Vegan food pyramid, a pyramid of delights.
Vegans believe in animal rights and are usually quite concerned about the environment. They reject animal testing, even for medical purposes. While some accept insect products such as honey and silk, most are opposed to circuses, rodeos, and zoos.
The word vegan was originally derived from vegetarian in 1944 in response to the practice of vegetarians eating dairy products. In the United States an estimated 4% of adults consider themselves as vegetarians, but only 5% of vegetarians call themselves vegans. However, in a 2006 survey of one thousand adults well over 1% said they never eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy products, or eggs in effect making them vegans.
Vegans and vegetarians should eat at least three servings of vegetables a day, including dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, and dark yellow and orange such as carrots; five servings of whole grains (bread, rice, pasta); three of fruit; and two of legumes (beans, peas, lentils). Diets avoiding meat tend to have lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, and higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. Some claim that people who avoid meat have lower death rates from ischemic heart disease; lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer. But some studies find equivalent mortality rates for vegans and meat eaters.
It is recommended that vegans eat three servings per day of a high calcium food, such as fortified soy milk and take a calcium supplement as necessary. According to the US National Institute of Health, "with appropriate food choices, vegan diets can be adequate for children at all ages." The American Dietetic Association also considers well-planned vegan diets "appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation," but recommends that vegan mothers supplement for iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency in lactating vegetarian mothers has been linked to deficiencies and neurological disorders in their children. Some research suggests that the essential omega-3 fatty acid ?-linolenic acid and its derivatives should also be supplemented in pregnant and lactating vegan mothers.
Vegan buffets, lots and lots of delicious choices.
Many vegans allege that their diet consumes far fewer resources and causes less environmental damage than an animal-based diet. Animal agriculture is linked to climate change, water pollution, land degradation, and a decline in biodiversity. Additionally, an animal-based diet uses more land, water, and energy than a vegan diet. It has been claimed that the average vegan diet is around three times more efficient in land use than the average meat eating diet.