Vegans and the vegan-curious around the world unite today on November 1 for World Vegan Day. Originally created in 1994 as a way of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UK Vegan Society, it has now become a day for people to celebrate the joys of being vegan, while being able to share the lifestyle with friends and family in events stretched across the globe.
But why do people go vegan?
While each individual’s reasons and experiences give them different motivation there is usually four main deciders.
1. Against animal cruelty: Everyone knows that the killing of animals for food and clothing is a nasty business, there would hardly be a person who says they enjoy it. What most people don’t realise is that many animals also die as by-products of the dairy/egg industry, animal testing, tourism and entertainment.
2. Environment: Animal agriculture is one of the biggest causes of:
- Carbon emissions
- Deforestation to graze cattle or to grow soya beans to feed animals
- Water pollution due to pesticides and animal manure run off from farms
- Water use – it takes a huge amount of water to keep animals alive
- With the news of the recent UN report that we need to cap the earth’s rising temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees, recommendations are that people cut their meat and dairy consumption to help combat climate change.
3. Health: Vegans are less likely to have diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers and many will say they have improved sleep, skin and energy levels. There are great scientifically backed websites such as The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (https://www.pcrm.org/) and also Dr Michael Greger, the author behind the book, How Not To Die. (https://nutritionfacts.org/ ) - both have infinite resources on why a vegan diet can be beneficial to human health.
4. Religion: While you can find vegans of all faiths across the planet, the only religion that requires complete vegetarianism or veganism is Jainism. Other ancient Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism also have scriptures and religious authorities that do encourage veganism but it’s not observed by most although a large majority of Hindus are vegetarian. The Christian Seventh Day Adventists promote a vegetarian diet but this is based more on healthy living, rather than the ethics of animal killing and the concept of ahimsa (non-violence).
What you can do to celebrate World Vegan Day in Sri Lanka?
- Take a pledge to go vegan for the day/week/month
- Have a potluck where each person brings a delicious plant-based meal to share.
- Watch an animal documentary online such as Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, What the Health or Cowspiracy.
- Visit one of the vegan cafes around Sri Lanka and enjoy a burger, pizza, even brownies – you’ll find a detailed list on where to get the best eats on the Happy Cow restaurant guide website.
- Donate to an animal welfare-based organisation or even better, volunteer at a shelter!
Mirror for Hope spoke to some vegans in Sri Lanka to find out what World Vegan Day means to them.
Arjuna De Silva - “Spreading compassion and being harmless towards all living beings - living a guilt free life means everything to me”
Meredith Tanner – “For me, it’s a celebration. A chance to gather and connect with other vegans, celebrating our beautiful lifestyle, while also sharing with non-vegans how delicious and amazing veganism truly is. Becoming vegan absolutely transformed my life, and to share and celebrate this transformation with others is very special to me”
Margriet Hospers – “World Vegan Day for me is about highlighting how to approach all aspects of life holistically. From the earth we walk on to how we live using that same soil.”
Deebika Sh “World Vegan Day is to celebrate compassion and love towards fellow beings, animals and the Earth and to encourage a cruelty free lifestyle.”
Mariette Hathor – “Compassion towards my own body and nurturing my presence on Earth. Compassion towards all around me, fellow humans, animals and creatures and Mother Earth who gives life to all”.