Definition question: What is Vegan?. Being vegan has a different meaning for everyone. The smallest common basic motive is to avoid animal foods such as meat, fish, milk, eggs, and honey. Many vegans also reject other products that animals have to suffer to obtain – e.g. B. Clothing made of wool or silk and leather.
Reasons for a vegan lifestyle
The most common argument is ethical. Animals do not differ from humans in many ethically relevant properties. Therefore they should be given the same ethical consideration. Wherever the interests of humans and animals are similar, the same protective mechanisms should be in place – e.g. B. in avoiding suffering and pain.
The observation of agriculture and industrial factory farming shows that the commercial use and breeding of animals – regardless of whether in a conventional or “ecological” way – always entails restrictions on their freedom and a life that is fair to their species is not possible. Since we as humans can easily do without animal products, it does not seem justified to let animals suffer.
A constructive attitude towards people also leads to a vegan life: the consumption of animal products is associated with a considerable loss of efficiency compared to direct nutrition with plant-based foods.
In order to produce food of animal origin, many times the amount of vegetable food that would be required if it were consumed directly is necessary. With today’s production of plant-based foods, one could – if one were to forego the detour via “farm animals” – feed far more than the world population and thus eliminate hunger.
The struggle for dwindling natural resources, which first shows itself in rising prices and in many regions in the simple unavailability of food, would ease significantly.
There are also ecological issues associated with this. The intensive feed production requires a high level of energy input, large quantities of pesticides, and occupies huge areas of land. Areas that are used today for the cultivation of animal feed could be given back to nature and thus also to the animals living in the wild in the event of a transition to a vegan lifestyle.
There are also numerous health reasons. With a purely plant-based diet, one can avoid food components that are the cause of today’s diseases of civilization. Vegans have statistically lower body weight and cholesterol game and can presumably benefit from better protection against some cancers and heart disease. Older vegans also seem to have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis than omnivores.
For religious reasons, too, you can go vegan either completely or temporarily. Examples are the Coptic Christians, who eat vegan for about six weeks a year, many Hindus, and, to perfection, the Jain. Many of the Zen temples in Japan do not have any animal products in their facilities.
Can you really be vegan?
Almost every aspect of our life limits the interests of animals – e.g. B. residential and industrial development, traffic, leisure activities in nature. Fertilizers of animal origin are also often used for the manufacture of plant-based products, “pests” and food competitors are fought and natural habitats are destroyed. Such substances can be used in production processes for foodstuffs that do not themselves contain any animal products.
A way of life that actually does not affect any animals therefore hardly appears possible. Many vegans follow a way of life under the motto »Avoiding the avoidable« – albeit sometimes rather unconsciously: Even with everyday decisions, a large part of the suffering that a »normal consumer« inflicts on animals can be avoided. With a little more effort, you can also avoid significant proportions of hidden animal products, e.g. by asking the manufacturer from time to time for foods that are eaten very often.
Vegan perfection, however, would at least mean decoupling from today’s society, if it wasn’t entirely impossible. We recommend that you make the best possible choice according to your own standards. How far the efforts to avoid animal substances go varies widely. The vast majority of vegans read the ingredient declaration and only ask the manufacturer if in doubt. Particularly motivated people only purchase items whose full ingredients they know and which do not require any animal substances during their production and extraction. We at vegan.de have taken up these different expectations of vegan products with different levels of our criteria for vegan products.
The question of the extent to which the vegan lifestyle can also be implemented in the area of social interaction is certainly particularly difficult. While you can order vegan dishes with a certain degree of naturalness in a restaurant or snack bar or “convert” existing offers to vegan options, at parties or when inviting your great-aunt to a lovingly made cake, it is often difficult to weigh up.
Conclusion and recommendation
Our advice after many decades of vegan nutrition in total: By avoiding goods obviously made with animal products, most of the animal suffering caused by normal consumers can be avoided. Further efforts are always welcome and helpful. But it is also important to lead a good, balanced, and socially integrated life in today’s society.
A happy vegan life is great advertising and can convince many people – despite or because of a little pragmatism where it appears necessary.