Veganism is a lifestyle. It goes beyond what we eat, it affects everything else we use and the things we do. The Vegan Society describes it as "a 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". There are different interpretations of the veganism description. One aspect worth mentioning is that humans may also be included as animals, which will broaden the impact of the choices made by the vegan community.
This is the first step taken by many vegans. It may even be the easier one and it is definitely the one with the most impact on industries.
A vegan aims not to eat any animal products. Animal products include any form of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and any other products that derive from animal exploitation. There are hidden animal products that many new vegans are not educated about, such as carmine, a red food coloring derived from an insect.
What does a vegan eat? Everything else! Beans, grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and more. Most flavors that meat-eaters like can be easily recreated with no animal products. Spices are pretty much all it takes.
Even though these are the general guidelines vegans follow, some will eat honey or other products due to different interpretations of the general definition. Also, occasionally, some vegans will face a situation where they either have to eat animal products or unknowillingly do so. Neither of those situations mean those people are not vegan.
Leather, wool and fur are only three examples of animal products used in the fashion industry. Digging deep, there are many other animal products used to create our clothing. Besides those, humans are another concern for many vegans who are not eager to contribute to a fast-fashion industry that does not offer fair wage and good work conditions to its employees.
The good news are that there are now thousands of options for those looking for ethical-fashion. Besides the many companies focused on creating clothes that are ethically-made and cruelty-free, second-hand clothes represent a great opportunity for those who are also concerned about not creating additional waste in a planet that is already past its trash capacity.
Just as with food consumption, there are different interpretations of what is or is not vegan when it comes to clothing. Some vegans do buy second-hand products that contain animal products since they are not directly contributing to animal exploitation.
Personal Care and Cleaning Products
Animal testing is the major concern for vegans when it comes to personal care and cleaning products. However, there are other aspects to have in mind such as any animal products used to create the final products and its toxicity.
Besides the many companies offering vegan options for all the products you may need, you may also create you own products at home, which will ensure you know exactly what you are using.
Most medicine products used worldwide are not vegan since these are generally tested on animals. There is hope for this department in the future since there are already alternative testing methods being developed and used. That being said, it is not recommended that vegans refuse to take medicine prescribed by health professionals. The aspect most vegans do focus on is finding prescription alternatives that do not contain animal products such as gelatine and lactose.
Zoos, aquariums, circuses and horse racing tracks are a few examples of venues vegans choose not to support. Animal exploitation is found throughout the entertainment industry.
These are only five areas impacted by the choice of becoming vegan and stop supporting animal exploitation. Choosing a vegan lifestyle is not a decision to be made light-heartedly. Many aspects of a new vegan's life will be daunting.
The process of becoming vegan is all about taking one step at a time. There is really no right or wrong when it comes to veganism. The most important aspect to have in mind is that you need to make your decisions conscientiously and with the well-being of other animals in mind. That will allow you to be satisfied with your choices.