Being vegan means having a plant-based diet. It excludes all types of animal products. It can be seen as an extension of a vegetarian diet, as vegetarians do not eat meat. Veganism is one step further, excluding all products that come from animals.
For example, a vegan diet excludes milk, eggs and honey. Above all, veganism is a diet. Yet, the term can also refer to a whole lifestyle by excluding any product from animals, not only food products. Also, it is common to exclude things like leather and wool clothing. Furthermore, avoiding events that involve captive animals. Like a circus, a rodeo or a zoo.
Veganism can be a diet, a philosophy and a lifestyle. As mentioned, the diet refers to not eating any products from animals. As a philosophy, it is more connected to animal rights. Namely, believing that animals have a moral worth independent of their usefulness to humans. In other words, animals have rights and should not suffer. Therefore, humans should not make them suffer by killing them. Furthermore, vegans tend to see it as unethical to take milk or other products from animals. Overall, the key is to avoid the exploitation of animals.
Being a vegan can also be connected to a lifestyle, which often goes hand in hand with caring for the environment. It is common to become vegan because of climate change. For example, meat- and dairy farms release high emissions of greenhouse gases. The industry releases much more than the production of vegetables. Therefore, many environmental activists chose this lifestyle.
A vegan diet
Eating a vegan diet is perfectly possible with “traditional” dishes. Today, there are more and more substitutes for meat. Such as products made of beans or soya that mimic traditional meat products, like burgers. More so, some food traditions are already vegan, as veganism has been part of many traditions in the past.
As mentioned briefly above, being vegan is considered climate-smart. A vegan diet can reduce one’s environmental impact. The impact of a meat diet is much higher because of the emissions from meat production. Animal production accounts for as much as 15 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Generally, where or how the food gets produced does not make a big difference, as most of the impact is from animal feed production. Most animal food gets produced through large-scale and unsustainable practices. Hence, lactose products, such as milk and cheese, also significantly impact the environment.
Finally, in addition to CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide and methane get emitted through animal farming. These gases get produced in smaller volumes. However, they are more potent than CO2, which means they absorb more heat and contribute further to global warming.