A Vegan (pronounced vee-gun) is the strictest form of vegetarianism; someone who does not consume animal or dairy products of any kind including all animal by-products, such as honey. A popular adage to properly explain Veganism is that “you don’t eat anything with a face or anything that had a Mother.” Adopting a Vegan diet usually goes far beyond what type of food a person consumes and is more of a way of life as most Vegans aspire to eschew animal products of any kind for their personal use such as leather clothing, shoes or car seats. Veganism, as a philosophy, has at its core the desire to abolish all cruelty and exploitation of animals in such areas as zoos, circuses and television advertisements.
Veganism, like Vegetarianism, has ancient roots. The Essenes, a Jewish religious group that flourished in the 2nd Century BC to the 1st Century AD, were most likely the first group of people to practice Veganism. Followers took the moral imperative of the 6th Commandment: “Thou Shall Not Kill” literally to include all living, sentient beings. The Essenes were even prohibited from making animal sacrifices, which was long held to be a necessary part of religious practice during that time. It is not clear whether Jesus of Nazareth was actually a member of the Essenes but it is documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls that Jesus had spent a great deal of time with them, which is where he most likely adopted the Vegan lifestyle.
The word “Vegan” was coined in 1944 by two strict Vegetarians that were annoyed that the term “vegetarian” included the consumption of dairy and eggs. It is estimated that since then the number of Vegans in the US today number somewhere between .2% and 1%. A recent poll showed that only about 5-10% of Vegetarians call themselves Vegan.
The touted benefits of a Vegan diet include all those listed for Vegetarianism but go further to include lower cholesterol levels, and lower incidents of osteoporosis, heart disease and colorectal cancers. This reason is largely due to the high saturated fat content and cholesterol in dairy and egg products. DR. T. Colin Campbell’s landmark medical work, The China Study, clearly and concisely presents incontrovertible evidence that switching to a Vegan diet will dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Vegan diets are generally lower in Vitamin B-12, the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K and in some cases, Iron. Therefore it is very important to consider a supplement program to ensure your body is getting all it needs.
“While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”