Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan. Distinctions may be made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet but extend the philosophy into other areas of their lives, and oppose the use of animals for any purpose. Another term is environmental veganism, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
Well-planned vegan diets are regarded as appropriate for all stages of life, including during infancy and pregnancy, by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the British Dietetic Association. The German Society for Nutrition does not recommend vegan diets for children or adolescents, or during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals; and lower in dietary energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. Unbalanced vegan diets may lead to nutritional deficiencies that nullify any beneficial effects and may cause serious health issues. Some of these deficiencies can only be prevented through the choice of fortified foods or the regular intake of dietary supplements. Vitamin B12 supplementation is especially important because its deficiency causes blood disorders and potentially irreversible neurological damage.
Donald Watson coined the term vegan in 1944 when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England. At first he used it to mean “non-dairy vegetarian”, but from 1951 the Society defined it as “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals”. Interest in veganism increased in the 2010s, especially in the latter half. More vegan stores opened and vegan options became increasingly available in supermarkets and restaurants in many countries.
Further information: History of vegetarianism
Main article: Vegetarianism
The term “vegetarian” has been in use since around 1839 to refer to what was previously described as a vegetable regimen or diet. Modern dictionaries based on scientific linguistic principles explain its origin as an irregular compound of vegetable and the suffix -arian (in the sense of “supporter, believer” as in humanitarian). The earliest-known written use is attributed to actress, writer and abolitionist Fanny Kemble, in her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838–1839.
The practice can be traced to Indus Valley Civilization in 3300–1300 BCE in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in northern and western India and in Pakistan. Early vegetarians included Indian philosophers such as Mahavira and Acharya Kundakunda, the Tamil poet Valluvar, the Indian emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka; Greek philosophers such as Empedocles, Theophrastus, Plutarch, Plotinus, and Porphyry; and the Roman poet Ovidand the playwright Seneca the Younger. The Greek sage Pythagoras may have advocated an early form of strict vegetarianism, but his life is so obscure that it is disputed whether he ever advocated any form of vegetarianism at all. He almost certainly prohibited his followers from eating beans and from wearing woolen garments. Eudoxus of Cnidus, a student of Archytas and Plato, writes that “Pythagoras was distinguished by such purity and so avoided killing and killers that he not only abstained from animal foods, but even kept his distance from cooks and hunters”. One of the earliest known vegans was the Arab poet al-Maʿarri (c. 973 – c. 1057). Their arguments were based on health, the transmigration of souls, animal welfare, and the view—espoused by Porphyry in De Abstinentia ab Esu Animalium (“On Abstinence from Animal Food”, c. 268 – c. 270)—that if humans deserve justice, then so do animals.
Vegetarianism established itself as a significant movement in 19th-century England and the United States. A minority of vegetarians avoided animal food entirely. In 1813, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published A Vindication of Natural Diet, advocating “abstinence from animal food and spirituous liquors”, and in 1815, William Lambe, a London physician, claimed that his “water and vegetable diet” could cure anything from tuberculosis to acne. Lambe called animal food a “habitual irritation”, and argued that “milk eating and flesh-eating are but branches of a common system and they must stand or fall together”. Sylvester Graham’s meatless Graham diet—mostly fruit, vegetables, water, and bread made at home with stoneground flour—became popular as a health remedy in the 1830s in the United States. Several vegan communities were established around this time. In Massachusetts, Amos Bronson Alcott, father of the novelist Louisa May Alcott, opened the Temple School in 1834 and Fruitlands in 1844, and in England, James Pierrepont Greaves founded the Concordium, a vegan community at Alcott House on Ham Common, in 1838.
Further information: Vegetarian Society
In 1843, members of Alcott House created the British and Foreign Society for the Promotion of Humanity and Abstinence from Animal Food, led by Sophia Chichester, a wealthy benefactor of Alcott House. Alcott House also helped to establish the UK Vegetarian Society, which held its first meeting in 1847 in Ramsgate, Kent. The Medical Times and Gazette in London reported in 1884:
There are two kinds of Vegetarians—one an extreme form, the members of which eat no animal food whatever; and a less extreme sect, who do not object to eggs, milk, or fish. The Vegetarian Society … belongs to the latter more moderate division.
An article in the Society’s magazine, the Vegetarian Messenger, in 1851 discussed alternatives to shoe leather, which suggests the presence of vegans within the membership who rejected animal use entirely, not only in diet. By the 1886 publication of Henry S. Salt’s A Plea for Vegetarianism and Other Essays, he asserts that, “It is quite true that most—not all—Food Reformers admit into their diet such animal food as milk, butter, cheese, and eggs…” The first known vegan cookbook, Rupert H. Wheldon’s No Animal Food: Two Essays and 100 Recipes, was published in London in 1910. The consumption of milk and eggs became a battleground over the following decades. There were regular discussions about it in the Vegetarian Messenger; it appears from the correspondence pages that many opponents of veganism came from vegetarians.
During a visit to London in 1931, Mahatma Gandhi —who had joined the Vegetarian Society’s executive committee when he lived in London from 1888 to 1891—gave a speech to the Society arguing that it ought to promote a meat-free diet as a matter of morality, not health. Lacto-vegetarians acknowledged the ethical consistency of the vegan position but regarded a vegan diet as impracticable and were concerned that it might be an impediment to spreading vegetarianism if vegans found themselves unable to participate in social circles where no non-animal food was available. This became the predominant view of the Vegetarian Society, which in 1935 stated:
“The lacto-vegetarians, on the whole, do not defend the practice of consuming the dairy products except on the ground of expediency.”
Vegan etymology (1944)
In August 1944, several members of the Vegetarian Society asked that a section of its newsletter be devoted to non-dairy vegetarianism. When the request was turned down, Donald Watson, secretary of the Leicester branch, set up a new quarterly newsletter in November 1944, priced tuppence. He called it The Vegan News. He chose the word vegan himself, based on “the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian'” because it marked, in Mr Watson’s words, “the beginning and end of vegetarian”, but asked his readers if they could think of anything better than vegan to stand for “non-dairy vegetarian”. They suggested allvega, neo-vegetarian, dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivores, and beaumangeur.
The first edition attracted more than 100 letters, including from George Bernard Shaw, who resolved to give up eggs and dairy. The new Vegan Society held its first meeting in early November at the Attic Club, 144 High Holborn, London. Those in attendance were Donald Watson, Elsie B. Shrigley, Fay K. Henderson, Alfred Hy Haffenden, Paul Spencer and Bernard Drake, with Mme Pataleewa (Barbara Moore, a Russian-British engineer) observing. World Vegan Day is held every 1 November to mark the founding of the Society and the month of November is considered by the Society to be World Vegan Month.
The Vegan News changed its name to The Vegan in November 1945, by which time it had 500 subscribers. It published recipes and a “vegan trade list” of animal-free products, such as Colgate toothpaste, Kiwi shoe polish, Dawson & Owen stationery and Gloy glue. Vegan books appeared, including Vegan Recipes by Fay K. Henderson and Aids to a Vegan Diet for Children by Kathleen V. Mayo.
The Vegan Society soon made clear that it rejected the use of animals for any purpose, not only in diet. In 1947, Watson wrote: “The vegan renounces it as superstitious that human life depends upon the exploitation of these creatures whose feelings are much the same as our own …”. From 1948, The Vegan’s front page read: “Advocating living without exploitation”, and in 1951, the Society published its definition of veganism as “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals”. In 1956, its vice-president, Leslie Cross, founded the Plantmilk Society; and in 1965, as Plantmilk Ltd and later Plamil Foods, it began production of one of the first widely distributed soy milks in the Western world.
The first vegan society in the United States was founded in 1948 by Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz in California, who distributed Watson’s newsletter In 1960, H. Jay Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society (AVS), linking veganism to the concept of ahimsa, “non-harming” in Sanskrit. According to Joanne Stepaniak, the word vegan was first published independently in 1962 by the Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, defined as “a vegetarian who eats no butter, eggs, cheese, or milk”.
Alternative food movements
In the 1960s and 1970s, a vegetarian food movement emerged as part of the counterculture in the United States that focused on concerns about diet, the environment, and a distrust of food producers, leading to increasing interest in organic gardening. One of the most influential vegetarian books of that time was Frances Moore Lappé’s 1971 text, Diet for a Small Planet. It sold more than three million copies and suggested “getting off the top of the food chain”.
The following decades saw research by a group of scientists and doctors in the United States, including physicians Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal D. Barnard, John A. McDougall, Michael Greger, and biochemist T. Colin Campbell, who argued that diets based on animal fat and animal protein, such as the Western pattern diet, were detrimental to health They produced a series of books that recommend vegan or vegetarian diets, including McDougall’s The McDougall Plan (1983), John Robbins’s Diet for a New America (1987), which associated meat eating with environmental damage, and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease (1990). In 2003 two major North American dietitians’ associations indicated that well-planned vegan diets were suitable for all life stages. This was followed by the film Earthlings (2005), Campbell’s The China Study (2005), Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s Skinny Bitch (2005), Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals (2009), and the film Forks over Knives (2011).
In the 1980s, veganism became associated with punk subculture and ideologies, particularly straight edge hardcore punk in the United States; and anarcho-punk in the United Kingdom. This association continues on into the 21st century, as evinced by the prominence of vegan punk events such as Fluff Fest in Europe.
Into the mainstream (2010s)
The vegan diet became increasingly mainstream in the 2010s, especially in the latter half. The Economist declared 2019 “the year of the vegan”. The European Parliament defined the meaning of vegan for food labels in 2010, in force as of 2015. Chain restaurants began marking vegan items on their menus and supermarkets improved their selection of vegan processed food. The English Wikipedia article on veganism was viewed 73,000 times in August 2009 but 145,000 times in August 2013; articles on veganism were viewed more during this period than articles on vegetarianism in the English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish Wikipedias. In 2016 Google searches for “vegan” increased by 90 percent, up from a 32 percent increase the previous year.
The global mock-meats market increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2010, and in the United States by eight percent between 2012 and 2015, to $553 million a year. The Vegetarian Butcher (De Vegetarische Slager), the first known vegetarian butcher shop, selling mock meats, opened in the Netherlands in 2010, while America’s first vegan butcher, the Herbivorous Butcher, opened in Minneapolis in 2016. By 2016, forty-nine percent of Americans were drinking plant milk, although 91 percent still drank dairy milk. In the United Kingdom, the plant milk market increased by 155 percent in two years, from 36 million litres (63 million imperial pints) in 2011 to 92 million (162 million imperial pints) in 2013. The country has seen a 185% increase in new vegan products between 2012 and 2016. In 2011, Europe’s first vegan supermarkets appeared in Germany: Vegilicious in Dortmund and Veganz in Berlin.
Veganism rose in popularity in Hong Kong and China, particularly among millennials. China’s vegan market is estimated to rise by more than 17 percent between 2015 and 2020, which is expected to be “the fastest growth rate internationally in that period”. This exceeds the projected growth in the second and third fastest-growing vegan markets internationally in the same period, the United Arab Emirates (10.6%) and Australia (9.6%) respectively. In total, as of 2016, the largest share of vegan consumers globally currently reside in Asia Pacific with nine percent of people following a vegan diet.
Countering the image of self-deprivation projected by vegan straight edges and animal rights activists, veganism was promoted as glamorous; in 2015, the editor of Yahoo! Food declared that it had become “a thing”. Celebrities, athletes, and politicians adopted vegan diets—some seriously, some part-time. The idea of the “flexi-vegan” gained currency: New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, in VB6 (2013), recommended eating vegan food until 6 pm. In 2013, the Oktoberfest in Munich—traditionally a meat-heavy affair—offered vegan dishes for the first time in its 200-year history.
Critics of veganism questioned the evolutionary legitimacy and health effects of a vegan diet, and pointed to longstanding philosophical traditions which held that humans are superior to other animals. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain wrote in 2000 that “[v]egetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn”. Several vegetarian writers argued that the restrictions of a vegan lifestyle are impractical, and that vegetarianism is a better goal.
Further information: Rendering (food processing)
Vegans do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fowl, game, animal seafood, eggs, dairy, or any other animal products. Dietary vegans might use animal products in clothing (as leather, wool, and silk), toiletries, and similar. Ethical veganism extends not only to matters of food but also to the wearing or use of animal products, and rejects the commodification of animals altogether. The British Vegan Society will certify a product only if it is free of animal involvement as far as possible and practical, including animal testing, but “recognises that it is not always possible to make a choice that avoids the use of animals”, an issue that was highlighted in 2016 when it became known that the UK’s newly-introduced £5 note contained tallow.
An important concern is the case of medications, which are routinely tested on animals to ensure they are effective and safe, and may also contain animal ingredients, such as lactose, gelatine, or stearates. There may be no alternatives to prescribed medication or these alternatives may be unsuitable, less effective, or have more adverse side effects. Experimentation with laboratory animals is also used for evaluating the safety of vaccines, food additives, cosmetics, household products, workplace chemicals, and many other substances.
Philosopher Gary Steiner argues that it is not possible to be entirely vegan, because animal use and products are “deeply and imperceptibly woven into the fabric of human society”. Animal products in common use include albumen, allantoin, beeswax, blood, bone char, bone china, carmine, casein, castoreum, cochineal, elastin, emu oil, gelatin, honey, isinglass, keratin, lactic acid, lanolin, lard, rennet, retinol, shellac, squalene, tallow (including sodium tallowate), whey, and yellow grease. Some of these are chemical compounds that can be derived from animal products, plants, or petrochemicals. Allantoin, lactic acid, retinol, and squalene, for example, can be vegan. These products and their origins are not always included in the list of ingredients. Vegetables themselves, even from organic farms, may use animal manure; “vegan” vegetables use plant compost only.
Some vegans will not buy woollen jumpers, silk scarves, leather shoes, bedding that contains goose down or duck feathers, pearl jewellery, seashells, ordinary soap (usually made of animal fat), or cosmetics that contain animal products. They avoid certain vaccines; the flu vaccine, for example, is usually grown in hens’ eggs, although an effective alternative, Flublok, is widely available in the United States. Non-vegan items acquired before they became vegan might be donated to charity or used until worn out. Some vegan clothes, in particular leather alternatives, are made of petroleum-based products, which has triggered criticism because of the environmental damage involved in their production.
Eggs and dairy products
The main difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet is that vegans exclude dairy products and eggs. Ethical vegans avoid them on the premise that their production causes animal suffering and premature death. In egg production, most male chicks are culled because they do not lay eggs. To obtain milk from dairy cattle, cows are made pregnant to induce lactation; they are kept lactating for three to seven years, then slaughtered. Female calves can be separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, and fed milk replacer to retain the cow’s milk for human consumption. Male calves are slaughtered at birth, sent for veal production, or reared for beef.
Honey and silk
Vegan groups disagree about insect products. Neither the Vegan Society nor the American Vegan Society considers honey, silk, and other insect products as suitable for vegans. Insect products can be defined much more widely, as commercial bees are used to pollinate about 100 different food crops.
Due to the environmental impact of meat-based pet food and the ethical problems it poses for vegans, some vegans extend their philosophy to include the diets of pets. This is particularly true for domesticated cats and dogs, for which vegan pet food is both available and nutritionally complete, such as Vegepet. However, this practice has been met with caution and criticism, especially toward vegan cat diets due to felids being obligate carnivores. Furthermore, although nutritionally complete vegan pet diets are comparable to meat-based ones for cats and dogs, as of August 2015 many commercial vegan pet food brands do not meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulations for nutritional adequacy.
Vegan diets are based on grains and other seeds, legumes (particularly beans), fruits, vegetables, edible mushrooms, and nuts.
Meatless products based on soybeans (tofu), or wheat-based seitan are sources of plant protein, commonly in the form of vegetarian sausage, mince, and veggie burgers.
Soy-based dishes are a staple of vegan diets because soy is a complete protein; i.e. it has all the essential amino acids for humans and can be relied on entirely for protein intake. They are consumed most often in the form of soy milk and tofu (bean curd), which is soy milk mixed with a coagulant. Tofu comes in a variety of textures, depending on water content, from firm, medium firm and extra firm for stews and stir-fries to soft or silken for salad dressings, desserts and shakes. Soy is also eaten in the form of tempeh and textured vegetable protein (TVP); also known as textured soy protein (TSP), the latter is often used in pasta sauces.
Plant milk, cheese, mayonnaise
Butter and margarine can be replaced with alternate vegan products. Vegan cheeses are made from seeds, such as sesame and sunflower; nuts, such as cashew, pine nut, and almond; and soybeans, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, tapioca, and rice, among other ingredients; and can replicate the meltability of dairy cheese. Nutritional yeast is a common substitute for the taste of cheese in vegan recipes. Cheese substitutes can be made at home, including from nuts, such as cashews.
Plant milks—such as soy milk, almond milk, grain milks (oat milk, flax milk and rice milk), hemp milk, and coconut milk—are used in place of cows’ or goats’ milk. Soy milk provides around 7 g (¼oz) of protein per cup (240 mL or 8 fl oz), compared with 8 g (2/7oz) of protein per cup of cow’s milk. Almond milk is lower in dietary energy, carbohydrates, and protein. Soy milk should not be used as a replacement for breast milk for babies. Babies who are not breastfed may be fed commercial infant formula, normally based on cows’ milk or soy. The latter is known as soy-based infant formula or SBIF.
Further information: Egg substitutes
Commercial egg substitutes are available for cooking and baking. The protein in eggs thickens when heated and binds other ingredients together. For pancakes a tablespoon of baking powder can be used instead of eggs. Silken (soft) tofu and mashed potato can also be used. Aquafaba from chickpeas can be used as an egg replacement and whipped like egg whites. Another egg alternative in pastries is banana. Half a banana replaces an egg.
Main article: Raw veganism
Raw veganism, combining veganism and raw foodism, excludes all animal products and food cooked above 48 °C (118 °F). A raw vegan diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, and sea vegetables. There are many variations of the diet, including fruitarianism.
Soy beans and quinoa are known as complete proteins because they each contain all the essential amino acids in amounts that meet or exceed human requirements. Mangels et al. write that consuming the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein—0.8 g/kg (12gr/lb) of body weight—in the form of soy will meet the biologic requirement for amino acids. In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture ruled that soy protein (tofu) may replace meat protein in the National School Lunch Program.
The American Dietetic Association said in 2009 that a variety of plant foods consumed over the course of a day can provide all the essential amino acids for healthy adults, which means that protein combining in the same meal may not be necessary. Mangels et al. write that there is little reason to advise vegans to increase their protein intake; but erring on the side of caution, they recommend a 25 percent increase over the RDA for adults, to 1g/kg (15gr/lb) of body weight.
Vitamin B12 is a bacterial product needed for cell division, the formation and maturation of red blood cells, the synthesis of DNA, and normal nerve function. A deficiency may cause megaloblastic anaemia and neurological damage, and, if untreated, may lead to death. The high content of folacin in vegetarian diets may mask the hematological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, so it may go undetected until neurological signs in the late stages are evident, which can be irreversible, such as neuropsychiatric abnormalities, neuropathy, dementia and, occasionally, atrophy of optic nerves. Vegans sometimes fail to obtain enough B12 from their diet because among non-fortified foods, only those of animal origin contain sufficient amounts. The best source is ruminant food. Vegetarians are also at risk, as are older people and those with certain medical conditions. A 2013 study found that “vegetarians develop B12 depletion or deficiency regardless of demographic characteristics, place of residency, age, or type of vegetarian diet. Vegans should take preventive measures to ensure adequate intake of this vitamin, including regular consumption of supplements containing B12.”
B12 is produced in nature only by certain bacteria and archaea; it is not made by any animal, fungus, or plant. It is synthesized by some gut bacteria in humans and other animals, but humans cannot absorb the B12 made in their guts, as it is made in the colon which is too far from the small intestine, where absorption of B12 occurs. Ruminants, such as cows and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria in their guts.
Animals store vitamin B12 in liver and muscle and some pass the vitamin into their eggs and milk; meat, liver, eggs and milk are therefore sources of B12.
It has been suggested that nori (an edible seaweed), tempeh (a fermented soybean food), and nutritional yeast may be sources of vitamin B12. In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics established that nori, fermented foods (such as tempeh), spirulina, chlorella algae, and unfortified nutritional yeast are not adequate sources of vitamin B12 and that vegans need to consume regularly fortified foods or supplements containing B12. Otherwise, vitamin B12 deficiency may develop, as has been demonstrated in case studies of vegan infants, children, and adults.
Vitamin B12 is mostly manufactured by industrial fermentation of various kinds of bacteria, which make forms of cyanocobalamin, which are further processed to generate the ingredient included in supplements and fortified foods. The Pseudomonas denitrificans strain was most commonly used as of 2017. It is grown in a medium containing sucrose, yeast extract, and several metallic salts. To increase vitamin production, it is supplemented with sugar beet molasses, or, less frequently, with choline. Certain brands of B12 supplements are vegan.
Calcium is needed to maintain bone health and for several metabolic functions, including muscle function, vascular contraction and vasodilation, nerve transmission, intracellular signalling, and hormonal secretion. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.
High-calcium foods may include fortified plant milk or fortified tofu. Plant sources include broccoli, turnip, bok choy, collards, and kale; the bioavailability of calcium in spinach is poor. egans should make sure they consume enough vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption.
A 2007 report based on the Oxford cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, which began in 1993, suggested that vegans have an increased risk of bone fractures over meat eaters and vegetarians, likely because of lower dietary calcium intake. The study found that vegans consuming at least 525 mg (8gr) of calcium daily have a risk of fractures similar to that of other groups. A 2009 study found the bone mineral density (BMD) of vegans was 94 percent that of omnivores, but deemed the difference clinically insignificant.
Vitamin D (calciferol) is needed for several functions, including calcium absorption, enabling mineralization of bone, and bone growth. Without it bones can become thin and brittle; together with calcium it offers protection against osteoporosis. Vitamin D is produced in the body when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin; outdoor exposure is needed because UVB radiation does not penetrate glass. It is present in salmon, tuna, mackerel and cod liver oil, with small amounts in cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver, and in some mushrooms.
Most vegan diets contain little or no vitamin D without fortified food. People with little sun exposure may need supplements. The extent to which sun exposure is sufficient depends on the season, time of day, cloud and smog cover, skin melanin content, and whether sunscreen is worn. According to the National Institutes of Health, most people can obtain and store sufficient vitamin D from sunlight in the spring, summer, and fall, even in the far north. They report that some researchers recommend 5–30 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen between 10 am and 3 pm, at least twice a week. Tanning beds emitting 2–6% UVB radiation have a similar effect, though tanning is inadvisable.
Vitamin D comes in two forms. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is synthesized in the skin after exposure to the sun or consumed from food, usually from animal sources. Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) is derived from ergosterol from UV-exposed mushrooms or yeast and is suitable for vegans. When produced industrially as supplements, vitamin D3 is typically derived from lanolin in sheep’s wool. However, both provitamins and vitamins D2 and D3 have been discovered in Cladina spp. (especially Cladina rangiferina) and these edible lichen are harvested in the wild for producing vegan vitamin D3. Conflicting studies have suggested that the two forms of vitamin D may or may not be bioequivalent. According to researchers from the Institute of Medicine, the differences between vitamins D2 and D3 do not affect metabolism, both function as prohormones, and when activated exhibit identical responses in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids, iodine
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, is found in walnuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, such as canola and flaxseed oil. EPA and DHA, the other primary omega-3 fatty acids, are found only in animal products and algae. Iodine supplementation may be necessary for vegans in countries where salt is not typically iodized, where it is iodized at low levels, or where, as in Britain and Ireland, dairy products are relied upon for iodine delivery because of low levels in the soil. Iodine can be obtained from most vegan multivitamins or regular consumption of seaweeds, such as kelp.
Professional and government associations
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitians of Canada state that properly planned vegan diets are appropriate for all life stages, including pregnancy and lactation. They indicate that vegetarian diets may be more common among adolescents with eating disorders, but that its adoption may serve to camouflage a disorder rather than cause one. The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council similarly recognizes a well-planned vegan diet as viable for any age. The British National Health Service’s Eatwell Plate allows for an entirely plant-based diet, as does the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate. The USDA allows tofu to replace meat in the National School Lunch Program. The German Society for Nutrition does not recommend a vegan diet for babies, children and adolescents, or for women pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pregnancy, infants and children
Further information: Nutrition and pregnancy
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitians of Canada consider well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets “appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes”. The German Society for Nutrition cautioned against a vegan diet for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, babies, children, and adolescents. The position of the Canadian Pediatric Society is that “well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets with appropriate attention to specific nutrient components can provide a healthy alternative lifestyle at all stages of fetal, infant, child and adolescent growth. Attention should be given to nutrient intake, particularly protein, vitamins B12 and D, essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, and calcium.
According to a 2015 systematic review, there is little evidence available about vegetarian and vegan diets during pregnancy, and a lack of randomized studies meant that the effects of diet could not be distinguished from confounding factors. It concluded: “Within these limits, vegan-vegetarian diets may be considered safe in pregnancy, provided that attention is paid to vitamin and trace element requirements.” A daily source of vitamin B12 is important for pregnant and lactating vegans, as is vitamin D if there are concerns about low sun exposure. A different review found that pregnant vegetarians consumed less zinc than pregnant non-vegetarians, with both groups’ intake below recommended levels; however, the review found no significant difference between groups in actual zinc levels in bodily tissues, nor any effect on gestation period or birth weight.
Researchers have reported cases of vitamin B12 deficiency in lactating vegetarian mothers that were linked to deficiencies and neurological disorders in their children. A doctor or registered dietitian should be consulted about taking supplements during pregnancy.
Vegan diets have attracted negative attention from the media because of cases of nutritional deficiencies that have come to the attention of the courts, including the death of a baby in New Zealand in 2002 due to hypocobalaminemia, i.e. vitamin B12 deficiency.
Further information: Testing cosmetics on animals
Vegans replace personal care products and household cleaners containing animal products with products that are vegan, such as vegan dental floss made of bamboo fiber. Animal ingredients are ubiquitous because they are relatively inexpensive. After animals are slaughtered for meat, the leftovers are put through a rendering process and some of that material, particularly the fat, is used in toiletries.
Common animal-derived ingredients include: tallow in soap; collagen-derived glycerine, which used as a lubricant and humectant in many haircare products, moisturizers, shaving foams, soaps and toothpastes; lanolin from sheep’s wool is often found in lip balm and moisturizers; stearic acid is a common ingredient in face creams, shaving foam and shampoos, (as with glycerine, it can be plant-based, but is usually animal-derived); Lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from animal milk, is used in moisturizers; allantoin— from the comfrey plant or cows’ urine —is found in shampoos, moisturizers and toothpaste; and carmine from scale insects, such as the female cochineal, is used in food and cosmetics to produce red and pink shades;
Animal Ingredients A to Z (2004) and Veganissimo A to Z (2013) list which ingredients might be animal-derived. The British Vegan Society’s sunflower logo and PETA’s bunny logo mean the product is certified vegan, which includes no animal testing. The Leaping Bunny logo signals no animal testing, but it might not be vegan. The Vegan Society criteria for vegan certification are that the product contain no animal products, and that neither the finished item nor its ingredients have been tested on animals by, or on behalf of, the manufacturer or by anyone over whom the manufacturer has control. Its website contains a list of certified products, as does Australia’s Choose Cruelty Free (CCF).
Beauty Without Cruelty, founded as a charity in 1959, was one of the earliest manufacturers and certifiers of animal-free personal care products. Several international companies produce animal-free products, including clothes, shoes, fashion items, and candles.
Vegans avoid clothing that incorporates silk, wool (including lambswool, shearling, cashmere, angora, mohair, and a number of other fine wools), fur, feathers, pearls, animal-derived dyes, leather, snakeskin, and any other kind of skin or animal product. Most leather clothing is made from cow skins. Vegans regard the purchase of leather, particularly from cows, as financial support for the meat industry. Vegans may wear clothing items and accessories made of non-animal-derived materials such as hemp, linen, cotton, canvas, polyester, artificial leather (pleather), rubber, and vinyl. Leather alternatives can come from materials such as cork, piña (from pineapples), and mushroom leather.
Further information: Animal rights, Carnism, Cruelty to animals § Welfare concerns of farm animals, and Ethics of eating meat
Ethical veganism is based on opposition to speciesism, the assignment of value to individuals on the basis of species membership alone. Divisions within animal rights theory include the utilitarian, protectionist approach, which pursues improved conditions for animals. It also pertains to the rights-based abolitionism, which seeks to end human ownership of non-humans. Abolitionists argue that protectionism serves only to make the public feel that animal use can be morally unproblematic (the “happy meat” position).
Law professor Gary Francione, an abolitionist, argues that all sentient beings should have the right not to be treated as property, and that adopting veganism must be the baseline for anyone who believes that non-humans have intrinsic moral value. Philosopher Tom Regan, also a rights theorist, argues that animals possess value as “subjects-of-a-life”, because they have beliefs, desires, memory and the ability to initiate action in pursuit of goals. The right of subjects-of-a-life not to be harmed can be overridden by other moral principles, but Regan argues that pleasure, convenience and the economic interests of farmers are not weighty enough. Philosopher Peter Singer, a protectionist and utilitarian, argues that there is no moral or logical justification for failing to count animal suffering as a consequence when making decisions, and that killing animals should be rejected unless necessary for survival. Despite this, he writes that “ethical thinking can be sensitive to circumstances”, and that he is “not too concerned about trivial infractions”.
An argument proposed by Bruce Friedrich, also a protectionist, holds that strict adherence to veganism harms animals, because it focuses on personal purity, rather than encouraging people to give up whatever animal products they can. For Francione, this is similar to arguing that, because human-rights abuses can never be eliminated, we should not defend human rights in situations we control. By failing to ask a server whether something contains animal products, we reinforce that the moral rights of animals are a matter of convenience, he argues. He concludes from this that the protectionist position fails on its own consequentialist terms.
Philosopher Val Plumwood maintained that ethical veganism is “subtly human-centred”, an example of what she called “human/nature dualism” because it views humanity as separate from the rest of nature. Ethical vegans want to admit non-humans into the category that deserves special protection, rather than recognize the “ecological embeddedness” of all. Plumwood wrote that animal food may be an “unnecessary evil” from the perspective of the consumer who “draws on the whole planet for nutritional needs”—and she strongly opposed factory farming—but for anyone relying on a much smaller ecosystem, it is very difficult or impossible to be vegan.
Bioethicist Ben Mepham, in his review of Francione and Garner’s book The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, concludes that “if the aim of ethics is to choose the right, or best, course of action in specific circumstances ‘all things considered’, it is arguable that adherence to such an absolutist agenda is simplistic and open to serious self-contradictions. Or, as Farlie puts it, with characteristic panache: ‘to conclude that veganism is the “only ethical response” is to take a big leap into a very muddy pond’.” He cites as examples the adverse effects on animal wildlife derived from the agricultural practices necessary to sustain most vegan diets and the ethical contradiction of favoring the welfare of domesticated animals but not that of wild animals; the imbalance between the resources that are used to promote the welfare of animals as opposed to those destined to alleviate the suffering of the approximately one billion human beings who undergo malnutrition, abuse, and exploitation; the focus on attitudes and conditions in western developed countries, leaving out the rights and interests of societies whose economy, culture and, in some cases, survival rely on a symbiotic relationship with animals.
David Pearce, a transhumanist philosopher, has argued that humanity has a “hedonistic imperative” to not merely avoid cruelty to animals or abolish the ownership of non-human animals, but also to redesign the global ecosystem such that wild animal suffering ceases to exist. In the pursuit of abolishing suffering itself, Pearce promotes predation elimination among animals and the “cross-species global analogue of the welfare state”. Fertility regulation could maintain herbivore populations at sustainable levels, “a more civilised and compassionate policy option than famine, predation, and disease”. The increasing number of vegans and vegetarians in the transhumanism movement has been attributed in part to Pearce’s influence.
A growing political philosophy that incorporates veganism as part of its revolutionary praxis is veganarchism, which seeks “total abolition” or “total liberation” for all animals, including humans. Veganarchists identify the state as unnecessary and harmful to animals, both human and non-human, and advocate for the adoption of a vegan lifestyle within a stateless society. The term was popularized in 1995 with Brian A. Dominick’s pamphlet Animal Liberation and Social Revolution, described as “a vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism”. Direct action is a common practice among veganarchists (and anarchists generally) with groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Revolutionary Cells – Animal Liberation Brigade (RCALB) often engaging in such activities, sometimes criminally, to further their goals.
Some extreme sects of vegans also embrace the philosophy of anti-natalism, as they see the two as complementary in terms of “harm reduction” to animals and the environment.
Further information: Animal slaughter § Effects on livestock workers
The Vegan Society has written, “by extension, [veganism] promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans.” Many ethical vegans and vegan organizations cite the poor working conditions of slaughterhouse workers as a reason to reject animal products. The first vegan activist, Donald Watson, has stated, “If these butchers and vivisectors weren’t there, could we perform the acts that they are doing? And, if we couldn’t, we have no right to expect them to do it on our behalf. Full stop! That simply compounds the issue. It means that we’re not just exploiting animals; we’re exploiting human beings.”
Environmental vegans focus on conservation, rejecting the use of animal products on the premise that fishing, hunting, trapping and farming, particularly factory farming, are environmentally unsustainable. In 2010, Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society called pigs and chicken “major aquatic predators”, because livestock eat 40 percent of the fish that are caught. Since 2002, all Sea Shepherd ships have been vegan for environmental reasons. This specific form of veganism focuses its way of living on how to have a sustainable way of life without consuming animals.
According to a 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, 222 million tonnes of meat were produced globally in 1999. The report posits that around 26 percent of the planet’s terrestrial surface is devoted to livestock grazing. In the United States ten billion land animals are killed every year for human consumption, and in 2005 48 billion birds were killed globally.
The UN report also concluded that livestock farming (mostly of cows, chickens and pigs) affects the air, land, soil, water, biodiversity and climate change. Livestock consumed 1,174 million tonnes of food in 2002—including 7.6 million tonnes of fishmeal and 670 million tonnes of cereals, one-third of the global cereal harvest—and in 2001 consumed 45 million tonnes of roots and vegetables and 17 million tonnes of pulses. As of 2006, the livestock industry accounted for nine percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of methane, 65 percent of nitrous oxide, and 68 percent of ammonia. Livestock waste emitted 30 million tonnes of ammonia a year, which is involved in the production of acid rain.A 2017 study published in the journal Carbon Balance and Management found animal agriculture’s global methane emissions are 11% higher than previous estimates based on data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.A June 2018 study published in Science asserted that the adoption of plant-based diets in the United States alone could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 61% to 73%, and the global adoption of a vegan diet would reduce the use of agricultural land by 75%.
A 2010 UN report, Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production, argued that animal products “in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives”. It proposed a move away from animal products to reduce environmental damage. A 2007 Cornell University study concluded that vegetarian diets use the least land per capita, but require higher quality land than is needed to feed animals. A 2015 study published in Science of the Total Environment determined that significant biodiversity loss can be attributed to the growing demand for meat, which is a significant driver of deforestation and habitat destruction, with species-rich habitats being converted to agriculture for livestock production. A 2017 study by the World Wildlife Fund found that 60% of biodiversity loss can be attributed to the vast scale of feed crop cultivation needed to rear tens of billions of farm animals, which puts an enormous strain on natural resources resulting in an extensive loss of lands and species.Livestock make up 60% of the biomass of all mammals on earth, followed by humans (36%) and wild mammals (4%). As for birds, 70% are domesticated, such as poultry, whereas only 30% are wild. In November 2017, 15,364 world scientists signed a warning to humanity calling for, among other things, “promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods”. According to a July 2018 study in Science, meat consumption is set to increase as the result of human population growth and rising affluence, which will increase greenhouse gas emissions and further reduce biodiversity.
A 2018 report published in PNAS asserted that farmers in the United States could sustain more than twice as many people than they do currently if they abandoned rearing farm animals for human consumption and instead focused on growing plants.
See also: Vegetarian ecofeminism
One of the leading activists and scholars of feminist animal rights is Carol J. Adams. Her premier work, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (1990), sparked what was to become a movement in animal rights as she noted the relationship between feminism and meat consumption. Since the release of The Sexual Politics of Meat, Adams has published several other works including essays, books, and keynote addresses. In one of her speeches, “Why feminist-vegan now?” —adapted from her original address at the “Minding Animals” conference in Newcastle, Australia (2009)—Adams states that “the idea that there was a connection between feminism and vegetarianism came to [her] in October 1974”, illustrating that the concept of feminist veganism has been around for nearly half a century. Other authors have also paralleled Adams’ ideas while expanding on them. Angella Duvnjak states in “Joining the Dots: Some Reflections on Feminist-Vegan Political Practice and Choice” that she was met with opposition to the connection of feminist and veganism ideals, although the connection seemed more than obvious to her and other scholars (2011). Other scholars elaborate on the connections between feminism, such as Carrie Hamilton who makes the connection to sex workers and animal reproductive rights. Many other scholars of feminist vegan philosophy continue to add to the arguments that Adams, Duvnjak, and Hamilton have brought forth.
Animal and human abuse parallels
Some of the main concepts of feminist veganism is that is the connection between the violence and oppression of animals. For example, Marjorie Spiegal compares the consumption or servitude of animals for human gain to slavery. Animals are purchased from a breeder, used for personal gain—either for further breeding or manual labor—and then discarded, most frequently as food. This capitalist use of animals for personal gain has held strong, despite the work of animal rights activists and ecofriendly feminists.
Similar notions that suggest animals—like fish, for example—feel less pain are brought forth today as a justification for animal cruelty. The feminist side of the argument, however, suggests that there is no rationalization for treating animal lives with lesser reverence than human lives, even if the theory that animals are less capable of pain is verifiable.
Another connection between feminism and veganism is the parallel of violence against women or other minority members and the violence against animals. Animal rights activists closely relates animal cruelty to feminist issues. This connection is even further mirrored as animals that are used for breeding practices are compared to human trafficking victims and migrant sex workers. Hamilton points out that violent “rapists sometimes exhibit behavior that seems to be patterned on the mutilation of animals” suggesting there is a trend between the violence towards rape victims and animal cruelty previously exhibited by the rapist.
The violence connection is not limited to sexual acts, however. It is a common fact the prevalence of violence against animals are more defined in those with psychopathic disorders. This mirroring of violence against animals and violence against weaker animals lead the pioneers of feminist veganism to suggest that there is a correspondence between violence against humans and animals, supporting feminist veganism.
Capitalism and feminist veganism
Another way that feminist veganism relates to feminist thoughts is through the capitalist means of the production itself. Carol J. Adams mentions Barbara Noske talking about “meat eating as the ultimate capitalist product, because it takes so much to make the product, it uses up so many resources”. The capitalization of resources for meat production is argued to be better used for production of other food products that have a less detrimental impact on the environment.
Further information: Religion and vegetarianism
Streams within a number of religious traditions encourage veganism, sometimes on ethical or environmental grounds. Scholars have especially noted the growth in the twenty-first century of Jewish veganism and Jain veganism. Some interpretations of Christian vegetarianism, Hindu vegetarianism, and Buddhist vegetarianism also recommend or mandate a vegan diet.
Prejudice against vegans
A study from Canadian psychologists showed that vegans get rated as negative as other minority groups. Vegans get rated more negative than vegetarians and men get rated more negative than women. People who eat vegan because of health reasons get rated better than those who eat vegan because of ethical reasons or for animal rights.
A study with 300 participants looked into what happens if a person reminds those who eat meat that meat comes from animals. The study showed that this increased discomfort while eating meat and also led to a less negative judgement of vegans.
These findings are consistent with vegans who feel discriminated by people who eat meat. There are also meat-eaters who do not transition to a vegan diet because they fear to be stigmatized when becoming a vegan.
These negative prejudices against vegans are sometimes termed vegaphobia. Positive feelings regarding vegans also exist, however: Because of their diet, they may be rated as more virtuous. They may get rated less masculine but more principled.
2011 a media analysis found that veganism and vegans are discredited in British media through ridicule, or as being difficult or impossible to maintain in practice. Vegans were variously stereotyped as ascetics, faddists, sentimentalists, or in some cases, hostile extremists. The study found that of 397 articles 20% were neutral, approx. 5% positive and 75% negative. In 2018 a British food editor lost his job because a message from him showed up talking about “killing vegans one by one”.
In social media vegans are also attacked for example for their choice to have only sexual relations to other vegans.
Negative attitudes against vegans are largest in people who share conservative or right-wing ideology, and in particular the alt-right ideology. For right-wing adherents eating meat is not only a delight, but also a part of their attitude towards life. Thus, people who show that it’s possible to not eat meat can be perceived a threat of their way of life. A survey of about 1000 participants showed that vegans are perceived as threat mainly by older and lower-educated people and convinced meat eaters.
Having a view of life that is rooted in social dominance will also lead to rating vegans more negatively.
Explanations are founded on what is sometimes called the meat paradox: many people who eat meat like to eat meat but do not like to harm animals. Vegans can contribute to those who eat meat being aware of this cognitive dissonance, which in turn will lead to discomfort in meat eaters and eventually interactions between vegans and meat eaters can become strained.
One way to resolve this inner conflict and reduce dissonance is to maintain prejudice against vegans.
Another reason for negative attitudes against vegans is, that meat eaters may feel judged by vegans for eating meat. Discrediting ethical vegans as do-gooders is then a way to invalidate the judgement of oneself. These negative attitudes against vegans are higher when vegans are thought to think of themselves as morally superior.
While there may be an inner conflict in meat eaters when it comes to the killing and eating of animals, this theory may not hold up to environmental reasons for not eating meat. Environmentalists may not see a conflict in eating meat because they see their individual environmental impact of meat consumption as low.
Also, vegans are not always discredited for ideological reasons. Sometimes the reason may be that the person cannot share their food with them.
Main article: Vegetarian and vegan symbolism
Multiple symbols have been developed to represent veganism. Several are used on consumer packaging, including the Vegan Society trademark and Vegan Action logo, to indicate products without animal-derived ingredients. Various symbols may also be used by members of the vegan community to represent their identity and in the course of animal rights activism, such as a vegan flag.
Economics of veganism
The documentary film Cowspiracy estimates that a vegan, over the course of one year, will save 1.5 million litres of water, 6,607 kg of grain, 1,022 square metres of forest cover, 3,322 kg of CO2, and 365 animal lives compared to the average U.S. diet. According to a 2016 study, if everyone in the U.S. switched to a vegan diet, the country would save $208.2 billion in direct health-care savings, $40.5 billion in indirect health-care savings, $40.5 billion in environmental savings, and $289.1 billion in total savings by 2050. The study also found that if everybody in the world switched to a vegan diet, the global economy would save $684.4 billion in direct health-care savings, $382.6 billion in indirect health-care savings, $569.5 billion in environmental savings, and $1.63 trillion in total savings by 2050.
In his 2015 book Doing Good Better, William MacAskill stated:
Economists have worked out how, on average, a consumer affects the number of animal products supplied by declining to buy that product. They estimate that, on average, if you give up one egg, total production ultimately falls by 0.91 eggs; if you give up one gallon of milk, total production falls by 0.56 gallons. Other products are somewhere in between: economists estimate that if you give up one pound of beef, beef production falls by 0.68 pounds; if you give up one pound of pork, production ultimately falls by 0.74 pounds; if you give up one pound of chicken, production ultimately falls by 0.76 pounds.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia