Rewind 2,000 years, and that was when the vegan diet came about. It was not identified as veganism at the time, but it pertained to a non-dairy vegetarian diet.
Fast Forward to 1944 and that was when the term vegan came out and began what is now the modern-day vegan diet. It all started with Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan movement, who met with a few other non-dairy vegetarians and got an understanding of the new lifestyle.
The term vegan came by taking the first three letters and the last two letters of the word vegetarian. By 1949, the late Leslie J. Cross, a founding member of the Vegan Society, coined the definition of this lifestyle as “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man.”
A vegan diet involves abstaining from animal-based meals, such as dairy, meat, eggs and honey. However, it does not only pertain to diet and food consumption, but also avoids the use of “animal-derived” materials.
This means that people who follow a vegan diet also purchase vegan-based products, such as makeup, nail polish, clothing, etc. Other than diet and animal-based products, being vegan also means not attending trips to the zoo, aquariums, circuses and more.
As far as medicine, someone who partakes in this diet should ask their doctor to recommend an alternative medicine that is gelatin-free or lactose-free, if possible.
Today, about 79 million people, or 8 percent of the population, follow a vegan diet. There has been a 20 percent sales growth in the plant-based food industry and is expected to be worth “$9.43 billion by 2027.”
Vegan vs Vegetarian
Typically with a vegan and vegetarian diet, there seems to be a lot of confusion around the difference between both diets and lifestyles.
“I decided I wanted to follow a vegan diet in 2016, back when I was 15,” Siani Nunez, sophomore digital communication and social media major, said. “I was struggling with an eating disorder and needed something positive to help me heal my relationship with food and my body and veganism felt like just that
Although they sound the same and both diets prohibit the consumption of animal-based products, what is the actual difference between the two?
According to the Heart Foundation, vegetarianism follows an eating habit that excludes all meat, poultry and shellfish from a person’s diet, but includes eggs and dairy products. Veganism, on the other hand, excludes all kinds of meat, including eggs and dairy, as well as expanding past just animal-based food products.
Hanna Hyland, a junior digital communication and social media major, has been following a vegetarian diet for four years now. She may not be vegan, but says she follows this diet for her health and for the life of the animals.
“I learned a lot about the inhumane ways animals were treated and really don’t agree with that,” Hyland said. “I would love to be vegan, but I am not there yet.”
When following a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet, the benefits include many health and environmental benefits to following this diet, such as reducing carbon footprints, lowering the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.
Other than health purposes, Nunez hopes to better the world and influence the people around her to reduce the harm posed on animals and the environment.
For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, or even those who do not follow the diet, but want to incorporate a healthier diet, here are a few restaurants and recipes to try.
“I recommend everyone to try out Blackbird Pizzeria down in Philly for amazing vegan bbq wings, unbelievable cheese fries and meat-free sandwiches,” Nunez said.
Hyland also mentioned that her diet consists of salads, eggs, protein, pastas, shakes and plant-based meals.
“I love eating black bean burgers to cure my burger cravings.”
With Thanksgiving around the corner, there is not a better time to try vegan mac and cheese. It might just be a new family favorite.