Veganism is a social movement. It’s based on the principle that human beings should live without exploiting animals.
Vegans seek to end the use of other animals for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection—and all exploitation of animal life. In the hope of achieving the ideal, vegans commit to living as closely to it as personal circumstances permit.
While veganism is not a diet, vegans do apply the principle to their diets, committing to complete and consistent vegetarianism.
People become vegetarians for various reasons—humanitarian, ecological, health-based, etc. Veganism, though, is a principle—that we have no right to dominate and control other animals—so we follow a consistent, animal-free diet. Free of flesh, whether of mammals, birds, or sea animals, free of eggs, free of honey, free of animal milk and its derivatives, our culinary arts are plant-based and guided by fairness. We seek animal liberation—that is, reintegration of other animals within the balance and sanity of nature itself.
Our purpose is to redeem a great mistake, with the stupendous effect it has had upon the course of evolution. As veganism spreads, the conception of other animals as existing within Earth’s great bio-community for us to possess will begin to fade away.
The purpose of veganism transcends welfare; its goal is liberation—of other animals and of the human spirit.
It is not so much an effort to make the present relationship between ourselves and other animals bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is basically one of master and slave, that relationship has to be abolished before something better and finer can be created.
Explanatory Note: This work is not mine; its part of a collective exercise. I’m a member of The Vegan Society, and I subscribe to the definition of Veganism offered by its founding members. Take a look at Veganism Defined for their full definition, posted courtesy of the International Vegetarian Union. I doubt I could improve upon that striking piece, nor do I need to. But, prompted by conversation with Will Anderson of Greenvegans.org, and other thoughtful people at the 2015 North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest Conference, I’ve given my 21st-Century language a go in conveying the basics of the definition originally published in 1951.