Originally Donald Watson formed the word vegan in 1944 to describe a diet that excluded the consumption of animals (meat, fish, insects) and animal products (dairy, eggs & honey).
The Vegan Society has since evolved this definition as a philosophy and way of life that seeks where possible to avoid any form of animal cruelty or exploitation. This includes the use of animals for product testing and animal by-products such as fur, leather, silk etc.
Vegetarianism is a diet that excludes the consumption of meat or by-products of animal slaughter such as gelatin or animal stocks and fats. A vegetarian diet can include products produced by animals such as eggs, milk, cheese and honey.
Vegan vs Vegetarian
The history of vegetarianism dates way back into ancient times but it is likely that most people choose vegetarianism now for animal welfare reasons. However being vegetarian does not really prevent animal slaughter and in fact it is clear that the dairy and meat industries are heavily intertwined.
A plant-based diet or flexitarian focuses on predominantly consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed, beans and legumes. However it does not necessarily eliminate the consumption of all animal products but significantly reduces the amount consumed.
Vegan vs plant-based
The motivation behind being plant-based is more likely to be for health or environmental reasons. The primary motivation for a vegan is animal welfare but will likely have health and environmental reasons as well. Who doesn't want to be healthier and stop climate change?
Vegan vs Cruelty-Free
Are vegan products cruelty-free?
Are cruelty-free products vegan?
- Animal welfare: it is not just the slaughter but the whole process leading up to it and the way we have industrialised livestock farming and turned animals in to a commodity.
- Your health: there is overwhelming evidence that eating fruits and vegetables is better than eating animal proteins and fats.
- The planet: we try to squeeze every penny we can out of the planet but at its expense and meat production has by far the largest environmental impact.
- Eggs? No.
- Fish? No. That's a pescatarian.
- Honey? No.
- Cheese? No - but vegan alternatives are available.
- Butter? No - but vegan alternatives are available.
- Bread? Yes - but avoid any containing dairy products.
- Pasta? Yes - but avoid any containing egg.
- Chocolate? Yes - some high content cacao chocolate does not contain milk.
World Vegan Day is the 1st November. It was started in 1994 Louise Wallis to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vegan Society.
In Australia the day is often celebrated on Sundays close to the 1st November and can vary by state.
Veganuary is a non-profit organisation in the UK that promotes veganism by encouraging people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January each year (and beyond).
Founded by Jane Land and Matthew Glover in 2014 participation has more than doubled each year and there has now been over 1,000,000 people sign up to Veganuary in 192 countries around the world.