What Is Vegan?


It was brought to my attention that our comments section on this vegan post and others was not working. The issue has been fixed. Thank you for your patience.

What is the difference between veganism and vegetarianism? We’ll talk about both and ask you to contribute your thoughts on the two…

This post is based on my current knowledge of  veganism and vegetarianism. There are very different variations and opinions that are individual to the person practicing them. Here I cover generalities for the purpose of educating those who know little of either lifestyles and their ethics. Please feel free to correct, add to what is said here, and add your individual take for others to learn from.



Are you a Vegetarian? A Vegan?

What is your personal code of ethics driving your choices and why have you chosen this lifestyle?

Let us know!!!



Veganism and Vegetarianism take different forms.

First, lets talk about vegetarianism…


The most commonly known form of vegetarianism involves not eating red meat. The people who practice this form typically eat fish and chicken. This can be looked at as a more health conscious lifestyle choice rather than a choice based on animal welfare. Then again, some people who practice this form won’t eat chicken, but do eat fish as they believe that they are not as capable of the broader range of feelings that are seen in larger mammals are.

Another form of vegetarianism is referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarianism. People who practice this form of vegetarianism do not eat any meat. They do, however consume dairy (lacto) and eggs (ovo). This can be looked at as a personal choice that is based more on animal welfare. Those practicing lacto-ovo vegetarianism believe less harm is created to produce milk products and eggs than the slaughter of the animal for meat. Others, know the truth about how animals are treated as a whole on massive farms. but simply can’t give up cheese, milk, eggs, cream, etc.


Veganism can be seen a more broad reaching form of vegetarianism. It’s focus is not simply on the health benefits of veganism, though there are many, but largely on the welfare of animals. Some vegans eat no meat, eggs, or dairy, but will use materials derived from animals. Others do not use any material derived from animals (leather for example). Many vegans also take a stance of the environment and their effect on sustainability. They are considered Eco-Vegans. They see their role in this world as all-inclusive, not just the prevention of animal suffering, but the prevention of needless abuse to our ecosystem as a whole. Another form of veganism involves insects. People who practice this form will not use honey from bees or silk from spiders as an example. Overall, vegans are concerned about how we use animals and insects for our own profit and gain. They believe that these creatures should be able to live their lives as they naturally would without human intervention.

Further reading:

Vegan Action

Veganism in a Nutshell

Wikipedia – Veganism

Vegetarianism in a Nutshell

Wikipedia – Vegetarianism

14 thoughts on “What Is Vegan?

  1. I can’t stand meat & don’t really care for eggs but I just can’t seem to give up dairy. I try to by from organic co-ops at least. Anyone know of a really authentic tasting vegan version of cheeses & butter?

    • Kristy,
      I am happy to hear that you are already making a step in the right direction for your health and the environment by choosing to purchase dairy from organic co-op farms.

      If you are unable to give up dairy completely, there is another way to ensure that the animals your receive it from are treated ethically. Look into raw dairy from small, local family farms. As the dairy is raw, their facilities must be kept at a much higher standard for cleanliness. This means that the animals are at minimum kept in cleaner conditions. I recommend that you visit a few farms to see how the animal lives. Ask if they artificially inseminate their cows as this is a horrific procedure. Pay close attention to how the workers treat the cows and any other animals they may have.

      It’s not the solution, but it is a huge improvement from dairy purchased at a typical grocery store or market.

    • Kritsy lots of vegans I know swear by Daiya vegan (and non-soy) cheeses. I find that I prefer some of the soy cheeses, but you really have to sample them and figure out what appeals to you as an individual. I think I’m in the minority when it comes to Daiya–most people love it! As for butter, lots of people really like Earth Balance ‘buttery spreads’. I like the taste, but nearly all of the Earth Balance spreads rely heavily on palm oil, and I’m trying to avoid palm oil because of the way the palm oil plantations are savaging the environment and the orangutan habitats. Bryanna Clark Grogan has a recipe for ‘buttah’ that you can make yourself from environmentally neutral ingredients, read about it here: http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.ca/p/introducing-homemade-palm-oil-free.html . You will have to order some of the ingredients, but it should be worth it. It gets rave reviews on her blog.

      • Ann,

        Thank you for sharing this link. I will be passing the information about palm oil on to my manufacturer. They share our ideals for natural and environmentally friendly products. I am sure that they will want to know about palm oils origins and will work to substitute it with another oil in our products.

  2. I don’t see what the big deal is. Meat is a source of protein and people have been eating it for centuries. Dairy cows and chickens aren’t even getting killed to make milk and eggs!

    • Mike, I appreciate your opinion. However, I find I do not agree with you.

      First, there are many healthier versions of protein found in natural food sources like soy.

      Second, as Hanna mentions, dairy cows and egg hens are in fact not treated well in the vast majority of cases. If you do not believe us, please consider searching YouTube for videos created secretly of the inner working of meat, dairy, and egg farms.

  3. I recently became a vegan after watching a horrible documentary on the treatment of all animals used to produce any food product. Mike the carnivore doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Dairy cows are kept in horrible situations and treated VERY poorly. The same goes for hens. They live stacked in very small cages at an angle their entire life. And free-range isn’t much better. To be free range, they don’t have to let any animal spend long periods of time out of a cage, just a small amount. They also don’t have to treat the animals better.

  4. Your descriptions of both vegetarianism and veganism are extremely misleading and we are very concerned that a business like yours, that promotes its products as being “vegan”, would demonstrate such a clear lack of knowledge on the subject of veganism.

    Here’s a quick overview for you about the terms “vegetarian” and “vegan”.

    A person who consumes ANY form of flesh, whether it be “red meat” or “white meat”, whether it comes from a cow, chicken, fish, rabbit or any other sentient creature, cannot be called either a vegetarian or a vegan. A person eating any type of animal flesh would best be described as an omnivore. The simple way to remember this is to be clear that a fish/chicken/rabbit/poultry/fowl/game, etc is NOT a vegetable.

    A “vegan” is a person who does not consume or use ANY animal products either for eating or for other aspects of their lifestyle. This obviously includes all of the above listed animal-derived items AND anything else that comes from an animal (i.e. when we say “animal” we are including all sentient beings so think of all farmyard creatures, wild animals, mammals, fish and other sea creatures, birds, insects, and so on). This means that you won’t see a true vegan using ANY meat or dairy products, eggs, leather, fur, honey, silk, wool, etc.

    Furthermore, as vegans we are completely opposed to any form of animal exploitation, which would include things like zoos, pet breeding, animals in sport, animals used in stage shows, and so on. These institutions were created purely for human convenience or entertainment and deny the rights of the animal to a free life.

    The original definition of the term “vegan” dates back to 1951 when the early vegans met, as members of the Vegan Society, to agree on a definition for the word ‘veganism’ for the first time. They agreed that, “The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”

    True vegans today uphold that original definition and, therefore, to call oneself “vegan” one has to actively refuse to partake in any activities where there is ANY exploitation against non-human animals. Anyone who advocates or excuses the exploitation of animals cannot be, by (original) definition, vegan.

    As vegans, in the true sense of the word, we cannot agree to a dilution or degradation of the term “vegan” by those who seek to expand it’s definition to whatever suits their personal preferences. To do so renders the term “vegan” meaningless.

    Our opposition to the dilution of the original meaning of the term “vegan” is not an issue about semantics or a demonstration of linguistic zeal. It is opposition to those who try to rationalize non-human animal exploitation while calling themselves “vegan”.

    Anyone who calls themselves vegan while condoning animal exploitation is not worthy of the term “vegan”. They are either deeply misguided or simply a charlatan.

    As you are selling items that you are calling “vegan”, we assume that vegans would be a key part of your target market. With this in mind, it is vitally important you are absolutely clear where YOU stand on your use of the term “vegan”. To get this wrong could cost you way more than having proverbial egg on your face. It could cost you dearly in terms of your reputation AND your income.

    Please take this comment in the way it is intended. That is, as an educational moment about “veganism” infused with love, compassion and the hope that you will graciously correct your errors.

    Many blessings.

  5. Vegan Maven & Ben,

    I greatly appreciate your additions to this conversation and sharing your knowledge on veganism. I am currently unable to provide a adequate response to your posts at the moment. I will share a more meaningful response when I am at my computer tomorrow.

    Thank you again!
    Sally @puresnickety

  6. Vegan Maven,

    I would like to thank you for your comment. It is clear that you are passionate and very well informed on this subject. I used definitions based off of my own reading and personal interactions with those who consider themselves vegetarian or vegan. I began my journey completely on my own without knowing that there was a community of fellow vegetarians and vegans where I could gain knowledge, guidance, and support.

    My goal here was to begin a conversation that would inform those like me and those who know nothing of the two terms. If in doing so, I unknowingly “diluted” the term vegan, I deeply apologize. It was not my intention, or the intention of any member of Pure Snickety, to mislead anyone.

    I am still learning and I know that my beginning experiences are out of date and very brief. This is exactly why I made my initial request at the beginning of this post asking for others to contribute to this conversation. I am thankful for your willingness to take the time to better inform me and my blog’s visitors. As for my products, I can assure you that they are indeed vegan. I recently had the opportunity to learn from the vegan poet, Ms. Katz, that sugar is often refined using animal bone char. I was horrified and immediately requested that my supplier verify the vegan status of the sugar in my sugar scrubs. I will be forever thankful for her as I would never be able to forgive myself if I unknowingly used such a sugar and then labeled it as vegan. This learning moment for me was a great experience. I was able to realize the depths at which animals are used for the most insane reasons and I was able to have the peace of mind in knowing that the sugar that I use does indeed come from sugar beets and not refined sugar cane.

    I trust that my response gives you a clearer idea of who I am, who is behind the Pure Snickety products, how I have come to learn inaccurate information, and how I am working to correct that by researching and reaching out to experienced vegans, like yourself.

    It is my sincere wish to create long lasting change through compassion and an understanding that true change is rarely an “over night” event. Like Kristy, who also commented on this post, change is often gradual and I commend her for looking for better ways to do what she is doing while she works on changing to a new way of doing it altogether.

    If I have not addressed all of your concerns, please let me know and I will remedy that as soon as possible. If you have any specific advice or requests on how I should correct my errors, in addition to the corrections you have posted, I would be honored to hear them.

    Sally @puresnickety

    • Hi Sally

      Thank you for your honest response. We’re glad you took our comments in the constructive way they were intended. Your heart seems to be in the right place and you clearly have a desire to learn about veganism and we applaud that.

      While we obviously want more people to embrace the vegan way of life, our concern is that too many people simply grab hold of the term “vegan” without fully understanding what they are committing to. As a result, they brandish the word “vegan” around as a cheap boasting point rather than as an honour to be doing something meaningful for other sentient beings on this planet.

      We are always pleased to converse with intelligent people who want to learn about veganism since that way we all learn too. None of us is an island and none of us can know too much. We are an evolving species and veganism is a philosophy that, if lived consciously and intentionally, will make the world a better place for all of its inhabitants, including, of course, the human and non-human animals.

      At Vegan Maven, we take an unashamedly abolitionist approach to animal rights and you can get a true sense of where we stand in our vegan philosophy by joining in on our ever evolving Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/veganmaven.

      We look forward to further positive exchanges with you! Namaste.

  7. I don’t eat animal based proteins for about 2 years now. I started this eating choice after several years on a low-carb Atkins diet, eating every animal protein I could stuff in my mouth. A very interesting observation is that when on the Atkins diet, I craved carbs. I wanted bread, candy, fruits, anything with carbs. I lived like this for years, gradually slipping off the diet and regaining weight. In contrast, the vegan diet has caused me no cravings. I’m completely satisfied by plant-based foods. I did miss cheese a little, but for me the key is to have an open mind and realize that something doesn’t have to taste just like milk or cheese to be enjoyable. I enjoy some soy milk occasionally and I really like almond milk. But, trying to imitate diary foods accurately, just isn’t necessary.

    I started the plant-based diet based on Dr McDougall’s website: http://www.DrMcDougall.com. My daughter had crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis and I wasn’t willing to accept the grim outlook given by the doctors who said emphatically that diet makes no difference in RA, and only drugs will have an effect. Within days of adopting a plant-based diet free of animal proteins, my daughter was free of pain. I adopted the diet so I could experience the same issues she had to deal with and support her with food and recipes. She might chime in here, and her website is http://www.AprilVegan.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s