Oh hey, it’s World Vegan Day! Was there a vegan day last year? Apparently there was, but despite having converted to a veganish diet way back in 2016, I somehow only just learned that this day was a thing.
There is a day for just about all occasions / inanimate objects / living things now, so it makes sense that there’d be one dedicated to the growing chunk of the population who have quit animal products, for whatever reason that may be.
Whether you’ve already gone vegan – to save the planet, save the animals or just attempt to save your health – or you’re thinking about going vegan for any of those reasons, or maybe you’re a part-timer / flexitarian who just wants to get some more sweet facts about what this whole Linda McCartney lifestyle is about… you know I aim to please.
What’s the deal with World Vegan Day?
You could be forgiven for thinking this was all a bit of a newfangled diet fad/trend/classic case of those Damned Millennials And Their Silly Avocado Breakfasts all over again. But apparently The Vegan Society, who founded World Vegan Day, have been around since 1944!
1944 was a time when nobody was chowing down on pulled jackfruit burgers and Mozzarisella-topped pizzas on weekends, or spending their Christmas holidays scouring the shops for Bailey’s Almande. Frankly, I imagine being a vegan in 1944 sucked pretty bad.
Since 1944, the amount of meat and dairy we eat as a species has drastically increased, partly because the world is now overrun with a plague of with human beings but also because those of us living in wealthy countries have made a habit out of eating mass-produced animal products in three meals a day every day. This has led to some pretty rancid factory farming practices.
In a few decades, we’ve taken “I eat meat and dairy” from a norm of “families eat meat in some meals throughout the week, and it comes from an animal in that big field down the road that may possibly be happy before its horrible death” to “we all eat meat every single day and it mostly comes from some giant hellish farm hole, where all the animals are definitely f**king miserable at all times before their horrible death”.
Oh, and our appetite for animals and animal products has now been found to be the likely cause of this shocking figure: humans have wiped out 60% of the planet’s mammals, fish, birds and reptiles in the last 50 years.
The more people have found out about where their food comes from and the impact it has on the planet, the higher the number of people going veggie or vegan has gotten. World Vegan Day has been around for ages, but what was once a tiny group of people mostly written off as hippies and bleeding hearts has now become a pretty major international movement.
World Vegan Day Facts and Figures
If you don’t love bullet pointed lists and satisfying, clear-cut numbers, are you even human?
- The number of people who say they are vegan has increased 350% in the UK in the last 10 years. (Nobody official has ever asked me though, so I’m assuming there are still plenty of other people missing from that figure 😉 )
- In the USA, the number of self-declared vegans has increased by 600% in six years – again, who knows how many people have been asked
- In 2017, Just Eat saw a 987% rise in demand for vegetarian food options
On the environment:
- Animal agriculture provides around 18% of the calories we eat as a species, but uses up 83% of the world’s viable farmland.
- Eating a plant-based diet has three times more positive impact than washing your clothes in cold water, four times more than hang-drying clothes or recycling and eight times more than upgrading to energy-saving light bulbs. Source
- Most of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not plastic bottles, straws and carrier bags – it is fishing nets, and other waste from the seafood industry.
On food production:
- On a ‘free range’ chicken farm, you can still house up to nine birds per square metre, with up to 16,000 birds per building. Many have their beaks cut off to stop them from pecking each other, and while they should have access to outside space, many farms are so crowded that the birds physically can’t get out.
- 90% of UK chicken farming is done in intensive, windowless broiler sheds, and an even more eye-watering 99.9% of American chickens are factory farmed.
- Most farmed pigs in the UK are only entitled to a space to live in that measures 75% of their body length. Sows are often kept in farrowing crates, which are meant to keep them from treading on their piglets, but are illegal in most EU countries because they are so harmful to the sow.
- More than 56 billion animals are killed every year for human consumption, not including fish and the various sea animals that are accidentally killed in the process of catching sealife for our food chain.
These are all just selections of information I’ve plucked from vast reams of possible data to throw around. I try to avoid coming across as preachy and I certainly never want to fall into the realms of the aggressive, militant vegans who spend their days telling people on the internet that their best isn’t good enough or that the whole world could go vegan if they wanted to. Nuh-uh. I’m more of a realist. So I’m just giving y’all some numbers.
If you can’t cut out, cut down
Not everybody can go vegan. Sorry, militant types. And besides that, not everybody wants to. That isn’t because they’re heartless arseholes who don’t care about living things, or climate change deniers who want the planet to burn. It’s because they’re human, and human beings are not programmed to be 100% selfless at all times and sacrifice the things they love for the greater good. Unpopular opinion time. But just because someone doesn’t care quite as much as you care, that doesn’t mean they don’t care at all.
I referred to myself as veganish at the start of this post because I’m not a purist about my lifestyle choice. I don’t think that diets are black and white, you’re vegan or you’re on The Other Team. It’s utterly impossible to live a 100% cruelty-free, animal product-free lifestyle in the modern world – from the traces of fat in your Bag For Life to the sheep’s wool oils in everyday medicine, some of this stuff is just inescapable right now.
Whether you want to cut down as much as humanly possible or you just want to reduce your intake 5 days a week, or 3 days a week, or whatever, every little helps. Maybe you’re an omnivore who’s swapping dairy for plant-based milks and cheeses, or who is reducing their meat intake to ‘just on weekends’ – don’t let the b**tards grind you down.
Once upon a time, I said I’d only eat free range meat. Then I went pescatarian, because I couldn’t guarantee the meat was really that well looked after. Then I found out how overfishing is f**kng our oceans, so I quit fish and shellfish too. I swore I could never give up cheese. Nuh-uh, no way. And here I am, about 2.5 years into going vegan. The videos of the miserable dairy cows got me.
I’ve had a couple of slip ups along the way, but all in all, my foray into reducing my impact on animals and the planet has gone pretty damn well.
Getting stuck in
World Vegan Day is the start of a whole Vegan Month, so they say, and that’s a separate month entirely from Veganuary which is just around the corner. It’s a marketing exercise that works out really nicely if you want to try great new vegan food without breaking the bank, because everyone from independent cafes to big chain restaurants is getting on board with offering new dishes and big discounts on vegan eating. Keep an eye out for offers at vegan-friendly beauty brands, too.
The Vegan Society are launching a new app just for World Vegan Day 2018, and it’s full of things like shopping guides, recipe information and nutrition tips. Designed to offer you 30 days of help with things like not being able to give up cheese or not knowing where to find vegan food on a tight budget, there’s also a rewards programme built in. Oh, and some fun quizzes.
If you need any recipe inspiration or just want to know what the best alternative is to something animal-y you really enjoy eating/using, please don’t hesitate to ask! I love helping people find kick-ass vegan food (surprise surprise) and I’m always happy to help you locate anything from a killer vegan eyeliner to some sweet new kicks if I can.
Peace, lurve and Hail Seitan. X