Interest in/awareness of the vegan diet has been rising exponentially lately. In response, the number of vegan options available in food outlets & even in the big chain supermarkets have increased. People are talking about it on TV, social media, & there are also plenty of ebooks, books & documentaries on the subject.
Whether interest stems from concern for animal welfare, the environment or from health, it’s a topic that doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.
There is however a difference between eating a vegan diet & being a vegan. This important distinction is what I’ll be going into today.
What is a vegan/plant-based diet?
A vegan diet is 100% plant-based. People with a plant-based diet (PBD) don’t eat animal products like meat, diary or seafood. Their diet is made up of whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils & plenty of fresh produce. There are also processed foods that are vegan.
They also don’t consume any animal bi-products such as gelatine (derived from bone matter), cochineal (crushed bugs) & animal rennet (from the stomach of ruminant mammals). Found in products like soft-serve ice-cream, jellies, lollies & cheeses these types of ingredients are not alway obvious so checking the packaging & being aware of additive coding is important for followers of a PBD.
Foods that have been produced using animal products or bi-products are also not consumed in a PBD. A common thickener called Xanthum Gum is a great example of this. Some Xanthum Gum, not all, is produced by a fermentation process using lactose.
As you can see, in order to maintain a PBD, a lot of research is required. There are many resources, support groups & apps that can help with this process.
If you eat a PBD, can you call yourself a vegan?
The short answer is no.
If you are eating a vegan diet without the rest of the lifestyle then you’re plant-based not vegan.
Veganism is actually a lifestyle philosophy, not a diet. Vegans not only refrain from consuming animal products but they also don’t use any items that contain animal products or use animals in the production process. This includes materials like fur, silk, leather & wool, ingredients in food, wine, honey, household products, cosmetics & tools, hair & skin care like linalool/lanolin (from wool), honey, cochineal, collagen & a myriad of other ingredients.
For more information take a look the definition of veganism by the Vegan Society.
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