PETA’s Vegan Starter Kit
Your one-stop reference guide to going vegan.
Why Should I Go Vegan?
The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, when asked by an impertinent inquisitor why he was a vegetarian, spiritedly replied, “Oh, come …! That boot is on the other leg. Why should you call me to account for eating decently? If I battened on the scorched corpses of animals, you might well ask me why I did that.”
There are so many excellent reasons for going vegan—more than can fit in this starter kit. Why not make the switch? Why not stop killing animals for the fleeting taste of their flesh? Why not stop clogging our arteries with saturated fat and cholesterol? Why not stop supporting water and air pollution and the waste of resources caused by factory farms? Let’s just do it!
Nothing New Under the Sun
If you are holding this guide in your hands, vegan eating may be a new idea to you, but it’s old hat to millions of people around the world who can attest to the delights of a plant-based diet. Vegetarian traditions go back thousands of years—many ancient Greek philosophers, including Pythagoras and Plutarch, were vegetarian, as was the original Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, and his modern-day counterpart, Albert Einstein. The first vegetarian society in America was founded in 1850 by two ministers and a doctor. Buddhists and Hindus have been eating vegetarian for millennia, and Buddhists are credited with inventing tofu, soy milk, and mock meats thousands of years ago—these foods have stood the test of time and have graced emperors’ tables.
What Do Vegans Eat?
Vegans eat pretty much anything and everything as long as it didn’t come from an animal (i.e., meat, eggs, and dairy products). Think about it—there are only a handful of meats that most people eat: chicken, fish, beef, turkey, and pork. Now consider all the plant-based foods out there: beans, tomatoes, avocados, peas, pineapples, rice, almonds, blueberries, chickpeas, peppers, oats, pumpkins, potatoes, spinach, oranges, corn, mangoes, beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peanuts, grapes, lentils, zucchini, walnuts, olives, bananas, coconuts, cashews, peaches, chocolate (!), and on and on and on.
Think about the foods that you eat every day. Now, think about how they could be “veganized.” Beef burritos become bean burritos, pasta with meat sauce becomes pasta with marinara sauce, chili con carne becomes chili con frijoles, etc. Lots of foods can easily be veganized with simple substitutions of soy milk, vegan margarine, tofu, or faux chicken or beef. You’re probably already eating lots of vegan foods, such as oatmeal, guacamole, hummus, chips and salsa, vegetable soups, fruit smoothies, Italian and Thai dishes, and many others, without realizing it.
One and Done
If there were one thing you could do to save animals, protect the environment, and slash your risk of many of our nation’s top killers, would you do it? Going vegan will do all that—and more. It may also help you save money on your grocery bill and expand your culinary horizons as you explore exotic new cuisines. Oh, yeah, and it tastes great, too! So are you ready to head out to the supermarket? Read this starter kit first: It’s packed with recipes, nutrition information, shopping tips, and other advice on how and why to embrace kind cuisine.
Do it for animals, your health, and the planet.
6 Easy Ways to Make the Transition
1. Veganize your favorite dishes
Any recipe can be made vegan. Really. Usually all it takes is a simple swap, such as using beans or faux ground beef instead of meat or using puréed bananas in place of eggs in baked goods.
To get started, think about what you currently eat. Many of your favorite foods are probably already vegan, such as hummus, bean burritos, and PB&J sandwiches. If you enjoy spaghetti and meatballs, try spaghetti and mock meatballs. If chicken salad is one of your lunchtime staples, “veganize” it with faux chicken and Vegenaise.
2. Check out new vegan recipes
Google “vegan recipes,” and you will get millions of hits. PETA.org/Recipes alone has thousands of kitchen-tested recipes—everything from classic American dishes to exotic Thai cuisine. Or treat yourself to a new vegan cookbook (or two or three). Whether you prefer a quick casserole or you’re a dedicated foodie, there’s a vegan cookbook that will fit the bill. Have fun experimenting with new ingredients and recipes.
3. Try faux meats and nondairy products
As the interest in animal-friendly, good-for-you foods has grown, the availability of mock meats and dairy-free products has soared. You can now find faux-meat products—such as veggie burgers and hot dogs as well as vegan bacon, sausages, turkey slices, chicken patties, and barbecue riblets and wings—at almost every grocery store (look in the refrigerated and freezer cases) and even at Walmart. Nondairy options, such as soy and almond milk and vegan cheddar cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, sour cream, and yogurt, are also widely available. Not only will these delicious products help you make the transition to vegan eating, they also tend to be high in healthy plant protein and contain zero cholesterol.
4. Cut cooking time with convenience meals
Eating on the go? Vegan frozen meals, such as Amy’s Non-Dairy Vegetable Pot Pie or Kashi’s Black Bean Mango entrée, can be heated up in minutes. Keep some in the office freezer for a quick lunch, or serve with a salad when you’re too tired to cook dinner. Many canned soups, such as lentil, split pea, and minestrone, are vegan. Add chickpeas or other beans to a flavored rice or grain mix, and you’ve got an easy entrée. Or heat up a can of vegetarian chili or Sloppy Joe sauce (mix it with veggie burger crumbles or faux-chicken strips) for dinner in a flash.
5. Explore ethnic foods
Try hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush, and other meatless Middle Eastern treats. Asian standards include sushi made with avocado, carrots, or cucumber; Thai coconut curry and tofu pad Thai; and Chinese spring rolls. Vegan Indian foods include vegetable samosas (dumplings filled with curried vegetables), pakoras (deep-fried fritters), and chana masala (a spicy chickpea dish). Ethnic markets often have an extensive selection of vegan foods.
6. Discover vegan-friendly restaurants
Ethnic restaurants are also great bets for finding vegan foods when eating out, but don’t stop there. Yard House, The Cheesecake Factory, Uno Chicago Grill, and P.F. Chang’s are just a few of the national chains selling meatless options, such as veggie burgers and pasta. Many locally owned restaurants also offer a variety of vegan options—check out the soups, salads, side dishes, and appetizers. Or ask the chefs to make something special from items that you see on the menu—they’ll usually oblige. Before heading out, do a quick Internet search for vegan-friendly eateries in your area.
What to Buy
Look in your cupboards and refrigerator—you likely already have lots of vegan foods, such as beans, rice, pasta, peanut butter, cereal, fruit, and margarine. Stock up on staples like soy or almond milk, vegetable broth, whole-grain breads, spaghetti sauce, oatmeal, and canned and frozen vegetables. Salsas, spices, and condiments add zing and flavor. Most salty snacks are vegan, including nuts, chips, pretzels, popcorn, and many crackers.
Check out the lists on the right—the variety of vegan substitutes is extensive. To satisfy your sweet tooth, dark chocolate is divine and old favorites like Twizzlers and Skittles never disappoint. You’ve already been eating and enjoying vegan foods!
Where to Buy
Many vegan products are readily available at your local grocery store. If not, just ask! Most stores will order products at your request. Ethnic markets (Asian, Hispanic, Indian), kosher delis, health-food stores, and chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s—even Target and Walmart—are also great resources.
Try These Tasty Options (and Many More!)
Faux Chicken & Turkey
Beyond Meat Grilled Chicken-Free Strips
Gardein Lightly Breaded Turk’y Cutlets
Boca Original Chik’n Nuggets
Gardein Chick’n Filets
Tofurky Deli Slices
Gardein Classic Style Buffalo Wings
Lightlife Chick’n Style Smart Strips
Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style
Lightlife Smart Bacon
MorningStar Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets
Gardein Good Start Breakfast Patties
Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Grain Meat Sausages
Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni Style
Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Seitan
Yves Veggie Cuisine Original Meatless Jumbo Hot Dogs
Boca Ground Crumbles
Field Roast Classic Meatloaf
Gardein Home Style Beefless Tips
Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base
Nate’s Meatless Meatballs
Beyond Meat Beef-Free Crumble
Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Burgers
GO Veggie! Classic Plain Cream Cheese Alternative
Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and Mozzarella Style Shreds
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream
GO Veggie! Parmesan Flavor Cheese Alternative
Rice Dream Nondairy Beverages
So Delicious Nondairy Frozen Desserts
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Silk Soy Milk
WholeSoy & Co. Soy Yogurt
Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
Tofutti Totally Fudge Premium Pops
What to Make
Now that you know what to buy, here are some ideas for what to fix. Start with this one-week sample meal plan. All recipes can be found at PETA.org/Recipes.
Bagel With Vegan Cream Cheese
Pineapple, Mango, and Papaya Fruit Salad
Pita Bread Stuffed With Hummus, Cucumber, Tomatoes, and Parsley
Carrot Sticks and Olives
Spaghetti With Faux Meatballs
Vegan Caesar Salad
Apple Bavarian Torte
Oatmeal With Dried Fruit and Nuts
Burrito With Canned Refried Beans, Nondairy Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and GuacamoleSliced Apple
Field Greens Salad With Candied Walnuts, Diced Pears, and Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Crusty French Bread
Whole Grain Toast With Peanut Butter
Canned Vegetarian Hormel Chili Topped With Nondairy Sour Cream
Asian Stir-Fry With Tofu and Peppers
Cereal With Soy or Almond Milk, Chocolate Chips, and Fresh Mixed Berries
Curried Quinoa With Apricots, Cashews, and Green Onions
Sage-Seared Tempeh With Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Green Beans
Smoothie With Raspberries, Bananas, Baby Carrots, and Orange Juice
Veggie Burger With All the Fixin’s
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Walnut-Dusted Fettuccine With Caramelized
Arugula and Asparagus Salad
Faux Chicken Salad Sandwich
Farfalle With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Toasted
Sautéed Spinach With Garlic and Fresh Lemon
Tofu Scramble With Mushrooms and Spinach
Beefless Stew Garlic Bread
Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes
Text GOVEGAN to 73822 (U.S.) or 99099 (Canada) for a tasty tip every week.
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Apple Bavarian Torte
½ cup + 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine, chilled (try Earth Balance)
3 apples, peeled, cored, cut in half, and thinly sliced
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅓ cup + ¼ cup white sugar, chilled
¼ tsp. + ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour, chilled
1 8-oz. pkg. nondairy cream cheese (try Tofutti)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Oil a 9-inch springform pan.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoonful of the vegan margarine. Toss the apples with the brown sugar and cinnamon and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain off and reserve the liquid.
Cream together the remaining margarine, ⅓ cup of the white sugar, ¼ teaspoonful of the vanilla, and the flour. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend together the nondairy cream cheese, the lemon juice, the remaining vanilla, the cornstarch, and the remaining sugar. Pour over the crust and spread the apples on top.
Bake for 10 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoonfuls of the reserved apple liquid, avoiding the edges of the pan, and continue baking for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle almonds over the top. Continue baking until lightly browned. Cool before removing from the pan.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from a recipe by chef Tal Ronnen
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups diced Vidalia onions
2 large carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 dried chipotle pepper
5 cups faux-chicken stock (try Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No Chicken Base)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 sprigs thyme
6 ears corn, husked and kernels removed
Cashew Cream (see recipe)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and chipotle pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the stock, potatoes, and thyme, then bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot. Add the corn kernels and Cashew Cream, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chipotle pepper and thyme sprigs before serving.
For the Cashew Cream: Place 1½ cups of whole raw cashews in a bowl, cover with water, and refrigerate overnight. Drain, rinse, and place in a blender. Add just enough fresh cold water to cover the cashews, then blend on high until very smooth.
Makes 6 servings
Walnut-Dusted Fettuccine With Caramelized Vegetables
Adapted from a recipe by chef Robin Robertson
1 sweet onion, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried savory
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable stock
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
1 lb. fettuccine, cooked according to the package directions
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
⅓ cup ground toasted walnuts
In a skillet, fry the onion in 2 tablespoonfuls of the olive oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in the garlic, thyme, savory, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat, stir in the vinegar and brown sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the stock, bell pepper, and squash. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the cooked pasta and the remaining olive oil and toss together. Sprinkle with the parsley and walnuts.
Makes 4 servings
Sage-Seared Tempeh With Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce
2 lbs. tempeh, cut into thin, angled slices
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
¼ onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped sage
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce (see recipe)
Place the tempeh, vegetable broth, water, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns in a large pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the tempeh, reserving the liquid. Sprinkle the tempeh with the salt, pepper, and sage.
In a sauté pan, sear the tempeh in the oil for 2 minutes on each side. Add the Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce and toss gently to coat.
For the Red-Wine Cranberry Sauce: Place the strained cooking liquid from the tempeh, 2 cups of dry red wine, 1 cinnamon stick, ½ cup of agave nectar, and 2 cups of fresh or frozen whole cranberries in a pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Swirl in ¼ cup of nondairy margarine (try Earth Balance), and season with salt and pepper.
Makes 8 servings
Tofu Scramble With Mushrooms and Spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1 lb. extra-firm tofu
1 cup packed baby spinach
½ Tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
½ Tbsp. onion powder
½ tsp. turmeric
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and crumble in the tofu by hand. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat, add the remaining ingredients, and cook for several more minutes until heated through.
Makes 3 to 4 servings
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups soy milk
3 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for cooking
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt together into a large bowl. Add the soy milk and oil and mix until the batter is smooth. Gently stir in the blueberries.
Ladle the batter onto a hot, oiled pancake griddle. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
Makes 4 servings
Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cup sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
⅔ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 cups water
Chocolate Ganache (see recipe)
½ cup fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour six mini Bundt cake molds.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda. Whisk or blend in the vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water.
Immediately pour the mixture into the Bundt molds, dividing evenly
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Remove from the molds, drizzle with the Chocolate Ganache, and garnish with the raspberries.
For the Chocolate Ganache: In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of nondairy margarine (try Earth Balance), ¼ cup of soy milk, and ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and continue whisking for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ teaspoonful of vanilla, and immediately drizzle over the Bundt cakes.
Makes 6 servings
Adapted from a recipe by chef Tal Ronnen
1 lb. faux beef (try Gardein Home Style Beefless Tips)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, diced
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried rosemary
3 Tbsp. flour
3 cups vegan beef broth (try Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No Beef Base)
1 cup dry red wine
2 medium potatoes, diced
Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan on medium high heat, brown the faux beef in the oil, then remove and set aside.
Add the pearl onions, garlic, and celery to the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the carrots, thyme, and rosemary and cook for 3 more minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour, then slowly stir in the broth and wine. Add the potatoes, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the faux beef back in and season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings
Eating Away From Home
From fast food to fine dining, restaurants all over are recognizing that more and more patrons are looking for vegan meals.
Moe’s, Taco Bell’s, Qdoba’s, and Chipotle’s veggie burritos will spice up your day.
Tropical Smoothie Café offers Beyond Meat faux chicken in all its wraps and salads.
Johnny Rockets, Denny’s, Bennigan’s, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Red Robin, and Kelsey’s offer fab veggie burgers.
Need a pizza fix? Mellow Mushroom, Pizza Fusion, and zpizza offer vegan cheese pizzas.
Yard House has a whole menu section of dishes made with vegan Gardein chicken. P.F. Chang’s offers vegan lettuce wraps and extra-firm tofu in any of its flavorful dishes. Italian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, and other ethnic restaurants offer many vegan options, from pasta pomodoro to chickpea curry.
Need some sweets? TCBY has chocolate, coconut and vanilla frozen “yogurt” made from Silk almond milk. Cold Stone Creamery and Baskin-Robbins serve up a range of vegan sorbets.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For a list of restaurants with vegan options around the world, visit PETA.org/HappyCow or download the Happy Cow app at HappyCow.net.
A Vegan Walks Into a Party …
Going to a party or family get-together? Give folks a heads-up about your new diet before the event. Offer to make a dish for everyone to try. When asked why you are vegan, simply say something like, “I’m trying to eat healthier” or “I decided that I no longer want to support cruelty to animals on factory farms.” If people seem annoyed by the conversation, remember that very few of us were born vegan and that some defensive comments are likely a reflection of an otherwise kind person’s conflicted feelings about eating animals. Smile, laugh off jokes, and be ready to discuss why you made the switch to a healthy, compassionate lifestyle.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
An apple a day—along with some spinach, strawberries, and soybeans—really can keep the doctor away. Plant-based foods are all 100 percent cholesterol-free, generally low in saturated fats, and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients. Wholesome vegan foods have the power to prevent—and even reverse—many chronic health problems. Here are just a few of the health benefits of going vegan:
Unclog Your Arteries
The average vegan has a cholesterol level of 133—which is 77 points lower than the average meat-eater’s and 28 points lower than the average vegetarian’s—and a landmark study found no heart attacks in people with cholesterol levels below 150. Dr. Dean Ornish has actually been able to reverse heart disease in patients by putting them on a low-fat vegetarian diet and exercise program.
Another key may be the non-essential amino acid carnitine, which is naturally found only in meat. New research indicates that carnitine is metabolized by intestinal bacteria into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), which is linked to atherosclerosis. This may be one reason why meat-eaters have much higher rates of heart disease than vegans and vegetarians.
Protect Your Brain
Research shows that people who avoid “bad fats”—the kind found in meat, eggs, and especially dairy products—cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by about two-thirds. “Bad fats” are only part of the problem, though. Meat, including lobster, shrimp, and some other kinds of “seafood,” is often high in metals—such as iron, copper, and zinc—which have been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. While we need traces of these metals for health—and we get them from vegetables, legumes, and whole grains—meats tend to overdose us. Eating plant-based foods, which are rich in vitamin E, vitamin B6, folic acid, and other nutrients, can reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 70 percent.
Fight Cancer With Plants
Plant-based foods contain antioxidants and other phytochemicals, which fight inflammation and knock out carcinogens. Research shows that vegans are about 40 percent less likely to get cancer than meat-eaters.
Slim Down by Going Vegan
Studies show that vegans tend to have a lower body mass index than their meat-eating counterparts. On average, vegans weigh 18 percent less than meat-eaters, and they are nine times less likely to be obese.
Prevent and Even Reverse Diabetes
Both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise people to eat more vegetables, beans, and whole grains and less animal flesh to ward off diabetes. Research even shows that diabetics who eat low-fat vegan foods are able to stop taking medications—or at least take fewer of them—to manage the disease.
A Vegan’s Guide to Good Nutrition
If you want to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet—and get all the nutrients you need—eat a variety of wholesome vegan foods.
Most foods contain some protein, and some vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, avocados, corn, and artichokes, provide a significant amount. Protein powerhouses include soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, and soy milk as well as peas, beans, lentils, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, quinoa, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds. Unlike animal protein, plant-based protein sources won’t overload your body. Too much animal protein has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and cancers of the colon and liver.
Pumping Iron and Catching B’s
Iron is abundant in black beans, lentils, oatmeal, dried fruits, soybeans, spinach, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, tempeh, blackstrap molasses, quinoa, and other vegan foods. Everyone—vegans and meat-eaters alike—can benefit from a multivitamin containing B12. Neither plants nor animals produce vitamin B12—it comes from bacteria. B12 can also be found in some brands of nutritional yeast and fortified cereals, mock meat, and soy, almond, and rice milks. Tempeh, miso, and sea vegetables may contain vitamin B12, but don’t rely exclusively on these foods for B12.
Building Strong Bones
Almonds, broccoli, collard greens, kale, sesame tahini, blackstrap molasses, beans, some types of tofu, and calcium-fortified soy, almond, and rice milks are plentiful in calcium, and it’s often more easily absorbed than calcium from cow’s milk.
Your body will manufacture enough vitamin D if you’re exposed to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day. You can get additional vitamin D from certain mushrooms, fortified vegan foods, or a multivitamin.
You can get omega-3 fatty acids—without all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and toxins found in fish—from walnuts, broccoli, spinach, soybeans, canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and microalgae supplements.
Vegan Kids: Fit for Life!
Responsible parents are anxious to instill in their children healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. A vegan diet fits the bill perfectly since vegan foods are naturally cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), “Appropriately planned vegan … diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth.”
Giving Your Child a Healthy Start in Life
Healthy vegan foods are ideal if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. After all, most of the foods that you’re told to avoid during pregnancy and while you’re nursing—mercury-laden fish and shellfish, undercooked meats and eggs, and unpasteurized milk and cheeses—are animal-derived. And physicians encourage all women—pregnant or otherwise—to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and to choose healthy, low-fat sources of protein. Folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects, is naturally abundant in spinach, broccoli, carrots, beets, corn, peanuts, beans, oranges, avocados, and other plant foods.
Cow’s Milk Is for Calves, Not Kids
Obviously, breast milk is meant for human babies. Cow’s milk is best for another species, not ours. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against giving cow’s milk to children under a year old. Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health; the late Dr. Frank Oski, former director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University; and the late Dr. Benjamin Spock have gone even further. Says Dr. Willett: “Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, an evolutionarily recent addition to the diet.” And Dr. Oski once said: “There is no reason to drink cow’s milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon.”
Mom’s Right: Eat Your Veggies!
Kids can get all the nutrients they need from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and fortified bread, cereal, and plant-based milk. Writes Dr. Spock in Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.”
Foods Kids Love
What kid doesn’t love peanut butter? Other kid-friendly vegan foods include spaghetti with tomato sauce, fruit smoothies, vegan pizza, bean burritos, vegetable soups, hummus, falafel, mashed or baked potatoes, guacamole, faux-chicken nuggets, veggie burgers, veggie dogs, and just about any vegetable that is roasted (it brings out the sweetness) or puréed. For more tips, visit PETA.org/Living.
Look at All You’ll Save
You’ll save animals.
A vegan saves more than 100 animals a year—by not eating them.
130 Shellfish 40 Fish 26 Chickens 1 Turkey ½ Pig 1/10 Cow
Number of Animals Slaughtered in the U.S.:
Per year—Tens of billions
You’ll save money at the grocery store.
Some of the most versatile vegan foods—including beans, rice, vegetables, tofu, and pasta—cost relatively little compared to animal products. Even vegans who buy costlier products such as soy sausage and nondairy ice cream can still spend less than people who load up on beef, chicken, and fish.
You’ll save money on doctor bills.
Studies show that vegans are less likely to be obese or suffer from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, strokes, and other health problems. If you factor in all the money you save on hospital bills, medications, and weight-loss plans by avoiding unhealthy, artery-clogging animal products, you’ll see why a vegan diet is downright economical.
You’ll save human lives. Going vegan helps alleviate hunger.
Approximately 925 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat—yet the world’s cattle alone consume enough food to meet the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. According to a 2010 United Nations report, more than half the world’s crops are used to feed farmed animals, not people. With millions of people going hungry, it’s wasteful to funnel edible food through farmed animals.
16 lbs. of grain can be fed to a cow providing just one person with one meal or be fed directly to humans providing 10 people with food for an entire day.
Eating Animals Harms the Environment
According to the United Nations, going vegan is one of the most important ways to curb greenhouse gasses, reduce pollution, stop deforestation, and conserve resources.
A Sasquatch-Size Carbon Footprint
Researchers from the University of California–Riverside calculate that cooking just one charbroiled burger causes as much pollution as driving an 18-wheeler for 143 miles. A Loma Linda University study shows that vegans have the smallest carbon footprint, generating a volume of greenhouse gasses 41 percent smaller than that of meat-eaters and 13 percent smaller than that of vegetarians.
Up to Our Necks in Ick
The Pew Environment Group estimates that the 523 million chickens raised and killed each year in Maryland and Delaware alone generate enough waste to fill the dome of the U.S. Capitol about 50 times, or almost once a week. Just one cow can produce 140 pounds of manure each day. Factory-farm waste seeps into our waterways, sickening people and killing aquatic life.
Razing Paradise to Make Hamburgers
In Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, the amount of Amazon rain forest slashed and burned to create grazing land for cows grew by approximately 10 million hectares—an area the size of Portugal—during a 10-year period, according to a Greenpeace report. In 2006, the Brazilian government estimated that there were three head of cattle in the Amazon for every human inhabitant.
Meet Your Meat
The more than 20 billion animals killed for food in the U.S. each year aren’t just walking entrées—they are individuals with feelings, families, and friendships.
Would You Eat Your Dog?
Years ago, actor James Cromwell stopped eating pigs while filming the movie Babe. “If you love a dog, you have to love a pig. It’s the same,” he told a reporter. “The pig has the same life cares—nurtures, avoids pain, suffers loss—all exactly the same.”
Pigs are actually smarter than dogs and can learn to sit, jump, fetch, and respond to other commands. They are so smart that they can learn to play video games, even performing better at them than some primates. But that doesn’t stop factory farmers from confining mother pigs for most of their lives to cramped “gestation” crates that are so small that the animals can’t even turn around or take a single step in any direction. Piglets are castrated and have their tails and parts of their teeth chopped off without being given any painkillers whatsoever. Can you imagine doing that to a dog? You’d be slapped with cruelty-to-animals charges.
Cows Get a Kick Out of Solving Puzzles
Pigs aren’t the only animal Einsteins out there. Cows can learn how to push a lever to operate a drinking fountain when they’re thirsty or to press a button with their heads to release grain when they’re hungry. Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that when cows figured out how to open a gate to obtain food, they got so excited that some even jumped in the air. But cows on factory farms have nothing to celebrate. They are often confined by the thousands to filthy, muddy feedlots that disrupt their natural social structure, causing them tremendous stress and frustration, just as you or I would feel living in such miserable, depressing conditions.
Cows on dairy farms have their babies torn away from them within hours of birth so that humans can drink the milk that nature intended for calves. Police were called to one dairy farm in Massachusetts after neighbors reported “inhuman” sounds coming from it. The sounds turned out to be distraught mother cows crying out for their calves, who had just been taken away. The farmer downplayed the cows’ suffering, saying that it was a “normal part of farming practices.”
Fish Are Just Like Us
Studies have shown that fish are fast learners and form complex relationships. Fish “talk” to one another in low frequencies inaudible to the human ear. They can count, tell time, and “garden” (damselfish tend to and harvest algae gardens). Some fish even use tools. The blackspot tuskfish, for example, has been photographed smashing a clam on a rock until the clam cracks open. And contrary to industry propaganda, lobsters and crabs do feel pain—and studies have shown that they are able to recall an unpleasant experience and take action to avoid repeating it.
Yet PETA has documented live lobsters and crabs who were ripped apart at a Maine slaughterhouse, and fish are vacuumed up by the billions by huge fishing trawlers, often suffocating to death if they aren’t killed first by decompression. In addition to fish, millions of birds, turtles, and marine mammals are killed every year “by mistake” in enormous fishing nets.
Chickens are so smart that within hours of hatching, they’re able to perform mental feats that would baffle a human child. Newborn chicks can count to five, and by the time they’re 2 weeks old, they can navigate using the sun, which requires mathematical calculations. Very young chicks are able to understand that objects hidden from view still exist, a concept that human babies don’t grasp until they are a year old. “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list [chickens’] attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys,” says animal behaviorist Dr. Chris Evans of Australia’s Macquarie University.
Naturalist Joe Hutto, star of the PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey, raised a flock of turkeys from birth and learned how curious, alert, affectionate, and attentive they are. Turkeys possess “an extraordinary intelligence characterized by true problemsolving reason, and a consciousness that was undeniable, at all times conspicuous, and for me, humbling,” says Hutto. He also noted that they had an extensive vocabulary, with specific vocalizations for individual animals—he identified more than 30 specific calls. One turkey, named Sweet Pea, used to love to climb into Hutto’s lap and snuggle like a contented puppy.
And that’s not all …
Animal, Vegetable, Criminal
Chickens and turkeys aren’t even legally considered animals by the federal government. They are inexplicably exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act, the only federal law that protects animals in slaughterhouses. This means that it is perfectly legal to slit chickens’ and turkeys’ throats without prior stunning and dunk them into scalding-hot defeathering tanks while they’re still conscious. Can you imagine scalding to death an animal who has the playfulness of a puppy or the curiosity of a toddler?
Taking Everything From a Baby
Most animals are still just babies when they’re slaughtered for food. Because of “modern innovations” such as feeding animals growth-promoting drugs and selectively breeding them so that they’ll grow larger more quickly, pigs and turkeys are, on average, just 6 months old when they’re killed and chickens are just 7 weeks old. Cows who are raised for beef and hens who are raised for eggs are killed when they are just 1 to 2 years of age. Even cows raised for milk are just 4 years old, on average, when their production wanes, their throats are cut, and they’re ground up into hamburger. These are all animals with natural life spans of 10 to 25 years who are being slaughtered by the billions before they’ve even had a chance to live.
All they’ve ever known in their drastically abbreviated lives is the overpowering stench of ammonia from their accumulated waste, excruciatingly painful and crippling bone disorders caused by their unnaturally accelerated growth rate, the deafening squawks and squeals of thousands of other animals crammed into a single windowless barn, and the trauma of being poked, prodded, jabbed, burned, trampled, beaten, kicked, thrown, slammed to the ground, and screamed at.
Saving Lives One Bite at a Time
There is only one way to help these animals, and that is to stop eating them. When we buy meat, eggs, and dairy products, we pay farmers to replace the animal whose body parts or whose milk we have just consumed with another unfortunate animal. It’s simple economics—supply and demand. We must cut off the demand if we want to dry up the supply.
In fact, this is already happening. The total number of animals killed and eaten by Americans decreased by a whopping 600 million between 2006 and 2009. That’s 600 million lives saved, simply because people opted for the pasta primavera instead of the meatloaf.
You have the power to save even more lives, simply by choosing healthy, humane vegan meals every time you sit down to eat. The choice is yours—do you feel like changing the world today?
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The True Story of One Anonymous Animal Born Into the Meat Industry
The truck carrying this cow was unloaded at Walton Stockyards in Kentucky one September morning. After the other animals were removed from the truck, she was left behind, unable to move. The stockyard workers used the customary electric prods in her ear to try to get her out of the truck, then beat and kicked her, but she still didn’t move. They tied a rope around her neck, tied the other end to a post in the ground, and drove the truck away. The cow fell to the ground, landing with both hind legs and her pelvis broken.
For the first three hours, she lay in the hot sun crying out. Periodically, when she urinated or defecated, she used her front legs to drag herself to a clean spot. She also tried to crawl to a shaded area but couldn’t. Altogether, she managed to crawl a painful 13 to 14 yards. The stockyard employees wouldn’t give her any water—the only water she received was given to her by Jessie Pierce, a local animal rights activist, who had been contacted by a woman who witnessed the incident. Jessie arrived at noon. After receiving no cooperation from stockyard workers, she called the Kenton County police. A police officer arrived but was instructed by his superiors to do nothing. He left at 1 p.m.
The stockyard operator informed Jessie that he had permission from the insurance company to kill the cow but wouldn’t do it until Jessie left. Although doubtful that he would keep his word, Jessie left at 3 p.m. She returned at 4:30 p.m. and found the stockyard deserted. Three dogs were attacking the cow, who was still alive. Jessie contacted the state police. Four officers arrived at 5:30 p.m.
State Trooper Jan Wuchner wanted to shoot the cow but was told that a veterinarian should kill her. The two veterinarians at the facility would not euthanize her, claiming that in order to preserve the value of the meat, she could not be destroyed. The butcher eventually arrived at 7:30 p.m. and shot the cow. Her body was purchased for $307.50.
When the stockyard operator was questioned by a reporter from The Kentucky Post, he laughed throughout the interview and stated, “We didn’t do a damned thing to it.” He referred to the attention given the cow by humane workers and police as “bullcrap.”
This is not an isolated case. It is so common that animals in this condition are known in the meat industry as “downers.” The only way to ensure that downed animals don’t suffer for our food is to adopt a healthy, humane vegan diet.