The vegan lifestyle, also called veganism, is a special form of vegetarianism in which no animal products are consumed. People who live vegan therefore not only abstain from meat and fish in their diet, but also from all other animal products, such as milk, eggs or honey.

However, living vegan means more than just eating vegan. Vegan additionally includes not wearing clothes that are of animal origin. This means not using substances such as leather, silk or wool.

The exclusion of the consumption and use of animal products required for the vegan way of life goes even further, in that it is not limited to the areas of food and clothing. Rather, the vegan lifestyle ultimately refers to the exclusion of the consumption and use of all possible animal products.

Accordingly, vegans not only avoid consuming and using obvious animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, leather or wool, but also strive to consume or use only products whose less obvious ingredients and additives are not derived from animal sources. For example, vegans do not eat or use products that contain gelatine, drink wine made with rennet, a product made from calves' stomachs, or use cosmetics that contain substances such as lanolin, collagen or the myriad other substances of animal origin that may be present in cosmetics.

In our society, which is largely based on the use of animal products, the vegan lifestyle is characterised by a high degree of consistency and planning. However, the minimum consensus of the quite divergent views of vegan people is the conscious and complete renunciation of the direct consumption or use of meat, fish, milk, eggs, leather, wool, silk and, as a rule, honey. There is also agreement that it is part of the vegan lifestyle to avoid known additives of animal origin, such as gelatine or rennet.

However, differences exist in the practised and required degree of stringency with which the use of hidden animal products is to be excluded, such as in the renovation of flats or also in the consumption of fruit that may have been waxed with animal products or fruit juices clarified with gelatine. While there is a basic consensus among vegans that such products should be avoided, there are differences with regard to the efforts made and demanded to avoid the actually unintended consumption of hidden animal products as far as possible.

Which micronutrients are particularly important for vegans?

Vegans cannot optimally supply themselves with vitamin B12 through their diet, as it is (almost) only found in animal products. Plant foods also contain small amounts of certain micronutrients such as calcium. In addition, certain ingredients in plant foods (phytates and oxalic acid) limit the absorption of other micronutrients. This applies especially to iron and zinc.

To be adequately supplied, vegans have to plan their diet very thoroughly - this is not always easy. Micronutrient medicine can support vegans in this and ensure an optimal supply of all important vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Particularly important are:

  • Vitamin B12 compensates for a possible deficiency
  • Vitamin D and calcium are important for strong bones
  • Iron provides sufficient energy and oxygen
  • Iodine is needed for the thyroid gland
  • Zinc and selenium support the immune system and antioxidant protection
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation
  • L-carnitine promotes energy production from fat


Ultimately, limits result from the fact that no one can live a 100% vegan life, because in the current social-production-related constellation, substances of animal origin are hidden everywhere we move - whether on the street, indoors or in means of transport - which we cannot completely avoid if we want to continue to participate in society as biological and social beings. In this respect, living vegan is an ideal that is not completely attainable, but which we can approach as far as possible.

In order to achieve an approach to the ideal state free of animal products, the vegan way of life is often not limited to one's own consumption, but also to contribute to reducing the dependence of our current production and consumption based on animal products through direct communication and social engagement, and thus to promote the vegan way of life. This includes information, education and persuasion to encourage as many people as possible to adopt a vegan lifestyle and to effectively support them in implementing the decision to take this ethically motivated step.