What is a Vegan Lifestyle

A lot of people are still in the dark when they hear someone says he is a “vegan”. They easily confuse it with vegetarian, and they don’t know the main differences for both. People immediately assume that they eat only vegetables, avoid all products related to animals, and commune closely with nature. Some of these facts are outlandish while others are not far from the truth. To get a good glimpse on what a vegan lifestyle is, here are some things you should know.

Definition

The correct term for this sub-type of vegetarian diet is actually veganism. This diet does not include dairy products, eggs, meat, and ingredients that were derived from animals. They avoid dairy products and eggs because of the production process. They consider the consumption of eggs as contributing to the premature death of the egg. Regarding dairy products, cows are subjected to extreme and artificial conditions to ensure that milk is produced continuously. Since male calves don’t produce milk, they are raised to be slaughtered only.

In addition, vegans also avoid foods processed with animal products like some wines and refined white sugar. Aside from food, vegans also avoid using products that were tested on animals or products that came from animals such as fur, wool, and leather.

Reasons to go Vegan

People choose to follow a vegan lifestyle for ethical, environmental, and/or health reasons. A lot of vegans do not accept the inhumane treatment of animals in the process of acquiring food ingredients. For example, they consider it cruel to cull male chickens since they can’t produce eggs and are thus considered useless. Conditions like these are the main reasons why vegans oppose traditional forms of food production.

A lot of vegans have also been actively promoting this lifestyle and try to get everyone more aware about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. They have gone to question the food industry’s food production processes, and have proposed the positive effects of a vegan lifestyle in terms of economy, health, and the environment like global warming.

Vegans generally want to promote a caring and more humane environment. They accept that they and other people are not perfect, but they still try to do their best on their own part while not judging others.

Vegan Diet

A common question people ask when they hear about a vegan diet is what it is, and what vegans eat. In a nutshell, a vegan diet includes beans, fruits and vegetables, all grains, and legumes. Vegan dishes mainly use these ingredients and these are combined to form countless vegan recipes. There are also vegan versions of usual foods like vegan hot dogs, vegan cheese and vegan ice cream.

Vegan Nutrition

Since vegans avoid animal and animal-derived food products, having a well-rounded nutrition can be a bit of a problem. However, a vegan diet is still able to meet the daily nutritional requirements; the key is variety. Here are some things that lack in a vegan diet and how they can be buffered.

Protein

With the avoidance of meat, vegans will be slightly disadvantaged when it comes to protein. On the other hand, all foods except fats, sugar, and alcohol contain protein. There is no need for strict combination of proteins or extensive planning. Again, variation in food is important. For vegans, protein sources include peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, tofu, lentils, and more.

Fat

In a vegan diet, cholesterol is very low and vegan foods are considerably low when it comes to saturated fat. This is why a vegan diet is healthier and can help in reducing predisposition to health diseases like cancer or heart diseases.

It is also important to note that even in a vegan diet, there are still food products that contain high amounts of fats. Examples are plant oils, nuts and nut butters, seed butters, margarine, coconut and avocado. These foods should be used sparingly for health reasons.

Vitamin D

As of the moment, vitamin D is not found in the vegan diet. This can be found in natural environments like sunlight. The human body is capable of producing vitamin D after sunlight exposure. It is recommended that a minimum of 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on the hands and on the face for two to three days a week is enough to stimulate vitamin D production.

There are attempts now to add vitamin D in some vegan food products. There is vitamin D-fortified rice milk and soy milk.

Calcium

Calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones. This mineral is found in calcium-fortified tofu, soy milk, dark green vegetables, orange juice and other common vegan foods. Since vegans don’t eat animal-derived foods, their calcium intake is considerably lower. This is why in a vegan diet it is important to include a healthy serving of foods that are calcium-rich and/or use calcium supplements.

Iron

There are huge varieties of plant foods that are rich in iron. Examples of these are dark green leafy vegetables, and dried beans. In fact, they are even healthier compared to meat based on calories. To help with the absorption of iron, foods containing vitamin C should also be eaten. Vegan sources for iron include kidney beans, lentils, soybeans, black beans, beat greens, watermelon, raisins, etc.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A popular source of omega-3 fatty acids are deep-sea fishes. For a vegan diet, this is derived from flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, tofu, and walnuts. It is also possible to use a supplement to meet the daily nutritional requirement for omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for lactating and pregnant women, children and infants. Obtaining vitamin B12 can be tricky since this vitamin is dependent on the processing the food that is subjected to. For vegan diet, sources of vitamin B12 are not common and/or expensive. Vegan diet source for B12 include nutritional yeast or Vegetarian Support Formula. Food sources like seaweed, tempeh, and miso are considered to be rich in vitamin B12. However since they are not processed, their vitamin B12 content isn’t reliable. If needed, there are also supplements which don’t have animal products in them.

Honey and Silk Debate

A lot of vegans are still on the fence when it comes to products from insects. For example, ethical vegans do not use silk or honeys because of the conditions in which the insects are kept. However, official vegan groups do not disallow dictate the use of silk, honey, and other insect products. It is stated however that the use of these products is a matter of personal choice.

Knowing the facts about a vegan lifestyle would show you that it goes beyond avoiding animal-derived food. Vegans do it because of their concern about the environment and their health. With this regard, they try to increase awareness and give information to people. It is this vigilance that often gets them in trouble, you should understand why they are doing this and what they stand for before you pass judgment.

The Japanese Lifestyle

Stereotypes for places or cultures can never be prevented. Since each culture and country is different, they are easily associated with something that they might consider normal, but is totally alien to other countries. This is why people from different countries are easily linked with something. In the case of Japan, a lot of people consider them to be a very unique country in terms of culture and tradition. There are many things that set Japan apart from countries: their language, traditions, customs, and their way of life. Here are some of the things that comprise Japan’s culture and make it what it is.

Etiquette

Japanese etiquette has been one of the strictest and mysterious for foreigners. Did you know that a bow has different meanings? There are different ways to do a bow and it has different uses or implications. It can be daunting for outsiders, especially when used inappropriately. It can quickly turn a pleasant mood sour. Here are some basic Japanese etiquette practices.

Bowing

In a Japanese bow, this is used to convey feelings of respect and appreciation by the person bowing. Bows are generally used together with greetings as well as apologies or thanks. Saying thank you while doing a bow will show that you are very thankful towards that person. There are three general classifications of bows.

  • Casual bow – in this bow, the waist is bent at 15 degrees only, accompanied by a slight “dip” of the head. This is normally used in casual greetings or if you come across someone with a higher social status.
  • Business bow – this is used in business situations. The waist is bent at 30 degrees and is used when leaving meeting rooms, reception rooms, or when greeting customers. This is the one commonly used by waiters and waitresses when you enter or leave a restaurant.
  • Polite bow – this is the most polite kind of bow, and the waist is lowered 45 degrees. This is only used when showing feelings of deep apology or gratitude, so it’s used sparingly.

Clasping of Hands

Before eating, Japanese usually clasp their hands together in front of their chest. This is called as “gassho”, which originated from Buddhism. This is done before and after eating. Before eating, the meal is started by doing a “gassho” and then saying “itadakimasu” which means to receive or accept an item or gift.

Goodbyes

You might have heard of the Japanese word “sayonara” for goodbyes. However the word “bye-bye” can also be used. This is commonly used between children and close friends. In Japan, when you wave goodbye, you should wave an open hand from left to right. If the person you are saying goodbye to is far away from you, you should lift your hand high enough to be seen. However, the business type of bow can also be used when you say goodbye.

Punctuality

Japanese are known to be punctual up to the minute. If you’re visiting there, you can see it on their train and subway schedules. If it will be delayed by a minute, it will cause problems for everyone. In this situation, the train office would give late slips for the affected passengers so that their employers will know that the train was really late.

This is why if you make an appointment with a Japanese friend or colleague, make sure to show up on time or earlier. They will be upset if you show up late without a good reason or they may choose to cancel the appointment entirely if you are even late for a few minutes.

Shrines

Japanese Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines attract a large number of tourists. For the shrines located in the mountains, they offer very beautiful views. Temples have gardens and amazing architectural structures that are always very interesting to see. It’s very interesting to know that these are old places that Japanese people treasure so much. If you plan on visiting one, it’s important to know what to do, so that you won’t offend anyone there.

The Torii Gate

In Japanese culture, a torii gate separates our world and the holy world. Once you pass through this gate, it means that you are now entering holy ground. It may not be commonly practiced today, but a single bow in front of the torii is the proper procedure. More importantly, the center of the torii gate is where the temple’s deity passes, so you should avoid it and walk to the side to show respect.

The Water Pavilion

Also called as the “temizuya”, the water pavilion is where people “purify” themselves using water basin and ladles. Although this may look like it, this is not the place to drink water. This symbolizes an action of washing away the impurities from your heart and your physical body.

The Altar

At the altar, there is a “saisenbako” or offering box, where you should silently throw in a coin for your offering to the temple’s deity. If there is a bell, you should ring it once – as a form of greeting to the deity. After this, you bow two times and then you clap your hands two times. This signifies that you are happy in meeting the deity and also showing respect to the deity. With your hands still together, you then think deeply about being thankful. After this, you bow one time before you finish. Note that in some temples or shrines, the number of bows and handclaps will differ, but it will be shown to guide you.

Food and Meal

Japanese food is also one of the most unique and distinguishable cuisine in the world. Its delicate balance of flavor and unique presentation stand out easily. There are various practices involved in eating a Japanese meal, ranging from formal etiquette to helping you enjoy your food. For instance, you are expected to finish all the dishes that your chopstick touches. Since there is no spoon, soups come in bowls which you can lift using one hand. The left hand carries the soup bowl directly to your mouth, and also the rice bowl since your right hand only uses the chopsticks. It might be a challenge, but it is considered polite if you finish every kernel of rice in your bowl.

Tidy

Japanese people and even tourists are very neat persons. They are usually seen keeping things in order or picking up rubbish even if it’s not theirs. This can be attributed to their school systems, when the students had to clean the rooms, take out the trash, and sweep the steps by themselves. This might come as a shock to you, but Japanese schools don’t have any janitors and students do all the cleaning by themselves.

There are many interesting things about the Japanese lifestyle which includes their culture, traditions, and language. Getting to know about different cultures and countries can be a very interesting endeavor. There’s sure to be something that will interest you and you might even pick up some of their positive traits.