In January, over 50,000 people took on the challenge of following a vegan diet for a month, as part of the ‘Veganuary’ challenge. Estimates of the number of vegans in the UK have sky-rocketed from 150,000 in 2006, to over half a million in 2016. Campaigns such as Veganuary, have grown increasingly in popularity over the last few years, and with this increase in popularity, we could potentially see a shift in what westerners categorise as edible.
The term vegan was coined in 1944, as an adaptation to the word VEGetariAN. Vegans reject all animal-derived products, and consume a diet made up of plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits. However, the word ‘vegan’ and its meaning does not exist in all languages. For example, there is no word for vegan in Chinese – individuals would have to state they were vegetarian, and then list off the other products that they were unable to consume.
Across cultures, there is not one clearly defined category of what constitutes an ‘animal-derived product.’ So before unpicking the conversational problems of explaining you’re a vegan, we first need to consider what it means to be a vegan, conceptually. British anthropologist Edmund Leach outlined how humans split the world into categories in order to create a social logic. The category in which something falls, dictates the way in which those animals are treated. For example, whilst dog could be categorised as ‘animal’ in many Western cultures it would be categorised as ‘pet’ and thus they become part of a sacred category that most people would choose not to eat. The horse meat scandal of 2013 showed how uncomfortable people were in eating animals we give names to, and attach emotions too. With a growing trend in vegan diets, the movement is pushing for a change in how we categorise species and whether they are edible or not.
Students applying for Medicine could consider the impact on public health that an increase in veganism could have, whilst Biology and Natural Sciences students may want to evaluate the environmental benefits of a vegan diet. For students applying for Philosophy, could consider the numerous ethical debates related to following a vegan diet, relating to both animal welfare and the environment.
- April’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Personal Statement Action Plan: Section 2 of 2 You’ve done your reading. You’ve made your brainstorm. You’ve possibly... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >
- January’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Using stats: dos and don’ts When making an application, you must be careful about using... Read more >
- What You Need To Know About A Level Reforms The A Level system that has been in place since... Read more >
- Music Scholarships There is a wide range of musical scholarships available to... Read more >
- Maths & Hard Sciences: answer like a pro Maths, Physics, Chemistry – they’re brilliant because there is a right... Read more >
- Stats report: our annual survey Every year, we survey hundreds of applicants who applied the... Read more >
- LNAT mini mock paper & answers The LNAT, required for those applying for Law at Oxford... Read more >
- LNAT ‘So you want to go to Oxbridge’ Answers If you have been reading our book ‘So you want... Read more >
- Download an Economics Personal Statement 2 “Beyond this essential interest in the subject, I find that... Read more >
- Download a Physics Personal Statement “Over the past few years I have become gradually more... Read more >
- Oxford college snapshots With 35 colleges and Permanent Private Halls, choosing how to... Read more >
- UCAT mini mock paper & answers If you are applying for Medicine or Dentistry, many of... Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test overview If you’re applying for Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge,... Read more >
- PAT overview If you’re applying for Physics, Materials or a relevant joint... Read more >
- What Results Do You Need In Your Exams? At the heart of every Oxbridge offer is an excellent... Read more >
- Cambridge’s Supplementary Application Questionnaire After you have submitted your UCAS application to apply to... Read more >
- TSA Cambridge mini mock & answers The Thinking Skills Assessment is required for a number of... Read more >
- MAT mini mock paper & answers If you are planning to apply to Oxford to read... Read more >
- Download an Economics Personal Statement “I have a keen interest in current affairs but have... Read more >
- Outside reading: the key to a good application When it comes to writing your personal statement and preparing... Read more >
- Social and Political Sciences Reading List We’ve brought together a wide-ranging bibliography to help those applying... Read more >