To the Journal editor:
I'm writing you today because people continue to ask me and other vegans I know what a vegan is. Essentially a vegan (pronounced vee-gun) is someone who strives to live a life that causes the least amount of harm to animals (this also includes us bi-pedal animals).
Vegans would like to see a world where animals are free from human exploitation. So a vegan will abstain from eating animal foods of any kind- including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. But veganism is not just a diet, it is a lifestyle.
So vegans, for example, won't wear animal furs or skins; avoid patronizing pet stores or places that use animals as entertainment such as animal circuses; and avoid buying products that are tested on animals or have animal ingredients in them.
The intent is to try to create a world where we can live without using animals for human purposes, and to live non-violently and harmoniously with the non-human animals that we share this world with.
The word vegan was coined by Donald Watson who founded The Vegan Society in 1944. Back then their food choices were far more limited, but today there are so many dairy and meat alternatives to choose from that shifting to a plant-based/vegan diet has never been easier.
To make this transition even more accessible the local group Northern Vegans has donated dozens of vegan cookbooks to Upper Peninsula libraries. By going to www.uplibraries.org we can all check out these wonderful, free resources. You can learn to cook and bake delicious vegan desserts that are free from eggs and dairy products.
One of the best vegan dessert cookbooks is "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (available at the Negaunee Public Library). There is no other diet that can be more profoundly kinder to animals, the environment, and our own personal health than a vegan one.
If you are someone who loves animals and wants to make a monumental and positive difference in their lives- you can make going vegan your new year's resolution! Northern Vegans is a great resource and offer a vegan mentoring program where they connect you with someone who has successfully been living vegan for awhile.
Also the group meets every month at restaurants that offer vegan fare and everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike, are welcome. More at: www.northernvegans.com.