A day of celebration for vegans around the world
Even though I’ve celebrated World Vegan Day online, I’ve never looked into how it was founded, so thought this blog would be the perfect opportunity!
World Vegan Day was founded in 1994 by Louise Wallis, who chaired The Vegan Society (based in the UK) that year, the 50th anniversary of the organization. The terms “vegan” and “veganism” emerged around the time The Vegan Society formed. Let’s recap those definitions!
“Veganism is 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 animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
What’s fascinating is that two former members of The Vegetarian Society UK, Donald Watson and Elise Shrigley, formed The Vegan Society to further delineate their lifestyle from that of vegetarians.
According to Vegan Life, Watson stated in an interview in 2004: “I invited my early readers to suggest a more concise word to replace non-dairy vegetarian. Some bizarre suggestions were made like dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivore, beaumangeur, and etcetera. I settled for my own word, vegan, containing the first three and last two letters of vegetarian — the beginning and end of vegetarian. The word was accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary and no one has tried to improve it.”
BOOM. Can’t beat a succinct (and catchy) term like vegan!
Here’s a recent performance of one vegan I’m particularly obsessed with. You might know her—Billie Eilish is her name.
Why November 1 marks World Vegan Day
In a 2011 interview with Animal Rights Zone, Louise Wallis said she knew the Vegan Society was founded in November 1944 but didn’t know the exact date, so she chose the 1st of November because she liked the idea of it coinciding with Samhain/Halloween and the Day of the Dead, traditional times for feasting and celebration, both apt and auspicious. It also coincides with All Saints’ Day in the Christian religion, and I think eating vegan is as saintly as you can get!
While Canada doesn’t officially observe it, here’s when some other places around the world celebrate, according to Wikipedia:
- Ireland: World Vegan Month
- Australia, Germany, New Zealand: World Vegan Day either on the last Sunday in October or first Sunday in November
- Uruguay: Uruguayan Vegan and Vegetarian Union monly meetup, end of October
October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, which is why some places tie World Vegan Day in at the end of October. That’s pretty rad, in my opinion!
The International Vegan Flag
While unrelated to World Vegan Day, the vegan movement has its own flag—The International Flag of Compassion—which is at the top of this blog post.
The flag was designed by a group of graphic designers and activists from several countries, founded by Gad Hakimi, a designer, vegan activist, and head of the Israeli A.L.F group in his town. The group made the flag about human-animal equality. The colors white, green and blue represent the natural habitats of animals: sky, land, and sea. The letter V stands for Vegan, and is an inverted pyramid intended to symbolize the ability to do the impossible. How cool is that!
You can nerd out on all the design elements of the flag here and download images from the website like the vegan battle flag, above.
How you can celebrate World Vegan Day
The easiest way to celebrate this month is to go meatless in your meals. You can cook your own (there are TONS of recipes here or if you search dishes online—I have various Pinterest boards and follow a bunch of vegan recipe makers on Instagram), or dine out at your favourite plant-forward restaurant—or a new one you haven’t been to yet.
Are you getting hungry yet??
You can watch a documentary or read a book if you don’t want to see images that might be too graphic (lots mentioned here) and think about any beauty or personal products or clothing items you could replace with a cruelty-free alternative. This Bustle article also has more great ideas. I wanted to visit an animal sanctuary for my birthday this year, but it didn’t happen. Crossing my fingers for 2021!
Would you like to honour more celebrities who’ve taken the vegan plunge? Check out my list here and watch their performances on YouTube.
How will you celebrate World Vegan Month? Share with me in the comments!