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Why Vegan?

By KD Angle-Traegner on March 21, 2017

Living vegan is a direct action that you can take right now that will have an immediate, real-world impact on animals, the planet, and maybe even your health.

So perhaps a better question would be, why not live vegan?


FAQ: What is a vegan anyway? Is it the same thing as a Vegetarian?

With so much misinformation on the internet today, it’s easy to see how people can become confused about what being a vegan means. In short, vegans avoid animal and animal by-products in their food, including not only meat and fish, but dairy and honey as well. Vegans will also avoid animal products in household goods like bedding and cleaners, and clothing and beauty products too. In contrast, a vegetarian still consumes animals in one way or another.

Vegan Origins

The word vegan was coined in November 1944 in Great Britain by Donald Watson. Watson and his wife, along with four friends, founded the Vegan Society out of a desire to describe a life free from animal products. He suggested the term ‘vegan’ – the beginning and end of ‘vegetarian’ – because, “veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion.” Watson, in the first issue of The Vegan News, talked about veganism as the basis of a new social movement, and then later defined veganism in this way:

Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment.

For the Animals

Without a doubt, it’s the animals who pay the highest price for a non-vegan lifestyle. More than 150 billion animals are killed every year for food, and that’s not counting the animals who die as a result of vivisection laboratories, circuses, marine parks, zoos, horse racing, greyhound racing, and blood sports such as dog fighting, cock fighting, and bullfighting, etc. But veganism goes beyond our plates, so I’ve built a library of information designed to help you navigate through it. Save the lives of animals one meal, one outfit, one refusal to attend a circus or marine park at a time. These guides will show you how.

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why vegan?

For the Planet

Raising animals for food is the single greatest human-caused source of destruction to our environment. It is the largest source of greenhouse gases, land use and degradation; the number one source of water pollution and rainforest deforestation. It’s also a major contributor to air pollution, ocean dead zones, habitat loss, and species extinction. And when we include all the resources that go into raising animals for food– the land, fertilizers, pesticides insecticides, fossil fuels and freshwater – animal agribusiness is a costly and wasteful use of our limited natural resources. Veganism is the solution.

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For our Health

I’m going to get it out of the way right now: it’s certainly possible to eat a healthy diet that contains some animal products. Veganism doesn’t promise us good health and it doesn’t have to. Veganism is about the animals first and always. That said, a vegan diet can help you eliminate unhealthy foods and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. But you’re going to need to know how to do it. That’s where I come in.

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The term ‘vegan’ is unique in that it is a word that people are consistently trying to redefine. Some words need redefining and I am certainly in favor of improving upon definitions that are made archaic with the passing of time. Others make no sense to change. To wit, some advocates would have you believe that the term vegan can mean many things:

  • A diet
  • A diet that you follow until 6pm
  • A diet that you follow Monday – Friday
  • A diet that includes “just a little bit of cheese”
  • A diet that includes fish because “they don’t feel pain”
  • A diet that includes honey because bees are insects, not animals
  • A diet that includes animal products in the form of clothing, household goods, and personal care products

This is untrue. Veganism is:

  • A philosophy
  • A lifestyle
  • A belief system

Veganism is more than what we eat. It’s who we are and how we care for others. It’s about compassion and justice. It’s about kindness and peace. It’s about treading lightly. It’s about the animals.

Definitions matter. You will be told that they don’t. You will be told that only people who are seeking perfection need definitions. You will be told that these people actually harm the vegan movement. You will be told that it’s possible to use animals and be a vegan. This is absolutely not true.

Don’t listen.


Do you know who benefits from defining veganism? You. You’ll benefit because you won’t have to question whether something labelled vegan is genuinely vegan. After all, if there are hundreds of different definitions, how do we know which one was used to determine if something is vegan?

Do you know who else benefits from a clear definition of veganism? The animals. Turning veganism into merely a diet erases the animals from the conversation all together, which is completely antithetical to what veganism is really about.

One last thing, about perfection:

No one alive is perfect, vegans included. Having a definition for the largest social justice movement since the abolition of slavery has nothing whatsoever to do with perfection. It has everything to do with advocating with a clear and consistent message. Does this mean that you’ll never fail, that you’ll never make mistakes in your veganism? Absolutely not. You will, I will- we all will. We’re fallible. We are human.

But in order to advocate on behalf of a position, one must first be able to define it.


Helping animals is as easy as sharing this guide with others. Let’s create a vegan world, together.

I am committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. The information and data presented on Your Daily Vegan has been meticulously researched, and is based on information available at the time of publication. Guides are periodically reviewed for accuracy and updated as necessary. Update dates can be found at the end of every guide. Please contact me if you find out-of-date or incorrect information.

Photo Credit

Earth | NASA
Health | Daniel Guy
Goat | weanimals.org

Chances are you’ve seen the award-winning photography of Jo-Anne McArthur.  Her documentary project, We Animals, is a project that documents animals in the human environment using photography.  The objective, “to photograph our interactions with animals in such a way that the viewer finds new significance in these ordinary, often unnoticed situations of use, abuse, and sharing of spaces.”

The photo of the goat in this guide was obtained from We Animals.  To view more of this project or to support its mission, visit weanimals.org.

This guide is authored by KD Angle-Traegner. Last update March 2017

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