Veganism: Ethical eating | Sunday Observer

Veganism: Ethical eating

19 September, 2021

Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that abstains from the consumption of any and all animal based products for health, environmental and/or ethical reasons. How far a vegan goes in their practice of veganism depends on their reasons and philosophy.

While veganism was just a fringe interest in the early 2000s, it has now become a mainstream movement with approximately 79 million vegans worldwide in 2021 according to the UN. However, while the practice of veganism is becoming more popular, the idea of it is still very foreign to the general omnivoros population.

One fact most don’t realize is the distinctions between different types of vegans. This is understandable as they aren’t too different from each other and share many ideas between them. Dietary vegans are identical to strict vegetarians in that they refrain from eating any meat, eggs, dairy, animal proteins like gelatin and even honey.

Ethical vegans follow that diet but also take things a step further, in that they refuse to use animal products for other purposes beyond eating, such as fur, wool or leather. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The purposes of those vegans are specifically to avoid animal cruelty but environmental veganism practices veganism to avoid the environmental damage of animal industries as a whole which they perceive as unsustainable.

As the dietary practice of veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism, its history can be traced back thousands of years. While veganism as we know wasn’t recognized as such until recently, this kind of vegetarianism could be seen all over the world in cultures such as ancient India, where harming or consuming animals were seen as sinful by their religions. Mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras of Greece also practiced a kind of vegetarianism similar to modern ethical veganism, where he preached the avoidance of animal based food and even wool clothing.

The first use of the term “Vegan” popped up in 1944, when a few members of the British Vegetarian Society broke off to start their own newsletter after being refused to devote a section of their newsletter to non-dairy vegetarianism. This newsletter, which began as The Vegan News but would later be changed to The Vegan would go on to inspire a vegan movement in America as well and had many high profile supporters, such as George Bernard Shaw.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, when veganism was quickly gaining popularity in the online space, there was significant backlash against the movement. Due to a vocal minority of vegans forcing their ideals on to others and demonizing anyone who consumed animal byproducts, veganism as a whole was rejected, regardless of the many benefits of the lifestyle. This stereotype of the crusading vegan persists to this day, despite being much more accepted now than it used to be.

Today, the benefits of veganism are very well understood by most as people are far more conscious about living healthy now. Many high profile celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Dinklage and Ariana Grande are also publicly vegan, lending mainstream support to the movement. Some health risks do exist for vegans, such as certain vitamin deficiencies and low bone density without supplements. The vegan diet is also expensive and difficult to fulfill in an omix and while most businesses in the West are catering to it, the rest of the world is still slow to accommodate vegans.