What does Vegan mean?
"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." - The vegan society
The word ‘vegan’ was created from the first and last letters of ‘vegetarian’ because it grew out of vegetarianism and was seen as its natural conclusion.
Why be Vegan?
For the Animals
Animals are thinking, feeling individuals that have their own personalities but billions (yes Billions, far more than the total global human population) are raised for food, clothes, entrainment and more. And because they are used as commodities they're not treated like feeling individuals. Unfortunately, in many cases, they're violently abused during their life before being killed.
Choosing to be vegan is choosing not to condone the abuse and exploitation of billions of animals.
For Personal Health
The great news is that humans don't need to eat animals to live!
There is extensive research conveying the many health benefits of a whole food plant-based diet.
Dr. Greger's book How Not To Die is a great book that references many studies that recorded plant-based diets improving health and even reversing some diseases. He states that "The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented through simple changes in diet and lifestyle."
(Being vegan doesn't automatically mean healthy. There are many processed foods that are vegan and delicious but not necessarily healthy.)
For the Environment
The land and water required to produce the billions of animals raised for food and the greenhouse emissions produced is having an impact on our environment.
“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said.
"The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops." UN news center.
Being vegan for the environment isn't about saving the planet, it's about maintaining our (and all other animals') ability to live here.
Living vegan is becoming increasingly easier and more vegan businesses are emerging to offer people compassionate alternatives to animal products. Have a look in Resources for websites to buy vegan apparel, shoes, skin care, makeup, food, and films and books to learn more about veganism.
Being vegan is not being restricted, especially when it comes to food. There are far more plants to eat than there are species of animals used for food, and there are so many vegan cookbooks that your options are endless.
If you are still unsure about becoming vegan, the Vegan Society poses a question that we should all ask ourselves:
"if it is now possible to live a life that involves delicious food and drink, delivers better health, leaves a smaller carbon footprint and avoids killing other creatures - then why don't we?"