what is veganism?

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to avoid exploitation of and cruelty to animals. Vegans don’t eat animal-derived foods or consume animal-derived products. It is usually born out of a strong compassion for animals, and concern for the environment.

The vegan diet is healthy, not difficult at all once you learn the basics, and filled with wholesome, natural foods. Being more aware of what you’re eating makes you realize just how trashy the ordinary diet can be.

I first became vegetarian when I was 16, realizing that consuming animals for food when it was entirely unnecessary to healthy living was absolutely unconscionable. I then stayed at that level for 10 years, but continued to wear leather, and eat dairy products.

When I was 26, I realized that I had been avoiding considering the issue seriously, and had been for a while trying not to acknowledge the fact that dairy cows are horribly mistreated. Dairy products are no more essential to healthy living than meat is (ie. not at all), and I made the decision to go vegan. It wasn’t a completely overnight affair; I started drinking soy milk instead of dairy, and gradually eliminated everything leather I owned, and educated myself much better about what foods have animal ingredients in them.

It’s not possible in our society to be perfectly vegan; animal-derived products are used in thousands of industries, and end up in our books, bicycle tires, plastics, and many other household items. Rather, veganism is an ongoing process, to try to reduce the harm done to other animals we do by living. Animals are not objects to be produced, used, and thrown away. They do not exist for our convenience or pleasure; they exist independently, and have as much right to exist freely as we do.

There are many good internet resources on veganism, I will list a few here if you would like to continue reading.

Vegan Outreach: Why Vegan
Vegan Outreach: Vegan Starter Pack
Vegsource – Recipes, discussion, news, and info
Vegan Society UK – The original vegans
America Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarian diets