Have you ever heard of the word "Vegan," which is often used around us these days, such as news, advertising, and convenience stores? Recently, the topic of "practicing veganism" has emerged as a trend among young people in their 20s and 30s. Don't you perceive veganism as just something green? How many members of society know exactly what veganism is? Also, how many people can clearly understand and explain the concepts of veganism and vegetarianism? Through this article, we would like to take time to define the concepts and types of veganism and vegetarianism, and to understand the relationship between the two. In addition, let's find out why veganism has rapidly emerged as a social trend and dig into the practices of veganism that can be easily encountered in everyday life.
What is Veganism?
What is the "Veganism" that we have recently encountered easily in our society? Veganism is a philosophy against animal exploitation, and people practice it mainly through the diet of vegetarianism. Veganism refers to a more comprehensive and active concept that avoids the use of animal products such as leather products, wool, duck fur, and products that conduct animal chemistry experiments, as well as eating habits. A person who avoids the consumption of everything made by exploiting animals is often referred to as a vegan. Avoid animal exploitation consumption means not eating all kinds of animal foods, including dairy products, eggs, and honey, and not using all products containing animal ingredients, such as clothing and cosmetics made from animal skins. Vegan is a word derived from the front and back letters of Vegetarian. When the British Vegetarian Society was founded in 1847, the boundaries between people were very vague whether vegetarian consumption included animal ingredients such as cheese and eggs. As a result, Donald Watson and his wife, who founded the British Vegan Association in 1944, first proposed the word "Vegan" in a clear sense that does not include raw materials for dynamic properties. The first meeting aimed at vegetarianism in Korea was a vegetarian gathering that was established in November 1998 within HiTEL’s Psychiatric Association. Since then, Vegetus, a Korea Vegetable Federation, a consultative body of regional representatives, was established for the first time on the Internet in 2000. Thanks to the rapidly developed information and communication media and technology, people are more freely sharing their daily lives, and the domestic vegan and vegetarian culture is also gradually spreading, attracting the attention of the global community.
Reasons for the Practice of Veganism
The reasons why people practice veganism can be divided into ethical, health, and environmental aspects. First, veganism contains a bio-ethical meaning that seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation and abuse inflicted by humans on the animal world. With growing interest in animal welfare issues, there are people who are starting vegetarian diets to protect animal rights because they are displeased and alarmed by the factory-style livestock industry. The spread of diseases that occur in livestock such as mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease, and bird flu in the past few years has caused a big stir around the world. Livestock manure on farms, where emissions are rapidly increasing as the size of breeding on a single farm expands day by day, is recognized as the main cause of environmental pollution. Daily life, which has nothing to do but eat, sleep, and excrete in a narrow barn where there is not much space to move, causes extreme stress and sickens animals living in their own society, just like humans. The dense breeding environment increases the possibility of disease and speeds up its spread, forcing livestock raised to rely on large amounts of drugs. As such, people are beginning to pay attention to the fact that livestock sites are not properly managed and the health and welfare of animals are getting worse and worse, while slaughtering sites are cruel and terrible. From the perspective of protecting animal rights, modern people's meat-oriented diet is an act of causing pain to animals sacrificed for this. Vegans mainly point out that consumers' indifference to the nature of the livestock industry has made the perception of animal food commercialization prevalent in society. It emphasizes the need to correct modern dietary culture and the misconceptions that people have about animals and reduce the unnecessary pain that all animals suffer. As such, more and more people choose veganism, along with the argument that the meaning of veganism should be grasped and the awareness of animal welfare should be strengthened by paying attention to animal rights.
Second, some people choose veganism for personal health reasons to maintain or recover their health. In terms of health, veganism mainly consists of changes in eating habits, that is, practicing a vegetarian diet. It is a fact that if modern people's meat-oriented diet continues for a long time, they are potentially exposed to various diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. An article by the Journal of American Heart Association (JAHA) in 2015 found that a vegetarian diet "effectively lowers blood levels" of various cholesterol in a survey by Cochran, a non-profit healthcare organization. After all, a vegetarian diet has the advantage of lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease and reducing the need for prescribed drugs for chronic diseases. Recently, as modern people's awareness of health care has grown, it is acting as a new factor in reducing meat consumption and increasing vegetarian diet instead.
Finally, it is also worth paying attention to the impact of the spread of veganism on environmental protection. Today, the world is facing a common task of global warming. According to an e-mail newsletter released by the Seoul Environmental Movement Association in March 2021, 70% of the size of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in a year for factory-style livestock. "The amount of water needed to produce 1kg of beef is 15,500 liters, and only 180 liters are needed to grow 1kg of tomatoes," they said in a newsletter. While the world is complaining of drought and water shortage, it mentioned that "the agricultural and livestock industries use 70% of the total freshwater use, and most of it is for meat production." "If you don't eat 400 grams of beef, you can save more water than not taking a shower for six months," they claim. Related criticism continues overseas. Famous historian and author Yuval Harari pointed out in a column in The Guardian that "factory livestock is one of the most terrible crimes in human history." In Brazil, about 700 million pyeong of land is used to grow soybeans for feed. This means that while land and forests disappear to obtain pastures and cultivated land, human food, housing, and animal habitats are threatened. Among them, greenhouse gases generated in various parts of the world due to the large-scale livestock industry have a strong influence on global warming. According to a report released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2019, one-third of the world's greenhouse gases are produced in agriculture, food production, distribution, and consumption systems, especially in the livestock industry. One of the most effective ways for individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is through vegetarianism. Furthermore, by reducing meat consumption, feed crops needed to raise livestock can also be reduced. For this reason, veganism is proposed as a solution to prevent various environmental deterioration, including global warming, and to efficiently use global resources.
How to Practice Veganism
Let's find out how people practice veganism in real life. First of all, the most widely known and practiced way is to eat vegetarian food. In Europe and the United States, veganism has long been a mainstream lifestyle. Meat Alternative refers to meat that can replace chicken, pork, and beef, which are commonly used for food. You can see the use of a lot of plant-based meat made from protein extracted from plants, and Congo, which is well known to us, is a representative example. Recently, the food market share of various large substitute manufacturers in the United States has been growing rapidly. Examples include Beyond Meat, Impossible Food, and Pure Farmland, which produce sweet meat, sausages, and meat balls for burgers based on soybeans and soybeans. According to data from Euro Monitor, a global market research firm, the large sports market in Western Europe, which was worth 1.4 trillion won in 2015, has grown by more than 78% in five years to reach 2.5 trillion won in 2020. At the same time, the alternative dairy market in Western Europe is also growing from 2.3 trillion won to 4 trillion won. Very few vegan populations practice strict vegetarianism in Europe, less than 4% of Europe's total population. However, it is worth noting that people who are consuming limited amounts of certain animal foods or reducing their meat intake account for 40% of the total population. According to HappyCow, an online service provider that provides information on vegan and veggie food, there were about 8.9 veggie restaurants per 1 million people in the Netherlands in 2016, which is the average. According to 2015 statistics, the Netherlands is the sixth largest country with a vegetarian population among the total population, behind Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Switzerland. Dutch consumers are increasingly choosing vegetarian food as interest in the sustainable environment, animal welfare, and health has increased recently. Scientists at RIVM, a Dutch government-affiliated research firm, have encouraged consumers to reduce their intake of animal protein, and academic and government discussions have begun to increase the tax rate on meat products. There is an active movement to practice veganism in dairy products by releasing vegetable milk and vegetable ice cream products. In fact, European Slovenian vegan company Sayve has launched vegan cheese made from organic chickpeas and coconut oil without using dairy products. The Korean food industry is also selling products that take advantage of the texture and taste of meat by developing and releasing various vegan products using vegetable meat.
Consuming vegan products is another way to practice veganism. In the case of clothing, it was previously obtained through unethical manufacturing processes such as pulling out the hair of living animals or peeling them alive. In order to break away from this, the fashion industry is currently developing vegetable leather, a vegan material that obtains materials from cactus, pineapple, and grapes, replacing existing dynamic materials. The most widely used vegetable leather "Desserto" is based on cactus, and recently, it has shown the results of developing vegan materials using microorganisms as well as plants. As much as food and fashion, the beauty and cosmetics industries are the areas where vegan fever is blowing. Consumers who have begun to be interested in veganism will pursue vegan beauty that does not use animal-derived raw materials such as bead wax, honey, and milk and does not conduct animal experiments on products. Previously, animal experiments were conducted under the name of "safety" to check whether the development of cosmetics causes irritation or inflammation in the skin. As criticism arose that unethical behavior was committed to animals mobilized for the experiment, most countries, including Korea, have now banned the distribution and sale of cosmetics through animal testing. In line with this, the beauty industry is using methods to extract the same ingredients from plants or replace them with alternative ingredients with similar ingredients to make genuine vegan cosmetics that are not used, including animal experiments. AMOREPACIFIC, a major beauty brand, said, "If it's enough, be satisfied. With the slogan, "We're already, in and of itself, this is enough," we've also introduced the Vegan Cosmetics Brand Enough Project, which does not use animal ingredients and does not conduct unnecessary experiments.
In addition, as the demand for vegan products increased, the number of companies and businesses targeting them increased significantly, and the new term Veganomics was created. Veganomics is a combination of Vegan and Economics, which refers to the economy targeting vegetarians and related industries as a whole. Looking at the domestic beauty market alone, vegan cosmetics marketing grew actively in 2019-2020, making the use of the word "vegan" an essential means of publicity to attract consumers. Sensitive companies have quickly embraced veganism as a consumption code and have long jumped into marketing for it. In any market, demand and supply have a direct impact, so as the number of consumers who want animal welfare increases, producers cannot resist it.
Awareness and Direction of Veganism
These days, people in their 20s and 30s tend to pursue "mining out" rather than just "cost-effectiveness." "Meaning out" refers to purchasing a product or service that meets one's values and beliefs in consumption. Beyond eating habits, this will develop into a meaning that emphasizes the realization of the value of "protection of animals" in overall life such as fashion, beauty, and travel. Looking at the very finely classified types of vegetarianism, those who are new to it often say that they are impressed or somewhat questionable. They are asking if we have to eat vegetarian food even at the expense of various inconveniences. Since "healthy vegetarianism" is possible when thorough diet management is carried out with expert knowledge, young children who are relatively vulnerable in this area often hear that they are malnourished due to the influence of vegan parents. Accordingly, even if you eat a vegetarian diet, it is emphasized that eating necessary nutrients should be the top priority according to your individual situation, and there is an opinion that veganism also needs flexible pragmatism.
What is the biggest reason why it is difficult to practice veganism? People generally have high barriers to entry because veganism is associated with the image of vegetarianism. There are various types of vegetarian veganism and too many types of food that are not consumed. It means that people feel burdened by "complete vegetarianism" when it comes to dietary veganism. However, if you admit that perfect veganism is difficult, it will feel easy to take a step by step. In addition, in order for veganism to move forward with our society, vegan and non-vegan's attitude of recognition of each other must precede. Conflicts in the thinking of vegan and non-vegan cannot be avoided, but it is very important to acknowledge that even if you do not understand others, you may have different thoughts and to be prepared to accept them. And the root of veganism was eating, but it eventually led to food, clothing, and shelter and life as a whole. I put it up as vegan when I eat, but if I waste my energy and use plastic indiscriminately in another daily life, it can't be considered vegan in the true sense.
In other words, veganism can be practiced not only through diet but also through consumption of vegan products in our daily lives. An interview with Lee Ok-sun, a designer of the vegan fashion brand OPENPLAN, who believes that "we will not make any more trash under the name of fashion," can be found in the March 2021 issue of Marie Claire. It is said that the brand's goal is to propose valuable beauty in the era of climate crisis through fashion, aiming for plastic-free and vegan fashion. She said, "If we harm someone for fashion, can we say it's cool?" asking the question of. Many animals are sacrificed for fashion. The same is true of the environment. If fashion has any meaning in the times, I thought about what fashion is suitable for the era of the climate crisis. That's how OPENPLAN became a vegan fashion brand,' he said, adding an explanation for establishing brand identity. Like the brand name, she said, how active it is to talk about our plan and how many possibilities can be opened up. Don't forget that being a person who has maintained an altruistic perspective in many ways while looking at the world surrounding you is essentially a vegan who pursues meaningful change. Socially, a foundation should be established to help veganism settle in our lives. We need to clarify veganism's industry-specific regulatory standards, and companies should also strive to distribute vegan products that consumers can trust and purchase.
As more and more people try to practice veganism in their daily lives, it is easy to find related posts on personal SNS or various portals. I'm so glad to see interest in minimizing the impact of lifestyle and consumption activities on animals and the environment, but on the other hand, I hope this interest doesn't end up as a trend to show someone. From small parts of life, we can look at the health of all life, including the Earth, and the practice of veganism is just one of them. In order to lead to sustainable veganism and environmental protection, we desperately need a process in which consumers, businesses, and society think together. In the future, more people will be interested in veganism, ask endless questions for continuity, and think about finding a solution between reality and ideals. And I really hope that they will lead to practice in our lives and someday we can find everyone living healthy on a healthy planet. So why don't we try to reduce the amount of meat we've been enjoying without much thought? Just thinking about the global environment that will be a little healthier and the animals that will not be sacrificed will already mean enough.
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