Celebrating Vegan Lifestyles
November 1st was World Vegan Day. In celebration of this day I would like to share a bit about vegans and what the vegan diet is all about.
A vegetarian diet is one that does not include meat, fish or poultry. Vegan food contains no animal products or byproducts. It’s vegetarian without the dairy or eggs. The lifestyle of a vegan is also free from animal products. This means no leather handbags, no silk shirts, no products tested on animals, and so on. Because vegan foods do not include any animal products, they’re often referred to as plant-based foods. The reasons people choose to become vegan are many, as you will discover as you read this article.
A Little History
The Vegetarian Society was formed in England in 1847 to provide a forum for vegetarians to share their love of all things vegetarian. One hundred and forty people from diverse backgrounds and social positions attended the first meeting, and the society has grown into a robust movement with branches around the world.
In 1944, members of the Vegetarian Society who wanted to focus solely on veganism formed the Vegan Society. Donald Watson was the first president, and he actually first coined the word vegan. Today, the Vegan Society is a vibrant international organization that continues to promote its message.
image source: flickr
Throughout history, great thinkers, philosophers, artists, and musicians have embraced a vegetarian lifestyle. Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, and Nikola Tesla were vegetarians. Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Kasem, and so many other celebrities also eat meat-free. Even musicians such as and Bob Dylan and Natalie Merchant are vegetarians. The list also includes Vincent Van Gogh, George Bernard Shaw, Dr. Jane Goodall and even the original Ronald McDonald.
Albert Einstein, best known for his famous, mind-bending E=mc2 equation, thought a vegetarian diet was the key to health for us and for the planet. He even went so far as to say, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Whether they’re members of the Vegetarian or Vegan Society or your next-door neighbor, each vegetarian and vegan has his or her own reasons for eating meat-free. Most people embrace the veggie way because of health, environmental, or ethical reasons.
In our next post we will go into the reasons why people choose vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurants and a recipient of a 2006 Platinum carrot award given by the Aspen Center of Integral Health to ‘Americas Top Healthy Gourmet Chefs’. He is a recognized authority in the field of healthy cuisine. Mark is the coauthor of Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, winner of 9 national awards. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw coauthored with Jennifer Murray and Bo Rinaldi is available through booksellers everywhere. Please visit www.veganfusion.com or www.blossominglotus.com for more information.