Answers to common questions about us and the vegan lifestyle
A vegan lifestyle involves living a life that is more compassionate towards animals and the environment. The precise definition of veganism is:
"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
Please visit our definition of veganism page, which provides more information.
There are many reasons why someone may choose to become vegan. For those who have strong emotional attachments to animals, they may decide to go vegan to not participate in practices where animals are exploited and to take a stance against animal cruelty.
Some may choose veganism as they have concerns about the environment and understand that the production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment.
Others may choose to follow a vegan diet for health concerns and then decide to follow the lifestyle too.
Whatever the motive, we are here to support you on your vegan journey and give advice on how best to take the first step forward to following a vegan lifestyle. You can discover more information on our Why Go Vegan? page.
Veganism is a lifestyle and is a stricter from of vegetarianism, which means that vegans exclude animal products from all aspects of their life. When following a vegan diet, you do not eat anything that is derived from an animal. This differs from a vegetarian diet, where only meat is excluded.
Vegans will also not participate in any practices or purchase items (as far as practicable or permissible) where animals are exploited. For example, vegans will not wear wool, leather and silk.
In the event that everyone becomes vegan we will have an entire nation full of people who are motivated enough by animal welfare to not eat them. In this case, everyone, including farmers, would clearly be very invested in taking care of these animals and converting farms to sanctuaries.
An entire nation of vegans would work very hard to look after all those animals – after all, not wanting to harm animals is the reason most people go vegan.
However, as is the case with most types of social change, it is more realistic that these changes will occur gradually. Over time more and more people will be interested in plant-based foods and the vegan lifestyle, to eventually become vegan. This will lead to less and less animals that will need to be raised and slaughtered for food.
If the product/item doesn’t have our Vegan Trademark on it, the best thing to try is contacting the company: you will then receive the most up-to-date information and you’ll also show demand for vegan-friendly products with clear, accurate labelling (a requirement by law). For more information check out our blog How to avoid buying non-vegan products.
Medicines prescribed by doctors are normally first tested on non-human animals. This is unavoidable under current laws. What you can do is ask your doctor for medicines that possibly don't contain animal ingredients. Medicines usually come with an information leaflet listing the ingredients. Ask your pharmacist for advice too.
Talk to your doctor about your concerns and do not simply stop taking it. We live in a non-vegan world, and you can do more to help change things for the better if you are in good health.
Vegan products are products which carry our Vegan Trademark. 'Vegan-friendly' products have not been registered with the Vegan Trademark but are said to be vegan by the manufacturer/company. However, The Vegan Society cannot guarantee that the latter products are vegan, as we have not checked them against our Vegan Trademark standards.
Although there is currently no legal definition for vegan, as the organisation that coined the term vegan and established the first international vegan trademark, we have set the standard of what a vegan product is. Therefore, when you see a product containing the Vegan Trademark, you know it is suitable for vegans as it meets a high-quality standard.
If you encounter a product which appears to have vegan-friendly ingredients but you are unsure whether it has used animal products in its manufacturing or testing process at any point, why not ask the company to apply for our Vegan Trademark so you can be sure that what you're buying is vegan?
One of the best ways is to sign up to our free 30-Day Vegan Pledge. By doing this you will receive a daily email with useful advice on how to go and stay vegan! You can find more information on this here: https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/take-vegan-pledge.
We do understand that different people move at different paces when it comes to adopting a vegan lifestyle. If 30 days seems too daunting, you might be more interested in taking part in our Plate Up for the Planet campaign, where you sign up to eat vegan for a week (again by signing up you receive useful emails with recipes, tips, inspiration and motivation for seven days). If this sounds like it would be of interest, you can find more information about this campaign here: https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/campaigns/plate-planet.
If a week still seems too difficult, there is no reason you cannot initially try doing a day a week and slowly increasing this as you see fit.
Our website is full of useful plant-based recipes with fortified foods and nutritional information to help people go and stay vegan, and we are always here to help support you through this!
You might find these pages especially useful:
You might also be interested to know about our VeGuide app, developed specifically to guide you in your vegan journey. You can find more out about this on our VeGuide app webpage.
We recommend joining an online vegan community. Facebook is usually very good for this and there is likely a local vegan group you can join for further support!
Sometimes you may receive negative responses from people who eat meat who question why you have chosen veganism. Lifestyle changes can be met with criticism at times, and although this is difficult, we recommend that you remain positive and approach the subject in a calm manner. If you are experiencing issues we would recommend visiting our 'Currently experiencing problems?' webpage, with further advice and guidance from our International Rights Network.
We believe all animals have a right to life and freedom and deserve to be valued as individuals. Respect for life means an end to all animal (ab)use, not just rights for some. Our focus is veganism and helping people, from all walks of life, go vegan and stay vegan.
Intersectionality encourages us to think about different ways of living and therefore better understand other people and what they need to become vegan and stay vegan. We make use of an intersectional approach which respects human rights, as well as non-human animal rights. Considering intersectionality can make us a better organisation to work for and a more effective organisation in promoting veganism.
It is great to see that many restaurants now cater to vegans. We would recommend downloading the HappyCow app to find local vegan restaurants and cafes that serve delicious food. This is a quick and simple way to check out vegan options in your area. It is always a good idea to ask restaurants about their vegan options before booking. More information can be found on our food and drink webpage and lifestyle webpage.
We have a brilliant selection of vegan recipe ideas to browse. These vary from simple dishes that are quick and easy to make in 15 minutes or less, to more complex dishes to have you cooking up a storm. These dishes often contain fortified foods to ensure that you are following a healthy vegan diet.
Many of the vegan recipes featured on our website are taken from published cookbooks, with lots of hints and tips from professionals on how to prepare vegan meals. Please visit our recipes webpage to find more information.
Plant-based means different things to different people. It can mean a vegan diet but can also mean ‘a diet with mostly plants’, so we prefer to use vegan when we want to be specific. ‘Plant only’ or ‘entirely plant-based’ usually means vegan in terms of diet at least. There are now many plant-based alternatives available on the market.
Plant-based can be used to reflect when a person is following a vegan-friendly diet but not necessarily adopting vegan practices outside of what they eat. For example, they may still purchase leather goods or attend zoos.
Honey is an animal product and so is avoided by vegans. Bees produce honey for themselves, not for humans. They are often harmed in the honey gathering process. There are plenty of ways to protect insect populations, support crop pollination, conserve the environment and sweeten our food without farming bees or buying honey, propolis, beeswax or royal jelly. To replace honey in your diet, try golden or maple syrup, date syrup, agave nectar or even dried fruits. For more information read our page on the honey industry.
It is important that vegans source B12 within their diet. It is available through vegan food that is fortified, such as certain dairy alternatives, breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast flakes/yeast extracts. For healthy eating it is recommended that you intake at least three micrograms a day.
Supplements are also available for B12. At The Vegan Society, we have produced VEG 1, our supplement formulated especially for vegans. This contains B12 along with a variety of other vitamins and minerals.
Want to find out more? Visit our vitamin B12 webpage.
Plant foods can be excellent sources of protein – beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soy milk and peanuts are all rich in protein.
More information about vegan food and sources of protein can be found on our nutrition pages.
Well planned vegan diets are suitable for all ages. It is important at all life stages to consider the health benefits of vegan diets and plant-based foods. You can find out more information by visiting our vegan diets for children webpage.
There are now a whole range of different vegan cheeses available on the market.
Check out our 'Vegan cheeses that will melt your heart' blog post where we rate different cheeses, including what we would recommend for melting onto pizza and pasta dishes.
Evidence suggests that soya is not a threat to our health and is in fact a reliable and healthy protein source. Vegans are not required to eat soya, and it is possible to enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet without it. Soy milk does tend to be popular among vegans, but there are many other alternatives on the market now which are fortified by plant sources with the nutrients that you need.
We have created our own supplement called VEG 1, which contains vitamins B12, D3, B2 and B6 as well as iodine, selenium and folic acid. It comes as a chewable tablet in either orange or blackcurrant flavour, and there is the option to purchase 90 tablets which will last three months or 180 tablets which will last six months. The container is even plastic free and, if you are a member, you will receive a 10% discount! Visit our VEG 1 shop to find out more.
Many are. If it does not have our Vegan Trademark on it, the best thing is to try contacting the manufacturer. You could also try looking on Barnivore. Many supermarkets now clearly label when their wine, beer and cider are vegan, so always check the labels. Check out our page on food and drink for more information
In itself, palm oil is a vegetable product which does not need to involve the (ab)use of animals and therefore is suitable for vegans. However, the palm oil and palm timber industries are rife with very bad practices. In the EU, palm oil used in food must now be labelled, but ingredients derived from palm oil in food and non-food products still do not have to be labelled
So, it is not possible for consumers to boycott palm products. Instead, ending the abuses of the palm tree (oil and timber) industries requires co-ordinated action by consumers, policymakers, vegans and non-vegans together.
Vegans should also be aware that due to the fact that single-issue campaigns have focused solely on the negative effects of palm oil, other types of crop farming that cause harm to many animals are overlooked. We are working towards a world where animals are not (ab)used for human purposes. We encourage stock-free farming and alternatives to widespread crop clearance and other farming methods which currently cause many animals to die every year. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible or practical for individual vegans to only support vegan farming. However, the consumption of plant-based crops, such as wheat, barley, oil palm and soybeans, causes far fewer animals to lose their lives than eating animals.
If the dish is labelled as vegan and you do not believe that it is, you can raise this with your local Trading Standards officer (this will be the local authority where the restaurant is located) and they will investigate the complaint.
Often dishes in restaurants that sound like they should be suitable are not marked as vegan; when you ask why this is the case, you might be told it is because they 'share frying fat with a meat/fish product' (small kitchens often do not have the space for a separate fryer). Many of the large chains manage this issue by microwaving the vegan product (rather than frying it) and using a colour-coded microwave and colour-coded utensils for the vegan dishes.
If you have any concerns about dishes that are registered with our trademark, please report them and a member of our trademark team will investigate this further. If one of our Trademark Holders is found to be misusing the trademark, we will revoke their licence immediately.
Many vegans share their homes with domesticated animals who cannot live independently. If you are looking for a non-human companion, why not welcome a rescued animal from your local animal sanctuary into your home?
Vegan vets are still quite uncommon. The key is finding a sympathetic vet – they can find or formulate a species-suitable nutritious diet, which it may be possible to make plant-based. More information on vegan animal diets is found in our blog, 'Vegan animal diets: facts and myths'.
A recent report showed the rise in interest for purchasing vegan dog and cat food.
Generally speaking, most dogs and cats can follow a vegan diet. There are several good brands of vegan animal food available across the world, and these can be ordered online or found in some vegan stores. Dogs and particularly cats need an amino acid called taurine, which must be present in their food as it is essential for their wellbeing. This amino acid is found in animal products; however, it is also synthetically created on a commercial scale and is added to good quality vegan animal foods. For more information, check out our blog on 'Vegan animal diets: facts and myths'.
Not all dogs and cats can move to a vegan diet. If your dog or cat is elderly, unwell or has specific needs then we would always recommend following a qualified veterinarian's advice to ensure the best welfare for them.
Our definition of veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Horses must be ‘broken’ before they can be ridden. There are various ways of minimizing the cruelty involved in that process but certainly horses do not naturally expect to carry humans. Riding can cause suffering even to a broken horse, particularly if there is not adequate care taken or if someone lacks knowledge of how to care for a horse. Many people who have become vegan give up horse riding, as they do not feel that it is a suitable activity for vegans.
While we recognise that there are far worse cruelties happening in the animal farming world than a lot of what horses experience, ultimately horse riding is unnecessary and exploitative. Most people involved in riding in the UK do so only as a hobby, meaning it is both possible and practicable for them to give it up.
For more information, read our 6 reasons to boycott the Grand National blog post.
Continuing to use products that are not vegan – such as wool clothing and leather footwear or accessories – can make it seem that these items are acceptable or even desirable. For example, why not wear a fur coat that is inherited if the animal died 50 years ago? The problem is that doing so suggests that fur coats are attractive, glamorous, desirable and that the fur of animals should be worn on the backs of humans rather than animals.
Veganism is an ethical belief, and many of those who decide to go vegan, particularly for animal rights issues, would not be comfortable wearing leather or wool items anymore. Many feel that it is best to work towards a point where they no longer own animal products, replacing them with vegan alternatives as and when they can afford to do so.
Many retailers are now starting to stock leather-free alternatives to shoes, with some mainstream brands now offering a whole vegan collection.
More information can be found in our vegan shoes blog post.
Look for our Vegan Trademark on items of clothing when purchasing to guarantee that the product is vegan.
The trademark should be clearly identifiable on the label. If you are in a store, you can also ask staff to assist you in identifying vegan items.
There are many ways that veganism can be promoted, from supporting different campaigns to donations and raising funds. We also have grants available to support outreach projects to help people go vegan. Have a look at our Take Action pages for ideas.
If your event is vegan and not-for-profit, please submit details to us by email and we will consider publicising it.
On our website, we have an events page where we promote events taking place all over the world which have been organised by vegan groups. If you would like your event to be included, then please complete our request form and a member of the team will be in touch. Please note that we do not promote events unless they have a direct link to veganism.
Our charity logo cannot be used by anyone but ourselves. Our trademark symbol can only be used by registered Vegan Trademark holders. Find out more about the use of Supporter and Partner logos. Are you interested in registering your products with the Vegan Trademark? Find out more about the Vegan Trademark and how you can apply to register your products.
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You can join today by completing our quick and simple online form. As a registered charity we rely on our members, and we are so grateful to everyone who supports us. For just £2 a month, your membership will go towards helping us to spread the word of veganism and create a world where animals are free to exist in their own right.