Survey Researching technology and veganism

Emily Charnock

Jan 14, 2018
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  1. Vegan newbie
I’m researching the challenges that people face when following a vegan diet and how technology might help.

Please could you help me by answering 5 quick questions?

1. What do you find hard about being a vegan? (Or the idea of being a vegan?)

2. Do you plan ahead regarding what you eat and, if so, what information or strategies do you use?

3. Have you looked into the nutritional content of the foods you eat? If so, what information have you found most useful?

4. What has kept you going or what do you feel you’d need to stay a vegan in the long term?

5. Have you used any technology (or can you imagine any kind of technology) that might help people go vegan?

I’d love to hear from you, vegans and trying-to-be-vegans alike!

Thanks :)
1) The only thing that I find hard about being vegan after being vegan for several years is how upset I get at people who know the truth, have many food options or clothing options available, and still say they don't care or will continue to eat meat (I try to be reasonable, I am happy even to see people go vegetarian just stop the killing!)

2) The only reason why I plan is because I'm a student and while I definitely splurge at certain times (like now right before the start of the semester) at restaurants or to make treats I want, in the big picture I have to have meals that are both reasonably affordable and healthy that I also enjoy eating. I don't think this makes me much different from anyone on a budget. I did do a lot of research in the beginning though because I wanted to eat properly and not just be a junk food vegan.

3) The main thing people who eat animal products get is fat and calories - so if you're eating on a budget, adding peanut butter or walnuts to oatmeal supplies the fat and calories that soy milk alone might not have. At first I ate a ton of avocado and tahini to make up for the fat in cheese (I was vegetarian before being vegan) and while I still eat avocado and tahini I don't really have to think about fat or calories as much, I know how to feed myself, I'm an adult. The main nutrients I now concern myself with are:

- A) Omega 3s - you can easily get these from hemp, flax seeds or algal oil supplements. When I have a lot of spending money I drink hemp milk and buy Earth Balance, or even occasionally algal oil, but even when I'm flat broke and eating poverty meals, I still have a jar of flax seeds I sprinkle on my oatmeal or whatever. Meat eaters and vegetarians who don't eat fish should eat the exact same foods vegans eat to get omega 3's, just FYI.

-B) B12 - I supplement this once or twice per week. B12 stores in the body for years and most supplements have so many mg that once a week is plenty unless I'm under a lot of stress or drank too much alcohol.

-C) D - I live in California and was in L.A. for seven years so didn't concern myself much with vitamin D as I got plenty from the sun, I've lived in Northern California now which is a little more temperate and rainy so I've made sure especially now in the winter to take vitamin D . Once again, like Omega 3s, this is a concern that meat eaters and vegetarians also have who do not live in sunny climates. The D in cow's milk is a supplement it's not natural.

4) I think the main thing that keeps people vegan is having an ethical reason like animals or the environment or health - not just vanity. I think people who go "vegan" to lose weight aren't really vegan and that's why they give up after starving half to death on drinking nothing but juice for a month. People who go vegan for animals or the environment have strong ethical reasoning, and people who do it for health do so much research on vegan nutrition that they tend to stay vegan. The principle thing that helped me was being informed on how safe and healthy it was to be vegan, and how to cook vegan meals.

5) The Internet has helped a lot of people go vegan because now there's so much information about health and nutrition that didn't used to exist - this made a lot of people afraid they would be sick or malnourished if they were vegan. I don't think anyone should believe that anymore because of how easy it is to access so much information, but there are definitely some people who are still willfully ignorant. I think "technology" that might help them would be some sort of school or university programs or company presentations given by power-point and films to educate the general public. Maybe also state or local nutrition offices set up - especially for low income people or people with children - to have computer programs at stations where they learn about veganism interactively and maybe follow a "guide" where they can plan affordable grocery shopping and meals to feed themselves and their families. There are programs like this now for pregnant women - but not vegan specific, and if this was vegan specific, it could save countries millions of dollars in health costs from low income or less educated people living on diets of junk food and red meat.
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