Veganuary: What is a vegan and what do vegans eat?

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There are more vegans in Britain than ever before, and throughout the month of January many non vegans have been trying out the diet and lifestyle. But what is veganism and why is it becoming more popular?

A vegan is someone who does not eat or use animal products.

Unlike a vegetarian diet - where people don't eat meat or fish - a vegan diet avoids all animal products like dairy, eggs and even honey as well as meat and fish.

Some people prefer to call this way of eating 'a plant-based diet'.

Venus Williams, Miley Cyrus and Ariana GrandeReuters/PA
Venus Williams, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande have all spoken about being vegans

Following a vegan lifestyle also means only using or buying cosmetics and clothes free from animal products.

Research by the Vegan Society found the number of vegans in Great Britain increased from 150,000 in 2006 to 540,000 in 2016.

Many believe the number of people who call themselves vegans could now be in the millions.

Why has veganism become more popular?

Many celebrities, including Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and tennis ace Venus Williams are vegans, and they've talked publicly about it raising awareness.

There's also been a big rise in vegan cafes and restaurants meaning there's much more choice.

The 2018 series of The Great British Bake Off will be having a 'vegan week' to add to the regular challenges such as 'bread week'.

Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood told the BBC: "Veganism seems to be growing and we wanted to represent that."

The Great British Bake OffMark Bourdillon/Love Productions
The Great British Bake Off 2018 has a vegan week
What are the main reasons people go vegan?

There are many reasons people decide to go vegan. They include:

1. Animal Cruelty

Some people become vegan because they love animals and they think harming any animal is cruel.

For vegans, it's not just about animals which are killed for food, but also concerns about the way that cows and chickens used for dairy and eggs are treated, especially in big factory farms.

2. Environment

The United Nations says that farmed livestock accounts for 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

This is roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet.

Dairy cow

Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles, which is really bad for the environment.

Another argument used for veganism is that meat and dairy production uses too much land.

3. Health

Some vegans say they stopped eating meat for health reasons, but some people worry about getting the right vitamins and minerals from a vegan diet.

The British Dietetic Association, which represents experts in nutrition, says that a "balanced vegan diet can be enjoyed by children and adults".

However, it also says it is important to plan meals to make sure that it includes enough nutrients.

Would you ever try being a vegan? Or do you think it is not for you? Let us know in the comments.


This entry is now closed for comments.

  • View all (18)
  • Comment number 18. Posted by U17186666

    31 Jan 2019 10:37
    This comment was removed because it broke the rules. Explain
  • Comment number 17. Posted by U17478957

    26 Jan 2019 9:12
    Love this page! I am vegan and I got full marks on the vegan celebs!
  • Comment number 16. Posted by SummerLaughingBear

    12 Jan 2019 11:53
    I’m vegetarian and I can’t have milk so almost Vegan. I eat a lot of Vegan and vegetarian alternatives and they are great! 💓
  • Comment number 15. Posted by U17270404

    14 Nov 2018 17:56
    0/5 :(
  • Comment number 14. Posted by BPfan2018

    9 Nov 2018 17:34
    Hey me too! I only just started a few weeks ago. It is quite hard, i agree, but once you know how too to it's
    not that hard. I'm a vegetarian because i hate the thought of animals being killed. Please like this comment if you are a vegetarian or if you agree with me.

    Lots of love, BPfan
  • Comment number 13. Posted by turquoise teeny turtle

    2 Nov 2018 9:27
    I’m vegetarian and you might think it’s hard to give up meat, but it’s easy! There are plenty of different alternatives, and it’s so easy nowadays just to look up recipes online.

    I’ve had loads of people mistaken me for being vegan, but I do eat eggs, milk and honey still. I just prefer to get it from a place where the animals are looked after. For example, buying free range eggs.
  • Comment number 12. Posted by U17244121

    1 Nov 2018 18:37
    I am vegan and it is really easy and the food is great. You can still eat mock meats, vegan cheese, ice cream, cakes, and anything else you can think of too.

    I really liked the article, anyone interested in knowing more should look at the Veganuary site.
  • Comment number 11. Posted by Feminist4Life

    14 Sep 2018 19:47
    7 day vegan challenge
    Solves all your problems
    Odd ones out reference
    Hermione 🦁⚡️🦁
  • Comment number 10. Posted by U17133638

    14 Sep 2018 17:49
    I could not do it I love meat to much
  • Comment number 9. Posted by U17076497

    24 Aug 2018 20:37
    I could probably be vegetarian but not vegan. I love cheese to much😂