By Hakeem Jimoh
October and November are the veg special months. October 1st kicks off the annual Vegetarian month. In between comes the World Food Day on October 16th – which was the topic of last week’s column.
There is another special day: November 1st – the World Vegan Day. A good opportunity to look more into what the vegan lifestyle is all about.
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.
A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.
Interest in veganism increased in the last decade as vegan food became increasingly available in supermarkets and restaurants in many countries, and several top athletes in endurance sports, such as the Ironman triathlon and the ultramarathon, began to practise veganism and raw veganism. The origins of a vegan lifestlye reach back to last century.
In July 1943 a member of the Leicester Vegetarian Society expressed concern in its newsletter that vegetarians were still consuming cows’ milk. In August 1944 several Vegetarian Society members, including Donald Watson, asked that a section of its magazine be devoted to non-dairy vegetarianism.
When the request was turned down, Watson set up his own quarterly newsletter: the Vegan News. Watson said later that the word vegan represented “the beginning and end of vegetarian.”
World Vegan Day has been held every November 1st since 1994 to mark The Vegan Society’s founding date. The Society now defines veganism as “…a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.”
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol.
Well-planned vegan diets appear to offer protection against certain degenerative conditions, including heart disease and are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle by the American Dietetic Association among many other organisations.