What's a Vegan?
A vegan is someone who doesn't consume any animal products. Animal products include:
Meat (Beef, Poultry, Chicken, Fish, etc)
Or any other animal by-product
Vegans eat a wide variety of beans, legumes, grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and non-dairy milks (not to mention a huge range of vegan 'junk food' that includes baked goods, chips and donuts). This makes the vegan diet full of variety and more fun than many would expect.
For many vegans, being vegan means more than a diet, with some choosing to adopt a way of living that excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, opting for leather free products, cruelty-free makeup, boycotting zoos and other items or activities.
Compassion isn't the only reason people choose to adopt a more plant-based diet. Vegan diets (or plant-based diet) have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, premature death and even Alzheimer's disease. Vegan diets also reduce your risk of side effects caused by the antibiotics and hormones used in modern animal farming and inherent in eating meat (even if you're purchasing 'hormone-free' meat this isn't 100% accurate, naturally animals create hormones and these hormones are present when you ingest their meat) (1,2).
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has included on their website an entire article on the health benefits of adopting a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, and recommends it as an excellent diet for optimal health and even states that protein and calcium can easily be found on a vegan diet (a common concern for many).
Not only is a vegan diet extremely healthy but it is also a choice that reduces the suffering of animals and is better for the environment.
In the United States veganism has grown by 500% since 2014, with 6% of Americans identifying as vegan. A study from 2010, estimated that there were 76 million vegetarians globally (21.8% of the world's population), one can only assume this number has grown in the last several years.