The word Vegan was coined by “The Vegan Society” in its Memorandum of Association when it was founded in United Kingdom by Donald Watson on November 1, 1944. In the Memorandum the definition of “veganism” denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — 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.
What are the strict No-Nos for a Vegan
Thus Vegans do not ever use animals –directly or indirectly – for food, clothing or shelter.
So what is a vegan diet? And what can vegans eat?
The criteria for Vegan shopping are that it must, as far as is possible and practical, be entirely free from animal involvement. What this means is that vegetable, mineral or plant/mineral-derived synthetic forms of the substances are acceptable, as are microbiologically-fermented substances of plant origin. There should be no animal ingredient in a substance consumed by Vegans. It means that the manufacture and/or development of the product, and where applicable its ingredients, must not involve, or have involved, the use of any animal product, by-product or derivatives. The exclusions in vegan food list includes:
- Animal Fibers
- Animal Milks
- Animal Milk Derivatives
- Bee Products
- Dairy Products and By-Products
- Human-Derived Substances
- Items obtained directly from the slaughter of animals
- Marine Animal Products
- Slaughter By-Products
- No Animal Testing
- Any product that may have an element / ingredient derived from any animal
It is also evident from the above that the primary difference between vegan and vegetarian lifestyle is the fact that the former does not eat anything of the animal origin. However, a vegetarian does sometimes eat products of the animal origin such as milk or cheese or even honey. It would therefore, not be incorrect to say that veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism.
What is the motivation to become a vegan?
A question that one may ask is – why go vegan? The motivation for becoming a Vegan could be varied and involve one or more of the following concerns:
- Violation of Animal rights, their factory farming and testing.
- Environment including intensive use of land and natural resources required for animal farming.
- Human health
Different Types of Vegan Diet
One of the subsets of vegans is called ‘Raw Vegans’ who only consume uncooked and unprocessed vegan foods. The difference between vegan and raw vegan is that the latter do not cook their food above 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) because it is believed that cooking above this temperature would destroy nutritional value of the food. A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, and fresh juices. Sometimes the definition of a raw vegan diet is loosened to include vegan diets with at least 75% raw foods.
Raw Vegans too has a few subsets:
- Fruitarians – They primarily or exclusively eat fruits.
- Sproutarians – They primarily or exclusively eat sprouted foods
- Juicearians – They process their raw plant foods into juice for consumption
The motivation for becoming a Raw Vegan involves one or more of the following concerns:
- Health Concerns – Raw Vegan believe that cooking food beyond 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) destroys its nutritional value. It is believed that enzymes that aid in digestion, vitamins, minerals and proteins are destroyed by cooking the food.
- Environmental Concerns – In most parts of the world cooking of food involves burning of fossil fuel or wood and thus increases global warming. Use of wood also increases deforestation and hence harms the environment.
Vegan diet is a lifestyle choice that is increasingly being followed worldwide.
November 1, the founding day of The Vegan Society, is also celebrated annually as the World Vegan Day.