November is World Vegan Month and this year, it coincided with COP26 (read more about that here in our handy guide), which means it’s never been more relevant. Research has shown that following a vegan diet is “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.” And with an incentive like that, it’s easy to see why more and more people are choosing to follow a plant-based diet every year.
But if you’re a longtime carnivore, “going vegan” can be daunting. What about Cadbury’s Dairy Milk? Are beauty products allowed? Do I have to eat lettuce at every meal?! It’s ok, we’re here to ease you into the world of Vegan and show that it’s actually not as hard as you might think.
Spoiler alert: you can still eat Dairy Milk.
What does vegan mean?
The term “vegan” was coined in 1944, but vegetarianism has been practised for centuries. It’s first mentioned by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras around 500 BCE. Plus, followers of certain religions including Buddhism and Hinduism have also advocated vegetarian lifestyles for hundreds of years, believing that no animal should be harmed.
However, it wasn’t until 1944 when British woodworker Donald Watson declared that vegetarianism needed reform and that a new term was needed for those who also excluded eggs and dairy from their diets. And so, Veganism was born and the Vegan Society was founded. On their website they state that Vegan denotes:
“A person committed to avoiding products and practices that inherently involve animal exploitation, including all foods containing animal products, and to abstaining from direct and intentional harm to animals as far as possible.”
It started with just 25 members, but since then, Veganism has gained followers from all over the world and all different backgrounds and it’s estimated that there are about 1.5 million vegans today.
Benefits of going vegan
For many people, being vegan is all about animal welfare. Reducing your consumption of animal products is a great way to stand against animal exploitation but there are so many other benefits to being more plant-based.
Reduces energy consumption
Raising cows uses a lot of energy. From feeding them to making space for them, plus shipping and refrigerating the meat. And we can’t forget those cow farts that produce a whole lot of methane. Vegan proteins, however, need 8 times less energy to create.Reduces Deforestation
Animal agriculture is the biggest driver behind deforestation. Vast amounts of land are needed to grow food and provide grazing areas for livestock. As we all know by now, trees are Earth’s lungs and play a vital role in removing CO2 from the air. Growing vegetable products needs far less space than cows and it can be done indoors and vertically.Habitat preservation
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has declared that one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. We are currently experiencing the Earth’s sixth mass extinction and it matters because everything that makes our planet habitable - the water, the air, the food - relies on the teamwork of bacteria, fungi, plants, mammals, sea creatures, birds and trees.
Vegan for your health
Apart from the many benefits to planet Earth (too many to list), a plant-based diet is great for your body too!
Obviously, the first thing you’ll notice as a vegan is you’ll be eating a whole lot more fibre 💩. But adding extra veggies into your diet also means more antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E, which does wonders for your skin and overall health.
Plus, studies have suggested that following a vegan diet can reduce your risk of cancer. Researchers found that vegans had a higher proportion of total omega-3 fatty acids, and lower levels of saturated fatty acids than non-vegans, all of which are linked to better long-term health.
Most importantly, plant-based living makes you feel great! Knowing that you’re doing your bit for the planet is a sure way to get that good serotonin hit 😄.
How can you tell if a brand is vegan friendly?
Really, all you have to do is read the label. Whether it’s a food brand, clothing or cosmetics, each will have its own signs to look out for.
- Vegan food - scan the ingredients and the allergen list for items like “milk” or “eggs”. Also, be sure it has “Suitable for Vegans" or have the "Certified Vegan" logo printed on it.
- Vegan cosmetics - Look for the “Certified Vegan" logo. If the product is simply labelled "vegan" or "contains no animal ingredients" be sure to check the ingredients yourself as well. Plus there are loads of great online lists if you want a cheat sheet, like this one. For cruelty-free items, you’ll also want to look for products labelled with the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) leaping bunny logo or PETA's cruelty-free bunny logo.
Does vegan mean cruelty-free?
If you’ve read our other blog post about beauty myths, you’ll know that it’s not as simple as that. Technically, cruelty-free means that the product was developed without testing on animals, while vegan means that the product does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. So a beauty or skincare product can be cruelty-free but not vegan, and vice versa.
Sustainable Vegan Swaps You Can Make
Times have changed and now, with more vegans on earth than ever before, going plant-based doesn’t mean giving up cheese or saying no to a smelly candle. Whatever you think you’ll miss, there’s probably a vegan alternative and here are a few of our favourite sustainable plant-based brands.
Certified by the Vegan Society and approved by PETA, Wuka is the period products brand making menstruating more sustainable with cute period pants and reusable pads.
After committing to making high-quality vegan shoes, Flamingos Life also wanted to make sure they avoided environmentally damaging plastic, which is why all their shoes are made from biodegradable materials like corn waste and bamboo.
If you’re looking for high-quality clothing basics made with planet-friendly materials, Organic Basics is the brand for you. With a focus on ethical production as well as comfort, you can feel at peace with the planet every day.
The Ordinary Skincare
Offering an incredible range of skincare products certified with the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval, The Ordinary guarantees that feelgood glow.
Colour your nails healthy with Nailberry’s gorgeous range of nail polishes that respect the environment, with no compromise on colour. Completely vegan, cruelty-free and designed to let your nails breathe.
Lucy & Yak
This British brand make colourful unisex dungarees and trousers from sustainable and mostly vegan materials. Now you can be a big kid and look good too.
If you’re back in the office and are looking for some new stash, get yourself one of these urban backpacks. Made from recycled plastic bottles and 100% vegan, commuting never looked so good.
They believe in producing beers you want to drink time after time. Beer that’s brilliantly balanced, free from animal products and made sustainably - what’s not to like?
If you want to try vegan food but don’t have the time to cook from scratch in the kitchen, AllPlants might be the solution to your problems. Delicious, chef-made dishes, entirely plant-based, delivered straight to your door.
Plus, Dairy Milk just brought out their own vegan chocolate. Happy World Vegan Month one and all.
What about a vegan deodorant?
If you’re looking for a vegan deodorant, don’t sweat it. We’ve got your armpits covered with our 100% natural, vegan formula that ensures you smell as good as you feel. Plus, we’re entirely cruelty-free - we’ll only ever test our products on smelly humans.
Remember, vegan looks different for everyone. If you’re not ready to cut things out cold turkey (or ToFurkey), start with something small like your deodorant. If we all made small changes to the way we live, we can make a big difference. So what are you waiting for, let’s get started!