Tis the season to be vegan

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Mikayla Cottrell, staff writer, [email protected]
This time of year people get excited about pies, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and turkey. Holiday dinners can contain all of these things and be completely devoid of any animal foods and any products derived from animals.

This year I had the unique opportunity to eat a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. My sister is vegan, and she has been for a very long time. This year, she invited my family to her house for Thanksgiving. I have grown very accustomed to this way of life; I understand and completely support it. However, many people are amazed with the strict diet and wonder, “How can a person eat nothing but plant-based foods and still eat enough?”

I am a vegetarian and have long envied this way of eating, but have not been able to fully take the plunge into veganism.

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet. Proponents of the vegan lifestyle do it for many different reasons but the main ones are: the health benefits, humane animal treatment and/or weight loss.

“The benefits of a vegan diet extend beyond your own health to that of the planet,” said David L. Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and president of the nonprofit Turn the Tide Foundation.

Everyday I hear of more people becoming vegans. I would normally pass it off as just another trend, but the health benefits extend far beyond weight loss, and I feel like people should know.

Many opponents say vegans lack essential nutrients in their diets, and there is no health reason to avoid animal foods. It is true that many vegans are deficient in vitamin B12 and creatine, as well as many other nutrients that are mostly derived from animal foods. However, if vegans are careful enough they will be able to get these nutrients from supplements. It is completely normal to be deficient in some vitamins and minerals in your diet. Missing out on a few that are derived from animal foods is easy to replace with supplements. Just like many others, my sister takes daily supplements to help her with the nutrients she is lacking.

Surprisingly many foods are vegan, like Oreo Cookies, Ruffles Potato Chips and Sour Patch Kids. We also live near one of the best cities for vegans: Salt Lake City. Last year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah’s capital city was named “The Next Great Vegan City,” in VegNews Magazine.

San Francisco is the number one hotspot for vegans in the U.S. but it doesn’t have vegan food carts like Salt Lake City does: one that sells hot dogs and another that offers Mexican cuisine. It also has two vegan bakeries, Cakewalk Baking Co., famous for its Twinkie-inspired “Dillos,” and City Cakes & Café. There is no reason for vegans to feel they are missing out on their guilty pleasures.

In a time of ever-changing diet fads, one thing is certain: The more vegetables, fruits and wholesome foods you eat, the healthier you will be. While living a vegan lifestyle is tedious and requires thoughtful consideration of daily food choices, it is a very healthy way of life.

The lack of nutrients is no reason to avoid it. For the most part, vegans are very-health conscious and take supplements to help them get what their diet fails to provide.