This is how vegan movement began
Veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism, and though the term was coined in 1944, the concept of flesh-avoidance can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies. Vegetarianism is first mentioned by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos around 500 BCE. In addition to his theorem about right triangles, Pythagoras promoted benevolence among all species, including humans. Followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism also advocated vegetarianism, believing that humans should not inflict pain on other animals. World Vegan Day is celebrated on the first of every November in respect of those who don’t eat meat, or eggs, or cheese, or mayonnaise, or honey, or whey, or gelatin, or anything that comes from or includes an animal. Nor do they use any clothing, accessory or object made from an animal. No leather, no wool, no pearls, no ivory-keyed pianos. The animal-free holiday began in 1994, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vegan Society. According to the latest research by the Vegan Society, conducted in 2018, there are around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain. It’s estimated that this is up from 150,000 in 2006, and that there are twice as many women than men who are vegan. Around 360,000 people also describe themselves as lifestyle vegans, who commit to only using or buying cosmetics and clothes free from animal products, for example. In 2018 Waitrose introduced a dedicated vegan section in more than 130 shops, while Iceland reported that sales of its plant-based food have risen by 10% over the last year. And a range of fast-food companies, from Greggs to McDonalds and Burger King to KFC, have launched, or announced, vegan options for the UK. Interest in vegetarian and vegan products shows no sign of slowing down, as retail sales are expected to increase to £658m by 2021.
However, if truth be told, the meatless lifestyle never really caught on in the West, although it would sometimes pop up during health crazes and religious revivals. The Ephrata Cloister, a strict religious sect founded in 1732 in Pennsylvania, advocated vegetarianism — as well as celibacy. The 18th century utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham believed that animal suffering was just as serious as human suffering, and likened the idea of human superiority to racism. The first vegetarian society was formed in 1847 in England. Three years later, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, co-founded the American Vegetarian Society. Graham was a Presbyterian minister and his followers, called Grahamites, obeyed his instructions for a virtuous life: vegetarianism, temperance, abstinence, and frequent bathing. In November 1944, a British woodworker named Donald Watson announced that because vegetarians ate dairy and eggs, he was going to create a new term to describe people who did not. Watson called a meeting with five other non-dairy vegetarians, including Elsie Shrigley, George A. Henderson and his wife Fay K. Henderson to discuss non-dairy vegetarian diets and lifestyles. Though many held similar views at the time, these six pioneers were the first to actively found a new movement - despite opposition. The group felt a new word was required to describe them; something more concise than ‘non-dairy vegetarians’. Rejected words included ‘dairyban’, ‘vitan’, and ‘benevore’. They settled on ‘vegan’, a word that Donald Watson later described as containing the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’. In the words of Donald Watson, it marked “the beginning and end of vegetarian”. The society was called Allvega and the magazine Allvegan. Tuberculosis had been found in 40% of Britain’s dairy cows the year before, and Watson used this to his advantage, claiming that it proved the vegan lifestyle protected people from tainted food. Three months after coining the term, he issued a formal explanation of the way the word should be pronounced: “Veegan, not Veejan,” he wrote in his new Vegan Society newsletter, which had 25 subscribers. By the time Watson died at age 95 in 2005, there were 250,000 self-identifying vegans in Britain and 2 million in the U.S. Moby, Woody Harrelson and Fiona Apple are vegans. So is Dennis Kucinich.
Although the vegan diet was defined early on it was as late as 1949 before Leslie J Cross pointed out that the society lacked a definition of veganism and he suggested “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man”. This is later clarified as “to seek 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 society was first registered as a charity in August 1964 but its assets were later transferred to a new charity when it also became limited company in December 1979. The definition of veganism and the charitable objects of the society were amended and refined over the years. By winter 1988 this definition was in use - although the phrasing has changed slightly over the years - and remains so today…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.
Strict veganism prohibits the use of animal product, even if it isn’t food, but like any lifestyle choice that ends in “-ism,” there are plenty of people who cheat. The vitamin B12 is found almost entirely in animal products, so many vegans eat fortified food or take a vitamin to get the right amount. And while American vegetarianism has broken free of its philosophical and religious roots, becoming an accepted health choice — many restaurants offer vegetarian options and most dinner party planners now ask “is anyone vegetarian?” before planning the menu — veganism is still tied to the animal-rights movement and is out there on the fringe. Vegans can be as strict or lax as they want to be in their food choices: the International Vegetarian Union’s website includes vegan-friendly reminders about baking pans greased with animal fat, grain cereals that include animal-based glycerin, and sugar refined with bone charcoal. Then there’s raw veganism, which is an offshoot of veganism in which none of the food can be cooked. Take that a step further and you get “mono meals,” the idea that the stomach should only digest one type of food at a time. Basically, if you eat it, there is probably someone else out there who won’t. Giles Quick, director at market researcher Kantar Worldpanel, said: “The vegan market has changed fundamentally in the last six or seven years - it's now for everyone. Social media has brought it to the forefront of customer's minds, and the mainstream. It is not seen any more as a choice for life, but as a choice for one meal, one moment, for one or two days a week.” Flexitarianism, part-time vegetarianism or veganism, is becoming more and more popular. And in January 2019, 250,000 people pledged to go vegan for the first month of the year, under the Veganuary campaign . Launched in the UK in 2014, and supported by a wide range of social media, Veganuary encourages people “to try vegan for January and beyond”.
According to analysts, young women are driving the growth of the vegan movement. But, a range of reasons lie behind veganism’s rise. Chart showing survey results on why vegetarians and non-meat eaters cut down, or intend to cut down, on meat. A total of 49% of those interested in cutting down on their meat consumption said they would do so for health reasons, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults in Great Britain by Mintel. Weight management, animal welfare and environmental concerns were also big motivators. With interest increasing all the time in healthy eating, part-time veganism might well become a full-time fixture in many people’s lives.