What Does Vegan Mean?

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The first time I heard about veganism, it was from an ex-boyfriend in the Fall of 2001. He decided not showering was, somehow, vegan. 🤔

I can’t recall exactly the scenario that lead him to that conclusion. But those memories of him really needing to take a shower is what I would remember for years.

And every now and again, I would see PETA mentioned on the nightly news because of some insanely crafted protest they held against animal abuse.

But it actually wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned what veganism actually is all about. And that you shouldn’t listen to everything you hear.

Definition of veganism

I think the best definition of what veganism is comes from The Vegan Society. They state veganism is –

“..a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—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 animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

In more simplistic terms, purposely choosing to not eat animals or purchase products with animal ingredients, furs, etc.

The thing I like to tell people is veganism is not about perfectionism. Hence the “as far as is possible and practicable” in the definition.

A picture sharing the quote from The Vegan Society on what veganism is.

What does vegan-friendly mean?

You might notice in some of my posts I might state whether a company is cruelty-free or not, and if they offer vegan-friendly products.

What I mean by “vegan-friendly” is that a product does not include animal ingredients or animal derivatives; beeswax, carmine, etc.

So a company, that is not considered to be cruelty-free, might still offer vegan-friendly makeup or skincare products.

And it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide if they want to purchase vegan-friendly products from a company that is not truly cruelty-free.

What makes a product vegan?

Kind of like I just explained, to be considered “vegan,” a product must not contain animal ingredients or derivatives.

But in addition, the company has to be cruelty-free, too. This means, no animal testing at any point during production to include third party suppliers.

This is where opinions might split. Some vegans choose to purchase products that are sold in countries that require animal testing by law. And others don’t.

Here at Cruelty-Free Resource, I consider cruelty-free to mean no animal testing at any point, to include countries that require it by law.

💡 In saying that, I realize not everyone has the privilege to choose 100% vegan due to costs or location. Veganism is not about perfectionism.

What does a vegan diet consist of?

Since I sometimes get this question, I figured I’d include it here. A vegan diet excludes foods that come from animals; eggs, meat, poultry, dairy, fish, etc.

While their is some argument among the vegan community on some items like honey. It largely excludes any food that includes animals or animal ingredients.

When it comes to eating with family or friends at social events, I largely take a stance that I don’t expect people to cater to how I’m eating.

Luckily, I haven’t run into any trouble in these situations yet. No Meat Athlete has a good article on this called, My Rules For Navigating Vegan in A Non Vegan World.”

Does vegan mean dairy free?

Since a vegan diet excludes foods that come from animals, this would include dairy foods. Cheese, butter, milk, etc are all excluded from a vegan diet.

Now, this is the biggest problem I had with a transition. After all, who doesn’t love cheese? But let me tell you, their are surprisingly good cheese alternatives.

But it does take some trial and error. The Follow Your Heart brand makes some decent mock cheeses. And Miyoko makes a plant based butter alternative that is convincing.

What about calcium? While many products are fortified, a vegan can get enough calcium with a varied plant-based diet containing beans, dark leafy vegetables, etc.

Does vegan mean no eggs?

The short answer is yes. Just like with dairy, a vegan diet seeks to exclude eating foods coming from animals. And that includes eggs.

Eggs, just like meat, are a great source of many vitamins and minerals. But in a vegan diet, this is replaced by eating beans, tofu, tempeh, and other plant based proteins.

And if someone really wants vegan friendly eggs, their are alternatives. JUST Egg comes to mind as well as VeganEgg, the neat Egg, and more.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of eating mock eggs or meats. But I do have them on hand when a craving hits, or for a quick meal option.

Conclusion

What does vegan mean? It means choosing to stop eating animals, using animals ingredients, and more. It also means choosing to shop cruelty-free.

So while many might focus on veganism as just a diet for better health outcomes, it’s so much more than that. Diet is just one piece of veganism.

It’s currently estimated that the vegan beauty market will reach $20 billion within the next five years, alone. So it’s not some fad that is going to go away.

If you’re not vegan, you can choose to shop cruelty-free. You can choose to eat less meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s not about perfectionism. It’s about harm reduction, too.