Being vegan means excluding the use and consumption of animal products.
Personally, this means I do not eat animal products, I will not wear animal materials, and choose to use cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics and toiletries.
The Vegan Society defines veganism as:
"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—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 animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
PETA defines veganism as:
"A vegan (strict vegetarian) does not consume meat, dairy products, eggs, honey, or any product derived from an animal. A vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious, nutritious foods, including vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fruits. Vegans don’t wear leather, fur, silk, or wool. Many refuse to use products that are made with animal ingredients, products that are filtered using animal parts (such as some wines, beers, and white sugars), and products that have been tested on animals."
I celebrated my 17-year veganniversary in February 2022!
Back when I first went vegan (circa 2005) there were not many products available, and many products claimed to be dairy-free but still contained derivatives of milk (I am looking at YOU Go Veggie Foods). I found myself eating meatless meatballs I could only find at one local grocer, and discovering soy milk is sweet and not really a 1:1 replacement for dairy milk. Fast forward to today and we have more plant milks than I have tried, and subs/equivalents for pretty much everything (cottage cheese and lobster, whaaat?!). This is why I am so thrilled to share the release of new vegan-friendly products, especially local restaurants that offer vegan options! There is no better day than today to try going veg. What a time to be vegan!
When I was a tween my family moved to an almond ranch that was nestled between dairies and other ranches. I had my own pets: a bird, cat, dog- I was always an "animal lover". We were surrounded by wildlife on a daily basis, from howling coyotes to owls and bats. One day while in the orchard I found a cotton-tailed rabbit that had been mutilated by a coyote (or another wild animal) the evening before. I was so sad! I cried and just felt so badly about what the bunny had experienced. Meanwhile, my mom was preparing dinner which included hamburger meat. After seeing the rabbit and the meat, I just couldn't help but see that they were the same. Why would I feel badly about one animal's death, while I was planning to consume another guilt-free? I begrudgingly became a red-meat vegetarian at first, as my mother was concerned about where I would get my protein. I began doing my own research online (I will always be thankful for PETA) and found protein was just as accessible in a vegetarian diet. Continuing with my research, I became a vegan the same year. After seeing what takes place on factory farms, I felt I had no choice but to make the change. It's been over a decade now, and there is just no going back when you're in it for the animals.