For those who aren’t followers of this ideal, veganism may seem like a sweet utopia, imagined by some kind dreamers. For those who are engaged in this movement, it represents another way of seeing life and a reaction to an education which only leaves one way to follow. Vegans are inviting us to reflect on the way of life adopted by the majority and they suggest another one, more respectful of living things.
What are the origins of veganism?
The word “vegan” first appeared in the 1940s. This represents a syncope of the word “vegetarian”, created by the Englishman Donald Watson. In 1944, he forms the Vegan Society, as a reaction to society’s violence towards animals. Vegetarian at first, his practice will evolve during his lifetime. Adopting more and more strict principles, he finally removes the basis of lacto-ovo vegetarianism at the end of the 70s; he then starts the process of creating his new philosophy, which lasts until the last day of his life. He was rather successful in this process, because the man died in 2010, at the age of 95, after having been a vegetarian for 81 years and a lacto-ovo vegetarian for more than 60 years. Here is how he smashed one of the arguments commonly used by the veganism critics, who point out possible vitamin deficiencies that the followers of this lifestyle might suffer from.
Vegetarianism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, veganism, what’s the difference?
Beginners find it hard to differentiate vegetarians from lacto-ovo vegetarians and from vegans. To sum up, we could say that vegetarians refuse to eat meat; lacto-ovo vegetarians widen that interdiction and integrate dairy products, eggs and bee products in their diets. On the other hand, vegans push this logic to the maximum and adopt a lifestyle where they respect animals in every action they take. They also refrain from using objects made from leather, wool or silk or animal tested products. Veganism isn’t a cult or a religion; it’s rather a life philosophy that offers a new interpretation of the world.
The vegan adopts a diet which is in tune with their moral aspirations. This is not an obligation; it comes from their conviction of not hurting other living beings. As for the “Vegans Straight Edge”, they don’t drink alcohol and they don’t do drugs, because they think those are a waste of time and represent dangers to their health. Diet is only one aspect of veganism, but it’s the most visible one and it’s the one affecting the social life of its followers. These people have trouble making their entourage understand their choices and they can even become victims of some form of sectarianism. Why something that’s allowed in certain religious practices should be refused for a lifestyle that’s straying a bit from the norm imposed by the masses? The majority of vegans don’t practice any form of proselytism and they simply want their personal life choices to be accepted, as those do not affect the proper functioning of our society.
Veganism in cosmetics
Vegans are careful about the cosmetics they buy and they look closely at the products they apply on their skin. Therefore, the majority of traditional products cannot be part of their bathroom cabinet. The Bio cosmetic labels respond to one of the essential concerns of vegans: the guarantee that products weren’t tested on animals. For further guarantees, there are specific vegan cosmetic labels, such as Vegan Society or Vegan Action. Other labels are mainly oriented towards animal protection, but they also respond to vegan expectations. Here, we could quote Leaping Bunny, One Voice and Cruelty Free Peta.
Bio and vegan cosmetic labels respond to the expectations of consumers who are looking for natural products which protect their health and are also matched with ethics greatly respectful of the surrounding world. These are not utopians; they are human beings trying to build a world that is more respectful of others, a more beautiful, and to some point, a more civilized world.