What is Veganism ?

Veganism is the non-consumption of all animal products, and a vegan is an individual who refrains from eating all animal products.

This means that vegans do not eat meat, fish, poultry, dairy or eggs. Most vegan societies do not consider honey to be vegan.

Most vegans (particularly those who chose veganism for ethical reasons) do not wear animal products, including leather, fur, silk and wool.

Vegans are also known as pure vegetarians.

Vegans and Vegetarians

Whereas vegans shun all animal products, vegetarians do not.

  • Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. This is the most commonly found form of vegetarianism in the Western World.
  • Lacto-Vegetarians are common throughout India in particular. They eat dairy products, but refuse eggs.
  • Ovo-Vegetarians accept eggs but refuse dairy products. This is a relatively uncommon form of vegetarian.

Other groups include individuals who refuse all red meat but eat poultry and fish/seafood, and those who refuse meat and poultry but eat fish/seafood. Neither group is vegetarian, and vegan and vegetarian societies worldwide consider both dietary forms as subsets of the omnivorous diet.

Vegetarianism is the fastest growing dietary form in the Western world today, and within it veganism is also steadily growing in popularity. It is estimated that there are over 15 million vegetarians in the United States, and over 9 million in the United Kingdom. In the United States in particular veganism is rapidly growing in popularity as the health benefits of the vegan diet are becoming clearer. In Australia, over one quarter of teenage girls are vegetarian.

Why go Vegan?

People choose the vegan diet for three main reasons: ethics, environmental concern and health benefits.

  • Ethics – Many vegans believe that it is wrong for humans to unnecessarily kill and consume animals. They rightly point out that, in Western societies today, the animal product industries are not only cruel, but wasteful and totally needless. Humans do not need animal products to survive, and many vegans believe that we have an ethical responsibility to be caretakers, rather than tyrants, over the rest of the earth’s creatures. Many ethical vegans claim that, as animal lovers, they would be hypocritical to protect (as a pet, for example) one type of animal, yet cage, cause suffering to and ultimately kill another species.
  • Environmental Concern – Animal product industries are an incredibly wasteful use of Earth’s precious resources. Many vegans are concerned about the lack of conservation and preservation inherent in the production of animal foods and goods. They believe that, as intelligent citizens of the planet, to forego animal products is their responsibility.
  • Health Benefits – Numerous health benefits are enjoyed by vegans, including significantly lower incidences of strokes, heart disease, osteoporosis, most forms of cancer, diabetes, hypoglycemia, constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, obesity, and asthma – all of which are major illnesses found in affluent societies.For more on vegan ethics click here.