The History of Veganism: Everything You Need to Know

Veganism is a philosophy that excludes any kind of animal product consumption, including meat, dairy, and eggs.

While veganism is often viewed as a diet or a style of eating, it is a philosophy that opposes the exploitation of animals and the use of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, or any other purpose. People avoiding the consumption of animals is something that dates back to the beginning of civilization. However, the history of veganism and the term “vegan” begins in the 20th century.

Veganism is often referred to simply as “vegan,” which is the term used by vegans. Vegans actively promote veganism through advocacy and activism.

Vegan Menu

A Brief History of Veganism

Although the name “veganism” was not coined until the 1940s, the concept originates from ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean cultures. The Vegan Society claims that evidence of individuals avoiding eating and using animal products dates back more than 2,000 years.

In 500 BCE, Pythagoras and his countless followers first began advocating vegetarianism. Not only for health purposes but primarily for religious and ethical reasons.

At the same time, Siddhartha Gautama (known as the Buddha) talked about vegetarianism with his followers. Additionally, followers of Hinduism and Jainism encouraged vegetarianism and the concept that people should not cause pain to other sentient beings.

Fast forward to the twentieth century, and after veganism became mainstream, Rastafarianism, a religious and social movement founded in Jamaica in the 1930s, stands for a lifestyle that opposes oppressive systems and refuses the consumption and use of animal products.

The Term “Vegan”

The term “vegan” was chosen because it consists of the first three and last two letters of “vegetarian.” This moment is marked as “the beginning and end of vegetarianism” – Watson. 

It also stated how to pronounce the word: “Vegan, not Veejan”

Although the word was introduced in 1944, it wasn’t until 1949 that Leslie J. Cross pointed out that society hadn’t even adopted a formal definition of the coined word “Vegan.”

Over time, veganism has become clearer in what it means. Since 1988, this is what the official definition has been:

“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.”

The Earliest Vegetarians

The earliest evidence of vegetarianism dates back to 7000 BCE, almost 9,000 years ago, to a place named Mehrgarh – a part of Indus River culture. It is commonly known that Hindus do not eat meat, and while the actual origins of Hinduism are unknown, its philosophy may be traced back to Mehrgarh, long before any known writing or scripture was created.

Or the Laws of Manu, dating back to 10,000 years ago

The Modern Veganism

Because of veganism’s extensive history, the movement is poised for success. Veganism is becoming more mainstream, especially on television, radio, and several podcasts.

People publish vegan recipes and share their experiences on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok on a daily basis. Vegan activists of today are making their voices heard more than ever. People everywhere are adopting veganism and taking a major step towards helping the environment, saving animals, and bettering their health. 

menu on laptop

Related: Vegan Diet Guide, Vegan Leather Boots, Wearing a Vegan Belt

The Future of Veganism

Veganism has gained much traction in recent years, and the trend doesn’t seem to stop. This lifestyle choice can positively impact our well-being and our environment, as it means we cut down on our carbon footprint and consumption.

The moral and ethical reasons behind choosing to follow a vegan diet are pretty clear, but there is more to this lifestyle choice than just being kind to animals.

Being vegan is a lifestyle choice that can benefit your health and our planet. By choosing to go plant-based, you are reducing carbon emissions from livestock farming and helping to reduce global warming.

watching while cooking

Author’s Note

Veganism started as a way to show compassion for animals, but now it’s much more. Veganism is a lifestyle of compassion, awareness, and empowerment. Vegans lead by example and teach people how to care for animals and the environment. They are paving the way for a more compassionate world.

While many people are ditching animal products for ethical reasons, the switch has many other benefits. From slashing heart disease and cancer risk to helping the environment – the benefits of a plant-based diet are many; so why not try going vegan? There has never been a good time to try it than now!

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