What is Veganism?

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Whilst writing this blog, I am embarking on a journey, making the change from being vegetarian to becoming vegan. However, I know that many people don’t really know what veganism is, what impact it can have, and why so many people are raving about this lifestyle. As it’s something I feel very passionately about, I thought I’d provide you with some information on the topic, whilst taking you through a series of weekly posts. This week I will start by talking about the basics, what it is, why people choose it, as well as providing you with some further reading you can do if you’re interested. In the next few weeks I will cover different topics, including tips on how to go vegan, plant-based food, the beauty, household and fashion aspects of the lifestyle, as well as travelling as a vegan. If there’s anything in particular you would like me to cover, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email!

Without further ado.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with vegetarianism, in which you avoid eating or using anything that came from killing an animal. Veganism can be seen as an extension of that, as it is a lifestyle which excludes all forms of animal exploitation, which, put in simple terms, means avoiding all products (be it food, cosmetics, household products, fashion items) containing any animal derived ingredients or materials, as well as boycotting the use of animals for entertainment. Below is the “official” definition, taken from the Vegan Society website.

“A philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

There is more than one ‘branch’ of veganism, as far as diet is concerned, ranging from raw veganism, to raw-till-4 veganism, high calorie low fat veganism, and even ‘junk food veganism’, which shows that possibilities are endless, and there’s a diet to suit anyone’s needs and cravings. Provided you don’t ingest meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey, you’re on a vegan diet, also referred to as a plant-based diet.

Although many think people go vegan due to their compassion for animals, there are actually many more reasons that do not focus on animal welfare, such as health, the environment, and food shortages. Let’s look into everything in more detail.

Animals.

Fact: by going vegan, you will save over 100 animals a year. It’s no secret that killing animals for food is unethical and causes millions to leave meat off their plate. But dairy and eggs? Surely it’s not unethical to take products from animals that aren’t killed in the process? Well, there’s a catch. First of all, the conditions in which dairy cows and chickens, even those ‘free range’, are being kept in are appalling. Not to mention that dairy cows need to be constantly impregnated to keep their milk production going, resulting in many young calves being born and torn away from their mothers, only to be slaughtered. I would not wish this on my greatest enemy, so why do it do innocent creatures? The egg industry is just as bad, as male chicks are killed in horrific ways as they are no use to the egg industry. I won’t go into anymore detail about this, as it is a very upsetting topic, but I will leave you with documentaries and other resources (at the end of the post) which I urge you to see to fully understand the unethical treatment of animals. Learn more about animal welfare here.

Health.

Adopting a vegan diet can result in a multitude of health benefits, from increased energy and healthier skin, to a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vegan diets are equal, as there is an ever-growing supply of vegan junk food filling the shelves of supermarkets. There’s also the argument that eating chicken, which is often pumped full of antibiotics, will have devastating effects on the populations’ health, as it’s causing antibiotic resistance in our bodies. Eating vegan is also an easy way of getting and staying lean, as a diet void of animal fats is far lower in calories and fats which cause weight gain. As many of you have probably experienced the dreadfulness of yo-yo dieting, the simple task of cutting out meat and dairy from your diet can be the answer you’ve been looking for. If you’re interested in reading up more about the health benefits and nutrition tips, click here.

Environment.

Fact: one of the most effective ways to significantly cut down your carbon footprint is to eliminate animal products from your life. You may not know this, but the production of meat and dairy has devastating effects on the environment. The amount of grain necessary to feed animals for factory farmed animals is a major cause of deforestation, leading to habitat loss and species extinction, and soil degradation, which causes once fertile land to become infertile. Not to mention that the amount of water used to grow these crops is unsustainable. Many poorer countries are used to grow immense amounts of grain to feed animals in Europe and America, which in turn drives those populations to malnutrition, as they are unable to grow food to sustain themselves. To put it into perspective, 16lbs of grain can be fed to cows, producing 1lb of meat, or it can provide 10 people with food for an entire day (PETA’s vegan starter kit, p.18). Consuming a plant-based diet significantly reduces the amount of land and water needed to feed one person. To read more about the environmental impact veganism has, click here, and to learn more about how a vegan diet can have a positive impact on the growing population, click here.

Further reading.

It was impossible to include all the relevant information in a single blogpost, so I encourage you to check out some of the resources below to educate yourself on the topic.

FREE vegan guides:

These both contain a vast amount of information, articles, recipes, tips and tricks and are a great place to start your research!

PETA Vegan Starter Kit.

Viva! Everyone’s Going Vegan!

Documentaries:

Cowspiracy.

Earthlings.

Forks over knives.

Food Inc.

Blackfish.

Books:

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life And Our World by John Robbins.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Websites:

Viva! – offers a wide range of books, magazines, info charts, as well as information on their website, and vegan products you can buy. Really great website to check out whether you’re curious about veganism, want to go vegan, or are already vegan.

Vegan Society – filled with articles, statistics and everything you need to know about veganism.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and found it helpful!

Is there anything you’d like me to talk about in the upcoming posts?

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