Veganism is on the march. With now more than half a million vegans in the UK, what does it actually mean?
It might seem obvious what being vegan is, but there is even an app, Is It Vegan?, to check if certain products count or not. Simply scan a product and the app will analyse its ingredients and give you the thumbs up or down.
Budding vegans and curious meat eaters may be wondering about the finer details about what the lifestyle entails.
The definition of veganism, according to The Vegan Society, who coined the term in 1944, is:
“A philosophy and 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; 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 partly from animals.”
It is therefore more than just cutting out meat and dairy products, but a more comprehensive lifestyle choice striving to avoid animal cruelty and exploitation.
Although veganism objects to animal testing for the development of medicines, The Vegan Society doesn’t recommend you avoid drugs prescribed to you by your GP. Instead you can ask for medication that doesn’t include animal products such as gelatine and lactose.
Is honey vegan?
Honey is often mistaken as vegan friendly, but it definitely is not, because the harvesting of honey by humans exploits honey bees and their health can be damaged by a sugar substitute that beekeepers replace the honey with.
The selective breeding of bees to increase productivity is also harming a species that is already endangered by increasing susceptibility to disease.
What you wouldn’t think is/isn’t vegan
There may be condiments lurking in your cupboard that could catch you out. For example, some pestos contain milk and eggs and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies.
Wine may have been filtered through a fining agent, which can include a range of animal products, including bone marrow, fish oil and gelatin.
Avocado fans who are too lazy to make their own guac, beware: some supermarkets add cream to their guacamole.