Our website is dedicated to providing high quality recipes, health information and news to the vegan community. The author of this website only started changing eating habits in 2013 so we understand what it can be like trying to embrace the vegan lifestyle when it is new to you. There are a lot of sources out there on veganism and many of them actually seem to make things more complicated rather than simplifying them.
A vegan is a follower of veganism. In it’s strictest and most simple form a vegan is someone who does not believe in killing any sentient animal with a focus on standing up for animals. This means we do not eat any animal meat or any products that come from an animal. These non-vegan products would include dairy like milk, butter and cream. We also do not wear clothing or jewelry from animals like leather and fur. In a nutshell we believe than animals are beings that feel pain and distress, they have hopes and aspirations and they deserve to live their lives without fear of torture and death for food and clothing.
There are several distinctions between vegans as described by wikipedia:
Distinctions are sometimes made between different categories of veganism. Dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but, in contrast to ovo-lacto vegetarians, also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet, but extend the vegan philosophy into other areas of their lives, and oppose the use of animals and animal products for any purpose. Another term used is environmental veganism, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the harvesting or industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
I think this was probably an easier question to answer 50 years ago. You didn’t see many people who claimed to be vegan and the ones you met pretty much all agreed on the definition of the word. I can tell you in the 2000’s that the meaning can vary greatly depending on who you ask. But at it’s simplest and most pure form, veganism is very simple.
The primary confusion for people seems to come when trying to determine the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian. While it may seem like the differences are minor they are in fact pretty major. A vegetarian will eat animal products like eggs, cheese and milk. All of those products are strictly forbidden if you are an ethical vegan. With factory farms so large and their practices so horrendous, there are many reasons to not want to participate in that industry. That is why we are opposed to the exploitation, torture and killing of animals for the pleasure and feeding of humans.
Today you will see a lot of people calling themselves vegan because they eat a plant based diet. But this new group rarely, if ever, consider the plight of the animals. They are more concerned about their health and quality of life. The ethics of eating animal products never crosses their mind. Since this is the case you will see a lot of modern vegans occasionally slipping up and eating butter or drinking milk. An ethical vegan would never do these things because they are opposed to it because of the treatment of animals. It has nothing to do with losing weight or being healthy. It’s about the animals and nothing else. Purist will tell you very quickly that you don’t ‘slip up’ or make mistakes because it’s never about taste or choices. It is a way of life based on serious concern for living beings.
As and die hard idealist will tell you, you are either vegan or you aren’t. You can’t be part-time. Why? Because it is a philosophy and a cause you believe in deeply. It’s about so much more that the food you it. It about how you treat other living beings. Perhaps the definition found in this Wikipedia article sums it up best.
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, at first to mean “non-dairy vegetarian” and later to refer to “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”
Every serious devotee will tell you that the definitions and explanations mention above are the only ones that are valid. If you are not in it because of the animals and only the animals, the you are not vegan. You are something else. Maybe you are a plant based diet person. That could be more accurate.
This brings us to the more modern definition. I like to tell my friends that it’s good news that so many people are adopting this lifestyle. Every animal saved from suffering is a good thing. Many of my counterparts agree with me but not all of them. There is a significant portion of our community who will tell you that as long as it’s “just a diet” someone can start it or stop it on a whim. This is 180 degrees counter to the true vegan doctrine which is always about the animals and nothing else. It is not something you can just start or stop. You don’t have cheese one day because you have been craving it. A person who does this is not a vegan, they are a person on a plant based diet and they are cheating on the diet. A good example of this is the explanation of being vegan as described by Vegetarian Resource Group:
People choose to be vegan for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. For example, some vegans feel that one promotes the meat industry by consuming eggs and dairy products. That is, once dairy cows or egg-laying chickens are too old to be productive, they are often sold as meat; and since male calves do not produce milk, they usually are raised for veal or other products. Some people avoid these items because of conditions associated with their production.
Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others.
You can compare that definition to the purist definition listed earlier in the article and see the stark contrast in tone and mission. They are very different. And this is the cause of a slight chasm developing between modern day vegans.
On our website we embrace anyone that is on the path to eating no animal products or even cutting back. We believe that is what helps animals most today. Sure, we wish everyone was so strongly opposed to the violation of animals they couldn’t eat meat or use animal products under any circumstance. But we also realize that even the ‘casual vegan’ who is really just on a plant based diet is saving the lives of animals. So the best thing to do is encourage them and try to help them be successful as much as possible. As long as they remain successful on their plant based diet it has the same effect of someone being an ethical vegan purist. It means less animals die. And that is a noble goal no matter how it is achieved.
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat but they will eat other animal products that do not involve animal deaths. Some things a vegetarian will eat that a vegan will not eat include milk, butter, cream, cheese and eggs. Some vegetarians will also eat fish. There are many classifications of vegetarian and it can get complicated trying to learn what they all mean. Even though we are a website focused on vegan health and vegan recipes only I will still share the various types of vegetarians via Wikipedia below:
There several vegetarian diets which range from strict vegetarian to diets based on religious principles.
Ovo vegetarianism – These vegetarians do eat eggs but do not consume dairy products.
Lacto vegetarianism – The reverse of Ovo. They consume diary but not eggs.
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism – As you may imagine these vegetarians consume dairy and eggs. They also eat honey as well.
Veganism – This is also knows as “Strict Vegetarianism” and is the most restrictive. They do not eat any animal products and they do not use products made from animals. No dairy, eggs, honey, meat, leather, fur etc.
Raw veganism – Only consume raw vegan foods. One misconception is that raw means the food can never be cooked. In fact some foods can be cooked but only to a certain temperature, around 107 degrees.
Fruitarianism – Mainly a fruit diet but also includes nuts, seeds and legumes.
Jain vegetarianism – A little know or practiced version of vegetarianism. They do not consume eggs, honey or root vegetables but they do consume dairy.
We primarily focus on recipes and health information. Some of our more popular articles here have included fast food tips, exposing many foods you think are vegan but aren’t, as well as the latest news about the lifestyle. We really hope to provide easy vegan recipes that will encourage people just starting this lifestyle to keep going and help people trying to make the decision to go vegan see that it isn’t hard to do.
We appreciate every person that visits our website whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a curious meat eater.