With the high rise of vegans around the world, it’s interesting to wonder why suddenly, more and more people are turning vegan? Heck, you may even know someone in your family or social circle that is vegan. The question is what are the different types of vegans that exist? There must be various reasons for going vegan.
Let’s find out by exploring the 6 different types of vegans.
First of all, what is a vegan? A vegan is someone who does not eat animals or animal derived products. Their diet is made up of plants: vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits. They avoid meats of any kind, in addition to dairy and eggs.
To find out about the types of vegetarians click here.
Type 1: Ethical Vegans
Ethical vegans are against any action that exploits animals or animal cruelty. Their beliefs go well beyond just what they eat or wanting to reduce meat consumption. According to ethical vegans, there is no distinction between a dog and a fish or a cat and a cow. They are all sentient beings which deserve to live.
Ethical vegans are all for benefiting the environment and carry on an all-encompassing lifestyle that affects their interactions, clothing choice, personal care use, interests and even what jobs they undertake. These types of vegans are committed to stopping the exploitation of animals and are individuals who have made the conscious decision to avoid using any products that derive from animals. This can range from not eating honey or not wearing leather and wool, to completely avoiding zoos.
Type 2: Environmental Vegans
Environmental vegans are concerned about the environment, also known as “eco” vegans, they try to live a “greener” lifestyle and steer clear of animal products. By taking on a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle they believe in reducing their environmental footprint.
These types of vegan care about the environment and try to take up an eco-friendly way of life which includes avoiding animal products.
Environmental vegans have chosen a vegan diet to live more sustainably and positively contribute to the environment. By going vegan they aim towards minimising their impact on deforestation, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and minimising pollution by refusing to support animal agriculture.
Many people are making a conscientious and protecting the environment a priority vis a vis the way they decide to live. In doing so they are selflessly removing the spotlight from their desires and thinking more long term about leaving a better and more sustainable world for future generations.
Type 3: Dietary Vegan
These types of vegans have switched to a plant-based diet due to health concerns or to lose weight without worrying too much about ethical issues. Their wish is that embracing a vegan diet will prevent diseases and ultimately obtain a healthier body.
In addition to avoiding all animal products, many dietary vegans limit or avoid processed foods like sugar, oil, fried foods, and soda. As their health is their number one priority, many dietary vegans do consume animal goods like honey, leather, and wool. This provides them with the option of using the “plant based” label.
This is not to say that vegans living off a processed diet of Oreos, French fries and Doritos do not exist. In general, though, vegan diets naturally reduce saturated fats through the process of cutting out meat and dairy. However, plant-based diets go even further by completely foregoing processed foods and placing a strong emphasis on “clean eating.”
Type 4: Religious Vegans
Religious vegans on the other hand, you guessed it, are vegan due to spiritual belief. The majority of religious vegans are adherents of Jainism, a religion practiced in India stemming from ancient times. For believers all forms of violence (ahimsa), including killing animals is forbidden. They follow a vegan or “non-violent” diet because they hold utmost respect and devotion to their spiritual belief which is their highest duty and ultimate obligation.
Though not all Buddhists are vegan, certain Buddhists do take on a vegan lifestyle. This lifestyle is also followed by certain Christians also known as Seventh Day Adventists, though the degree of their practice remains unclear.
Type 5: OstroVegan (Bivalvegan)
An ostrovegan or Bivalvegans is a vegan who avoids animal products but consumes oysters and other bivalves (mussels, and typically scallops and clams).
These types of vegans believe that eating bivalves is both morally and nutritionally permissible because they lack a central nervous system and most likely do not experience pain. Furthermore, bivalves possess nutrients that can benefit vegans. This has sparked a debate among many with being a controversial issue.
Some ostrovegans argue that because these organisms are not sentient being, they are not subject to the same ethical standards as other mammals, therefore eating them is permissible.
Naturally, some vegans are vehemently opposed to this ostrovegan trend. They claim that because veganism is about avoiding eating animals and bivalves are considered to be animals, then vegans must not eat them. They also assert that whether or not bivalves experience pain is unknown, therefore one must proceed with caution and just avoid them altogether.
Type 6: Raw Vegan
A raw vegan avoids any cooked or animal derived products. These raw vegans also known as “raw foodists” only consume (you guessed it) raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds. Despite what you may think, raw vegans are not doomed to a lifetime of cold food for the rest of their lives. Their food can be heated as long as it’s up to temperatures of 46 Celsius or 115 Fahrenheit.
Several raw vegans only eat fruit, which is known as a fruitarian diet. While others adopt the raw until 4 diet, which requires eating only raw foods exclusively up until 4 p.m. (then eating a heated meal).
Raw food advocates affirm that there are numerous advantages to following a raw food diet, including weight loss, more energy, clearer skin, improved digestion, and better sleep. For them it ensures their body get all the nutrients it needs. They also firmly believe that cooking food will destroy its nutritional value, making it harder for the stomach to digest.
Overall, the 6 different types of vegans are:
Ethical vegans, environmental vegans, dietary vegans, religious vegans, raw vegans, and ostrovegans.
Having looked at the different types of vegans, let’s remember that all these types of vegans are not black and white, but shades of grey. There can be a nuance here. You can choose to be vegan to be healthier, but still eat your occasional Oreos and Beyond Meat burger (rightfully so). Similarly, you can care about both ethics and the environment and that’s the type of vegan you are.
In terms of these types of vegans, it’s important to note that one type is not better than another. We must not be harsh with each other and judgmental. Everyone is doing what they can with what they have, according to their abilities.
Moreover, being vegan for health reasons should not be looked down upon. Your body is a sanctuary, and it is a privilege that you are honoring your body by taking care of it. Plus, you get to reap the rewards of helping the environment and animals. Bonus. Bottom line: we are all a step closer in helping the environment. So, the next time you see a vegan wearing that thrifted navy leather jacket or squirting honey into that chamomile tea I’d like to say:
‘Expand your chest’
To be fair, sugar-coated or not not, nobody likes being told what to do, including yourself. Focus on yourself and being the best possible version yourself, this will draw and attract others to the cause.
How about you? What type of vegan are you? Please do share in the comments below. Let’s chat.
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Latifah is a vegan foodie who loves travelling and cooking plant-based recipes. She loves sharing her favorite travel spots and adding a sprinkle of confetti to your day.