What does â€œVeganâ€ mean?
Many would be surprised to learn that the term Vegan and the practice of veganism is not new.
It was during World War II that the word Vegan was first coined. An English woodworker by the name of Donald Watson created the word when he founded the Vegan Society. Watson decided that there needed to be a term to describe the practice and philosophy of abstaining from using all animal products.
Some may ask, â€œWhatâ€™s the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian?â€
Vegetarian describes a diet in which a person does not eat the flesh of other creatures. One can still eat other products that come from animals including milk, eggs, honey etc.
Vegan on the other hand Â refers to a practice of avoiding the use of all products that contain animal ingredients. You will hear the term â€œvegan dietâ€ but simply eating an entirely plant based diet does not make one a vegan. Leather, soaps, cosmetics, textiles and many other products contain animal ingredients or use animal ingredients as part of the manufacturing process so a true vegan will avoid these products as well.
Vegetarianism is a diet, veganism is a lifestyle and a philosophy.
There are three major arguments for adopting a vegan lifestyle â€“ compassion, health and environment.
Compassion: Using animal products or products with animal derived ingredients causes immeasurable suffering for billions of earthlings. Animals feel, fear and suffer and the industries that exploit animals are desensitized to the horrors of the slaughterhouse, dairy and egg farm. This is not the forum to expand on this but I encourage everyone to do the research. Enlighten yourself. Enlightenment is what makes people vegan.
Health: It is a statistical fact that people who adopt an entirely plant-based (vegan) diet are significantly healthier than those who do not – life expectancy is longer, disease rates are lower. This does not mean that a diet is healthy just because it is plant-based. There are many vegans who eat unhealthy diets. If you look at the statistics for those who adopt not just a plant-based diet but a low-fat, whole-foods plant-based diet, the differences are no longer significant, they are profound.
The concept is simple. The greater the percentage of your diet that is low-fat, whole-foods and plant-based the healthier you will be. This is true whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.
Switching to a diet that is entirely low-fat, whole-foods and plant-based can prevent, reverse and even cure most of societies major chronic health issues including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Environment: This is a tough one for many people to grasp so we will keep it really simple. Animal industries pollute and destroy the environment. It takes a fraction of the arable land, fossil fuels and fresh water to produce plant-based foods when compared to the livestock industries. The raising of livestock is now recognized to be the most significant contributor to greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. You can feed 15 times more people producing plant-based foods than you can producing meat, eggs or dairy given the same amount of resources.
Be mindful of what is on your fork, spoon, plate, bowl or cup. Take control over your health. You have the power to be healthier, we all do. Talk to those whose lives have been changed by changing their eating habits. Do the research. Find out where your food comes from. Such mindfulness will reveal itself as common sense and social responsibility.