top of page

What is veganism, really

Veganism is one of the most contested life choices. It still causes astonishment, leads to discussions, mockery, teasing. In this guide, I'll try to clarify what veganism is and isn't, and answer some of the most common questions.

Definition of veganism

Let's learn like we did it in school:

Veganism is a philosophy and a way of life that seeks to exclude - as far as possible and feasible - all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Additionally, it promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In terms of nutrition, it means the practice of rejecting all animal products.

The first thing to understand from this definition is that veganism is not only about diet. It also includes habits related to:

  • fashion - vegans do not wear clothes, shoes or accessories made from animals (fur coats, silk, genuine leather, brushed leather, wool, cashmere)

  • cosmetics - vegans do not use cosmetics that have been tested on animals or use animal products such as milk, honey, animal collagen, fish oil, etc.

  • entertainment - vegans do not support circuses, zoos, animal races or keeping animals as tourist attractions

Sound limiting? Maybe so, but a fundamental belief in veganism is that no living being should suffer for human pleasure or looks. Especially since there are alternatives and everything can be achieved without exploiting animals.

Veganism and health

The question of health in veganism is often raised, from several perspectives. One is whether a vegan diet can cover all the nutrients. Here, I would like to say that almost every form of nutrition of today's modern people is deficient in some aspect and that everyone needs some supplements. In veganism, that's vitamin B12, while all other micro- and macronutrients can be taken in without any problems.

Another perspective is that vegans only eat healthy. Actually, it doesn't really matter at all. The goal of veganism is not to be a healthy lifestyle, but a lifestyle without cruelty to animals. White sugar, white flour, margarine, oil - it's all vegan. Whether vegans eat healthy depends only on their personal choices and interests. I do try to cook and eat healthy, the recipes I share are mostly healthier variants, but that does not make me more vegan than those who are not interested in it.

People who decide to eat healthy plant-based food, but do not apply the principles of veganism to clothing, entertainment and cosmetics are not actually vegan by definition - the correct term for them would be plant-based.

A vegan diet can, of course, be very healthy. A varied plant-based diet full of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, healthy oils, seeds and plant proteins has been proven to have a positive effect on human health. Excessive consumption of meat and dairy products has been proven to be associated with many diseases. There are many studies showing that, so I recommend Googling terms like "red meat and cardiovascular disease" and "animal protein and cancer" for those who are more interested in this topic.

Veganism and hypocrisy

When you choose an "extreme" way of life, those who want to portray your choice as hypocritical are very easily drawn in. Let's say you declare yourself vegan, and then they ask you - "why do you eat coconut milk when some coconut plantations use monkeys as labor force?" Or - "why do you vegans imitate the taste of animal products if you have decided not to eat them?" and so on.

First of all, I am convinced that most vegans think deeply about their choices and are aware of all potential situations, so they read the labels on the packages, follow the sources of food and cosmetics, check the cruelty-free status and everything else that goes with it.

Second, the taste of animal products has never been disputed. The killing and exploitation of animals is what's controversial. Of course, for some people the smell of meat becomes repulsive over time, but the tastes or shapes are tried to be imitated for the sake of habit and to show that all the flavors of certain foods can be made without killing animals. I also want to show you with my recipes that you can grill and eat burgers and make cheesecake in a vegan way.

And as for the hypocrisy, I'm sorry that people who care about all these issues often start defending themselves in disscusions, when the correct approach would be - "what are you, who are calling me out on these issues, doing about the welfare of animals and the environment?"

Because really, people who find themselves smart like that usually do nothing at all.

Some benefits of veganism

Using data on average meat consumption, it was calculated that one vegan saves around 105 animals in one year. In addition to direct consumption on a daily basis, this is also about reducing demand on the market, which over a long period of time results in a reduction in the number of animal products.

The health benefits of a whole foods vegan diet include fewer cardiovascular diseases, a lower rate of cancer and tumors, and a reduction in inflammatory conditions.

Veganism also has a positive impact on the environment. The production of meat and dairy products contributes greatly to the increased emission of greenhouse gases associated with climate change. In addition to greenhouse gases, the use of soil and water is problematic. Forests are being cleared to plant food for livestock, and a lot of water is being used to feed livestock. More than 80% of all agricultural land in the world is used for raising and feeding livestock. Imagine if those fields grew food for people - would we solve the problem of food shortages?

In the area of sustainability, there is a critique of modern veganism. It is based on practices that are bad for the environment, such as air transport of avocados and other tropical fruits to countries where they do not grow. Although animals are the main reason for veganism, this aspect is not neglected either, so there is a lot of talk about choosing local and seasonal food. More on this topic in my guide Eating local and seasonal food.



bottom of page