"All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this harf fact: in suffering the animals are our equals." - Peter Singer
What is Veganism?
There are lots of different types of vegetarians – vegans are one of them. As it can be really hard to tell them apart and know the differences concerning their diet and lifestyle in general, here's a list for you to become an expert. Vegetarian Being vegetarian is often seen as the sole elimination of meat from one’s diet. However, others define it as a lifestyle that not only refuses animal flesh but also rejects all other products for which animals have to be killed including bone broth, gelatin, leather, ...
Lacto ovo vegetarians consume eggs (ovo) and dairy products (lacto) but do not eat neither meat nor fish
Lacto vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs, meat or fish
Ovo vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy products, meat or fish
Pescetarians do not eat meat, however they include fish in their diet as well as dairy products and eggs
Flexitarians are not typical vegetarians as they eat meat but try to avoid it most of the time or have weekly veggie days where they try to do without
Vegan Veganism is another step further from vegetarianism. However, there also exist different kinds of this lifestyle.
Following a plant based diet just means that someone does not eat animal products (like meat, fish, milk and dairy products, eggs,...) but may not refuse products like leather or cosmetics tested on animals. It’s often motivated by health reasons and not ethical ones.
"Vegan" does not only refer to diet but is a holistic lifestyle that avoids all animal products including wool, leather, cosmetics tested on animals, ...
Raw vegans only eat raw food (treated at a temperature below 42°C) like fruit, vegetables and occasionally nuts and seeds
Veganism (or vegetarianism) can be motivated by various aspects. Some of them are listed and explained in detail below.
Ethics The ethical aspect may be the strongest for going and staying vegan. Ethical vegans do not want to support animal slaughter and exploitation by eating their flesh or by-products. Factory farming is also a huge argument for stopping to eat animal products. Environment Sooner or later, those who are engaged in nature protection will have to realize that eating animal products has one of the most damaging impacts on our environment. The production of flesh, milk and eggs wastes resources, water, as well as land and is responsible for toxic emissions that cause global warming. Those who follow a vegan diet or lifestyle help prevent catastrophic environmental damage. Health There are heaps of studies that show how a plant-based diet can help prevent major diseases (like cancer or chronic heart diseases) and generally make people feel happier, more active and fitter. Also there are lots of athletes who exclusively eat plants and achieve great results in their field due to improved energy levels and better strength. Disgust In the past a lot of scandals regarding meat have been revealed – BSE or rotten meat in supermarkets are only two examples. Also, it’s usual that the milk and dairy products you can buy at your local store contain pus, even though they were pasteurized. Those facts as well as unhygienic conditions found in slaughterhouses lead to disgusted consumers who loose their appetite for animal products.
My personal point of view
I would see myself not only as a "plant eater" but as a real vegan, as I try hard to avoid any products (food, cosmetics, clothes,...) that were involved in harming animals. My main motivation for being vegan therefore are the animals. I simply can’t stand the thought of innocent, sentient beings who have to suffer or die just because of the decisions I make day to day, even though it’s not necessary at all. There are so many alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs. We can get all the essential vitamins (B12 is an exception but no excuse) and minerals through plants and meanwhile enjoy delicious meals. Just because we, as humans, feel superior to animals doesn’t mean it is justified to exploit and slaughter them. Why don’t we use our intellectual capacity to reflect, if it is morally acceptable to kill animals solely for their good tasting flesh? I dwelled on those questions a lot, I’ve read an abundance of books and I have seen many films showing the reality of our modern factory farms. What I've seen left me shocked, sad and completely disturbed. The only way out was not to support this industry any more by buying their products. I went vegan! Today, people often ask me if I don’t miss animal products. My answer is no. No, I do not at all miss those products because I am really happy and grateful for having found a lifestyle that has such positive impacts on all facets of my life. Now that I’ve done research about nearly every single aspect of veganism, the aspects of environment and health also grew important to me. I feel like by eating the way I do, I can make a change and contribute to a planet that will also be livable for future generations. I’m not perfect, I also eat bananas that grew on the other side of the world and therefore are not the most optimal food for nature. However, I have good intentions and always try to do my best! Some time ago I also thought that dairy products and eggs were health foods. Now that I’m informed and know better, I really appreciate the positive effects a plant based diet (without milk and eggs) can have on our bodies and I’m more than ever convinced that this kind of diet is the most optimal for our health. Plus – I’m not extreme, veganism is not extreme. The miserable conditions in slaughter houses are extreme. The immense CO2 emissions caused by live stock husbandry are extreme. Amounts of gases that are even higher than those, produced by our transport system. Increasing obesity rates in industrial countries and millions of deaths and chronic diseases caused by a bad diet are extreme. Our ignorance just to be able to eat some certain products is what I call extreme. Veganism is the solution to all those issues and in my view solving major problems and saving the lives of millions of animals and humans is necessary and not extreme.
Tips for beginners
On my blog you can find some useful information for vegan beginners:
Is it vegan? - A list with all the products a vegan wants to avoid.