November is World Vegan Month, and tomorrow is World Vegan Day, so we wanted to kick it off by finding out more about the benefits of veganism with information that even non-vegans will find interesting. Veganism has recently been attracting much more attention in the media, and with it, many more followers, so much so that some have named it the new trend. However that doesn’t show veganism in its true colors and downplays the determination and longevity needed for the ideology to get this far. Veganism has been around for what is thought to be approximately 2000 years with a committed following that has constantly been on the rise over the last 70 years.
But over the last century the world’s self awareness as individuals and as the human race as a whole has increased dramatically worldwide, and has seen attitudes change on many subjects from equality to environmentally-friendly practices.
Although veganism for a long time has been viewed in a bad light or seen as extreme by most, it could be a vital missing part in creating the compassionate, sustainable society we are all looking for.
For the Love of Humanity
As far back as 500BCE there have been records of diets that seem to follow the vegan ideology, including famous individuals such as the Greek mathematician Pythagoras and Siddhārtha Gautama who you may know as the Buddha. Both of these historical icons spread the message about vegetarian diets. According to the Business Insider UK, before the use of the word “vegetarian” came about, if you stopped eating meat you would call yourself a “Pythagorean” – which doesn’t really role off the tongue in the same way!
A little known fact is that the word vegetarianism was actually the first word that owned the definition of a diet without any animal products in it. Even the Vice President of the London Vegetarian Society in 1886 was unable to label herself as a vegetarian because “during the whole of that period I have used such animal produce as butter, cheese, eggs, and milk”. But after much discussion within the society they decided to leave out animal by-products from their definition, which is what led to the founding of The Vegan Society by Donald Watson in 1944. The Vegan Society was the first known group that formed on the basis of not using any products that are derived from an animal product. They actually founded and released their first newsletter in November which I’m sure must have been an influence in November being the month to celebrate veganism!
This was when World War II was still underway and in the UK there was still a ration on food. The government refused to give supplement rations to vegans for more lentils or nuts in replacement of the milk, butter, egg and meat ration vouchers the vegans couldn’t use. So they had to be much more self-sufficient. If we had concentrated on farming the right vegetables and legumes we needed in the war…would we have needed rations? Vegans were managing to do it without the advantage of financial support or the best soil and farms to produce food on, which leads me to wonder what we could have achieved if we’d done it across the UK as a group effort.
We still seem to be in a similar position today, as many communities still struggle to provide enough food for their people. Cowspiracy says that “We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.” There’s 7 (going on 8) billion people in the world. This proves a new insight into how to use our resources in the world, and how we if we change the way and areas we distribute crops we could help to reduce a long battle against starving communities.
For the Love of Animals
The obvious reason to try veganism is the animals. People assume vegans are animal lovers, and many are, but not necessarily. It also can create an entirely different edge to your cooking. You don’t have to be an animal rights activist to make small changes to your diet and try new things.
When I travelled in my early 20s I would have tried food from any culture…including some animals which others may find unthinkable to eat, just to get a taste of their cuisine. Trying new foods is an adventure I’ll never get bored of! And now I am enjoying finding meat alternatives that taste great as well as different plant based foods that are nutritious and tasty. One example is lasagna, which is something I had only ever had with minced beef before. Instead, I made a lentil version- it wasn’t trying to be something it’s not by imitating meat but it was a great flavor and taste to have in a hearty pasta meal.
For those of you who are looking for alternatives, because you like the taste of meat but aren’t sure about purchasing it anymore, there are loads of companies that have produced food with a nearly identical taste and texture and they are always improving. One of America’s favorite is Tofurky which does a range from ham slices, to “BBQ Chickn Pizza” so you don’t have to miss out on any of your favorite flavors. Keep reading for more great places to recipes or companies offering vegan food!
For the Love of the World
The majority of us nowadays try to recycle as much as possible and companies are changing their packaging to use less plastic and do less damage to the environment. But without addressing one of the biggest contributing industries to global warming and climate change, these other efforts seem futile.
Often when people discuss the effect on climate change from agriculture the “cow’s farts are methane” statement is usually one of the first to come up. But the effect from agriculture is so much more than that. The World Animal Protection website says that “Right now, more than 70 billion animals are farmed for food”. 70 billion animals.The water and food that is needed for those animals, the CO2 they release from breathing, the land that is used for agriculture that used to be forestation that released oxygen into the air, and even down to the longer cooking times and therefore more energy used to cook meat in comparison to other foods, all contributes to climate change.
The Livestock and Climate Change (LCC) report by the World’s Bank Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang in 2009 found that the agriculture industry is responsible for “51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions”.
Surely, if we want to reduce climate change, it is no longer a choice to just recycle paper or plastic, but to reduce agriculture.
But…For the Love of Food!
“But…but…but if I try being vegan I can’t eat my favorite foods again!”
For all the foodies out there who couldn’t live without cheese, hot dogs, ice cream or cake, you don’t have to. There a delish vegan options that don’t taste like alternatives, they taste like everything you ever wanted!
Thanks to the trend that has escalated over the last four years, it’s much easier now than it ever has been to be vegan, and it will probably only continue to get easier. From a foodie’s point of view, it’s hard to give up those comfort foods and cravings such as creamy ice cream or cheese melting on your pizza, but there really are alternatives for everything now. Before you protest because you don’t know these companies or where to find them, big global names like Ben and Jerry’s and Bailey’s are producing vegan-ized versions of their products. The Ben and Jerry’s non-diary ice cream was a personal favorite of vegan luxuries but don’t miss out because of the familiar names- sometimes the vegan companies, like So Delicious! really know how to do it best! So give one of them a try.
If you really want to take control of what’s in your food, start growing your own vegetables! Even if you don’t have a lot of space (or the time to start a full-scale gardening plot), a raised garden bed kit is a perfect solution. Not only do they come in all different sizes, many are ready to go in minutes and don’t even require any tools or special “know how.”
And while you are at it, why not try out a few new recipes yourself. Pop over to Top Products to see a selection of soy milk makers so you can have fresh milk in your home every day and then step it up a level and make any flavor of vegan ice cream you could ever want!
You may have guessed I have a lot of love for sweet things, but there are also great savory recipes. A favorite being quick and easy 3-ingredient vegan pasta that you mix in a bowl, put through the pasta maker and voila! A big bowl of hearty pasta to tuck into.
To get you started, here are a few more easy vegan pasta recipes.
We hope you enjoy World Vegan Month discovering new, tasty foods!
Don’t worry if you’re not much of a cook, you can now buy delicious vegan food like nutrition bars or go all the way with awesome vegan pizzas you can buy off the shelf that you’ll soon be slicing into with the pizza cutter.
Eloise Bonney, TopProducts Staff Writer