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World Vegan Day

By Lisa Nicklanovich

Whether you are curious about what being a vegan means, are interested in moving toward being “veganish,” or if you’ll have a vegan at your Thanksgiving table, World Vegan Day on November 1, the start of World Vegan Month, is a great opportunity to understand this movement more.

Veganism, by definition, is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Vegans enjoy a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey, as well as avoiding animal-derived materials, products tested on animals and places that use animals for entertainment.

A vegan lifestyle is often adopted for animal welfare reasons, to combat climate change and for the health benefits. Many experts say that moving toward more of a plant-based diet is associated with a reduction in diabetes and cardiovascular disease and potentially can contribute to a longer life.

There are top vegan athletes in many, if not every sport. American tennis star Venus Williams, the “world’s strongest vegan” Patrik Baboumian who holds several world records in powerlifting, and Colorado-based Scott Jurek, ultramarathon runner, are just a few.

Maybe you are curious to “lean-in” to a vegan lifestyle, as wellness activist and author Kathy Freston puts it in her wellness books. Freston, who coined the word “veganist” suggests small and gradual diet and lifestyle changes.

If plant-based meat substitutes help with the transition, there are many options. Meat companies have responded to the growing interest in plant-based diets, offering their own meatless products. Even Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken are launching vegan options in some areas. Meat alternatives can be highly processed and have their own environmental impact, so as with everything, moderation is key. The more real-food ingredients on the label the better.

If you are going to have vegans at the Thanksgiving table like Castle Pines resident Linda Civelo, you can still easily enjoy cherished traditions. Civelo, whose daughter has been vegan for years, said, “Yes, it takes some thought but there are lots of great recipes that take traditional dishes and make them not only vegan but more flavorful.” A great example is the traditional green bean casserole; Civelo makes it with cream made from cashews and almond milk, with fresh mushrooms and onions. “It is so much better!” Civelo exclaimed.

Check with your doctor before making dietary changes and to ensure that your body is getting what it needs to be healthy.

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