Kicked off by World Vegan Day on November 1st, World Vegan Month is celebrated globally as a time recognizing how far the vegan movement has come, how accessible living plant-based and vegan can be, and as a time to encourage veg-curious to adopt or explore veganism further through trying new restaurants, recipes, and exploring ideas. It’s also a time to consider and acknowledge how beneficial this lifestyle can be to the environment, our communities, and the animals.
The celebration of World Vegan Day began in 1994, in commemoration of the Vegan Society’s 50th Anniversary.
The Vegan Society was founded in November 1944 by David Watson, Elsie Shrigley, and four other non-dairy vegetarians. The group felt that there was a need for a more accurate word to describe them, finally settling on ‘vegan’, or “the beginning and end of vegetarian.” In 1949, Leslie J. Cross noted that the society lacked a definition of veganism (separate from the definition of veganism that was already in existence), leading to the definition of veganism as seeking “an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.”
The definition underwent another evolution in the 1980s, now being:
[…] 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.
The earliest practitioners of vegetarianism and veganism lived over 2,000 years ago, including Pythagoras of Samos and the Buddha. By the time David Watson died at age 95 in 2005, there were 250,000 self-identifying vegans in Britain and 2 million in the U.S.
Today, veganism continues to spread. As of 2017, six percent of Americans identify as vegan (that’s roughly 16 million people). Compared to one percent in 2014, that’s a huge growth! The number of plant-based options available in the market is also increasing dramatically.
Celebrations are happening around the world
- On November 1st, 2018, over 3,000 vegan activists marched for animal rights in Hamburg, Germany. The activists formed a human chain around the inner Alster lake in the city center before marching through the city center, making the longest human chain for animal rights ever formed. The event was likely the biggest animal rights event in Hamburg and possibly Germany to date.
- See the list The Vegan Society is keeping on their website of vegan celebrations happening around the world.
How can I celebrate World Vegan Month?
- Incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try out a new recipe for lentil chili, pumpkin mac and cheeze, or create one of your own!
- Have a plant-based potluck with friends and mark your calendars for our 16th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck on December 1.
- If you’re working on reducing or limiting your own animal product intake, try out a plant-based analog to dairy or meat––there are a number of awesome makers of vegan cheeses and meat-free meats today, including our local The Herbivorous Butcher and Punk Rawk Labs. You could even try some tempeh by Tempeh Tantrum!
- Connect with those most impacted by the farming industrial complex by visiting a farm sanctuary. We’re lucky to have a number of sanctuaries local to the Twin Cities doing important rehabilitative and educational work, including Farmaste Animal Sanctuary, Spring Farm Sanctuary, Rooster Redemption, SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary, and more.
- Watch a documentary with friends! There are so many documentaries out there today covering topics like our societal dependency on consuming animals, the health impacts of a plant-based diet, and the environmental impact of our consumer tendencies, including The End of Meat, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and Forks Over Knives.
- Share your story of compassion and change with us this season!
- Raise awareness. Lend a book on plant-based living to a friend or leave a few leaflets or a magazine in a public waiting room. You never know who might pick it up!
- Download the VeGuide app, developed by the Vegan Society to get you started (or to continue) on your vegan journey!
- Support local, plant-based, Twin Cities businesses! One great way to get to know the Twin Cities vegan scene and celebrate fall is coming up this Sunday––come to the Plant Based Showcase at Lake Monster Brewing! Read more about the vendors on our blog.