World Vegan Day

World Vegan Day is celebrated on the 1st November every year and introduces World Vegan Month, which spans the whole of November. The day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, animal rights activist and former president of the Vegan Society, an organisation founded in 1944 that seeks to encourage vegan lifestyles. The goal of the annual celebration is to draw attention to the advantages of veganism for personal (health) and moral (concerns about global warming and animal welfare) reasons.

Examples of MDPI articles that go into depth about some of the topics discussed in this article include Modelling Attitude towards Consumption of Vegan Products in Sustainability; Vegetarianism/Veganism: A Way to Feel Good in Sustainability; and Dietary Change Scenarios and Implications for Environmental, Nutrition, Human Health and Economic Dimensions of Food Sustainability in Nutrients.

Over the last ten years, the UK has reduced its meat consumption by 17%, as what began as a dieting fad has now evolved into a very real and accessible lifestyle choice, with an increasing number of mainstream food outlets, including popular fast-food chains, introducing vegan options to their menus. UK supermarkets have also launched fully vegan ranges to encourage customers to regularly swap out conventional meat products; however, many of these options are more expensive than their meat-based alternatives, making some plant-based choices unsustainable for many—an obstacle that must be overcome if meat consumption reduction is to surpass its current percentage.

The urgency of the climate crisis spotlights the negative impacts of human activity, and reducing animal product consumption can be just one of the mindful ways in which we can protect the planet from further damage. The meat, fish, egg, and dairy industries are contributors to the Earth’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, water footprint, deforestation, water pollution, and wildlife destruction. According to PETA, a fully vegan diet can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73% and water footprint by almost 60%.

As well as its positive environmental impact, going vegan can also be beneficial to human health. Eating a more nutrient-rich plant-based diet reduces the risk of health issues that have been reported to result from the excessive consumption of proteins and fats from animals—such as obesity and heart disease—and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

An interesting innovation within the last decade has been the work conducted on cultured meat, which is created by taking in vitro cell cultures from the cells of animals and growing them in a lab. The resulting food product resembles regular meat in every aspect at the cellular level, but sidesteps the need for abattoirs. More information on cultured meat can be found in Immortalizing Cells for Human Consumption in IJMS.

Ways in which you can take part in World Vegan Month include trying new vegan recipes or sticking to a vegan diet 1 or 2 days a week, if you normally consume animal products every day.