According to Oxford Languages, veganism is:
(Noun) the practice of eating only food not derived from animals and typically avoiding the use of other animal products.
This means vegans practice a few things:
This is a bit different from vegetarianism. Vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, and sometimes eggs, but its roots are primarily religious. And it has been around for centuries, and has been observed throughout history- from ancient India, China, and Japan to Ancient Greece, Egypt, and beyond!
The word vegetarian became common around the 1840s-1850s, likely from the British Vegetarian Society in 1847.
The word vegan was coined 100 years later in 1944 by the founder of the Vegan Society, Donald Watson. It was a way to distinguish the difference between a traditional vegetarian and a new kind of vegetarian who didn’t eat, wear, or consume any animal products whatsoever.
This is due to the fact that animals used for products like dairy and leather are mistreated throughout the process. For example, animals used for dairy are all slaughtered or abandoned in the end when their bodies can no longer produce enough milk or eggs to meet demand. Veganism rejects all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. This is the biggest difference between veganism and vegetarianism, because vegans won’t even consume products obtained from animals.
The term plant-based exclusively refers to diet, while veganism goes beyond food and extends into cosmetics, clothing, and even entertainment. Plant-based can be vegan, but vegan isn’t plant-based.
This is why vegans don’t go to zoos, wear leather jackets, purchase down pillows, consume animal byproducts and so on. People who are vegetarian or plant-based may not apply this additional filter and thus consume these things. Veganism is closely associated with the animal rights movement, a social justice movement that exists to change the traditionally held view that animals exist for human consumption.
Veganism is often linked to being gluten-free, raw, refined sugar-free, organic, non-GMO, oil-free, and so on. While a vegan diet can be any of these, but veganism isn’t defined by any one of these labels. A person who follows a vegan lifestyle is free to eat whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t come from an animal!
The number of vegans around the world is increasing, especially in India, where about 5 percent of the vegetarian population is now vegan. That’s around 5 million vegans out of the 500 million vegetarians! Think about it- half a billion people are just a few steps away from going vegan.
And the difference matters. If you’re a vegetarian wondering if it makes a difference to go vegan, read about why it does here.
With so many traditional Indian foods vegan by default, India is one of the best places for vegans. Check out how to order vegan foods in various Indian languages to help make your transition a bit easier!
A very, very small number of vegans are actually born vegan, which is why reasons for going vegan can often be personal. Most people reach a certain point or age where something causes them to think about what they eat and use and decide to make a change. Here are some of the most common reasons explained briefly:
Ethically speaking, animals deserve the right to live freely- just as humans do. Killing animals for food, clothing, and entertainment is not right given there are alternatives for people to live a healthy, happy life without harming animals.
Vegans see animals as conscious, living, breathing individuals who wish to avoid pain and suffering much in the same way that we do. They’re sensitive, emotional, and intelligent. Farming practices subject animals to immense psychological and physical stress. For example, chickens tightly confined in small wire cages is not optimal for a chicken’s wellbeing, and many die in these horrible conditions.
Decreased risk of heart disease
Decreased risk of various cancers
Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
The production of meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and animal-derived materials is much more resource intensive than consuming plant-based foods directly. The sheer volume of land, water, and crops needed to raise animals is a leading cause of deforestation, habitat loss, and species extinction around the globe. Going vegan is one of the most effective ways to lower your carbon footprint.
Food insecurity and lack of fresh water will only become worse as the devastating effects of climate change accelerates. Choosing veganism reduces the strain that food production has on the world’s resources and opens up the availability of food and water to parts of the world people need it the most.
Now that you know the difference between a vegan and vegetarian, we also want you to know that at the end of the day it's a matter of choice. Whether you reduce animal products or eliminate them entirely is up to you.
The good news is that vegan foods have never been more accessible, or delicious! Check out our full range of dairy products, meat products, nutrition supplements and protein powders for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
Don't forget to check out our Vegan Indian Beginner's Guide if you’re a new vegan and share this blog post with someone who needs it!