What does it Mean to be Vegan, What is the Definition of a Vegan Diet?
A vegan, a person who practices veganism, is an individual who actively avoids the use of animal products for food, clothing or any other purpose. People choose to become vegan for a number of reasons, which typically center on the ethical issues of animal rights, environmental protection, and religious or spiritual affiliation. Many people are also drawn to vegan diets for the health benefits.
A Formal Definition of Vegan
According to the Vegan Society the definition of vegan is as follows:
“The word ‘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 do Vegans Avoid?
People who follow the vegan diet and lifestyle make every reasonable effort to avoid animal products. Common products that vegans avoid are meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, milk, other dairy products, fur, leather, wool, honey and silk. Vegans also avoid animal by-products and consumer items containing or manufactured from these animal products and by-products. Some common animal by-products include gelatin, whey, casein and beeswax.
As with many diets and lifestyles, not all vegans approach animal product avoidance in the same ways. For example, some vegans completely avoid all animal by-products, while others consider it acceptable to use honey, silk, and other by-products produced from insects. Also, some vegans hold themselves to higher standards in their own homes where they can control everything they consume, and practice a more lenient lifestyle when traveling. In fact, the vegan educational foundation, Vegan Outreach, admits that complete avoidance can be “prohibitively expensive and time-consuming” and that followers of the vegan lifestyle should undertake practices that “best prevent [the] suffering” of animals.
Health Benefits and Potential Hazards of a Vegan Diet
Vegan diets are associated with a lowered risk of numerous health conditions including colon cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stroke, and many others.
A properly managed vegan diet has been found to be healthy and provide all required nutrition for sustaining a healthy and active lifestyle. However, poor planning and failure to supplement certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can lead to deficiencies including low levels of B12, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D. To learn more about how to manage a balanced vegan diet visit the health precautions section of Wikipedia’s article on veganism.