When I first heard the word vegan, I honestly had no idea what it was. I thought it was like a vegetarian, but more extreme. It isn’t until now, a year and a half since I decided to go vegan, that I look back and realize there is such a drastic difference between being a vegan, and being someone who follows a plant based diet.
In all fairness, health is trending right now. That also means that veganism is trending now. People are all about health; going to the gym, drinking green smoothies, and “eating vegan”. But little do they know that being a vegan actually has almost nothing to do with what you eat, but more about what you think.
The word Vegan was created with the sole purpose of animal rights. A vegan does not believe in exploiting other living beings. So yes, this is why vegans don’t consume honey, go to circuses or zoos, use cosmetics that were tested on animals, wear fur, leather etc, or participate in any other exploitation of animals/living sentient beings.
An individual who decides to go PLANT BASED, probably chose this diet for health purposes. There’s no denying it – eating plant based foods is way healthier than following SAD (Standard America Diet) 100%. There’s been multiple studies proving so. One of the best documentaries on it is Forks over Knives, as well as the books, The China Study, and WHOLE.
But all health put aside – a vegan is someone who solely believes in not exploiting other living beings, and causing as little harm as possible. They believe in love, equality, and justice. There is nothing wrong with being Plant Based, but to all the people reading this: please do not get the two terms confused and mixed up. If you follow a plant based diet and still use leather and eat honey, do not put “Vegan” in your Instagram bio or tell people proudly that you are vegan, because this is an incorrect definition, and is probably why the rest of the world is getting confused on what a vegan is.
For example; if my parents were to define themselves (which they don’t), my dad would be considered mostly “plant based”, and my mom would be a “vegetarian-almost-vegan”. Because my dad only thinks about the health side of what he eats, but my mom thinks about the animals. (She also thinks about health too though)
Originally I went “vegan” because animal by-products were hurting my stomach and causing really bad bloating. I never did it for the animals or the environment, but I still called myself a ‘plant based vegan’, which was partially true I guess. But after a couple months of being a “Vegan”, I educated myself, watched tons of documentaries, and now am aware about the horrible mistreatment of animals that goes on, not only in Factory Farms, but in almost every single industry on the planet. I know how degrading Animal Agriculture is to our planet. And I am 100% vegan for both of those reasons. But I am plant based as well for my health. But I am not restrictive what so ever. I eat vegan junk food once in a while, and that is okay, because I am not a vegan for myself anymore- I am vegan for everything.
The reason my Instagram is food, and my blog and Youtube talk a lot about food and diet is because that’s the best way to reach the mass audiences. Yes, many people care about the animals and want to make a change, but even more people want to be healthy, and since health is such a huge thing right now, that is the best way to grab people’s attention. Food is the best way to grab peope’s attention. Seeing vibrant plates of fruits and vegetables is appealing to people, and I know it will help spread the message. Even if people start off by going vegan for health reasons, it will hopefully eventually lead them to finding the original purpose, as it did for me.
Being vegan isn’t about what you can or “can’t” eat – it’s about what you choose to support and represents everything that you believe in.
I am proud to call myself vegan because, to me, it is a synonym for compassion. It means that I care about the lives of others, and I am willing to make a protest every single day by not harming, exploiting them, or paying others to do so. By being vegan, I am raising awareness, and educating others about the subject. Vegan is a beautiful word, and I embrace it every single day. I’ve never been more proud to call myself anything else.