Veganism is gaining in popularity. Thousands of people now know the importance of choosing a vegan lifestyle.
Veganism is a moral philosophy. Its primary purpose is to end all forms of exploitation and cruelty done by humans on animals for clothing, food, or any other activities. This is not merely the concept of selecting a plant-based diet but also the use of products manufactured from plant-based materials and animal testing. It also objects to visits of places where animals are used for entertainment such as zoos and circuses or Christmas fairs where reindeer are put on display.
A Brief History Of The Vegan Movement
In the middle of the 20th century a group of people in the UK wanted to build a distinguished society of non-dairy vegetarians. They named it ‘The Vegetarian Society’.
Donald Watson took forward the idea of Vegetarians and resulted in the formation of the first Vegan Society in November 1944, initially consisting of only 25 members. Watson also introduced the word Vegan in a journal called The Vegan News – a quarterly magazine of the non-dairy vegetarians.
In 1948, a Vegan society established by Dr. Catherine Nimmo and Rubin Abramowitz in California, which successfully ran till 1960. Records also show the assistance of vegan communities in the 1950s in India and Germany.
During this period, IVU (International Vegetarian Society) was joined by the British group, and in 1947, Donald Watson gave a speech on ‘Veganism’ at IVU World Vegetarian Congress.
Initially, in the first few years, there was a discussion about the broader meaning of this new word ‘vegan.’ Primarily it was only related to food material and diet, but soon specific rules were made and followed by the Vegan society in 1951.
The Vegan Society took the concept forward and pledged to conduct their efforts to end the inhumane use of animals for work, hunting, food, and other activities which mercilessly use animals for their benefits.
In 1981, the first International Vegan Festival was held in Denmark. In the next two years, this festival was celebrated in many European countries and also in California, India, Australia, and Brazil.
The definition of this word became revolutionary in 30 years, and there are now many vegan societies across the world.
Since 1994, 1st November has been celebrated as World Vegan Day in recognition of the invention of the word ‘vegan’ by Donald Watson.
My own story
Around 30 years ago I decided to go on my first and only weight loss diet (I never did successfully lose weight…but that’s a whole other story). I began reading lots of nutritional books and magazines. One of the books I found was by an Australian fitness instructor named Susan Powter. She was a zero dietary fat guru, she was also a vegetarian. When reading her book a light bulb went off in my head. I suddenly saw the connection between the food I was eating and the animals in the fields.
Weird I know. I was one among many who never gave any thought to how the meat got on my plate.
I then starting reading more about the food industry. I also read lots of vegetarian and vegan magazines.
I didn’t give up meat and dairy over night. It was a process over quite a few months. There was not the vegan food choices that are available now and I also needed to make sure I knew enough about getting the right nutrition from my food choices.
I started with giving up red meat, then moved on to giving up pork, lamb and chicken. This was done very quickly over about a fortnight. Next I swopped out my dairy milk for oat milk and eventually soy milk (again, there wasn’t the choices that are available now and it took me a while to find the milks I liked).
I had always eaten free range eggs after visiting a egg farm at the age of 15y, but still, giving up eggs was quite difficult. There was no alternatives. I had never heard of tofu scrambled eggs. The powdered egg alternative was gross too. Eventually I managed it. I just went without eggs. I didn’t look for alternatives. I just stopped eating them.
The last thing to go was chocolate.
Chocolate was my downfall I am sorry to say. It took me a very long time to give up chocolate. I could not find an alternative to Cadburys Dairy Milk or Galaxy chocolate. I never liked dark chocolate and that was the only vegan alternative around.
Even though I was still eating dairy chocolate I still considered myself a vegan. An imperfect vegan. But still a vegan.
I had stopped by leather products. I was bought vegan hair and skin products. I also bought vegan cleaning products.
I was a vegan who ate dairy chocolate. I was an imperfect vegan. Although I eventually found some lovely alternative to dairy chocolate and have stopped eating dairy chocolate I am still an imperfect vegan and I always will be.
The perfect vegan does not exist.
I need my car, my phone, my TV, my books…and many many other items that may not be 100% vegan.
One day though we will have a perfect world where our lives do not have an impact on the animal kingdom…..one day we can all be perfect vegans.