According to Wikipedia, the term “vegan” was coined by Donald Watson in 1944. Vegan is a contraction of the first three and last two letters of the word “vegetarian” and describes vegetarians that refrain from consuming animal foods, including meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal-derived substances. In addition, veganism focuses on all aspects relating to animal cruelty and usage. True vegans oppose the use of animals or animal products for any purpose if the animal had to suffer in any way. That includes leather (clothing, hats, upholstery, etc.), medications, supplements, lotions, ointments, soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, toothpastes, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, plastics, etc., products that were either tested on animals and/or that use ingredients made from animals. For example, did you know that gel caps are made with gelatin, which comes from boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones in water? Vegans also oppose destruction of the environment caused by increased generation of greenhouse gases, ground water pollution, and clear-cutting forests (to name a few) that result from raising animals for food.
While many vegans consume whole, plant-based foods, that’s not the case for all vegans. There are many processed and refined foods available that are free of animal-based foods. These are also known as vegan junk food. So technically you can be vegan and not eat whole, plant-based foods.
Someone who lives a whole food plant-based lifestyle is one who does not consume any animal-based foods and instead chooses unprocessed (or minimally processed) whole, plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Typically those who choose a whole food plant-based lifestyle do so primarily for the personal benefits of optimal health and/or weight management. The positive impacts of living a whole food plant-based lifestyle on the treatment of animals and on the environment are added benefits (yet not always the driving force) of choosing this lifestyle.
The term “vegan” is often used to describe someone who lives a “whole food plant-based lifestyle” because when it comes to eating, most people understand the term “vegan” to indicate someone who does not consume any animal-based foods. Even though I live a whole food plant-based lifestyle, I often catch myself giving in to the convenience of calling myself vegan, when the truth is, I’m not 100% vegan. I live a whole food plant-based lifestyle knowing that I contribute to the added benefits to animals and the environment.
No animals were harmed in the writing of this post.