Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and the philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.
Distinctions are sometimes made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans (or strict vegetarians) refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who not only follow a vegan diet but extend the philosophy into other areas of their lives, and oppose the use of animal products for any purpose. Another term is environmental veganism, which refers to the avoidance of animal products on the premise that the harvesting or industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, at first to mean “non-dairy vegetarian” and later “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.” Interest in veganism increased in the 2010s; vegan stores opened, and vegan options became available in more supermarkets and restaurants in many countries.
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. Well-planned vegan diets can reduce the risk of some types of chronic disease, including heart disease, and are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Dietitians of Canada. Because uncontaminated plant foods do not provide vitamin B (which is produced by microorganisms such as bacteria), researchers agree that vegans should eat B12-fortified foods or take a supplement.