People who refer to themselves as vegans could be living a full vegan lifestyle, or they could be devoted to eating vegan. So, while all vegans are typically strict vegetarians who do not consume any food from animals (including eggs, dairy, and honey), some vegans follow lifestyle guidelines as well. The full lifestyle pairs eating a plant-based diet with efforts to advocate for animals in other areas of life—beyond food.
When individuals live a vegan lifestyle, they are typically doing so for a combination of reasons, including environmental, ethical, and health concerns. Learn more about the pillars of veganism and how this lifestyle looks day to day to determine if it's a journey you want to embark on.
Pillars of Veganism
The Vegan Society describes veganism as "a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose." The pillars of veganism aim to preserve resources, prevent animal suffering, and promote personal well-being.
- Environmental health: As the University of British Columbia outlines, the large scale production of poultry and meat releases greenhouse gases, uses vast amounts of water, and creates pollutants that flow into our waterways. Other negative environmental results of meat production include deforestation and land degradation. Choosing not to eat meat helps to mitigate some of these negative effects.
- Ethical animal treatment: Individuals who are committed to a compassionate lifestyle often consider veganism. Many are committed to ending the exploitation of animals. Because of this, they exclude animal products from their diets, choose to purchase cosmetic products that do not contain any animal by-products, avoid wearing leather, and forgo visits to aquariums and zoos.
- Bodily health: Plant-based meals are a beneficial dietary choice for many people. According to the Mayo Clinic, a plant-based diet can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Adapting to a Vegan Lifestyle
If you are interested in veganism, browse resources like vegan books, documentaries, and blogs to become more familiar with the benefits. Of course, if you know vegans personally, chatting with them about their experiences can be extremely helpful, too.
Because veganism is a lifestyle and not a diet, the transition will be smoother when you have a clear picture of how your actions could improve your life, promote compassion for others, and benefit the environment, animals, and humanity.
Get Excited about Your Commitment
Committing to improving health and your world is a great way to cultivate joy. As you begin the journey, think about all the delicious foods you'll get to add to your diet rather than focus on foods that will no longer be in your meal plan. Get excited about the new dishes you will learn to make and how you'll get to enjoy the plant-based meals you already love more often. From homemade Pad Thai to hearty burritos filled with beans, avocados, onions, and bell peppers, there are oodles of nutritious and delicious recipes to try.
Familiarize yourself with the nutritional needs of vegans and fill your kitchen with vegan staples, including tofu, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and non-dairy milks.
For individuals who are committed to ethical veganism, their care for animals extends beyond the plate. An additional area where these individuals choose to eliminate animal products is in their closet.
With a bit of research, you can find plenty of vegan clothing options. Man-made fibers, organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials can all be made ethically. And you might have plenty of these items on hand already, so there is no need to break the bank on a new wardrobe. For example, your favorite pair of jeans is likely vegan, provided there is no leather trim on pockets or tags.
Veganism Is a Personal Journey
Making positive changes in life is a process. And everyone has their own reasons for making changes, whether it's to fortify the body with plant-based foods, to avoid animal cruelty, or to be kind to the environment. For many, it is a combination of multiple of factors.
Some people find the shift to veganism effortless. They may wake up one day and simply make the commitment to a vegan lifestyle. For others, they might choose to slowly add plant-based foods to their diet, gently transitioning to vegetarianism and then veganism.
Small changes can lead to big shifts. After all, becoming vegan is about compassion, sustainability, and care. It's about making kindness a priority. So, whether you're interested in eating vegan or committing to advocating for animals in all areas of your life, both paths help to heal the planet and promote kindness.
Are you ready to explore more plant-based meals for your table? Check out the Meatless Monday board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
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Why It's Good
Veganism is about compassion, sustainability, and care. Whether you are interested in eating vegan or committing to a full vegan lifestyle, you'll be prioritizing kindness to humanity, the planet, and animals.