The practice of veganism closely resembles religion. There are acceptable practices of what to eat, food preparation, food sourcing, what to wear, what to drive, what to do with your non-vegan possessions, outreach to non-vegans on an ideological basis, apologetics...

Combine that with climate change and a focus on healing the earth and you end up with a belief system that is reasonably similar to Buddhism as a philosophy.

Is this the intent of veganism?

  • 1
    Here in Sri Lanka many of the Buddhists I know eat some eggs, fish, and chicken. Monks are supposed to eat what is offered, as long as any meat is not killed specifically for them, I have not seen a monk eat meat, however, I have never offered a monk meat myself. Feb 10 at 3:41
  • I'm not sure all vegans would agree to the "outreach to non-vegans on an ideological basis" part, removing quite a big part of your similarity to religion argument.
    – thosphor
    Feb 12 at 11:26
  • @thosphor If the outreach is not an ideological basis, what is it? Veganism doesn't define itself by a healthy diet. Just take a look at some of the questions in the [outreach] tag here to see why people want to do it. vegetarianism.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/outreach
    – user6686
    Feb 14 at 4:51
  • I asked a question on meta to propose a change to the site's tagline to clarify the purpose of the site. My proposal doesn't mention religion, but would make it clear to people joining the site that the rally point of the community is not the diet. vegetarianism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/460/…
    – user6686
    Feb 14 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


According to the oxford dictionary definition, a religion needs to actually worship something (like Buddhists for example who worship many deities with one central deity):

re·li·gion noun the belief in and worship of a superhuman power or powers, especially a God or gods. "ideas about the relationship between science and religion" Similar: faith belief divinity worship creed teaching doctrine theology sect cult religious group faith community church denomination body following persuasion affiliation a particular system of faith and worship. plural noun: religions "the world's great religions"

Although according to their second definition, which is hard to find an original source for other than it itself, it clearly would:

a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. "consumerism is the new religion"

The idea of only eating/benefitting plant based products is at least an "interest" or "pursuit".

The Webster dictionary has a similar variety of definitions:

religion noun re·​li·​gion

1 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

2 a (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance b : the state of a religious a nun in her 20th year of religion

3 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

4 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS

First definition depends on the word religious, which has as it's 3rd definition:

scrupulously and conscientiously faithful: FERVENT, ZEALOUS

It would definitely seem like vegans are faithful to their practice, in terms of being committed to it.

According to the 3rd definition of religion above "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with", in order for veganism to be classified as a religion, it would need core tenants of belief.

To my understanding veganism is simply not eating or benefitting from animal products, without a reason provided. This could be out of personal preference for not liking the style of leather belts, to not finding meat healthy, to believing that all life that smiles at you should be saved but not the life that can't smile at you etc.

I met someone who claimed to be a vegan not because he believed it was better for animals in general, but simply because he personally didn't find meat to be healthy.

So if a clear universally accepted set of beliefs would be provided to describe all of veganism without debate, then it would meet most of the definitions from above, even if it doesn't involve the worship of a superhuman entity.


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