The Vegan Lifestyle
There’s lot of buzz in popular culture today about living a vegan lifestyle. While going vegan may be a current trend, the philosophy around this lifestyle has been around for a long time. At OZNaturals, we’re proud to be able to say all our products are vegan, and pleased to be the skincare brand of choice for so many vegan customers. So let’s take a little deeper look at what is means to be vegan.
Veganism is the dietary and lifestyle philosophy that excludes the use of all animals as sources of food, and as a resource for other goods such as personal care products, cosmetics, clothing and furniture. While once viewed as an esoteric movement, veganism has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle choices, with the number of declared vegans more than doubling in the past five years. An ever-growing celebrity base of followers has contributed to some of the popularity. However, what is really fueling the veganism movement has more to do with a growing consciousness along with respect for our bodies and the world around us.
According to the Vegan Society, the vegan movement began in the mid-1940s when a group of likeminded non-dairy vegetarians joined together, coined the term “vegan” and began promoting the cruelty free lifestyle. While at the time their work was controversial and came up against quite a bit of opposition, today, veganism is one of the most highly regarded and well respected dietary-focused lifestyles in the world. Have you been considering going vegan and are curious about what the lifestyle has to offer? If so, then I encourage you to read further because eating and using animal-free, cruelty-free products may change your life for the better in ways you might never have expected.
First, let’s talk a little about definitions. Veganism and vegetarianism are two terms that are often misunderstood and viewed as interchangeable, while in fact they are quite different. Part of the misconception centers around the idea that vegans are vegetarians, and therefore their ideals must be the same. However, there are major differences between them when it comes to philosophy and the use of animal products. By definition, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat any type of meat, poultry, wild game, fish, seafood or any by-products of the process of preparing an animal for human consumption. There are several different categories of vegetarians, including those that consume dairy, eggs and honey. Veganism on the other hand eliminates anything that comes from a living creature, regardless if the animal needed to perish in the process. Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism and with that, comes a difference in philosophy.
There are dietary vegans, ethical vegans and those who consider themselves both. Dietary vegans believe that a diet free from all animal products and by-products is the healthiest option, while ethical vegans reject the idea of animals as a type of commodity and believe that animals have the right to be free from the restraints, modification and pain inflicted by humans. The vegan philosophy is one of a gentler, more compassionate and harmonious earth. You will find people that feel passionately on both sides of the vegan fence, but you might be interested to know some of the amazing benefits of living a vegan lifestyle. Here are just a few.
- Vegans tend to eat a more nutritionally diverse and complete diet. Being vegan alone is not enough to make this statement true for everyone, because a poorly planned diet will be nutritionally unbalanced regardless of your dietary philosophy. Vegans, however, who are mindful of their diets tend to eat more nutritionally rich foods than non-vegans.
- A vegan diet is high in fiber. The increase of low carbohydrate diets over the past several decades has overshadowed the need for fiber. An unfortunate recent trend is that more people in their twenties, thirties and forties are being diagnosed with colon cancer than ever before. Fiber is essential for colon heath, and one should ask the question if there is not a connection between low-carb diets and this disturbing health trend. Vegans on the other hand, tend to consume adequate amounts of vegetable fiber daily.
- A vegan diet has been shown to reduce the risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.
- A vegan diet will get you glowing. A typical vegan diet is rich in vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, all of which will help to keep your skin looking healthy, supple and youthful.
- Many people who follow a vegan diet report having stronger hair and nails, possibly because when you eat vegan you are exchanging highly processed foods for foods that are excellent sources of vitamins and nutrients.
- A vegan diet may increase your longevity. Studies show that people who follow a strict vegan diet live an average of three to six years longer than their carnivorous counterparts.
Pretty amazing, right? However, the vegan philosophy is not just about a healthy body, but also a healthy world. As it stands right now, if we, as whole, continue eating and living as we currently are, it will require the resources of five earths to sustain us now and for future generations. I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, there were not four extra earths hanging around nearby. The only solution to this problem is to change our habits. We can help lessen the impact on the earth by adopting a vegan lifestyle. If you think that your diet plays an insignificant role in the stress we are putting on the planet, think again and look at the global impact that switching to a plant-based lifestyle can make.
- Switching to a plant based diet reduces fifty percent more carbon emissions that switching to a hybrid car.
- Grain farmers in the united states use nearly three quarters of their harvest to feed and support livestock. That amount of grain could go a long way in relieving the hunger problems in the world.
- Approximately one-third of the earth’s land is used for raising and maintaining livestock, including many areas that have been deforested just for that purpose.
- Pound for pound, animal protein takes at least ten times more resources of land, water and fossil fuel to produce than soy protein.
- Almost fifty percent of water used in the United States is used on animals that are raised for human consumption. How is this possible? It takes over two-thousand gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, while a pound of grain only requires about twenty-five gallons in comparison.
- Farm animals are the number one producer of methane gas, which is twenty times stronger at trapping heat to the earth’s surface than carbon dioxide.
- Livestock grazing is the number one contributor plant species becoming endangered or extinct.
When many of us think of the word vegan, we immediately associate it with diet, however the philosophy of veganism extends far beyond that. Veganism is about embracing the animal-free, cruelty-free philosophy in all aspects of your life, including the products that you choose to support and how you act towards others and the world around you. Once you start researching, you might be surprised at all the places animal products and animal tested ingredients can be found, from clothing to medications and everything in between.
Some of the biggest impact of adopting a vegan philosophy comes from the products that we use most often, the ones that are part of our daily routines, such as skin care and cosmetics. The best vegan beauty care products will also be natural and non-toxic. Finding vegan approved products goes one step further than looking for the labels “cruelty-free” and “not tested on animals”. Vegan skin care also excludes all animal by-products. If your product label contains any of these ingredients, it is not truly vegan:
Honey or Beeswax: These are the products of hardworking honey bees, and they can be beneficial ingredients in some skin care products, however, they are considered vegetarian ingredients rather than vegan ingredients. If you want vegan products, avoid these ingredients and look for those that contain carnauba wax, candelilla wax, and natural vegetable oils as substitutes.
Carmine: This is a red pigment often used in lip products. It is derived from red beetles, making it non-vegan. Natural beet juice is a great vegan alternative for this ingredient.
Lanolin: This moisturizing agent is sourced from sheep’s wool. Look for vegetable based moisturizers instead.
Emu oil: This ingredient is harvested from the fatty tissue of certain species of emu. Look for products that contain plant-based moisturizing oils instead.
Glycerin: This ingredient can come from either plant or animal sources. If the label does indicate the source, take a moment and contact the company for more specific information regarding their ingredient list.
Tallow: This ingredient, sometimes found in soap and cleansers is derived by rendering beef or mutton fat.
Keratin: Keratin has several sources, most of which are derived from animals or animal by-products. Sheep hair is a common source of the keratin used in health and beauty products. Vegan keratin does exist, but finding it can be difficult. To be safe, avoid keratin and choose products that use plant amino acids instead.
Some people choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle for better health, while others choose to do so for ethical reasons, but most do so with a combination of the two in mind. The best thing about the vegan lifestyle is that it supports the idea that we are all of one earth, that how we act and the choices that we make have a profound effect on the world around us, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Veganism is a philosophy that fuels your body with the nutrients that you need, but also contributes to a more beautiful world, and that is something that is worth supporting.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals