Veganism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: October 1, 2014 at 7:55 am


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Veganism // is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.

Distinctions are sometimes made between different categories of veganism. Dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but, in contrast to ovo-lacto vegetarians, also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet but extend the vegan philosophy into other areas of their lives and oppose the use of animals and animal products for any purpose.[4] Another term used is environmental veganism, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the harvesting or industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.[5]

The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, at first to mean "non-dairy vegetarian" and later to refer to "the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals."[6] Interest in veganism increased in the 2000s; commercially processed vegan food became increasingly available in supermarkets and restaurants in many countries and several top athletes in endurance sports, such as the Ironman triathlon and the ultramarathon, began to practise veganism and raw veganism.[7]

A 2009 research review indicated that vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.[8] Well-planned vegan diets appear to offer protection against certain degenerative conditions, including heart disease,[9] and are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle by the American Dietetic Association, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Dietitians of Canada.[10] Because uncontaminated plant foods do not provide vitamin B12 (which is produced by microorganisms such as bacteria), researchers agree that vegans should eat B12-fortified foods or take a supplement.

Vegetarianism can be traced to Ancient India and Greece, but the English word vegetarian came into use in the 19th century to refer to those who avoided meat. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes its earliest-known use to the English actress Fanny Kemble (18091893), writing in Georgia in the United States in 1839.[12] Vegetarians who also avoided eggs and dairy products, or avoided using animals for any purpose, were referred to as strict or total vegetarians.[13]

There were several attempts in the 19th century to establish vegan/strict-vegetarian communities. In the United States in 1834 Amos Bronson Alcott (17991888), father of novelist Louisa May Alcott (18321888), opened the Temple School in Boston, Massachusetts, on strict-vegetarian principles.[14] In 1844 he also founded Fruitlands, a community in Harvard, Massachusetts, which opposed the use of animals for any purpose, including farming, though it lasted only seven months.[3] In England in 1838 James Pierrepont Greaves (17771842) opened Alcott House in Ham, Surrey, a community that followed a strict-vegetarian diet.[15] Members of Alcott House were involved in 1847 in forming the British Vegetarian Society, which held its first meeting that year at Northwood Villa in Ramsgate, Kent, chaired by Salford MP Joseph Brotherton (17831857).[16]

Vegetarians who were more interested in the moral aspects of diet, rather than in human health, began to discuss abstaining from animal use entirely. An 1851 article in the Vegetarian Society's magazine discussed alternatives to leather for shoes.[18] In 1886 the society published A Plea for Vegetarianism by the English campaigner Henry Salt (18511939), which argued for vegetarianism as a moral imperative; Salt was one of the first to make the paradigm shift from the promotion of animal welfare to animal rights.[19] His work influenced Mahatma Gandhi (18691948) and the men became friends.[17]

The first-known British vegan cookbook, No Animal Food: Two Essays and 100 Recipes by Rupert H. Wheldon, appeared in London in 1910.[20] Historian Leah Leneman (19441999) wrote that there was a vigorous correspondence between 1909 and 1912 within the Vegetarian Society about the ethics of dairy products and eggs; to produce milk, cows are kept pregnant and their calves are removed soon after birth and killed, whilst male chicks are killed in the production of eggs because they are surplus to requirement.[21] The society's position remained unresolved, but its journal noted in 1923 that the "ideal position for vegetarians is abstinence from animal products."[22] In November 1931 Gandhi gave a speech, "The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism," to the society in London (attended by 500 people, including Henry Salt), arguing that it ought to promote a meat-free diet as a moral issue, not only in the interests of human health.[23]

In July 1943 Leslie J. Cross (19141979) of the Leicester Vegetarian Society expressed concern in its newsletter that vegetarians were still consuming cows' milk.[24] In August 1944 several Vegetarian Society members, including Donald Watson (19102005), asked the society if they could have a section of its magazine to discuss non-dairy vegetarianism. Their request was turned down, so Watson wrote in the magazine that he wanted to set up his own quarterly newsletter. Thirty readers sent him a shilling to fund it.[25]

Watson issued the first newsletter, Vegan News, in November 1944 (priced tuppence, or a shilling for a year's subscription); Watson said later that the word vegan (/vin/) represented "the beginning and end of vegetarian."[26] Readers also suggested allvega, neo-vegetarian, dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivores and beaumangeur, but Watson stuck with vegan. The new Vegan Society held its first annual meeting on 15 December 1945 at the Attic Club, High Holborn, London.[25]World Vegan Day has been held every 1 November since 1994 to mark the Society's founding date.[27]

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Veganism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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