Over many years the the pioneers of Vegetarian and Vegan movements have dedicated themselves to stop the injustice caused against animals, while so many of us call them as food.
Though this idea existed for thousands of years, it is only in the 19th century this idea of being a Vegetarian and Vegan became so significant, when a small group of people gathered together in England and expressed their unwillingness to eat flesh and to respect the well being of the animals.
This group can be officially called the Vegetarian Society and professed publicly to support meatless eating. They adopted the term “Vegetarian” derived from the Latin “Vegetus” meaning “Whole, Lively and Fresh”, and not from vegetable as many used to argue.
In 1909 “Vegetarian Messenger” a publication owned by the Vegetarian Society showed support for a diet free of not only meat, but also eggs, milk, butter and cheese.
But scientific research was obsessed on obtaining enough protein and nutrients for growth of an individual, and ignored the diseases of nutritional excess, environmental destruction and the lives of animals.
The Rise of the Vegan
Within the Vegetarian movement, many pointed out the logical error in believing that cows and chickens “give” us their milk and eggs.
They pointed out the flaw of calling them as livestock or considering them to be an asset.
They pointed out that female of those species are killed as soon as productivity goes down, the worst for the male of those species, they were killed earlier.
In November 1944 a small group formed the Vegan Society in London, and term “Vegan” was first coined by Donald Watson, one of the founding member.
The aim of Vegan Society was to prevent the exploitation of life forms, to develop a more reasonable and humane society and the freedom of Humans and Animals.
Aims of Vegan Society
- They recommend that man’s food should be derived from fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other non-animal products.
- To exclude meat, fish, fowl, eggs, honey and animal produces and products like milk, cheese and butter.
- Encourage the manufacture and use of alternatives to animal commodities.
What is Veganism?
Veganism may be defined as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.
In dietary terms, it refers to the practice of dispensing with all animal produce, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, animal milks, honey, and their derivatives.
~International Vegetarian Union
Vegetarian Vs Vegan
Vegetarian is the one who abstains from the use of flesh or meat, fish, and fowl as food, with or without the use of eggs and dairy products.
A vegan is the one who abstains from all animal produce and products, and derive his/her diet from fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other wholesome non-animal products.
The myth of Protein and B12
The usual criticism of Vegan diet is that they are not adequate compared to non-Vegan diets and many claim that they increase the risk of malnutrition. But they are just that – criticism and claims.
Usually the argument presented is that Milk, Meat and Eggs are the only complete protein sources, and the only kind of protein that helps in the proper growth of infants and kids. It is usually claimed that only Meat is rich in iron and zinc, and milk to be the best source of calcium.
The next argument will be mostly on lack of nutrients in the diets of poor, especially those who can’t eat or afford animal foods, and they go further to claim that adding eggs, milk and meat to the diets help children grow better and results in less malnutrition.
On the outside those arguments will look logical and it’s true that people who depend on single starchy staple diet, such as a vegetable, rice, or white bread, will suffer protein, iron, zinc, and calcium deficiency.
But there is no need to add meat and milk or other animal based protein or mineral sources to improve the nutritional deficiency. Plant based alternatives like tofu, nut butters, legumes, leafy greens, and fortified soymilk, can be used to overcome the protein and nutrition deficiency.
Another myth that Vegan diets lack vitamin B12, is not an excuse to eat animal foods. The truth is Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is a complex cobalt-based organic compound that is produced naturally only by anaerobic bacteria. Animals and Plants don’t even have the enzymes to produce B12.
The simplest solution to deal with Vitamin B12 deficiency is to follow the most successful method that has been adopted to combat the lack of vitamin D, folate, and iodine, simply add it to the food or fortify your foods with Vitamin B12 and its already been done with non-dairy beverages, breakfast cereals and protein substitutes.