Vegan – Concept, types of veganisms and what they eat

We explain what a vegan is, what is its difference from vegetarianism and what foods vegan people eat.

Vegan - veganism
Veganism went from being a minority philosophy to a common one.

What is a vegan?

Vegans are those who subscribe to the philosophy of veganism, that is, the rejection of the consumption and use of all products of animal origin. The invention of the term in 1944 is credited with Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society of England, in the first issue of The Vegan News. There, Watson compared animal exploitation to human slavery and accused lacto-vegetarianism of collaborating with an unethical paradigm of human food.

Veganism went from being a minority philosophy to a common one in the last decades of the 20th century, as, together with the complaints of animal abuse in slaughterhouses and intensive breeding farms, medical studies that advised against a meaty and high-fat diet were made public, making it responsible for many of the contemporary endemic diseases, such as cancer or diabetes.

In this way, there are different types of veganism, depending on their level of commitment not only to human health, but to respect for the dignity of other living beings, including animals and plants, for example:

  • Ethical veganism. One that shows rejection of the unworthy conditions in which many farm animals are treated on farms and slaughterhouses, through a moral rejection of the consumption of any product linked to said industries: white and red meat, dairy products, dairy products. leather, etc.
  • Environmental veganism. Their main motivation has to do with environmentalism and the preservation of the biodiversity of the species, for which they understand as a necessary measure of force the abandonment of all types of consumption of products of animal origin, whether or not they are edible. They view with concern the impact of agriculture and livestock on the environment and deforestation and other industrial activities on the planet.

Differences between veganism and vegetarianism

The term “vegan” emerged in the 20th century, as has been said, product of the need to distinguish simple vegetarianism, which adheres to a diet free of meat of all kinds, from its most extreme variant, which rejects all food derived from animals, which includes eggs, milk, honey or any product made with them.

Until then, they were referred to as “total vegetarians.”, since they represented a more extreme vision of vegetarianism, which simply avoided meats, but not other products of animal origin.

In fact, the vegan philosophy not only covered food issues, but also promoted a paradigm for the manufacture of objects that also avoided the use of animals as raw materials: leather shoes and handbags, fur coats, etc.

What do vegans eat?

Vegans should take vitamin supplements or plan their diet very well.

The vegan diet is focused on the substitution of foods of animal origin for others of vegetable origin, which faces them with the difficulty of obtaining certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12 (exclusively from animal feed), vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, zinc, selenium and iron. Therefore, they must either take vitamin supplements or plan their way of eating very well.

  • Proteins To obtain protein, vegans generally resort to legumes: soybeans (and its derivative products, such as tofu or soy milk), peas, peanuts, beans, chickpeas (with which a flour or flour can also be made). a paste like hummus Arab); or to grains: quinoa, rice, corn, barley and wheat. Dried fruits (almonds, walnuts) or hemp or sunflower seeds are also used.
  • Calcium. To supplement all types of dairy foods, vegans should turn to fortified soy milk (with added calcium), or almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, vegetables such as broccoli (with low oxalate content), turnips, cabbages , spinach and, above all, they should make sure to consume vitamin D, essential to fix calcium.
  • Iron. An essential element for the transport of oxygen, it can be obtained in a vegan diet by consuming foods such as lentils, black molasses, quinoa, beans and chickpeas. Iron absorption can also be improved by consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or cauliflower, and generally avoiding foods rich in tannins such as coriander, turmeric, chili peppers, and tamarind.
  • Essential fatty acids. Since they cannot be synthesized in the body, these acids must be consumed and mostly they can be obtained from various types of oils, as part of a vegan diet: chia oil, sclarea, linseed, camelina, rosehip, soybean oil. , peanut or canola; as well as chia seeds, walnuts, raspberries or flax seeds.
  • Iodine. Iodine, so abundant in fish and shellfish, is vital for the body’s hormonal process, but is scarce in vegetables. Its required quota can be met by using fortified salts.