Each year, World Vegan Day falls on November 1 as a way to celebrate veganism and appreciate its benefits to humans and the environment. While veganism is far from new, it has gained mass popularity over the last few decades with the advancement of plant-based food technology and a greater push for food sustainability. So, what is the history behind World Vegan Day and how is it being celebrated in 2021?
History of World Vegan Day
World Vegan Day was first established in 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UK Vegan Society and coining of the term “vegan.” Although the exact date is unknown, it is estimated that the term was coined in November 1944 by Donald Watson. Before this, vegans were referred to as “non-dairy vegetarians.” However, the concept of consuming a plant-based diet and avoiding eating animal products can be traced back at least 2,000 years.
“As early as 500 BCE, Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras promoted benevolence among all species and followed what could be described as a vegetarian diet,” the World Vegan Society said on its website. “Around the same time, Siddhārtha Gautama (better known as the Buddha) was discussing vegetarian diets with his followers.”
It wasn’t until the early 1800s, however, that veganism began to take shape. At this time, ethical discussions around eating dairy and eggs became more prominent in Europe and veganism, rather than vegetarianism, gained a larger following. Over 100 years later, the vegan community formed to establish the UK Vegan Society, and November 1 would later be chosen as the date to commemorate its foundation and cause.
How the Day is Celebrated
For many people, World Vegan Day is meant to honor and celebrate their commitment to living the vegan lifestyle. Around the world, there are exhibitions presenting information on how people can go about starting their own journeys. This includes seminars in which experts answer questions from attendees regarding common concerns, such as protein intake and vitamin D deficiency.
For those beginning their vegan journeys, World Vegan Day is also an opportunity to learn more through online lectures given by vegan influencers, including notable celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder. In addition, there are many local events, talks and cooking demonstrations that can be found online, at a local library, or via the Vegan Society for information.
With the rise of veganism around the world, the day is also a chance to support local vegan restaurants or brands by promoting them on social media or personal recommendations. People can also host potlucks for non-vegan family and friends and allow them to eat vegan foods they wouldn’t otherwise try. There are countless vegan recipes online that are accessible, healthy and cost-effective.
Veganism is no longer a trend, but rather a prevalent lifestyle that is only growing in popularity. However, it is also important to recognize veganism is not suitable for everyone for health and dietary reasons. World Vegan Day instead helps us understand the reason behind people who are vegan and helps them connect to the world, opening up the possibility for more individuals to broaden and potentially shift their perspectives.