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What is a Vegan?

Unny Nambudiripad, Kara Fancy and Ami Voeltz

Veganism is a lifestyle which avoids using animals for food, clothing, or other purposes. Vegans try to minimize suffering and cruelty by not purchasing products that are derived from animals. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products or by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.
Animals suffer immensely in modern “factory” farms. They are confined in small areas for most of their lives, in a space too small to stretch their wings or turn around. The animals must constantly face filth, disease, and lack of individualized care. Cows also are hurt by the human consumption of dairy products. For factory farmers, the cow producing milk or producing meat is no different. Dairy cows are still slaughtered after 5-6 years of producing milk for human consumption. It is especially hard on the mother cow that often has her calf taken away at birth.

By not consuming the products that come from animal exploitation, each individual is making a statement against inhumane practices. They are undertaking an economic boycott, and supporting the production of vegan products. These decisions, and the message they send to others, help to move society away from industries that use animals as a means to human ends. Although the end goal is generally the same, the path an individual takes towards veganism is a unique one. Some people follow a methodical process of cutting out foods in the order they consider to be the cruelest, or the foods they find the easiest to avoid. Others, initially concerned with health, eventually cut out products such as chicken and fish as they become more aware of the suffering involved in the production of these goods.

Others go “cold-tofu,” giving up all animal foods, donating their leather goods to charity, returning products that have been tested on animals, etc. Changing to a vegan diet can at first seem like a daunting task, but with time and a little motivation, new habits become easy to follow.

Read Up

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Back Bay Books 2010.

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina Book Publishing Company 2000.

Act Locally

Animal Rights Coalition/Ethique Noveau
Minneapolis, MN
612 822-6161
animalrightscoalition.com and ethiquenouveau.com

Compassionate Action for Animals
Minneapolis, MN
612-276-2242
exploreveg.org

Earthsave International
952-930-1205
twincities.earthsave.org

Fast and Furless
Minneapolis, MN
612-FUR-LESS
fastandfurless.com

What is a Vegan?

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