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Is there some document or literature or mantra that is the canonical source for the "rules of veganism"? Say two vegans are arguing about whether eating honey is vegan or not (not debating that here) - is there a definitive source that could be referenced for that argument?

This came up because I was curious about the vegan sentiment on eating plants that are grown with compost from animal farming operations.

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The most canonical definition of veganism would be the one from The Vegan Society. The Vegan Society was founded by Donald Watson, who coined the term vegan.

Donald Watson originally defined vegans as "non-dairy vegetarians". The definition was updated to its current definition when The Vegan Society became a registered charity in 1997. (source)

According to The Vegan Society, veganism is

"A philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."


There is no canonical list of products or practices which are excluded by this definition. Each practice must be examined to see if it is cruel to or exploits animals. You may be interested in The Vegan Society's explanation of why honey isn't vegan and this question on whether fertilizer can be vegan.

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The best definitive rules on veganism you can get is the definition of the word from the society that created the term "vegan" here. In short,

a philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

To answer you specific question, by the original intention of the term, honey isn't vegan. More generally, there isn't any tablet set in stone for rules, just judgement calls on what falls within practical and possible.

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