Today I thought I would discuss what it means to be vegan and what being vegan means to me. Every vegan has chosen to live a vegan lifestyle for different reasons. Some people are vegan for health benefits, some maybe for environmental reasons, and many live a vegan lifestyle because they love animals. But most vegans share the same crazy idea that exploiting and murdering animals for their flesh is wrong…and harmful to everyone — including the animals, the environment, and our own health. While every vegan lives a different life, there are some fundamental beliefs that we all live by. So what actually goes into living a vegan lifestyle?
A large part of living a vegan lifestyle is eating a plant-based diet. Vegans avoid non-vegan foods like meat, milk, eggs, honey, etc. There are many vegans who focus on eating plant-based, whole foods, but, fortunately, we’re lucky to live in a day and age where we can buy plant-based alternatives to non-vegan foods. We can still eat burgers, ice cream, meats, and more; but they’re plant-based. I’ve tried a lot of these plant-based alternatives, and, let me tell you, they’re so delicious! I don’t miss any foods from before I went vegan because I still get to experience the same tastes and textures of my favourite foods…only they’re from cruelty-free sources. It’s so easy to eat a plant-based diet!
Vegans work at purchasing from cruelty-free brands and not ones that sell products that were/are tested on animals. Buying cruelty-free is really not as difficult as some people think it is. It does take a bit of work in the beginning to learn which companies are cruelty-free, but once you find out and know where to look to find information, it’s pretty easy. It just means avoiding certain brands and supporting others!
Vegans also only buy vegan, cruelty-free products. Technically something that contains animal by-products (such as milk, honey, beeswax, etc.) can be considered “cruelty-free” if it hasn’t been tested on animals. But vegans believe that something can’t be completely cruelty-free if it contains animal ingredients. Vegans try to avoid animal products and by-products as much as humanly possible — including in cosmetics, household and personal care items, etc.
Speaking of animal by-products…vegans avoid the use of animals in fashion and clothing — which means no fur, no leather, no wool, no down, no silk, etc. These industries are insanely cruel and so unnecessary. There are amazing vegan alternatives for every animal by-product — especially in the fashion and clothing industry.
And vegans avoid/boycott any animal exploitation, such as circuses, zoos, aquariums, dog/horse races, marine shows, fishing, etc. Animal “entertainment” is also extremely cruel. Animals are forced to perform tricks/acts, are held in captivity, and a majority of them experience constant abuse. Vegans believe that humans don’t have the right to use and exploit animals for our own “entertainment”.
For me, being vegan is my way of fighting back against animal cruelty and exploitation. I don’t believe we have any right to use, abuse, and kill animals for our own gain, our own entertainment, or our own palette pleasure. I consider myself an ethical vegan because I’m living this vegan lifestyle wholeheartedly for the animals. I didn’t decide to give up meat and animal by-products for health reasons (although, that is a major plus!). I decided to go vegan because I don’t like seeing animals get hurt and I don’t believe in the idea of profiting off other living beings’ suffering. I don’t want to contribute to animal suffering in any way, so I choose not to.
Ultimately, being vegan is about doing your best to avoid animal abuse and animal products. It’s impossible to completely avoid animal products because we don’t live in a vegan world; but there are certain things we can control — like what we eat, what products we buy, and what type of “entertainment” we participate in. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to living a perfect vegan lifestyle because there’s no such thing as a perfect vegan. If we all do the best we can to live a vegan life, it will make a difference!