Vegetarianism has been practised since ancient times. In the beginning it was often practised for religious reasons, but it became more widespread in the nineteenth century. Today many countries have a large vegetarian population, and between one and three percent of American adults are vegetarians.
Many vegetarians refrain from eating any type of meat, but consume animal products such as milk and eggs. But a growing number of vegetarians follow a stricter lifestyle called veganism. They eat no meat or animal products of any kind, and they refrain from wearing or using anything that is made using animal products.
Many celebrities, including Pamela Anderson, Clint Eastwood and Woody Harrelson, have adopted a vegan lifestyle. This has brought more attention to veganism, both out of respect for animal rights and as a means of losing weight and attaining better health. But critics consider veganism another fad diet in the vein of Atkins and South Beach.
The History of Veganism
It’s difficult to say exactly when veganism began, but like vegetarianism, it is likely thousands of years old. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 with the formation of the Vegan Society in the United Kingdom. Their mission is to spread the word about the benefits of veganism and assist those who wish to stop using animal products.
During the past few decades, new reasons to support veganism have come to light. Much has been learned about the negative effects of meat production on the environment. It has also become clear that the land used to raise livestock could produce more food if it were used for growing fruits and vegetables. This has led to greater interest in the vegan lifestyle.
Food manufacturers and restaurants have only recently begun to cater to vegans, perhaps because of the rise in popularity of the lifestyle. Over the past several years, many restaurants have begun to add vegan dishes to their menus. Some companies have started offering frozen vegan foods, and more stores have begun to offer a variety of fresh choices for vegans. And today, there is an increase in the number of restaurants that serve only vegan cuisine.
Veganism Is Here to Stay
This recent surge in interest has led some to view veganism as nothing more than a passing fad. But the truth is that vegans have been around for many centuries. It has just taken them a very long time for them to gain the visibility and acceptance for their lifestyle that they enjoy today.
Unlike fad weight-loss diets, the vegan diet is part of a larger philosophy. For this reason, it is unlikely to be just a flash in the pan. Considering the nature of the ethical and environmental concerns that are central to the vegan lifestyle, its popularity will probably continue to rise in years to come.