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Veganism -- A Philosophy That Turned Into A Diet

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Veganism is trending as a diet, and mistaken for a health fad when its history goes back for centuries. It is important not to lose sight of its meaning.


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What is Veganism?

Veganism is about animals first, which, to put it simply, is how it became a diet. Veganism, by definition, is the practice of minimizing harm to all animals, which requires abstention from animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather. By eliminating animal products from the diet, a new diet was created. That being said, with the mega-rise in vegan popularity today, it’s easy to forget that being vegan isn’t a diet -- it’s a philosophy – one that serves to protect animals, the planet and nature. Veganism is a selfless act for the greater good. It is not self-serving, although there are many health benefits.

Donald Watson was the father of veganism and invented the word 'vegan'. "The word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude -- as far as is possible and practical -- all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose, and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partially from animals."

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Veganism Is Not A Trend

Despite Watson who brought veganism into a movement, veganism is not new. According to the veganism society, there is evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products traced back to over 2,000 years. This is centuries before GMO feed, carbon emissions and all of the negative effects these practices have on people’s health and the planet.

“Evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products can be traced back over 2,000 years. As early as 500 BCE, Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras promoted benevolence among all species and followed what could be described as a vegetarian diet. Around the same time, Siddhārtha Gautama (better known as the Buddha) was discussing vegetarian diets with his followers.”

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Veganism Is Anything But Extreme

While touted as an extreme form of vegetarianism, veganism is anything but extreme. The truth of the matter is, veganism is about simplicity with a less-is-more approach toward eating and living. The elimination and avoidance of animal products from both lifestyle and diet is a personal act of minimalism. To call a vegan lifestyle extreme only serves to show how far some have to go in their understanding of the movement. In fact, vegan-shaming has only brought more attention to why vegans do what they do and that’s the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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Was The Rise In Veganism an Accident?

The rise to veganism, as we know it today, was a long time coming. Looking back to 1906 when Upton Sinclair wrote the novel The Jungle, which portrayed the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago. His intent was to bring attention to industrialized cities but instead drew worldwide exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century,

Sinclair famously said of the public reaction "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach." Sinclair's book unintentionally highlighted the harsh conditions animals endure to make it onto America’s plate. This ignited the activism, advocacy and the endless making of books and documentaries we see today about cruelty to animals and people working to regain their health.

Veganism is more than a diet. It is a philosophy – a movement of selfless sacrifice for the greater good of nature and man. At its roots, veganism is a personal activism where one decides what they put into their body to initiate change. The rise in veganism’s popularity has only to do with the worsening of animal treatment and conditions, lack of sustainability, a lower quality of nutrients in our food, our ongoing poor health and the quest to live a healthy life.