, until a gluten is obtained. After boiling in water, this glutinous dough is called Kofu, which can be further processed in many ways. One of which is seitan. Kofu becomes seitan by simmering in a stock of tamari soy sauce, water and kombu sea vegetable. Seitan can be used in sandwiches, or to make dishes such as sweet and sour seitan, seitan stir fry, salisbury seitan, etc. It can be made at home from scratch or with a commercially available mix. Some companies produce vegan seitan products such as Meat of Wheat by Ivy foods.

Can You Feed A Cat (Or Dog) A Vegan Diet?

Neither is a vegan by nature -- dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores. While both dogs and cats belong to the class carnivora, this doesn't mean a lot, so does the panda bear and they are near vegan. By nature cats and dogs wouldn't eat anything like what is commonly found in a can of pet food either. Special diets must be provided for cats, as they require an amino acid called taurine -- found in the muscles of animals. Synthetic taurine has been developed, and is used in commercial (non vegetarian) cat foods. Vegetarian cats should be fed it as a supplement. Taurine deficiency can result in blindness and even death. Cats also require pre-formed vitamin A and arachidonic acid. All known vegan cat foods contain these essential ingredients. Ask your vet about changing your pet's diet if concerned.

Not only is it possible to feed most cats and dogs a non-meat diet, it is also desirable. Buying "normal" pet food is supporting the same meat industry with its attendant cruelty, exploitation, waste, and environmental damage that veganism is so opposed to. Why should ten horses/cows/chickens/ducks or something have to suffer and die every year just to support your pet cat/dog? This is not a matter of "imposing your beliefs" on your pets (or companion animals, or whatever you call them) since you are not forcing them to eat it and you are not stopping them eating local wildlife on their wanderings round the neighbourhood. Also animals don't have morals or beliefs. They do whatever is necessary to survive, with no preference one way or the other about the impact on anything else. We however can make moral/ethical decisions - like the decision to be vegan. In the wild, surviving may mean "kill something or else starve to death," but if your animal is being fed anyway, this becomes unnecessary. It is also no more unnatural for a pet cat/dog to be eating vegan food than any other food. Firstly, the domesticated cat/dog bears little resemblance to its wild cousins so we're already in an artificial situation. Secondly, the whole act of feeding it from a tin (as opposed to letting it find food for itself) is unnatural, so you might as well make the best of it. Thirdly, the actual contents of the tins of commercial pet food bear no resemblance to what a cat/dog would eat in the wild anyway... Could you imagine your darling moggy killing horses and cows and going deep sea ocean fishing for tuna?

Products:

Wow-Bow Distributors
309 Burr Rd., East Northport, NY 11731
(516) 449-8572, 1-800-326-0230 (outside of NY only)
Dogs: 20lb. bag is $20.35 + shipping
Cats: supplement, 15oz. is $15.95
Phone: 1-800-843-4008
Call Nature's Recipe for location of a distributor near you.

Canine/Feline Anergen III, a vegetarian diet for food sensitive cats, contains special high-protein vegetables.

Wysong Corporation
Dept. CF, 1880 N. Eastman Ave., Midland, MI 48640.
Phone: (800) 748-0188

Harbingers of a New Age
717 E. Missoula Ave, Troy MT 59935-9609
Phone: (406) 295-4944
[vegecat supplement for vegan or lacto-ovo-vegetarian cats]

Nature's Recipe
341 Bonnie Circle, Corona, CA 91720
Phone: (714) (800) 843-4008 or 278-4280
[Vegan canned food and kibble for dogs]

Pet Guard,
P.O. Box 728, Orange Park, FL 32067-0728 Phone: (800) 874-3221
[vegan canned dog food]

Famous Fido's Doggie Deli Inc.
1533 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60660 Phone: (312) 761-6028
[Vegetarian cookies, croissants and bagels for dogs]

Natural Life Pet Products, Inc.
Frontenac, Kansas 66762. Phone: 1-800-367-2391
(For dogs) Available from veterinarians and pet food centers.

Evolution Healthy Pet Food
2950 Metro Dr. Ste. 102, Bloomington, MN 55425
1-800-524-9697 or 1-612-858-8329


What Is Nutritional Yeast? / Which Ones Provide B12?

Nutritional yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a food yeast, grown on a molasses solution, and comes in powder or flake form. It has a pleasant-tasting, cheesy flavor and can be used directly on vegetables, baked potatoes, popcorn and other foods as a condiment. It is different from brewer's yeast or torula yeast. It can often be used by those sensitive to other yeasts.

Yeasts are not animals! Yeasts are part of the group fungii. They were originally considered to be plants even though they do not produce chlorophyll, now they have their own kingdom. Ms. Carlyee Hammer at Universal Products (the parent company of Red Star, 414-935-3910) indicates that only one variety of Red Star nutritional yeast (product number T-6635+) is fortified with B12 at the level of 8 ug/g.


What Are Some Groups That I Can Join Or Get Information From?

Vegan Groups:

Australia:

The Vegan Society (NSW)
PO Box 467, Broadway, NSW 2007. Phone: (02) 436-1373
Organization For Farm Animal Liberation
PO BOX E65, East Parramatta, NSW 2150. Phone: (02) 683 5991 (AH)

Vegan Society of Australia
PO Box 85, Seaford, VIC 3198. Phone: (03) 862-1686

Canada:

Canada EarthSave Society
Suite 103 - 1093 West Broadway,
Vancouver, BC, V6H 1E2 Phone: (604) 731-5885.

Canada Earthsave describes itself as "an educational non-profit organization that promotes awareness of the environmental and health consequences of our food choices.

Germany:

ANIMAL PEACE e.V. Prachter Str. 1, 57589 Pracht Tel: (+49)2292/40014 Fax: (+49)2292/40016

ANARCHISTISCHE TIERRECHTS-AKTION (ATA)
c/o Autonomes Zentrum, Alte Bergheimer Str. 7a, 69115 Heidelberg
Phone: (prefix) (0)6221-385702

MUT - MENSCHENRECHT UND TIERRECHT e.V. (people for human and animal rights) Grueneburgweg 154, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany
Phone: (prefix) (0)69-559589

VEGANE OFFENSIVE RUHRGEBIET
c/o CILA, Braunschweiger Str. 22, 44145 Dortmund

Maqi - f�r Tierrechte, gegen Speziesismus (for Animal Rights, Against Speciesism)
Hagenbacher Str. 6, D-76187 Karlsruhe
Phone: (+49)(0)721/758379
http://tierrechte.de/maqi; maqi@tierrechte.de

United Kingdom:

The Vegan Society
7 Battle Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN37 7AA
Phone: (0424) 427393
publishes "The Vegan" quarterly, free with membership

United States:

American Vegan Society
501 Old Harding Highway, Malaga, NJ 08328 Phone: (609) 694-2887
publishes "Ahimsa" magazine.

Vegan Action
P.O. Box 4353, Berkeley, CA, 94704, Phone: (510) 843-6343
vegan@mellers1.psych.berkeley.edu

Vegetarian Resource Group
P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203 Phone: (410) 366-8343
publishes "Vegetarian Journal"
Hotline for Vegetarians' questions: Phone: (410) 366-VEGE

Cruelty-free products information

AEsop, Inc.
P.O. Box 315 North Cambridge, MA 02140
Store at:
285 Washington St. Somerville, MA 02143 Phone: (617) 628-8030

Amberwood
Route 2 Box 300, Milner Road, Leary, GA 31762 Phone: (404) 358-2991

Animal Rights Catalog
1857 West 4th Avenue, #205 Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1M4 Canada
Phone: (604) 737-7185

The Body Shop -- in local shopping centers
some of its products may contain dairy and a couple even contain lanolin.

Heartland Products
Box 218 Dakota City, Iowa 50529

Humane Alternative Products
8 Hutchins St., Concord, NH 03301

Beauty Without Cruelty
175 W. 12th St., New York, NY, 10012
P.O. Box 19373 San Rafael, CA 94913 Phone: (415) 382-7784

Compassionate Consumer
P.O. Box 27, Jericho, NY 11753 Phone: (718) 445-4134

Heart's Desire
1307 Dwight Way, Dept C, Berkeley CA 94702

Humane Street USA
467 Saratoga Ave. #300, San Jose, CA 95129

Spare the Animals
P.O. Box 233, Tiverton, RI 02878

Vegan Street Company
P.O. Box 5525, Rockville, MD

PETA: write for a free list of companies.

Newsletter: "Style with Substance", quarterly
c/o Laura Grey, P.O. Box 160322, Cupertino CA 95016-0322
$2 per issue or $8 for 1 year subscription.

YOUR BODY, Unit 53, Milmead Industrial Estate, Mill Mead Road,
London N17 9QU tel: 081-808-6948 fax: 081-801-1611 (mail-order, vegan)

MARTHA HILL Ltd., The Old Vicarage, Laxton, Corby, Northants, NN17 3AT
tel: 0780-450259 (24 hour) fax: 0780- 450398
advice line: 0780-450284 (8am-5pm Mon- Fri)
(mail order, uses honey in some of the products, otherwise vegan)

Mail Order Book Outlets and Food Outlets

Foods of India
Sinha Trading Co. Inc.
120 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10026 Phone: 212-683-4419

Garden Spot Distributers
Route 1 Box 729A, New Hollare, PS 17557. Phone: 800-829-5100
(bulk foods, speciality items)

Harvest Direct
PO Box 4514, Decateur, IL 62525. Phone: 800- 8flavor
(TVP, Sauces, Herbs, Mixes)

The Mail Order Catalog
P.O. Box 180, Summertown, TN 38483. Phone: 800- 695-2241
or 615-964-2241 or email catalog@use.usit.net
(Cookbooks, TVP, Instant Gluten Flour, Nutritional Yeast)

Soyfoods Center Catalog
PO Box 234, Lafayette, CA 94549. Phone: 415-283- 2991

Walnut Acres
Penns Creek, PA 17862 Phone: 800-433-3998
(Organic foods, kitchenware, pantry items)

Rainbow Natural Foods
1487 Richmond Road
Ottawa, Ontario K2B 6R9, Canada Phone: 613- 726-9200

Paradise Farm Organics
1000 Wild Iris Lane
Moscow, Idaho 83843
1-800-758-2418

EarthSave
Phone: 1-800-362-3648

VEGAN-SHOP
Hoehenstr. 50
60385 Frankfurt, Germany
Phone: (prefix) (0)69-440989
Periodicals

Good Medicine,
Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Avenue NW Suite 404, Washington DC 20016
(202) 686-2210

KATZ-GO-VEGAN
c/o The Vegan Society
7 Battle Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN37 7AA
Phone: (0424) 427393

Vegetarian Gourmet
PO Box 7641, Riverton, N.J. 08077-7641

Animal Rights Organizations

MUT - MENSCHENRECHT UND TIERRECHT e.V. (people for human and animal rights)
Grueneburgweg 154
60323 Frankfurt, Germany
Phone: (prefix) (0)69-559589

Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L St., N.W., Washington DC 20037 (USA) Posters against animal research available.

FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement)
Box 30654, Bethesda MD 20824, Phone: 800-MEATOUT
e-mail: farmusa@erols.com, web: http://envirolink.org/arrs/farm
publishes quarterly newsletter and informational handouts.

Farm Sanctuary
P.O. Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, Phone: 607-583-2225
(Responsible, along with the North American Vegetarian Society, for getting veggie burgers in the local Burger King. They are currently trying to set up another sanctuary in California).

Farm Sanctuary - West
P.O. Box 1065, Orland, CA 95963, Phone: 916-865-4617

American Anti-Vivisection Soc.
801 Old York Rd. #204, Jenkintown, PA. 19046-1685

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
P.O. Box 42516, Washington, DC 20015 (USA), Phone: 301-770-PETA
publishes "Cruelty-free Shopping Guide" and information

National Anti-Vivisection Society
53 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1550, Chicago, IL 60604 (USA)
Phone: (312) 427-6065
Free Cruelty-free products listing

The Fund for Animals
200 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-246- 2096

Friends of Animals
P.O. Box 1244, Norwalk, CT 06856, Phone: 203-866-5223

In Defense of Animals (IDA)
816 West Francisco Blvd. San Rafael, CA 94901 Phone: 415-453- 9984
(Currently overseeing the "Free Corky" campaign in response to the movie "Free Willy".)

Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PSYeta)
P.O. Box 1297
Washington Grove, MD 20880 Phone: 301-963-4751
(Publishes "Society and Animals" and "Human Innovations and Alternatives")

 

Is That It?

By all means no, if you have any additions you think should be made to the FAQ or any questions about the FAQ email mailto:traub@mistral.co.uk(Michael Traub).

 

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