Definition of Vegan

What Is a Vegan?


Vegan refers to a person who has made a conscious choice to exclude all animal products from their diet, as well as from their life in general. This lifestyle choice is more restrictive than vegetarianism (which generally pertains to food choices only) and is often driven by many motivations, including a concern for animal welfare, human health, farmer equity, and even religious belief.

Though there are slight variations on what types of animal products a vegan will exclude from their lives, in general these are the most common:

  • Animal fat
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Fish, shellfish, and seafood
  • Fur
  • Gelatin
  • Honey and beeswax
  • Leather
  • Meat and meat flavorings
  • Poultry
  • Rennet
  • Shellac
  • Silk
  • Whey
  • Wool and lanolin

There are many other “hidden” ingredients that are derived from animals, which serious vegans also tend to avoid. For instance, refined white sugar and wines can both be processed using animal ingredients. Vegans also tend to avoid all products that are tested on animals.

There are many environmental reasons for choosing a vegan diet, including:

  • Lowering greenhouse gas emissions for a smaller carbon footprint
  • Helping preserve forests and arable land from being developed for grazing livestock
  • Reducing water consumption, since raising animals for meat is very water-intensive
  • Putting an end to the exploitation of animals for human consumption
  • Land-use efficiency, since more vegetable proteins can be grown per acre as compared to animal-based proteins
  • Health benefits – those eschewing meat tend to have lower incidences of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • Preventing the creation of super bugs which are helped by the strong, unnecessary doses of antibiotics given to healthy livestock (as prevention)
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