What Is Veganism? Why Go Vegan?

Veganism has been rising in popularity, becoming a pivotal lifestyle change for millions of individuals around the world. However, there are still massive amounts of people who remain unclear on what it means to be vegan and why people go vegan in the first place.

Veganism is a lifestyle where one does not consume or use animal products. This means that vegans avoid eating or using animal products including beef (cow), poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, geese). Vegans also do not consume or use animal by-products, which are parts of an animal leftover after a butcher or slaughterhouse harvested their meat.

The practice of a vegan lifestyle can be different from person to person as well. Some choose to go vegan for ethical reasons while others choose to go vegan for health reasons. And even within those communities, there are spectrums of strictness on what animal products are or are not allowed into their lives.

History of Veganism

The term Vegan was coined in 1944 by a man named Donald Watson, the founder of Vegan Society. Watson created the term vegan from the word vegetarian. He first publicly used the term to describe a more strict dietary lifestyle for those who do not consume dairy products, as vegetarians do.

Today, it is difficult to say what percentage of the world is vegan. Especially since being vegan is a spectrum, ranging from degrees of dietary preferences and the use of animal products in consumer goods.

Companies Serving Vegan Products Today

That said, it is not uncommon for grocery stores to have a dedicated vegan foods section for their vegan consumers. Even fast-food chains like Burger King and Blaze Pizza are making room on their menus for dedicated vegan-friendly food items.

In the U.S., many states have become known for accommodating and promoting vegan products and services. According to a 2016 article from Peta, some of these top states include New York, California, and Oregon.

Vegan Documentaries

In pop culture, there is a number of documentaries being made on veganism and several actors and actresses speaking out on the subject.

Earthlings, a 2005 documentary film directed by Shaun Monson, has made its way into the public eye with the help of Actor Joaquin Phoenix who is in the film.

Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

Source: IMDB

Phoenix also starred in a newer 2018 documentary called Dominion, another film exposing the cruelty that is a product of modern animal agriculture.

Watch the Dominion trailer here.

(Warning: contains graphic content. Those who have a sensitivity to blood and animal violence should proceed with caution.)

Another noteworthy vegan documentary that is more health-based is called The Game Changers.

This film showcases professional athletes who are at the top of their game and happen to be vegans. Athletes featured in this documentary compete in sports from ultra-marathon racing to weightlifting.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an appearance and talks about the evolution of his dietary habits over the span of his career.

Watch The Game Changers trailer here:

Why Go Vegan?

From what I observe, there are two main reasons that people choose to go vegan. One reason being of ethical matters, so not wanting to partake in the harm and suffering of animal welfare. And the other reason is personal health and well-being such as adherence to a medically implemented dietary program.

Going Vegan for Ethical Reasons

In my close circle of friends and family, I’ve gathered that we have all chosen a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons. With that in mind, we’ve all experienced the health benefits of abstaining from high-cholesterol foods and dairy products. So, we reap the health benefits inadvertently 😉

Speaking from my own experience, I’ve noticed that my body has felt lighter, not necessarily weight-wise. Moreso like my body was easier to carry, less inflamed. I’ve also experienced an improvement in my sleep. When I wake up, I feel better rested. As well, my circadian rhythm has become more regular.

Going Vegan for Health Reasons

On the other hand, acclaimed actor Samuel Jackson followed a vegan diet for health reasons. Under the advisement of his medical team, he was able to significantly improve a “blockage in his leg”.

The interview below shows Jackson explaining more about his situation and experience with a plant-based diet.


I hope this article helped you understand more about veganism and why people go vegan. In essence, veganism means abstaining from consuming or using any product that comes from animals. And people opt for this lifestyle for either health or ethical reasons.

To date, veganism has a growing history of advocates and I look forward to watching it grow more. As I continue to learn more about the vegan culture, I’ll be posting about it right here.

Please note that these findings are consistent with the information available to me from my own research. Information published typically comes straight from a company source, study, scholarly article, and/or otherwise credible source. If you find incorrect information within any of my articles, please feel welcome to contact me with a trusted source to back your proposed update.