Veganism continues to grow as people around the world accept it as more than just a diet, but a philosophy to stop using animals. Veganism can vary from person to person, however a fundamental basis to all vegan philosophies is that animals are not products to be used by humans.
Veganism is not an ‘end’ in itself nor does it claim to be a lifestyle of perfection – vegans know that is unrealistic in current society – veganism is simply a means of reducing animal use as much as possible, however possible.
On this basis:
Vegetarianism, on the other hand, does not abstain from animal by-products like cheese, milk, and eggs, for example. Veganism began as an off-shoot of vegetarianism when Donald Watson coined the term in 1944 for non-dairy vegetarians.
“The object of the [Vegan] Society shall be to end the exploitation of animals by man”; and “The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”… The [Vegan] Society pledges … to “seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.” – Vegetarian World Forum, No.1 Vol.5 – SPRING 1951 pp.6-7
“A philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” Vegan Society, 1979
In short (and over-simplified): Veganism is the attempt to not use animals as products.