In this more modern world that we live in, when we ask the question of what does it means to be a vegan, you will be able to find various definitions and explanations about it consisting of various ideologies on what is veganism.
History in Brief
Introduction to veganism Before we get to all that, let’s do a quick sneak peek into the history of veganism or as some people say, strict vegetarianism. The first trace of the concept of veganism or vegetarianism goes as far as the Indus Valley Civilization in 3300 – 1300 BC in the Indian subcontinent of northern and western parts of ancient India where philosophers such as Jain Mahavira and Acharya Kundakunda, Poets such as Valluvar and Indian emperors such as Maurya Chandragupta and the great king Dharmashoka who believed to have been followers of strict vegetarianism. Moving further forward in history, we find the Arabic poet named Al Ma’Arri whom which believed to be lived in c. 973 – c.1057 happens to be one of the earliest known vegans.
The term “Vegan” first came into the limelight in the year 1944 when Donald Watson, a woodworking teacher from Yorkshire founded the “Vegan Society” in the UK. “Vegan” was derived from the first three and last two letters of the word “Vegetarian” where according to Donald Watson himself, it was “the beginning and end of vegetarian”
The first vegan society in the United States was founded by Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz in California in the year 1948. Later on in 1960, Hom Jay Dinshah founded the American Vegan Society (AVS) which linked veganism to the ancient concept of non-violence which was known as “Ahimsa” in Sanskrit.
In 1962, The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, independently published the word ‘Vegan’ as “a vegetarian who eats no butter, eggs, cheese or milk”.
According to “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” (PeTA)
“A vegan (strict vegetarian) does not consume meat, dairy products, eggs, honey, or any product derived from an animal. A vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious, nutritious foods, including vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fruits. Vegans don’t wear leather, fur, silk, or wool.” In addition to this, many refuses the use of products which are either made with animal ingredients, products that uses animal parts in the manufacturing process or products which are tested on animals.
In the present, Veganism has become a lifestyle in which attempts are made to circumvent all sorts of animal cruelty and exploitation either it may be from foods, clothing or any other means.
Why be “Vegan”
In general People choose to avoid animal products and become vegan depending on one or more of the subsequent reasons.
Ethical vegans sturdily believe that every living being deserve the right to live and revel in independence. With this in mind, they resent the cruelty and exploitation of a conscious being just for the consumption its flesh, sipping its milk or using its skin for wearables mainly because the availability of vast number of alternatives.
Vegan for Health
Some people follow a Vegan Diet for its probable health benefits. As an example, it is believed that a plant based diet will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart diseases, and untimely deaths. In addition to this, some choose to stick to a vegan diet to avoid the side effects connected to the extensive use of antibiotics and hormones in the modern livestock industry and with the studies linking vegan diets helps to lower the Bodyweight and Body Mass Index (BMI) hence choosing it to lose weight.
Vegan for the Environment
Livestock industry has a greater impact on the environment with its higher requirement of resources, higher emissions of green-house gases and it tends to be a water intensive process. It also leads to deforestation for acquiring more land to farms and for making croplands to create feeding ground and food for livestock. This destruction to habitats will eventually be a factor to the extinction of various species of wildlife. Therefore some people tends to choose a vegan lifestyle in concern of the environment and nature.
A minor group of people choose to be vegans due to their religious and spiritual beliefs. As an exemplar, Jainism is an ancient religion originally from India in which its followers depends on a strict vegan diet. Followers of Jainism despise all kinds of violent activity towards any living being.
Around 33% of the Hindu’s are at least vegetarians and some of the Buddhists are also happens to be vegan even though not all of them are vegan. Apart from the religions in the subcontinent of India, there are a very small number of Vegans who are either Jewish or Christian and also groups of people who become vegans from time to time depending on their beliefs and ritualistic things.
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