We know what vegetarian means, but being a fairly new concept, a lot of us are not aware of what vegan means.
The term "vegan" was coined in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England to form the Vegan Society. The term "vegan" was chosen by combining the first and last letters of "vegetarian."
A vegan diet excludes animals and their by-products. That means that vegans do not eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk or other dairy products, or honey. Vegans also do not eat products that contain animal-derived ingredients, even in small amounts.
So, what do vegan people eat? If you made a list of every possible ingredient in existence, most of them would be vegan already! Here are just a few of the many thousands of plant-based foods on this earth, which vegans can and do eat: Every fruit and vegetable under the sun, from asparagus to lemon to zucchini; grains and grain-based foods, like rice, bread, pasta, and tortillas; pulses like chickpeas, red lentils, and mung beans; nuts of all sorts, such as almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews; seeds including flax, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds; mushrooms if you're a fungi type of person; oils, vinegars, and fermented foods like olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, and sauerkraut; herbs and spices from cumin to cilantro; condiments and sauces such as ketchup, soy sauce, and BBQ sauce; other miscellaneous plants like coconut and seaweed and anything else that's made of plants and not sentient creatures.
With so many foods at our disposal, it's no wonder that many vegans eat a widely varied diet, but are also able to enjoy traditional foods like cookies, spaghetti, and sandwiches, often with a healthier vegan twist.
But now, Veganism is defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it from food, clothing, or any other purpose. It's just not a diet anymore; it is a lifestyle.
Different people are vegan for many different reasons. Being vegan has a lower environmental footprint. A vegan diet has the potential to be very healthy, especially for those at risk for heart disease or cancer. And finally, choosing vegan options reduces the number of animals that are harmed in order to feed us, something many vegans care about a great deal.