Vegan—a person who is committed to and practices a reverence and respect for all life
Contrary to vegetarianism, veganism was founded on deeply held ethical convictions that espouse a dynamic respect for all life. This philosophy unifies vegans everywhere, regardless of superficial differences. Hence, a vegan from one part of the world can relate to and empathize with a vegan from another part of the world despite their disparate culture and language.
There are no such entities as “part-time vegans,” “partial vegans,” or “dietary vegans.” People who merely consume no animal products, including no eggs, animals’ milk, or honey are not vegans; they are “total vegetarians.” Until one’s commitment extends beyond the scope of food, the word “vegan” does not apply, regardless of how the media or certain individuals wish to employ it. Unlike vegetarianism, being vegan does not entail simply what a person does or doesn’t eat—it comprises who a person is.
People who are vegan attempt to imbue every aspect of their lives with an ethic of compassion. This influences their choice of clothing, personal care products, occupation, and hobbies, as well as food. It also colors their political perspectives, social attitudes, and personal relationships. This is not to say that all vegans think alike, act the same, have analogous opinions, or view the world and their place in it identically. Nevertheless, vegans do subscribe to a shared tenet that builds a collective awareness. It is this coalescence of consciousness that creates a bond among vegans and has the power to transcend cursory distinctions. In the final analysis, despite our diversity, there is only one type of vegan—a person who is committed to and practices a reverence and respect for all life.
~ Jo Stepaniak (2004)