What Does Going Vegan Mean?
With the food preferences of people rapidly changing every day, the chances that almost every person has heard the term “Vegan” at least once, is very high. Different people can have widely differing perspectives about what going vegan actually means, and this can result in confusion and failure of sticking to the diet, for those who are contemplating adopting the vegan method.
To dispel any doubts, Veganism refers to a way of life rather than merely being a diet, and the basic crux is to exclude all such foods, clothing items, and some other such things, which involve exploitation of, and cruelty towards, animals.
This can also include letting go of accessories, clothes, and make-up products that are known to be prepared using, or are tested upon, animals of any kind.
Coming back to the diet, veganism focuses on including only those products, which are completely based on plants and plant products. All such items like meat, eggs, and even milk and dairy products (which are derived from animals in a way), honey, gelatin, whey, etc, are removed from the diet plan.
How is Veganism Different from Being a Vegetarian?
Many people confuse veganism as a fancier term for following a vegetarian diet. However, the two terms are, in fact, quite different, and imply greatly divergent things.
Generally, vegetarianism mainly focuses on a person’s diet, and preaches letting go of all such food items like meats, eggs, fish, game, poultry, shellfish, and by-products arising from slaughter of animals. Vegetarians usually consume foods which are high on pulses, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Veganism, on the other hand, is the stricted possible form of vegetarianism. As such, is not restricted to the food and eating habits of people, but instead, also calls for a modification in many other spheres of daily life, including clothing and accesories, make-up, etc.
Vegan diets exclude any such food which is even remotely prepared using any form of exploitation to animals. As such, consumption of foods like meat, fish, poultry, game, etc, is prohibited to vegans, as is the consumption of milk and dairy-based products, gelatin, whey, honey, etc.
So, people who already are strict vegetarians can make the transition towards adopting a vegan lifestyle, by incorporating a couple more modifications to their diet and letting go of some more animal-based foods.
Is Veganism of Different Types?
Veganism was originally meant to be a single idea and was supposed to encompass many spheres of life, including food and diet, as well as accessories, clothing, make-up, and even household items like rugs and fur. However, over recent years, the people who have adopted veganism have gotten divided into two different sects, those who are Vegan by Diet, and those who are Vegan by Lifestyle.
Vegan by Diet
These are the people who refrain from consuming any food items which are prepared using animals or animal-based products. However, they may or may not adopt veganism in other parts of their lifestyle like make-up.
Vegans by Lifestyle
These people, on the other hand, have signed up for veganism to become a part of their lifestyle. They tend to stay away from all sorts of animal-derived products, be it meat or dairy-based foods, leather clothing, make-up that is based on beeswax or is tested on animals.
When Did Veganism Gain Popularity?
The Vegan Society has been around ever since 1944, and November 1st was announced as World Vegan Day in 1994, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the society.
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However, veganism was not always as popular as it is today. In fact, it started becoming a mainstream way of life only when the 2010s rolled in, and much more so during the latter half of the decade.
So much so that 2019 was declared as the Year of the Vegan by The Economist.
With the increasing number of vegan products that are being made available in the market every passing day, people are fast being attracted to the trend, especially since it allows one to detoxify themselves by using plant-based products, while at the same time, discourages cruelty towards animals which is often brought about during preparation or extraction of many daily use products.
How Many People Have Turned Vegan All Over the World?
Countries like Australia and Austria are the front-runners when it comes to the number of people who have taken up veganism, and India is rapidly gaining momentum as becoming a hub for vegans as well.
As much as 1.6% of the country’s population was already vegan as early as 2005-06. As of January 2021, studies say that about 79 million all over the world are following a vegan diet. This number, despite being less than 1% of the world’s total population, is still rising at highly accelerated speeds.
What Are the Benefits of Turning Vegan?
Adopting a vegan lifestyle has multiple benefits, both for the animals as well as for humans.
- Turning vegan shows that you do not support cruelty towards animals, and are willing to give up a number of daily-use and food items for the sake of protecting helpless animals.
- Vegan-based diets help keep the ecosystem and the environment healthy. Harmful chemicals or by-products that are used or produced from the slaughtering of animals are reduced, and the land requirements for vegan-based farming is also much lesser and more economical. Typically, vegan-based diets require only one-third of the land that is needed for carrying out poultry-based farming. Moreover, the resources like food and water which are needed to raise animals are much greater than that required to create products needed for sustaining a vegan diet.
- Vegan-based diets are also a much healthier alternative for people. Meat and dairy-based products are generally heavier and are very high on many types of fats which are not good for our health. Plant-based products, on the other hand, are low on unhealthy fats and are often packed with fibres, to aid in digestion and help us lead a healthier lifestyle.
Who Are The Ambassadors of the Vegan Lifestyle?
For people seeking encouragement to transition towards a vegan lifestyle, the fact that many celebrities and notable personalities have turned vegan, and are now endorsing a vegan-based existence, comes as good news.
The likes of Virat Kohli (cricketer), Maneka Gandhi (politician), AI Gore (former US Vice President), A.Breeze Harper (American Academic and Activist), Carl Lewis (American athlete), Portia de Rossi (Australian actor), Belinda Stronach (Canadian businessperson), have all adopted the vegan diet, and many of them have even modified their lifestyle to be vegan-friendly.
Nutritional Considerations Before You Turn Vegan
While the vegan diet is being briskly promoted as a healthier alternative to meat-based diets, and has been found to be suitable for people of all age groups, one thing that can become the deal-breaker is that though plant-based foods are much low on unhealthy fats and are generally loaded with fibre, they also often lack in some essential vitamins and proteins, which are usually only found in meat or dairy-based products.
Vegan foods a0generall have very low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins B12 and D, along with low levels of calcium. These can have health implications, and care is needed to prevent deficiencies.
Veganism became popular in the second half of the 2010s, and currently, around 79 million people are vegan. Here we focused on how the vegan lifestyle is quickly gaining popularity and is becoming a mainstream trend.
We also looked at what being vegan actually means, and how it is different from vegetarianism, as well as the two major types of veganism. We also considered the benefits of adopting a vegan diet, as well as some possible nutritional imbalances which they may cause.