Veganism, what is it and why would you become vegan?
Veganism (noun [ U ])
The practice of not eating or using any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, or leather: • Strict veganism prohibits the use of all animal products, not just food, and is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet.
According to Dutch dictionary Van Dale, a vegan is someone who does not eat or use animal products.
Clear, but a bit short sighted! Because veganism is not just about a practical implementation, but there is an ideology behind it that rejects the exploitation of animals. A vegan is in fact anti-speciesist, meaning against discrimination on the basis of species. An animal is different, but no less than a human:
According to veganism, the use of animals is cruel and unnecessary, especially in Western society. People can be perfectly healthy on a plant-based diet, often healthier and sometimes even live longer. ¹
But in the end, veganism isn't about health, it's about the animals.
The difference between vegan and plant-based
These two terms are often confused with each other! Someone who eats plant-based for his health is not vegan if they do it for themselves, instaead of for the animals. A small, but essential difference. For example, a vegan can eat unhealthy food too, like fries, pizza, candy or crisps. Fortunately, a plant-based diet is generally healthier, which is a nice side effect!
Veganisme in practice
A vegan doesn't consume animal based products, such as:
meat, dairy and eggs
Fish and other sea creatures
wool, silk, leather, down
honey, beeswax, gelatin
And no products for which animals have been exploited, such as:
care products, cosmetics etc. for which animal testing has been done
truffle for which pigs are used
coconut products for which monkeys are used
What many people forget is that veganism is an aim to avoid using animal products 'as far as possible and practicable'. For example, someone who needs medicine that has been tested on animals can still be vegan. For example, vegan activists do not focus on indigenous peoples who need animals to survive (although there were also vegan indigenous tribes), but on Western society where there is an abundance of plant-based food, and where the use of animal products also has a positive effect. huge footprint on the planet.²
A vegan lifestyle sounds more difficult than it is, if you focus on what is not allowed. If you make the switch from meat eater or vegetarian to vegan, it is a matter of getting used to and learning new eating habits. For example, do you normally buy yoghurt? Then you have to find out which plant-based yoghurt you like. Once you learn new habits and favorite plant-based products, it's much easier!
The transition from meat eater to vegetarian and eventually vegan took a long time for me. As a big animal lover I used to think it was terrible that animals were killed for my food. As a child I tried to put it away because I had the feeling that I had no alternative, because I already liked so little? What was left then, I thought... As a teenager (around 2002) I did make my first attempt and tried eating vegetable burgers. Not only did I dislike them a lot, my mother was also not very enthusiastic about facilitating my lifestyle. It didn't last long.
As soon as I left home to study, I finally became a vegetarian. Finally no animals died for me, I thought! And as long as I bought free-range eggs, the chickens would be fine. Right? By cooking myself and trying out many recipes, being a vegetarian was not that difficult at all. Fortunately (in 2009) there were already many more, and tastier meat substitutes available. It still took years before I realized that the fate of animals in the egg and dairy industry was just as bad. That male chicks went through the shredder, all male calves are slaughtered, and the laying hens and dairy cows don't have a good life either...
Ouch. Undercover images of stables and slaughterhouses were increasingly realeased. The usual practices, the machines and the abuses. I couldn't justify it to myself anymore, I knew enough. I have phased out the animal products one by one, first eggs, then cheese, finally milk chocolate. What a relief that was! I found that cheese and milk chocolate had been really addictive, I really had to kick the habit a bit. But the guilt that was lifted off my shoulders was so enormous. Veganism was much easier and more fun than I thought, and it feels great not to contribute to animal suffering anymore.
And honest? I wish I had made the switch much sooner ;)
In 2022 so much has changed, the vegetable revolution is in full swing. From plantbased meat & fish, plant milks, vegan cheeses. From the Vegan Junk Food Bar to vegan leather shoes, it's a joy to be vegan. You don't have to miss anything anymore, just maybe get used to it at first. Do you agree that the way animals are used and killed is not okay? Who knows, you may be able to take a first step today by replacing something animal-based with a plant-based alternative!
Veganism is an ideology, but it is less well known that meat eaters also adhere to an ideology: Carnism. Because the Carnist ideology is so widespread, many people are not even aware of it. It is seen by society as normal, or the standard. Yet it is indeed a belief.
Read more about Carnism here.
Sources: ¹ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31895244/ | ² https://www.theguardian.com/
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