Vegan levels was actually a concept introduced in summer 2015 - June, to be precise, and it was all to do with Beyoncé.
Yes, you read that right. Pop superstar Beyoncé rocked the vegan community in 2015 by announcing that the reason behind her, at the time, much commented upon weight loss was down to changing to a vegan diet.
The announcement drew media and fan furore, but also fury. Many vegan activists accused the singer of still “being draped in dead foxes, minks and lynxes” and suggested the move was only to further her empire (in her announcement Beyoncé coincidentally also announced her new subscription based vegan diet plan).
It was in this fury that the notion of there being levels of veganism was first aired. After all, if Beyoncé was still wearing animal products but not eating them, could she really call herself a vegan?
The idea has remained omnipresent throughout the vegan lifestyle, but has recently come to the forefront once again in 2021. As Veganuary recorded its highest number of participants since the movement began, the same questions regarding the levels of commitment to veganism are once again being asked of those new to the vegan lifestyle, and of those who are longstanding.
So, are there really vegan levels? And if there are, what are they? We take a look.
What are the different levels of vegan?
The five levels of Veganism is a general guideline produced by the vegan community in response to the many questions regarding the vegan levels.
The five level framework is so effective because it recognises that there are different categories and types of veganism that are entirely dependent on the lifestyle a person follows. Whilst some people are able to follow veganism in its purest form, others find it difficult to do the same.
The five level framework also recognises that this difficulty in maintaining veganism at its very highest level is absolutely ok. For example if someone has opted for a vegan diet for health reasons, they may find the lifestyle stricter than if someone has changed to the diet because of their moral objections to eating animal products. Therefore, it does not punish, and still warmly welcomes vegans at any level.
Below, we’ve listed the five recognised levels of veganism.
The five vegan levels
Level 1 Vegan
Level 1 vegans are those who typically switch to the vegan diet for health benefits. Level 1 vegans may be aware of the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism but that is not their driving, nor motivating factor.
Level 1 vegans will predominantly avoid animal-derived foods, but are likely to cheat on occasion with products like honey or milk chocolate. Level 1 vegans believe in a balanced diet, so it’s likely that they follow the diet around 95% of the time. Level 1 vegans may also not be as strict with their vegan ethics, so they may still use non-vegan products like non-vegan leather or makeup.
Level 2 Vegan
Level 2 vegans are predominantly those that follow a vegan diet to stay fit and healthy but who are also passionate about animal cruelty.
Level 2 vegans will often hunt down the tastiest vegan recipes (like our top 7 vegan and gluten free bakes), and will try their hardest to only cook plant-based foods.
Level 2 vegans may possess more commitment to animal ethics than perhaps Level 1 vegans, but they may still slip up by purchasing non-vegan accessories or wearing non-vegan clothing. Hence, level 2 vegans often fall into the societal misconception that they must be passionate about animal welfare otherwise they will not be viewed as a true vegan, which can inflict additional pressures as they adapt to the lifestyle.
Level 3 Vegan
Level 3 vegans are those who are fairly firmly entrenched in the lifestyle. They are more experienced than level 2 vegans, and have overcome the small lifestyle adjustments that are needed in order to fully settle into their own comfortable vegan lifestyle.
Level 3 vegans are much more likely to give out tips to vegans in levels 1 and 2, and level 3 vegans are also much more aware of animal cruelty and animal agriculture and therefore protest for animal ethics regularly. Level 3 vegans are also incredibly conscious of only choosing plant-based foods for their diets.
This consciousness is what enables them to confidently be able to encourage others to make the change. It’s thought that those in level 3 veganism are also much better positioned to aspire to levels 4 and 5 - hailed as the most difficult.
If you’re still new to the vegan lifestyle, don’t fear! We’ve wrapped up the 5 vegan trends to be aware of in 2021.
Level 4 vegan
Level 4 vegans are seen as the vegans one level below level 5. Level 4 vegans are incredibly committed to veganism, and follow a strict dietary regime. A level 4 vegan’s diet is likely to contain more fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Level 4 vegans will often only eat out at vegan restaurants, or if that is not an available option they will only choose a vegan option.
Level 4 vegans are also incredibly passionate about animal rights and will often join protests in favour of animal ethics.
Level 5 vegan
Level 5 vegans are those who are seen as incredibly committed to the vegan lifestyle, and are often hailed as “extreme vegans”.
Level 5 vegans go to an extensive effort to follow a vegan lifestyle that is free of any type of animal product or animal exploitation. This goes further than just following a vegan diet - level 5 vegans will also not use accessories made from any form of animal product, not use makeups tested on animals, and will not wear clothing made of animal furs, skins or byproducts.
Level 5 vegans also avoid all animal-derived products such as eggs, dairy products, meats, fish and seafood, and will also avoid any food products where accidental traces of animal products may feature. They will also avoid leather, gelatin, and some food colourings.
voiding all forms of animal cruelty is not as straightforward as it seems, which is often why level 5 vegans are reveried as the very purest of vegans.
The five levels of veganism give us a great guideline to the different types of vegan lifestyles that people may follow depending on their own personal choices. It’s important to remember that no matter where you may rank on the levels framework, you are still a vegan. If you avoid animal products in some degree - you are still vegan and can proudly declare yourself as so.
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