Question: What is a vegan?
Answer: A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals - no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool, silk and other animal products for clothing or any other purpose.
Question: What's the difference between 'vegan' and 'vegetarian'?
Answer: A vegetarian person chooses not to eat foods which come from dead animals, such as meat, gelatine and rennet. A vegan person doesn't eat anything that comes from living animals either, like milk and eggs. Vegans also try to avoid using any animal products, like leather or wool, for clothing or any other purpose.
Question: Why do people choose to be vegan?
Answer: People avoid animal products for ethical, health and environmental reasons. You can free up crops to feed hungry people, and reduce your contribution to animal suffering and global climate change by choosing a plant-based diet.
Question: How did the word vegan come about?
Answer: It is the beginning and end of the word, 'vegetarian'. It was coined in the UK by Donald Watson in 1944 when The Vegan Society was founded. It symbolises that veganism is the logical conclusion of the vegetarian journey to good health without the suffering or death of any animal.
Question: How do I identify animal-free foods?
Answer: It is easy to avoid meat (including poultry and fish), eggs, milk, cheese and honey - and foods listing these as ingredients. This achieves most of the potential benefit to animals.
Other names that animal products go under include: gelatine - from animal bones; whey and casein - from dairy; and carmine - a red colour from crushed beetles. See the hidden ingredients page for a list of common animal ingredients to watch out for.
Some manufacturers label foods as 'suitable for vegans'. The Vegan Society encourages them to work with us, to make sure that these labels are accurate. Food manufacturers can register suitable products for the Vegan Society Trademark.