A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.
Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Living vegan provides numerous benefits to animal’s lives, to the environment, and to one’s own health – through a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially-raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, whether factory-farmed or ‘free range,’ are slaughtered when their production rates decline.
Animal agriculture takes a devastating toll on the earth. It is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.
The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions. Cows’ milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans.
Veganism is the practice of eliminating the use by human beings of non-human animal products. Ethical vegans reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, while dietary vegans or strict vegetarians eliminate them from the diet only.
The term was coined in England by Donald Watson, who founded the British Vegan Society in 1944, and in 1960 H. Jay Dinshah started the American Vegan Society, linking it to the Jainist and Buddhist concept of Ahimsa – the avoidance of violence against living things.