The Definition of Vegan | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

The Definition of Vegan

Viva!'s quick definition of veganism

Vegans don't eat, wear or use anything from animals - whether from land (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, shellac, leather, fur etc) or from water (fish, prawns, crab, lobster etc). Vegans also exclude, as far as is practicable, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty.


A little more...

Vegan for the animals

Bull with a piglet

Every year, more than one billion land animals face the barbarity of slaughter in Britain alone. Most animals spend their short lives in misery, imprisoned in the squalor of factory farms. Many are fully conscious when they are killed by having their throats cut.

A further 4.5 billion fish and 2.6 billion shellfish are killed for the UK.

These animals do not belong to us. They do not want to die. Being vegan means stepping outside of the circle of exploitation that society has been sucked into believing is normal. It means standing up for life. Protecting animals, ourselves, our planet. This is why we are called “Viva!”. Viva! LIFE.


Vegan for your health

A pile of vegetables

The cornerstones of a healthy diet are fruit and vegetables, wholegrains (brown rice, wholemeal bread, oats etc), pulses (peas, beans, lentils), nuts and seeds. These are packed with a wide range of healthy, disease busting foods high in vegetable protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and good fats, vegans tend to lead healthier lives as a result. Being vegan also means no damaging animal protein, animal fats, cholesterol, growth factors or pus in the diet.

When it comes to health, vegans have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia and some cancers, with lowered cholesterol and increased energy levels.


Vegan for our Planet

Globe held in a pair of hands

Concern for the environmental devastation caused by animal agriculture and fishing are also a key reason why vegans avoid animal products. The decimation of wildlife and natural habitats is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. As food production expands to meet the world’s appetite for meat, dairy and fish, emissions from animal agriculture continue to rise. The only way to stop this is to change the way we eat.


Other definitions explained

Vegetarian vs vegan

The main difference between a vegetarian and vegan is that a vegetarian avoids any products from slaughtered animals but a vegan avoids all animals products - whether from living or slaughtered animals.

So a vegetarian doesn't eat meat or fish (and avoids flesh from other water animals such as crabs, prawns and lobster). However, vegetarians may choose to consume products taken from living animals, such as dairy (lacto-vegetarian), eggs (ovo-vegetarian) or consume both (lacto-ovo vegetarian) and some vegetarians eat honey.


What's the difference between plant-based and vegan?

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference.

The term 'plant-based' refers just to the diet - which is 100% vegan. However, veganism extends further than diet — it is a wider ethical choice that seeks to exclude the exploitation of animals as far as is practicable. This includes avoiding wearing animal products (eg fur, leather, wool), using products which are tested on animals and using animals for entertainment. 



A pescatarian avoids all meat (red and white) but eats fish and other animals from water habitats (crabs, prawns, lobsters etc). They may or may not choose to eat products taken from living animals such as dairy and eggs.



Flexitarians, sometimes known as semi-vegetarians, refers to someone who eats a predominantly vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.


The most powerful action you can take to end animal suffering, protect the environment and improve your health is to go vegan. Support us and help Viva! campaign for a better world.

Taking the life of an animal who does not want to die is a profoundly terrible act and yet committed so casually in our culture. Viva! nudges, cajoles, persuades, educates - we help people question a lifetime's worth of propaganda and make it easy to go vegan. If you believe in what we do, please join us. The animals need you - unity really is strength. Viva! reaches tens of millions with our campaigns. And society is changing. People are increasingly accepting the benefits of veganism; the tide is turning.

Juliet Gellatley, Founder & Director of Viva!

Juliet Gellatley with a pig in her lap