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VEGANISM: Defining the Definition

The Vegan flag is a civil flag, adopted by the international vegan community to symbolize veganism. The flag consists of three blue and green triangles that form the letter V, the first letter in the word vegan. The flag was designed by the vegan activist Gad Hakimi, an Israeli designer, and graduate of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, in cooperation with a group of graphic designers and activists from several countries. The flag was first adopted by activists on June 9, 2017.

"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." - The Vegan Society

The above definition is the most widely accepted explanation of what veganism is all about. It is measured and succinct. Below I will break the definition down and explain it in greater depth.

  • ''Veganism is a philosophy and way of living...'' Or a belief system and an area of thoughts, concepts or ideas regarding justice and animal rights that is all-encompassing or permitted with kindness and compassion toward animals. 

  • ''...seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose'' This is to highlight that while veganism is a moral imperative it cannot be held to be perfect, hence the words used here are 'possible' and 'practicable' with 'possible' meaning what can be done with our best intent and 'practicable' meaning, able to be done or put into practice successfully or 'doable'.

  • ''...and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment...'' This includes plant-based meat and milk substitutes, leather, virtual reality zoos and aquariums, and machine-based methods of testing drugs and cosmetics as well as other innovative ways not to use and abuse animals for the benefit of humankind.

  • ''In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." Included last in the definition for a reason, this accentuates that there is no 'vegan diet' - only a diet that all vegans eat which is of course 100% plant-based. And it must be noted that the quality or healthiness of such a diet is wholly at the discretion of the individual vegan. 

There you have it, a thorough explanation and definition of the word "veganism." I hope this clarifies and softens some of the criticism directed at this ideology. At its core, veganism promotes kindness towards all living beings, not only for their benefit but also for the well-being of the ecosystems that sustain and safeguard us all.


Below is Mic the Vegan's breakdown of the definition of veganism which I think offers some more clarity that I think you may find helpful.


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