Everyone knows what a vegetarian is: someone who does not eat meat products. There can be confusion around eggs, fish, and poultry, but generally the notion is clear. Vegetarians don’t eat Big Macs and avoid the average pig roast.

What, then, is a vegan? Is that just short for “vegetarian” in our language-lazy, text-talk world? Veganism is a different way of eating altogether and far stricter than vegetarianism.

What is a Vegan?

If you don’t eat meat you are partway there. Now cut out fish, poultry, and eggs. Next, eliminate dairy (all your cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk). Finally, get rid of anything else that was produced by or from any animal including honey. Basically everything you eat is plant-based. You can usually spot a vegan in a crowd: she’s the skinny one.

The Vegan Diet

If that’s so, then what is so special about the Vegan Diet as opposed to the usual vegan way of life? This is a program for people who do not necessarily subscribe to veganism but want to lose weight and are willing to try something foreign; a new way of eating. At the end of the Vegan Diet participants might even consider switching full time.

When you join the Vegan Diet program, you really just learn how to eat the way true vegans do and you lose weight as a result while reducing your carbon footprint (meat production is not very green). Many omnivores consume too much fat: burgers, battered fish, buttered toast, ice cream, and gooey, fatty cheese dishes. A number of baked good are made with dairy-derived fat and eggs. You see the pattern: give up animal-based foods and a lot of junk is absent from your day.

Plant-Based Replacements

Vegans still eat cheese in a manner of speaking. It’s just made from soy or rice. They drink milk made from hemp, soy, and almonds. Since vegans can still eat wheat, pasta and bread are on the menu. Baked goods are held together with chia seeds or flax instead of eggs. Vegan cooking is not boring and, what’s more, many recipes do not require cooking at all. With a kettle of boiling water, quinoa, raw vegetables, and herbs, you’ve got a well-balanced meal eaten hot or cold.

Protein on the Vegan Diet

This is the big question: will you be hungry and tired if you eat a vegan diet? Participants say the reverse is true. Thanks to their nutrient rich and fat-reduced ways, they often feel more energized than ever. Building mass might be tricky, but not losing weight. You eat nuts, seeds, soy, and whole grains which are naturally protein-packed. In fact, it’s even possible to gain weight or lay down fat as a vegan because of the calories in nuts, seeds, and butters made from these ingredients. They are full of omega fatty acids, however, which are essential for a full functioning nervous system, neurological health, muscle building, and tissue repair.

The Cost of Veganism

Does it cost anything to join the Vegan Diet program? The only cost will be your grocery bills and maybe the price of a few recipe books if you want more inspiration. Otherwise, you are just eating. It won’t hurt to buy a vegan-friendly multi-vitamin too; one that contains no dairy or other animal by-products. Otherwise, there are no membership dues or DVDs to buy. There’s plenty of support online too.