What is a vegan diet?

What is a vegan diet?
What is a vegan diet?
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Veganism is growing in popularity but what does being a vegan mean?

More than 500,000 people in the UK have a plant-based diet, according to the Vegan Society.

But what exactly do they have to give up and why are so many celebs following a vegan lifestyle? Here's everything you need to know.

What is a vegan?

Veganism is currently defined as "a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose".

The movement was born in 1944 when a small group broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society to form the Vegan Society.

The term "vegan" comes from the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.

READ MORE: Legal challenge forces schools to put vegan meals on menu
November 1 is celebrated as World Vegan Day, and The Vegan Society hosts numerous events to celebrate the benefits of the lifestyle.

What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?

Vegetarians do not eat any animal flesh - this includes cow, pig, chicken and fish.

Vegans go further by not eating anything derived from an animal, including eggs, milk and butter. Honey, meanwhile, is rather divisive in the vegan community.

Aside from food, vegans do not wear or use clothes, shoes or furnishings made with the skins, hair or feathers of animals, such as fur, leather, wool, feathers and silk.

What do vegans eat?

A vegan's diet consists solely of beans, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

However, there are many substitutes which can be used in place of animal-based ingredients.

For example, cow's milk can be replaced with soy milk, and vegan margarine is a great alternative to butter.

What are the health benefits of vegan recipes?

Many people turn to a vegan diet for the health benefits, which claim to include increased energy and younger-looking skin.

Plant-based diets that are well planned and balanced tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants.

This can help to tackle health issues like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

However, it can be hard to ensure you get essential sources of calcium, vitamin D and iron.

The NHS has tips for how you can get all of the nutrients your body requires.