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While I have said what the word “vegan” means or could mean, I have not written about the essence of being a vegan.

Vegans believe in animal rights and not just animal welfare. They do not eat anything that is from an animal. Animals may not be used for entertainment, research, clothing or any other use as demanded by humans. Animals must be left alone in their natural environment unless they are animals that through time, humans have (rightly or wrongly) domesticated.

Vegans do not find it entertaining watching Animal Planet where animals are shown in “humorous” situations. We do not buy woolen garments or wear leather. We leave honey for the bees and never refer to an animal as “it”.

Where we are blessed to share a home with companion animals, we do not call them “pets”.  We can also not claim to be “owners” of animals. At best, we are their humans or guardians.

In short: animals are not ours.  Animals are sentient beings capable of feeling, being respected and loved. George Orwell in Animal Farm wrote about the irony of human domination: “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all animals”.

Janine Jefferies, 2015