This article provides a good explanation of veganism. As I have discussed before, the term “vegan” and “plant-based diet” do not mean the same thing. There are many people, including an increasing number of celebrities, who say they are vegan when, in fact, they have adopted a plant-based diet for health or dietary reasons. While I am very pleased for the animals that such people have adopted a plant-based diet, veganism is a broader concept based on a set of principles and ethics. As the article discusses, contrary to popular belief, vegans do not just subscribe to a plant-based diet or abstain from animal products as a reaction to the treatment of animals in large-scale, industrialized conditions. Vegans object to our use of animals as ‘resources’ in and of itself, whether the individuals in question are being housed in factories, or in small, backyard, family-farm situations.
Vegans (versus those who consume a plant-based diet) do not use or wear leather, wool, silk, down, fur, or any other fabric that comes from animals. Nor do we ingest milk, honey, eggs, flesh, or any other ingredients of animal origin, including ‘by-products’, such as gelatin and casein. We also abstain from using cosmetics, toiletries and (as far as is practical) pharmaceutical products that are made using animal ingredients or animal testing. We also do not support or condone any form of “entertainment” that involves the use of animals, including (but not limited to) circuses, rodeos, marine parks, zoos/safaris, animal racing, and hunting.
Some people I know who follow a plant-based diet have been a little put out when I use this term, versus vegan, but to those of us who follow a vegan way of life (versus just a diet), this distinction is important, as we want to end the suffering and exploitation of sentient animals, not just improve our physical well being.