It has been said, that to get where you’re going you must know where you’ve been and Veganism is no exception. From a cultural history of veganism to biblical references a plant based human diet has been with us from the beginning.
Was flesh eating a matter of opportunity? Convenience? In the beginning, yes it was as we shall see. As we moved forward and societies became more organized and industrialized meat eating became more and more ingrained within our cultures and societies. Today, in most cases, killing animals and harvesting milk products for food is not necessary and is therefore a choice — choosing to kill or to heal ourselves, save or ruin the planet and to abuse or cherish our fellow creatures.
Origin of the Word ”Vegan”
He chose the word vegan himself, based on, he said, “the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian'” because it marked, in his own words, it marked “the beginning and end of vegetarian”. But, he asked his readers if they could think of anything better than ‘vegan’ to define a “non-dairy vegetarian”. They suggested: allvega, neo-vegetarian, dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivores, and beaumangeur, and other terms.
The first edition garnered more than a one hundred letters, including one from George Bernard Shaw, who then said he was giving up eggs and dairy.
”All our theories told us [that animal products] were obviously produced by cruelty. I knew how cow’s milk arrived at the doorstep. And where eggs came from. The argument of vegetarians, of course, was that in order to get the steak you had to kill an animal. Good logic. Same with fish. In order to get an egg or a glass of milk you hadn’t to kill an animal. True. For one egg or one glass of milk. [But] if you produce those dairy products on a massive scale so that most people eat them every day of their life, and in the case of milk, virtually every meal, then the theory isn’t true that you don’t have to kill an animal. You do have to kill animals.”
— Donald Watson
The new Vegan Society held its first meeting in early November in London. World Vegan Day is held every 1 November to mark the founding of the Society and the month of November is considered by the Society to be World Vegan Month.
”If a man can control his body and mind and thereby refrains from eating animal flesh and wearing animal products, I say he will really be liberated.”
— The Buddha, Surangama Sutra
Starting with the Judaeo/Christian tradition we will look at the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. They were indeed herbivores, eating a 100% plant based diet. How do we know that? We have it on good authority in the Book of Genesis:
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (Genesis 1:29) See: The Eden Diet
And not only humankind, but the animals as well:
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
(Genesis 9:2-3)Interesting isn’t it? Now we’ll move forward in time a bit.
First Vegetarians in the Modern Era
Alternative Food Organizations
”Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.”
― Frances MooreLappé
In the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, a plant based food movement emerged within the counterculture in the United States. Multiple groups focused on the topics of diet and the environment, as well as having a distrust of food producers, which in turn lead to increasing interest in organic gardening.
One of the most influential vegetarian books during that period was Frances Moore Lappé’s 1971 book, ”Dietfor a Small Planet”. The book sold more than three million copies. It’s main message was “get off the top of the food chain”.
Succeeding years saw research by a groups of scientists and physicians in the United States, including Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal D. Barnard, John A. McDougall, Michael Greger, as well as biochemist T. Colin Campbell, who argued that diets based on animal fat and animal protein, such as the Western pattern diet, were detrimental to health. They wrote a series of books that recommend vegan or vegetarian diets, including McDougall’s ”The McDougall Plan” (1983), John Robbins’s ”Diet fora New America” (1987), which associated meat eating with environmental damage, and Dr. Dean Ornish’s ”Program for Reversing Heart Disease” (1990).
In 2003 two major North American dietitians’ associations stated strongly that well-planned vegan diets were well suited for all life stages. This was followed by the film ”Earthlings” (2005), Campbell’s ”The China Study” (2005), Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s ”Skinny Bitch” (2005), Jonathan Safran Foer’s ”Eating Animals” (2009), and the film ”Forks overKnives” (2011).
The vegan diet became increasingly mainstream during the 2010s. and even more so late in the decade. The EU defined the meaning of vegan for food labels in 2010, and has been in forces since 2015. Major restaurant chains began highlighting vegan fare on their menus and supermarkets improved their selection of vegan processed food.
The English Wikipedia article on veganism was viewed 73,000 times in August 2009 and by 2013, 145,000 times. Articles on veganism were viewed more during this period than articles on vegetarianism in the English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish Wikipedias according to Wikipedia. In 2016, Google searches for “vegan” increased by 90%, up from a 32% increase in the previous year.
The global vegan substitute market increased by 18% between 2005 and 2010, and in the United States by 8% between 2012 and 2015, to $553 million a year. The Vegetarian Butcher (De Vegetarische Slager), the first known vegetarian butcher shop, selling vegan meat substitutes, opened in the Netherlands in 2010. America’s first vegan butcher, the ”Herbivorous Butcher”, opened in Minneapolis in 2016. By 2016, forty-nine percent of Americans were drinking plant based milks, although 91% still drank dairy milk. In the UK, the plant milk market increased by 155% in two years, from 36 million litres in 2011 to 92 million in 2013. The UK has also seen a 185% increase in new vegan products between 2012 and 2016.
In 2011, Europe’s first vegan supermarkets appeared in Germany: ”Vegilicious” in Dortmund and ”Veganz” in Berlin.
Veganism and a plant based diets have also risen in popularity in Hong Kong and China, as well, among millennials in general. China’s vegan market is estimated to rise by more than 17% between 2015 and 2020, which is expected to be “the fastest growth rate internationally during that period”. This increase exceeds the projected growth rate in the second and third fastest-growing vegan markets internationally in the same period.
The United Arab Emirates (10.6%) and Australia (9.6%) respectively. In total, as of 2016, the largest share of vegan consumers globally currently reside in the population dense Asia Pacific, with 9 percent of people following a vegan diet.
In an effort to change the image of self-deprivation projected by ‘straight laced’ vegans and animal rights activists, veganism was promoted as a glamorous life choice; in 2015, the editor of Yahoo! Food declared that it had become “a thing”. Celebrities, star athletes, and politicians adopted vegan diets—some seriously, some part-time, and some for show. The idea of the “flexi-vegan” gained popularity: In 2013 the New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, in VB6 recommended eating vegan food until 6 pm. In 2013, Oktoberfest in Munich—traditionally a meat-eating orgy—offered vegan dishes for the first time in its 200 year history.
Critics of veganism have questioned the evolutionary legitimacy and health effects of a vegan diet, and have pointed to longstanding philosophical/religious traditions which hold that humans are superior to other animals. The late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain wrote in 2000 that “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn”. Several vegetarian writers have stated that the restrictions of a vegan lifestyle are impractical, and that vegetarianism is a better goal, ignoring the barbarity of the dairy industry.
Top Vegan Physicians
”If you look at the incidence of hypertension and diabetes and mortality in men, they actually get reduced when you get higher and higher in how much you restrict animal products.”
Dr. Kim Allan Williams
We start with a first of course. Kim Allan Williams, MD is the first Vegan president of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Williams was born and raised in inner-city Chicago, and attended the College of The University of Chicago (1971 to 1975), followed by the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine (1975 to 1979), internal medicine residency at Emory University (1979 to 1982), and overlapping fellowships in Cardiology at the University of Chicago (1982 to 1985), Clinical Pharmacology (1984 to 1985), and Nuclear Medicine (1984 to 1986). He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Nuclear Medicine, Nuclear Cardiology and Cardiovascular Computed Tomography.
Dr. Williams joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1986, specializing in clinical cardiology, nuclear medicine, and nuclear cardiology. He served as Professor of Medicine and Radiology and Director of Nuclear Cardiology at The University of Chicago School of Medicine until 2010. Among numerous awards and honors for his teaching in the medical school, residencies and fellowships, he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha in 2008.
”The typical Western diet is the number-one cause of premature death and the number-one cause of disability. In other words, a long and healthy life is largely a matter of choice.”
Dr. Michael Greger
Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, among countless other symposia and institutions; testified before Congress; has appeared on shows such as The Colbert Report and The Dr. Oz Show; and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. In 2017, he was honored with the ACLM Lifestyle Medicine Trailblazer Award.
Dr. Greger’s most recent scientific publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, Family and Community Health, and the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition, and Public Health explore the public health implications of industrialized animal agriculture.
Dr. Greger is also licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and is a founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He was featured on the Healthy Living Channel promoting his latest nutrition DVDs and honored to teach part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s esteemed nutrition course at Cornell University. Dr. Greger’s nutrition work can be found at NutritionFacts.org, which is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit charity.
2018 and Beyond
”Whereas before, veganism may have been viewed like you were giving up something, now it’s been reframed as what you gain”
―Kip Andersen, Conspiracy co-director
2018 is the year of mainstream veganism, as every trend forecaster and market analyst knows. But, why is that? How did it come about? There is not one single cause, but a perfect plant-based storm, a confluence of factors. People state one or more of these three primary reasons for going vegan: Animal welfare, Environmental factors and personal health. And the vegan market is exploding with an endless array of new business startups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, trendy events and documentaries(some very disturbing). The main stream food industry is trying to catch up with the thriving grassroots demand.
In 2017, the vegan category was robust, energetic, and overflowing with crowdfunding cash,” according to ”Vegan Nation.” and it has carried over into 2018 as we have seen.
Veganism is rapidly growing in popularity around the globe. In the UK, 50% of grocery shoppers now follow or show an interest in a plant-based diet. According to Google Trends, the last 5 years have shown an steady increase in the number of searches, worldwide for ‘veganism’.
Populus.co,uk research conducted on behalf of IGD finds shifting attitudes towards veganism, and explores the reasons for it. The research shows that:
-One in two British grocery shoppers say that they either follow or are interested in a plant-based diet, this includes vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. This figure rises to two in three for 18-24 year olds who say that they either follow or are interested in following a plant-based diet.
-Among 18-24 year olds, one-third follow or consider following a vegan diet vs. one-sixth of all shoppers.
-Committed vegans are still relatively niche– only two percent of British grocery shoppers claim to follow a vegan diet all of the time.
”We are seeing an increasing number of people adopting a more flexible approach to their diets, whether it’s just for one meal or one day a week, shoppers are increasingly choosing a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet. This suggests plant-based products being launched on the market now won’t just be confined to the 2% of shoppers who identify more regularly with veganism. They will appeal to a much broader group of shoppers.”
―Vanessa Henry, Shopper Insight Manager at IGD
According to the charity PETA, food trends for 2019 include:
-Oat Milk: almond and soy milk are great, but 2019 will be the year of smooth and creamy oat milk.
-Tahini in Desserts: It’s just for hummus anymore! Look for this Middle Eastern sesame seed butter in new versions of your favorites like ice cream and milkshakes.
-Green (Pea) Protein: The petite pea packs a protein punch, and next year, more brands will be exploiting this little green machine for all it’s worth.
-Vegan Fast Food Goes Mainstream: It’s almost there now. Fast-food and chain restaurants are increasingly a hotbed of vegan options.
-Fish-Free and Fabulous: In 2018, millennials may have killed canned tuna—just in time, because 2019 is coming and vegan seafood is riding in on a big wave.
-Healthy Fat- and Carb-Conscious Menus: We’ll see more emphasis on healthy fats in 2019—vegan restaurants and at home.
-Probiotics and Other Gut-Healthy Options: Fermented foods and friendly bacteria to the rescue our immune systems! New dairy free yogurts included.
-Meat-Free Mushroom Snacks: Vegan pork rinds? Pig-free bacon chips? Keep cruelty out of your pantry by choosing mushroom-based munchies.
-Puffs: You don’t have to be a slave to chips! Fried or baked, these pop-able snacks will be will be everywhere in 2019.
-Automation – AI – Robotics: In 2019 look for more automated, smart wonders to help prepare your vegan fare.