The different flavours of Vegan

Veganism is one of the fastest-growing trends in the developed world. Every day, more people decide to reduce their meat and dairy intake and consume fewer animal products. However, as with most things in life, it takes time to make a fundamental change. The road to devoted veganism is paved with intermediate steps. You might have taken the leap at once, from blissfully ignorant omnivore to hardcore vegan. Others are taking baby steps to get where we eventually want to be. Therefore, we have listed 7 variations of veganism for you below. 

Vegan (with a capital V)

For the real deal Vegans, veganism is so much more than just a diet. It’s a way of living and relating to your environment. Sometimes this group is also referred to as ‘moral vegan’, they extend the vegan philosophy into other areas of their lives and are opposed to the use of animals for any purpose. They are often predominantly driven by animal rights and the idea that animals don’t have a different worth based on their species. You might recognize us from the hemp clothing we wear and the block of tofu we always have at the ready. 

Dietary Vegan 

Dietary vegans, sometimes also referred to as strict vegetarians, avoid eating anything derived from animal products. However, they still may wear clothing or use other items which involve animals. This is essentially a vegan diet but does not take the vegan philosophy of avoiding all animal products. Often dietary vegans are motivated more by health reasons than moral or environmental arguments. 

Veggan

So you have decided to go vegan, but can’t get rid of your egg habit? If that sounds like you, you may be a veggan. We understand, eggs are cheap and a convenient source of protein. They might also be part of your breakfast or post-workout routine and hard to give up on. But did you know there are a lot of plant-based alternatives to eggs? Such as tofu-scramble or a mung bean omelette if you want to go soy-free. 

When it comes to baking, you can use flax or chia seed to make an ‘egg’. One tablespoon of ground flax or whole chia seeds and two tablespoons of water is equal to one egg for baking. It makes for a gluey substance similar to eggwhite and helps to bind the ingredients together. Don’t forget about aquafaba, the magic liquid inside a can of chickpeas. Aquafaba is high in protein and can be used as an egg substitute in many recipes, such as mayonnaise and even meringues. 

Cheagan

I have to admit, I was a cheagan for a long time before I could fully commit to the vegan lifestyle, and I still have my slips once in a while. The cheagan is vegan most of the time, and probably also promote themselves as vegan, but have a hard time conforming 100%. The next time you are seduced by a slice of pepperoni pizza or a not so vegan doughnut, don’t be hard on yourself and give up on veganism entirely. Try the next day again. Aren’t we all just becoming ourselves every day again (yes, I learned this during my last yoga class)? Choosing the vegan option 9 out of 10 times is still better than not trying at all. 

Beegan

Quite self-explanatory, beegans are vegans who eat honey and some insects. Most of us know by now that bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. A large amount of the fruits and seed-bearing crops we eat relies on pollination, mainly by bees. While beekeeping is used together with crop farming to help with pollination, the bees themselves need the honey to thrive. When beekeeping is done for producing honey, the honey is replaced with sugar water which is not as nutritious. Commercial honey operations also have a whole range of other practices that an animal lover should frown upon. Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? There is a whole range of alternatives: date syrup, maple syrup, molasses, butterscotch syrup, golden syrup, and agave nectar.

Ostrovegan 

Ostrovegans, or sometimes called bivalvegans, are plant-based but do eat bivalves. This is seafood such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. They all have a two-part shell that hinges around a soft body inside. The reason why for some people it is morally justified to eat bivalves is that soft body inside doesn’t have a central nervous system. Therefore unlikely to feel pain. Besides, bivalves contain some essential nutrients that people on a vegan diet might be lacking, such as vitamin B12. The debate around including bivalves in a vegan diet deserves a whole post on its own, this blog post on iamgoingvegan.com does a pretty good job at explaining it if you would like to know more. (https://www.iamgoingvegan.com/ostrovegan-bivalvegan/)

Cheegan 

I hear this so often people, mostly from vegetarians: “I would like to be vegan, but I could never live without cheese”. The cheegan can’t resist the lure of French brie and can be found dipping bread into cheese fondue in a Swiss restaurant. I get it, it is hard to give up. Cheese actually contains high levels of a protein called casein that can cause dopamine release, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. I must admit, the alternatives can be hit or miss, but there are some great options out there. Experiment and give them a try! 

You might fall into one of the categories that are not strictly vegan. But don’t let that discourage you, you will get there. At times, veganism can feel restrictive. In particular, because our culture, surroundings, and upbringing are not always supportive. It is all about the process. At Vegan Within we don’t judge. In the end, the point of veganism is more important than the definition of veganism. What kind of vegan do you consider yourself to be? And does it actually matter? And let me know if I left anyone out!

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Vegan Vs. Vegetarian: What is the difference?

Many people do not fully understand the differences between vegan and vegetarian diets. The difference between plant-based diets and diets that include animal products has been causing confusion. Vegans insist that they are different, which they are and often prefer to make a clear distinction between vegans and vegetarians, so here it goes. 

Vegetarian diets typically refer to an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, which means a diet that excludes animal meat and fish but allows dairy products and eggs. 

Vegans do not consume any animal products, such as dairy, eggs, and honey, or products that use animals in the production process (think of animal testing for cosmetics). So this does not only exclude food, but you would also never catch a dedicated vegan wearing a woolly sweater. 

Another way of describing is, is to say that while vegetarians don’t eat anything that comes from a slaughterhouse or a fishing net. Thus not consuming anything that directly kills animals. Vegans refrain from consuming anything that involves animal suffering or the indirect killing of animals. The natural life span of a hen is 10 to 20 years, while in egg production a hen’s life is reduced to maybe 24 months. 

The difference between vegans and vegetarians is actually relatively straightforward. It becomes tricky and perhaps confusing when we start to talk about all the varieties that are in between. And then we are not even starting on the varieties of vegans.

The term “strict vegetarian” is sometimes used to describe someone who does not eat animal products. But consumes them in other parts of his or her life, for example, by wearing leather shoes. You can also describe this as having a plant-based diet. But just adopting a plant-based diet does not make you a vegan by everyone’s standard. 

Those who allow dairy products in their diet are lactose-vegetarians or lacto-vegetarian; they do not eat meat, fish, and eggs, but do not eat dairy products such as milk and cheese. Anyone who eats eggs but does not eat milk, cheese and/or other dairy-derived foods is considered an ovo-vegetarian. 

Then there are also the pescetarians, those who follow this diet avoid all meats but do eat fish and other types of seafood. Pescatarians do not meet the definition of vegetarianism. 

But why is it important to know the difference anyway? If we speak in terms of diet only, within each, you will have to adjust what you eat in such a way that you will still meet all your daily macro-and micronutrient needs. Further, each diet will have a different impact on the environment, with the vegan having the smallest environmental footprint of all. Even though this assumption is debated by some. In the future, I would love to dig a bit deeper and devote a post to this topic, as you can imagine I don’t agree and would love to proof my right.

However, veganism goes far beyond the mere consumption of food and extends into all aspects of vegan life. Some vegans choose even to exclude pets from their household because it goes against their vegan beliefs. 

Vegans often have a worse reputation than vegetarians, even though both get their fair share of backlash in the form of resentment. Vegans probably more so because they sometimes ooze an air of morally superiority and elitism for some. Obviously, I agree that we vegans are on the right side of the moral debate, I do understand the sentiment of some. We are not always the most welcoming bunch. 

I do wish that in a utopian future world, everyone is vegan and advocate for this. However, I would add the caveat that for a big part of the world population that simply is not an option yet. For some people, the milk of the community cow might be what saves their baby or for others living with animals is an integral part of their culture. But, for us, folk living in a place with easy access the vegan options and the economic room in our budget to choose these options, I see minimal arguments not to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Potential particular individual cases excluded. 

Besides, veganism can be quite restrictive for some and going cold turkey from careless omnivore to die-hard vegan might not be the right route for everyone. So, if vegetarianism or pescetarianism is your transition phase to a vegan lifestyle, all the power to you. Some of us just need a bit more time to adopt new habits and wean off the French cheese and Italian prosciutto. As long as we all get there in time to avoid the impending environmental doomsday. 

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