Vegans, a term coined by its founder Donald Watson, are the people who avoid eating products derived from animal origin. That necessarily means not consuming any meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, honey, gelatine etc.
Following a vegan lifestyle, on the other hand, means avoiding all foods and products made from animals i.e. no animal origin foods and no use of leather, wool, silk, cosmetics etc.
Looking at a more precise definition as stated by the Vegan Society, founding body of veganism.‘’A philosophy and a way of living which excludes all forms of cruelty, exploitations of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose and promoting use and development of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and environment” .
People are drawn to veganism for a multitude of reasons, some of which include health, environmental concerns, societal impacts, spiritual beliefs or compassion for animals to name a few.
The History of Veganism
Veganism as a philosophy is believed to be inspired by vegetarianism which became a major movement in England and the US in the 19th century .
However, the first practice of vegetarianism can be traced back to ancient eastern civilizations where followers of Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism abstained from killings animals and followed a strict vegetarian diet [1,2].
Veganism followed thereafter in the 20th century in Great Britain and was introduced by a British woodworker named Donald Watson in 1944 .
Legend has it that tuberculosis was found in British dairy cows theyear before and Watson used this to his advantage, advocating that Vegan lifestyle was a much healthier option .
The vegan movement has gained momentum in recent years as more and more people are being inspired to change their dietary patterns.
However, it is only a small part of the larger Vegetarian community that has been in existence for quite a while and is segmented as per different dietary patterns.
What Types of Vegetarians Are There?
Vegetarians are classified as per the following categories based on their dietary preferences.
Pesco-Vegetarian or Pescatarian
Vegans follow a very strict diet and abstain from consuming any animal products. Eating only a plant-based diet as a whole is considered to be very healthy and no wonder why veganism is so popular. Not only do they have a lower Body Mass Index than non-vegans, but they are also less likely to become overweight or obese [14-16].
Another reason why veganism is on the rise is the fact that a plant based diet is believed to provide additional protection from chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes-2 and cardiovascular diseases[14-16].
Having said that, eliminating all animal products from the diet might increase the risk of potential nutritional deficiencies if the essential nutrient sources are not replaced by the corresponding plant-based sources .
Hence it is recommended to consume a balanced diet consisting of coloured fruits & vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans and sometimes plant-based supplements.
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