Veganism Is More Than Just a Diet

Jan 13, 2023how to go vegan, lifestyle, sustainability

Spread the good vibes


In the past few years, veganism has become widely known. You can get vegan options in most of the restaurants and cafés. Almost everyone knows what being vegan means. At least when it comes to diet. But veganism is far more than just a diet.


What is veganism

the practice of eating only food not derived from animals and typically of avoiding the use of other animal products.
(Oxford Languages)
Many people think veganism is a type of diet and it indeed began as one. Like everything else, a vegan diet has evolved into a vegan lifestyle. It doesn’t only cover diet, but other aspects of life, too.
A definition of veganism should include diet as well as other lifestyle choices. See, being vegan is a lifestyle that also includes eating a plant-based diet. The words “vegan” and “plant-based” are used interchangeably on most occasions. When it comes to food products that’s fine. But the fact is, they are not one and the same.
Veganism as a lifestyle covers everything, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the cosmetic products we use.
Veganism, therefore, is much more than a diet. Let’s take a look at where in life veganism can become a lifestyle.

Killing for food is passé

It’s been a while since humans had to hunt and pick berries to survive. The world has changed. We no longer run through forests and kill animals on spot. Instead, we go to the supermarket and buy what we need. Fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and meat. And a gazillion types of processed foods like fries, nuggets, and sweets.
The problem is we got excluded from the food chain. We go and we buy, not knowing or thinking about where our food came from.
Do you remember the story of an American lady that went viral? She found pieces of chicken in, well, a bucket of chicken hot wings. We are separated from what we’re actually eating. People don’t even understand that their steak came from a living creature. I’m sure 90% of people who eat meat wouldn’t be able to actually kill an animal themselves.
Supermarkets are doing a great job making sure we don’t think of where our food came from. They’re removing blood from filets, packing meat into cute hot-dog sausages, nuggets, salami, burgers … everything far from what the actual pieces of meat used in those look like.
You might think going vegetarian is enough. Although it’s a great place to start it doesn’t solve the whole problem. Cows have to endure enormous physical and psychological pain to deliver milk. Chickens have to live in unlivable circumstances to deliver those eggs. I’m not even going to start talking about antibiotics and other stuff they give to these animals.
Apart from all the suffering, this kind of food is causing the biggest health crisis the world has ever seen. It’s also one of the biggest causes for environmental crisis we’re facing.
There’s nothing great about the standard American diet that’s being pushed on us everywhere we go.


Here’s a solution

I’m not suggesting you stop what you’re doing and turn your life around. I’m merely suggesting you think about what you put into your mouth and make a conscious choice. Eating a mostly plant-based diet is healthier for you, less harmful to the planet, and causes less suffering to the animals. It also means you can still have a burger every now and then or treat yourself to a piece of cheesecake on occasion. Changing your diet just a bit can make profound changes.



What you wear might have been alive once

I’m not sure how many people actually think about this, but our clothes are often made of animal parts.
Do you own a good pair of winter shoes that are waterproof and comfortable and were very expensive, too? Any chance they’re made of leather? That leather was once a part of a cow – it’s skin. In other words, a cow had to be slaughtered and skinned for those shoes – or a bag or a purse or a jacket or a belt.
How about that awesome warm sweater, all soft and cozy? Any chance it’s made of wool or cashmere? Sure, sheep and goats didn’t have to die for it. But they still suffered a lot, especially if you bought that sweater in one of the commercial stores.
I bet we all know fur is not vegan as it was turned into one of the biggest vegan campaigns. Especially small animals like foxes, otters, and rabbits are bred or captured to be killed for fur. It’s a nasty business and 100 million of animals are killed each year. That’s just for fur! Choosing “fake” fur is a better idea – it’s still warm and cozy and no one has to die.
Let’s not forget about another quite peculiar example of non-vegan clothing: silk. Silk fibres are produced by silkworms when they spin themselves into a cocoon on their journey to becoming a silkmoth. The problem is these fibres need to be harvested in the early stages of the worms turning into moths. They boil cacoons in hot water with worms still inside. Vegan? You can guess.
Guilty as charged
Don’t get me wrong, I owned clothes and accessories made from animals, too. In fact, I still do. I just don’t buy them anymore.
I own a pair of Marten’s shoes I bought 10 years ago when I didn’t know veganism existed. Leather shoes I’ll wear until I can’t use them anymore. After that, I won’t buy leather shoes again. I also own a leather purse I got from a friend 10 years ago who got it from her mother who used it when she was young.
I also still own woolen sweaters, but I bought them second-hand. Buying second-hand clothes and accessories partly takes you out of the equation. You’re not directly voting for torture. You’re not paying for corporations that harm animals as well as humans. While it’s best not to buy new stuff made from animals, it’s even more important to not throw useful stuff away. If you’re repelled by this you can donate your clothes or give them to your friends or even sell them. Otherwise use them as long as they can be used.


Here’s a solution

Buy less and buy with awareness. Use what you’ve got. Organize an exchange of clothes with your friends. Buy from second-hand stores. We’re voting with our money so make sure it goes in the direction that supports the future that you wish to see.



Would you put urine onto your face?

It’s a fair question as many face creams contain a chemical compound from cow’s urine (called urea). It’s a standard practice to use chemicals from animals or their excretions for cosmetic products. Quite disgusting, if you ask me.
How about applying insect dust on your eyelids? Insects’ wings are crushed into powder to get the red colour. You can find it in lipsticks, blushes, and eyeshadows. You can check the label for “carmine” or “cochineal” as this is the name of this compound. (It’s also used to dye food so you can check food labels, too.)
Even if no ingredient is derived from animals, there’s still a high chance it was tested on animals. We know what that means, don’t we? Often it is not necessary to test products on animals.
It goes for all the toiletries and cosmetics. Think of shampoos, conditioners, masks, peelings, shower gels, creams, make-up of all kinds, lotions, etc.


Here’s a solution

When buying cosmetic products, check for two types of labels. One is cruelty-free (or not tested on animals) and vegan. The ingredients are gibberish for most of the population (myself included). It might be hard for you to know if the product is okay. Instead, just check for the labels to make your life easier.



What kills bacteria kills us too

It’s not as obvious as it seems. Most cleaning products we’re using cause respiratory problems and skin rashes. Don’t get me started on what happens if any of it gets in touch with mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. All these products seem to be powerful and effective in the battle against limestone, grease, clogged drains, and dirty toilets.
Here’s a fun fact: milder products can be just as effective. They’re also way less harmful to our health. Here’s a punchline: what harms us also harms animals and the planet. What we put down the drain gets into nature one way or another. It’s hideous to think of all the ways we’re harming the planet as well as ourselves.
Did you know that oftentimes kitchen products can be effective for cleaning, too? Vinegar is an excellent limestone remover. Ever tried mixing baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with vinegar? That’s a very effective stain remover or even a way to unclog drains.
Safe cleaning for all
Apart from that, there are a bunch of safe(r) cleaning products on the market. They might be more expensive, but be honest for a second: how often do you buy cleaning products? It’s not something you have to buy weekly so a few euros once a year or every few months won’t change a thing. Except cause you and your loved ones less harm, cause the animals less harm and pollute the Earth much less.
Here’s another fun fact that I need to share with you before I finish. Bacteria are super important for our health. We coexist with bacteria that are present everywhere. They’re in our gut, on our skin, in our mouth, and everywhere else you can think of. Not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, loads of bacteria are healthy and help us with our immune system, good digestion, and overall health. So as much as you might love it clean (I’m totally guilty of that), allow yourself a little bit of “dirt” in your life. You don’t have to disinfect all the surfaces all the time – not even your hands.


Here’s a solution

If you’re ready to go down the path of healthier and happier cleaning, check the less-known brands, possibly local. Google it, search Instagram, or ask someone who might know some brands. Additionally, you can check for the “animal-cruelty free” or “not tested on animals” signs. Before you switch, use what you have at home, don’t just throw it away. If it’s gonna get into nature you might as well make use of it before it does. Unless it harms you – in that case throw it right out the window (metaphorically, of course).



What’s the answer?

I believe that now you understand why veganism is more than just a diet. An answer to all these problems would be that there is no one-fits-all approach. There cannot be one as we’re all so very different. But one thing is certain: bringing awareness to our lives and paying attention to the choices we’re making might save us all. If those choices reflect kindness and respect, of course.
I believe we’re all inherently good, it’s just our life choices that might be “good” or “bad”. Going about life thinking of more than just oneself can save thousands of lives – human and animal. It can also help restore nature. Above all, it can help us survive along with our planet.
Vegan lifestyle is not all that complicated. Taking in as much as you can at once and not even a tiny bit more will help you grow and change steadily. A big change at once can be overwhelming and end up feeling like a huge mistake. Choose one aspect of your life and see where you can start. Then go on from there.
If we want to live in a better world, if we want to leave a better world behind, we need to start making a change. There’s no better place to start than with ourselves.


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