The vegan diet and lifestyle abstains from the consumption and use of all animal and dairy products including silk, honey, and leather. Some only follow the vegan diet plan while others incorporate veganism in all daily aspects. The adoption of a vegan diet or lifestyle leads to many personal discoveries and challenges.
There are various reasons for choosing a vegan diet (ex. animal welfare, the impact on climate, environment, and society, an interest in healthier eating and living, or an impulse for something different) or a macrobiotic diet and making the transition can be difficult or easy depending on the individual.
Why go vegan? Benefits of the vegan diet
It is widely accepted that the cultivation of meat products is a main contributor to the acceleration of climate change, environmental destruction and pollution, and loss of finite, essential resources (ie, land and water). The medical community supports that eating a meat and dairy-based non-vegan diet is the main cause of ever-increasing modern, degenerative illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While on a vegan diet, many realize that there is a real impact an individual can make on society with choices made every day.
However, a vegan meal does not necessarily qualify as a healthy meal offering a long-term solution. For instance, instead of a hot dog on a white bun, one may simply substitute a vegan tofu dog with a wheat bun. Most modern vegan restaurants base their meals around proteins and starches (vegan adaptations of meat and potatoes), which is the same pattern that most of us have come from. In more traditional societies, meals were based around grains, beans, and vegetables and a vegan diet should do the same.
Understanding what’s in vegan recipes
A whole foods, plant-based diet is the basis for building healthy vegan recipes. Many products made with soy-protein isolate (TVP/TSP) that function as substitutes for animal products. What is TVP and What is TSP? TVP and TSP are textured vegetable proteins and textured Soy proteins, defatted soy flour products. These vegan substitutes are no longer whole or natural, a counterproductive impact on the healthy benefits of a vegan diet. These textured vegan substitutes do not include traditional products such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan incorporated in many vegan recipes.
To see how you can fit a vegan diet practice into a macrobiotic meal, try these 8 macrobiotic recipes. The traditional vegan products above are gently processed, and therefore enhance the benefits of the plants from which they come from. TVP is a byproduct of making soybean oil, and made using high temperatures, and petroleum solvents such as hexane. The processing of plant foods and animal foods in industrial settings today is very similar in the lack of care and respect on many different levels.
A sustainable vegan diet plan
For many, adopting a vegan diet plan is a first step to a healthier lifestyle. However, any way of eating that is based on restricting may not be sustainable in the long-run. A healthier approach to a vegan diet could be based on the Strengthening Health Approach to macrobiotic practice which encourages adding and incorporating healthy eating and lifestyle practices. Many have discovered that they love and crave the foods they have started to add, which reconnects them with the source of all life: food.
Both macrobiotic practice and veganism share some things in common. For starters, both have been misunderstood healthy eating lifestyles based on restriction and limitation, as opposed to a new life full of adventure and discovery. Both lifestyles share a general commitment to social and planetary peace and acceptance. Many macrobiotic and vegan practitioners have experienced perhaps making others feel uncomfortable or threatened. Outside of major metropolitan areas, it can be a real challenge to find a healthy macrobiotic or vegan meal. Both are reflections of a type of growing, compassionate consciousness for the planet, and are dedicated towards moving us towards a more healthy and sustainable future for everyone.
It is unfortunate that some vegan practitioners have pressured others to embrace the vegan diet or vegan lifestyle. When people are encouraged to go at their own pace, as embraced by SHI by steadily adding vegan recipes and vegan lifestyle choices, they are more likely to be satisfied and continue in the long run. In a similar vein, people practicing macrobiotics as an all-or-nothing approach often have difficulty sustaining the practice in the long term.
What macrobiotics has to offer to a vegan diet
The main universal principles upon which macrobiotic philosophy is based reveal the uniqueness of every person and situation, the way things change, and the connectedness of all things. In macrobiotics, the dietary practices are included within the lifestyle. Macrobiotics has evolved into a mindfulness practice that stresses both the importance of how we eat and what we eat. This importance is demonstrated in forming the habits of regular and consistent eating times, taking time for meals, as well as early rising and sleeping times.
In macrobiotic practice, there is a very strong sensitivity to food quality, methods of preparation, and the source of foods (indigenous, local, seasonal, etc). Practitioners also integrate life-related practices and outdoor activities. Incorporating these principles in to a vegan diet and the veganism lifestyle can create a sustainable practice in the long term.
For more details and explanations, refer to what some have called the Best Macrobiotic Book by Denny Waxman.