Last year I posted a reasonably in-depth consideration and simple outline as to what ‘vegan’ is. As it is the start of a new year I wanted to re-post this information with a few added extras I’ve picked up along the way, as I think it provides a good and concise look into veganism. It is my hope that this post is easy to understand and considers the key points of the vegan lifestyle, it is by no means the be all and end all of what it is to be vegan. As this is the time of year for resolutions and change, I hope the information here might be useful to anyone considering veganism.
‘Vegan’ as of late has become some what of a buzz word, and from much of what I’ve read there seem to be a lot of people who don’t fully understand what ‘vegan’ really means. I imagine that a lot of people, just like the old me, think that veganism is just a restrictive diet, but there is so much more to it than that.
Even vegans occasionally dispute about what is or isn’t vegan, however there is one simple way to clear this up, and that is by going to the vegan mother ship, The Vegan Society, and checking out their official definition:
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
To find out more about the history of this definition check out The Vegan Society.
So, from this we can see that a ‘vegan’ is a follower of veganism, which is not a diet. To be vegan is to live a conscious and compassionate life, seeking to exclude as far as it is possible for a human of this day and age any and all use of animals. The easiest place to start is our diet, which may be why many people think that is all it is to be vegan. However, the people who choose to eat the way a vegan might but do not consider other areas of their lifestyle or who spare no thought to the ethics behind veganism, are instead on a plant based diet.
From the definition we can also see that there is an emphasis on avoiding exploitation and cruelty, so for those of you out there who are curious about human bodily secretions, look no further, I can safely tell you that so long as you have not come about these products through exploitation or abuse, you’re doing it vegan! This goes for semen, breast milk, blood donated for medical purposes, the placenta after birth, and hair donated or sold through choice. If anyone tries to tell you any different, just look back at the definition above, and know that they’re probably just giving their opinion or trying to put you off of veganism.
To put this into context, let’s take a quick look at what vegans avoid:
- any milk from any animal (with the exception of a human mother to their human baby, or donated breast milk for humans by humans)
- any products made out of milk – cheese, yoghurt, whey, lactose (not to be confused with lactic acid, which is of plant origin!)
- animal flesh, and yes this includes fish (with the exception of a woman’s placenta after birth if she so wishes for it to be used)
- honey (for a better look into honey, check out Bite Size Vegan)
- eggs (yes, all and any eggs)
- gelatine (often found in chewy sweets, but also check your alcoholic drinks for gelatine and other animal products!)
- any material made from the skin/fur/coat/secretions of an animal – such as wool, fur, leather, silk
- some preservatives, a detailed list can be found here
- anything made using animal hair, primarily horse hair – such as a bow for use on an instrument
- many classical stringed instruments use animal innards, always make sure to check with your supplier first
- any make up/cosmetic/unnecessary medication that is made with animal products or that has been tested on animals
- ink can also contain animal derivatives, this goes for writing, printing and tattoo ink, however there are vegan friendly alternatives available, always make sure to check with your artist
- zoos or any form of animal captivity that is not for the animal’s best interests and is for human entertainment
I’ve probably missed something here, but they’re the basics. If you can live your life free from the above, you’ll be on the right tracks! And let me assure you, it is so much easier than you could ever believe.
Now this list may seem extreme to someone paying a first look at veganism, however what many people don’t add to these lists are all of the vegan alternatives. Everything on that list has a vegan counterpart – I can guarantee it! With a quick search you will find everything you could wish for – Google is your friend!
There is so much to being vegan, but best of all is the knowledge that you are doing everything you can to make the lives of so many others better. So much more could be said, but this will hopefully provide you with a helpful look at the fundamental base line of veganism.
Finally, there is one last very important message for the non-vegan world when considering what it is to be vegan – vegans do not think that they are superior (as is often suggested in almost every argument I have ever witnessed), in fact it’s quite the opposite, we know that we are no more worthy than any creature on this beautiful earth, and that is why we are vegan!
Thanks for stopping by, I hope that this has proven useful to someone out there!