Now don’t get me wrong, we admire this level of commitment and enthusiasm. But it can, at times, make it difficult for folks new to the concept to understand what’s got everyone so riled up in the first place. (Not to mention a few, but loud, misguided folks who feel that “their way” to be vegan is the one true way to be vegan. But that’s a topic for another day…)
All the discord stems from the simple fact that the answer to your question, “What Is Vegan?” (drum roll please) is…
Ok, we can see you rolling your eyes in exasperation right thru your monitor but we’re not trying to be jerks here, honest. Yes, it’s true that many people define vegans as vegetarians who also don’t eat eggs or dairy. And to an extent that is true. However, the definition of what it means to be vegan is different to almost every person who declares themselves to be vegan.
It all depends on WHY or how a person came to be vegan. So let’s take a look at the why’s so we can get at the “what’s”, Ok?
There are three main reasons people become or “Go Vegan”. They are animal rights, your health and the environment. Let’s take a look at each of them one at a time, shall we?
What Is Vegan? Animal Rights!
We don’t need to cause pain and suffering! Did you know that 3 BILLION (yes that’s billion with a “B”) farm animals that have lost their lives in the first half of 2015 alone. And that doesn’t count the dizzying number of lives pulled from the sea both for human consumption and just for getting in the way of fishing nets.
Those cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep and lambs did not live on the idyllic Old MacDonald’s Farm you sang about as a child. Instead, they suffered a terrifying and short life before being put to a horrific and often painful death. (1)
A simple example of the cruelty inherent of the factory farm system is the systematic and off handed slaughter of over 200 million baby chicks each year. These one day old male chicks are tossed by the hundreds into plastic garbage bags where they are left to suffocate or ground alive in what is essentially a wood chipper for chicks. (2)
We are not making this up. PLEASE CHECK OUR SOURCES!
So, when you ask ethical vegans “What is vegan?” they would say it is the opportunity to reduce suffering in the world because as Gandhi famously said “the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” and “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it’s animals are treated”.
Or perhaps ethical vegans would simply say they do it so they can look themselves in the mirror and sleep at night.
What Is Vegan? Your Health!
What you choose to chew makes you well and keeps you healthy or it kills you! Plain and simple. For example, did you know that currently more than 1,200,000 people die EACH YEAR from diseases of lifestyle. These include heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All of which can be controlled or reversed by eating a healthy plant based (aka vegan) diet and exercising. (3)(4)
Yes, the Standard American Diet (or SAD) is killing us in record numbers and those in the know have figured out that it’s easy for them to opt out of all the insanity. Yes, you can choose not to have any of the above health issues and more simply by choosing to eat a vegan diet.
When you ask a person who became vegan in order to regain health or stay healthy about being vegan their response tends to be vegan is…
- Disease Prevention AND Reversal
- Effortless Weight Management
- Being In Control Of Your Own Health
- Saving Money By Not Needing Medications
To sum up, being vegan means that when “Food is Thy Medicine & Medicine is Thy Food” the side effects are long life and good health!
What Is Vegan? The Environment!
Our Earth needs us to change! According to NOAA, in May of 2015 the earth’s atmosphere averaged over 400 parts per million of CO2 for the whole month. That’s a new and dangerous milestone. A decade ago 350 ppm of CO2 was considered the upper safe limit. (3) (4)
Ecological vegans will tell you that the farming industry pumps out 38% more CO2 than all the world’s transportation methods combined!
Just let that sink in for a second.
That means that 51% of ALL global Co2 emissions is actually from our farming industry! And only 13% comes from all of the combined transport methods around the world. (8) So you can do a hell of a lot more good for the world by not eating animal products than you can by riding a bicycle EVERYWHERE you go!
And that’s only a vegan diet’s benefits to the earth on this ONE issue. It helps in countless other ways as well. Here are a few…
- Water Conservation
- Ground Water Contamination
- Ocean Dead Zones
- Over Fishing
- Mass Extinction
For folks who become vegan for ecological reasons “What is vegan?” means being responsible and taking personal actions that have a direct impact on conservation efforts to save mother earth for future generations.
To sum up, being vegan means you don’t eat, use or wear anything that came from an animal. We do this because…
- The “Golden Rule” applies to all species not just homo sapiens.
- We want abundant good health for ourselves.
- We want a robustly healthy planet to pass on to our children.
So, “What is vegan?” Rampant good health for ourselves, the planet and our fellow creatures.