You know how every thumb is a finger, but not every finger is a thumb? Every vegan is plant-based, but not every plant-based diet can be considered vegan. Now, you may be wondering what's the difference between a vegan and plant based diet, because they all just eat plants, right? Wrong. In fact, there are a few major differences between the two because. While plant-based speaks to a form of diet, veganism embodies a lifestyle.
A huge part of veganism involves cutting out all animal products from your diet, but the key word here is "part." I think the reason why most people shy away from a vegan lifestyle is because it is just that: a lifestyle. By committing to vegan culture, you're committing to a strict set of guidelines that not only affect what goes into your body, but the clothes and makeup you wear, and even how you decorate your house. It's part food, all ethics, and it's totally understandable why it can be intimidating to outsiders looking in.
As demanding as it seems, abiding by the rules of veganism can offer you a ton of health benefits, as well as do some good for our planet. Going plant-based is a fantastic start, but not eating animals and actively trying to save them in all aspects of your life are two very different things.
Vegans do not eat any animal products.
It's also important to distinguish here the difference between vegetarianism and veganism. The official Vegetarian Society defines vegetarianism as someone who “does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish.”
A lot of vegetarians commit to not eating any part of an animal's body, but will allow themselves fish, dairy products, eggs, or any combination of these, whereas true vegans avoid all animal and animal-derived food items. Basically, it's the strictest form of plant-based you can be.
Vegans also don't wear clothes, makeup, shoes, or own furnishings that are made with animal products.
Vegan culture has gained a ton of converts over the last few years, and clothing and other product brands are paying attention. While a lot of plant-based lifestyles are more lax when it comes to animal-made goods like leather belts, shoes, and animal-skin materials, vegans do not wear or purchase anything made with the skins, hair, or feathers of animals. Instead, vegans buy garments made with plant fabrics and man-made materials.
Rest assured, vegan's have also done their extensive research into the skincare and makeup brands they use as well. The beauty industry is one that has progressively become more vegan-friendly, with name brands like Kat Von D, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Lush, and Marc Jacobs advertising themselves as cruelty-free.
The culture has a lot to do with food, and everything to do with ethics.
The main reason why my husband and I made the decision to change our diets was to hopefully see a change in our digestive issues. However, between the many documentaries we watched and the countless research we consumed online, we are now not only vegetarian for the health benefits, but we're also doing it for the animals.
It's no secret that meat and dairy farms use intensive breeding methods, and animal abuse happens in these vicinities. Of course, this affects animals as well as the environment. But it also raises a general question of ethics: what's wrong, and what's not? Vegans are animal rights activists speaking up and out against the cruelty done to animals. Of course vegans appreciate and enjoy the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but the bigger picture is less about the food and more about the fight against causing suffering, harm, or death to innocent animals.
Making the switch to a plant-based diet is an excellent way to show your support for animal rights, but while vegetarianism is a form of veganism, there is a clear difference between the two cultures.