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What is a vegan diet, what are the health benefits and does Greggs offer a vegan menu?

Veganism is growing in popularity - but what does being a vegan actually mean?

MORE than 500,000 people in the UK have a plant-based diet, according to the Vegan Society.

But what exactly do they have to give up and why are so many celebs following a vegan lifestyle? Here's everything you need to know.

Rice and avocado are just some of foods vegans can choose from, along with vegan cheese, meaning pizza isn't off limits

What is a vegan?

Veganism is currently defined as "a 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".

The movement was born in 1944 when a small group broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society to form the Vegan Society.

The term "vegan" comes from the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.

November 1 is celebrated as World Vegan Day, and The Vegan Society hosts numerous events to celebrate the benefits of the lifestyle.

Paul McCartney and Adele are firm vegetarians as opposed to vegansCredit: Getty Images

What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?

Vegetarians do not eat any animal flesh - this includes cow, pig, chicken and fish.

Vegans go further by not eating anything derived from an animal, including eggs, milk and butter. Honey, meanwhile, is rather divisive in the vegan community.

Aside from food, vegans do not wear or use clothes, shoes or furnishings made with the skins, hair or feathers of animals, such as fur, leather, wool, feathers and silk.

Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and singer Stevie Wonder and Sia all follow a vegan lifestyle

What do vegans eat?

A vegan's diet consists solely of beans, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

However, there are many substitutes which can be used in place of animal-based ingredients.

For example, cow's milk can be replaced with soy milk, and vegan margarine is a great alternative to butter.

A vegan's diet consists solely of beans, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetablesCredit: Getty - Contributor

What are the health benefits of vegan recipes?

Many people turn to a vegan diet for the health benefits, which claim to include increased energy and younger-looking skin.

Plant-based diets that are well planned and balanced tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants.

This can help to tackle health issues like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

However, it can be hard to ensure you get essential sources of calcium, vitamin D and iron.

The NHS has tips for how you can get all of the nutrients your body requires.

Do Greggs have a vegan menu?

Earlier this month, the bakery chain launched £1 vegan sausage rolls, which have a Quorn filling instead of sausage meat.

The 96-layer pastry on the vegan sausage roll is the same used in Greggs' other treats as it doesn't contain butter or eggs.

The vegan alternative costs 5p more than the traditional meaty Greggs sausage roll, which is a purse-friendly 95p.

The treats were so popular, some stores had sold out by 9am.

A spokesman for Greggs said at the time: "We’ve had an overwhelming response from customers wanting to try our new Vegan Sausage Roll.

"We’re working hard behind the scenes to get more product to shops as soon as we can.”

Who are the most famous vegans?

Here is a list of celebrities who have made the switch to veganism:

  • Liam Hemsworth
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Tobey Maguire
  • Lea Michele
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Jared Leto
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Alicia Silverstone
  • Brad Pitt
  • Pamela Anderson
  • Russell Brand
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Sia
  • Ariana Grande

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary encourages people to try a vegan diet for a month at the start of the year.

It's typically tied to New Year resolutions as people look to change their ways and become more healthy.

The month-long event is dedicated to trying to change people's attitudes, help the planet and the animals as well as improve your own personal well-being.

Student eats 150 bananas and 14lbs of spinach a week as part of raw vegan diet