Being a vegan is definitely more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet. A vegan does not eat anything that is of animal origin. Vegans will not use animal based products for clothing, or any other purpose. A person can become a vegan because of ethical reasons involving animal rights, for environmental factors, or for better health. According to Wikipedia, approximately 0.2% to 1.3% of the US, and between 0.25% and 0.4% of the UK populations are vegans.
This article is part of a series called What Are The Eight Most Popular Diets Today?.
Veganism is seen as a subset of various possible vegetarian diets/lifestyles.
What is the difference between Veganism and Vegetarianism?
Some people may disagree with the meaning of vegetarianism. The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian). Another general interpretation is that Veganism is a subdivision of Vegetarianism. However, some vegans say that the only true vegetarian is a vegan. According to the Medilexicon medical dictionary, a vegan is “A strict vegetarian; one who consumes no animal or dairy products of any type”. Virtually all vegan societies also add that a vegan does not use products that come from animals, such as leather, wool, down, cosmetics, or products which have been tested on animals.
The three main reasons people adopt veganism are health, environmental, and animal rights
Vegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference, but also because many commercially-raised egg-laying chickens and dairy cows are slaughtered when their productivity declines with age – this is even the case with free range animals.
Farming today is very different from what it used to be. Modern farms are highly mechanized factories – a lot of animals are given products to make them produce more. Vegans say that veganism is a lifestyle with a philosophy that animals are not ours to use (Vegan Action).
Livestock farming, vegans say, has a devastating effect on our planet. A vegan believes that producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources – resources that could be used for feeding humans.
In the pursuit of higher yields, most vegans believe that livestock farms are accelerating topsoil erosion; lowering its productivity for the cultivation of crops. A great deal of wilderness is converted to grazing and farm land because of this. A significant amount of pollution in groundwater and rivers comes from animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms.
More people globally could be fed on existing land if we all became vegans.
Eating animal fats and proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions. The fat and protein content of cow´s milk is very different from human milk – vegans say that we are not designed for consuming cow´s milk.
Men with early stage prostate cancer who make intensive changes in diet and lifestyle may stop or perhaps even reverse the progression of their illness, according to a study. A US study that looked at half a million people found that red meat and processed meat eaters died prematurely more frequently than other people.
An article published in Food Technology in October 2012 explained that plant-based diets either minimize or completely eliminate people’s genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fiber and other nutrients. Vegans say there are several plant based foods that are good sources of protein, such as beans, peanuts, and soya.
Vegans and vitamin B12 deficiency – researchers from Japan and Italy reported in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry that vegetarians and vegans have a high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. They demonstrated that the human body is unable to use the plant-based form of the vitamin.