Being a vegan is definitely more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet. A vegan does not eat anything that is of animal origin. Vegans will not use animal based products for clothing, or any other purpose.
A person can become a vegan because of ethical reasons involving animal rights, for environmental factors, or for better health. According to an article published by PETA1, approximately 2.5 percent of people in the U.S. are vegans.
Veganism is seen as a subset of various possible vegetarian diets/lifestyles.
This article is also part of a series called What Are The Eight Most Popular Diets Today?
The difference between Veganism and Vegetarianism
Some people may disagree with the meaning of vegetarianism. The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian).
Another general interpretation is that Veganism is a subdivision of Vegetarianism. However, some people believe that the only true vegetarian is a vegan.
Virtually all vegan societies also add that a vegan does not use products that come from animals, such as leather, wool, down, cosmetics, or products which have been tested on animals. The Vegetarian Resource Group2 states that "vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products."
The three main reasons people adopt veganism
1) Animal rights
Vegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference, but also because many commercially-raised egg-laying chickens and dairy cows are slaughtered when their productivity declines with age - this is even the case with free range animals.
Consequently, there would still be slaughter of animals if we all became vegetarians who only consumed dairy and eggs from animals.
Bulls and cockerels would most likely be slaughtered at birth, unless everybody were willing to pay more for their eggs and dairy in order to maintain these "unproductive" animals.
Farming today is very different from what it used to be. Modern farms are highly mechanized factories - a lot of animals are given products to make them produce more.
Veganism is a lifestyle with a philosophy that animals are not ours to use. According to Vegan Action3, Veganism is "an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle."
Livestock farming can have a devastating effect on the planet. Producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources - resources that could be used for feeding humans.
In the pursuit of higher yields, many people believe that livestock farms are accelerating topsoil erosion4; lowering its productivity for the cultivation of crops. A great deal of wilderness is converted to grazing and farm land because of this. A significant amount of pollution in groundwater and rivers comes from animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms.
More people globally could be fed on existing land if we all became vegans.
Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person's risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions. The fat and protein content of cow's milk is very different from human milk, leading some experts to suggest that we are not designed for consuming cow's milk.
Men with early stage prostate cancer who make intensive changes in diet and lifestyle may stop or perhaps even reverse the progression of their illness, according to one study published in the Journal of Urology.
Another U.S study involving half-a-million people found that red meat and processed meat eaters died prematurely more frequently than other people.
An article published in Food Technology in October 2012 explained that plant-based diets either minimize or completely eliminate people's genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fiber and other nutrients. There are several plant based foods that are good sources of protein, such as beans, peanuts, and soya.
Vegans and vitamin B12 deficiency
Researchers from Japan and Italy reported in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry that vegetarians and vegans have a high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. They demonstrated that the human body is unable to use the plant-based form of the vitamin.
A significant number of vegans say the most successful way to become a long-term vegan is to do so gradually. Most vegans were vegetarians first, and gradually made the transition into veganism.
Some people shift into veganism by looking for replacement foods that taste and look a bit like animal products, while others jump straight in.
The majority of food consumed by omnivores is vegan anyway. If you look at a typical meal, most of it is normally plant based.
The following is a list of famous people who are alleged to follow or have followed a vegan diet.
- Alicia Silverstone (Actress)
- Benjamin Franklin (Scientist and diplomat; inventor of the lightning conductor)
- Charlotte Bronte (Author)
- George Bernard Shaw (Dramatist, novelist)
- Henry Ford (Founder of Ford Motor Company)
- Mahatma Gandhi (Politician, pacifist)
- Albert Einstein (Scientist)
- H.G. Wells (Author)
- Tony Benn (UK politician)
- Gillian Anderson (Actress)
- Greg Chappell (Australian cricketer)
- Hans Christian Andersen (Author of fairy tales)
- Heather Mills (Ex-model)
- Joaquim Phoenix (Actor)
- John Wesley (Founder of the Methodist Church)
- Kerry McCarthy (UK politician)
- Leonardo da Vinci (Italian painter, architect and engineer)
- Linda Blair (Actress)
- Martin Luther (German church reformer; founder of Protestantism)
- Martyn Moxon (English cricketer)
- Pamela Anderson (Actress)
- Paul McCartney (Musician)
- Peter Brogdanovich (Movie director)
- Peter Tatchell (Human Rights Activist)
- Plato (Greek philosopher)
- Plutarch (Greek philosopher and biographer)
- Prince (Musician)
- Pythagoras (Greek mathematician and philosopher)
- Ricky Williams (Professional American football player)
- Scott Jurek (Ultra marathon runner)
- Sinead O'Connor (Musician)
- Sir Isaac Newton (English physicist and mathematician)
- St. Frances of Assisi (Italian founder of Franciscan order of friars)
- Vincent Van Gogh (Impressionist painter)
- Voltaire (French author).
Famous vegan and/or vegetarian quotes:
- Abraham Lincoln
"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
- Albert Einstein
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
- George Bernard Shaw
"If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth - beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals - would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?"
- Leo Tolstoy
"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields."
- Mahatma Gandhi
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
"To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being."
- Mark Twain
"I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't...The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."
"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."