0

Your Cart is Empty

History of Veganism

July 17, 2019 1 Comment

History of Veganism-Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

Ancient Historic Vegans

Veganism is a step further from vegetarianism and although the term was coined in 1944 by the Vegan Society during its 50th anniversary, it has a long history in the Mediterranean and Indian societies. Around 500 BC, Pythagoras of Samos promoted equality between all beings including humans and animals. He shunned harming animals and along with the mythical poet Orpheus, also abstained from eggs. Apollonius of Tyana shared these strong views on animal rights and the Greek philosopher Plotinus even eschewed medicines made from animals. 

According to theNew York Times,  Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism followers also believe that humans should not inflict pain on animals are living beings. An early Jain called Parsva 877-777 BCE taught followers about Ahimsa, one of the cornerstone beliefs meaning non-violence to living forms.

Jain monks often carry brushes to sweep the ground in front of them in order to avoid accidentally crushing insects when they walk. The practice of wearing muslin cloths over their mouths in case they swallow any insects is also observed.

Other notable vegan-leaning leaders include the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten who banned animal sacrifice because he thought it was sinful to take away any given life by the Aten god. Taoism and Chinese Buddhism in the late 4th century stipulated that their monks and nuns were to eat an egg-free vegetarian diet and the Japanese Emperor Tenmu banned the use of all livestock.

World Vegan Day

November 1 is World Vegan Day, a celebration of people who don’t eat meat, eggs, cheese, mayonnaise, honey or gelatin. Anything that comes from or includes an animal. AT first what may seem like an extreme position actually makes sense for a lot of people today. We are in a time where most of the population does not need to hunt for their food and instead can use technology and tools for growing a plant-based diet.

In November 1944, a British woodworker named Donald Watson announced that because vegetarians eat dairy and eggs, he decided to create a new term called “vegan,” to describe those who avoided such ingredients. During this time, Tuberculosis had been found in 40% of Britain’s dairy cows, and Watson used this to his persuasive advantage. Watson decided to become a vegan after he saw and heard the death of a pig on his uncle’s farm. “I decided that farms, and uncles, had to be reassessed”.  Watson predicted that at his funeral “there’ll be a smattering of people but there’ll be the spirits of all the animals I’ve never eaten. In that case, it’ll be a big funeral”.

By the time Watson died at age 95 in 2005, there were 250,000 self-identifying vegans in Britain and 2 million in the U.S. Thom Yorke, Moby and Woody Harrelson are just a handful of the celebrities now propounding the vegan lifestyle. Morrissey has even campaigned for General Motors to make vegan leather for car interiors. Whether you think it’s just a fad or that it has defensibly firm roots deep in human history, the first vegans certainly weren’t the last.

Our Prehistoric Roots

According to the Independent, Archaeologist Dr Richard Leakey says our prehistoric ancestors started off on a plant-based diet. “You can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand, and we wouldn’t have been able to deal with the food sources that required those large canines”.

This theory suggests that we turned to animal flesh out of necessity when there were shortages of our nut, seed and wild cereal staples. Hominins are considered to be opportunistic scavengers of meat where they could find it while relying on plant-based diets. Even in the Neolithic as early farmers, diets were still largely plant-based with meat as an occasional feasting food.

Biology professor Robert Dunn argues this is correlated by our closest related living primates, chimpanzees, for whom meat is a rare treat if eaten at all. This substantiates the claim of plant-based digestion dictating the last 30 million years of gut evolution.

Social Injustice to Animals

Historian Dr Catherine Oliver suggests that 18th Century philosopher Jeremy Bentham is the earliest notable proponent of likening animal suffering to that of humans: “The question is not ‘can they reason?’ Nor, ‘can they talk?’ But, ‘can they suffer?’ Dr Oliver told The Independent that veganism today is being increasingly situated “not as a diet but as a social justice issue”. 

The term “veganism” itself, however, was coined much more recently. In 1944, carpenter Donald Watson and his wife Dot invented the word to mark the “beginning and end of vegetarianism”. Watson decided to become a vegan after he saw and heard the death of a pig on his uncle’s farm.

“I decided that farms, and uncles, had to be reassessed”.  Watson lived to the age of 95 and predicted that at his funeral “there’ll be a smattering of people but there’ll be the spirits of all the animals I’ve never eaten. In that case, it’ll be a big funeral”.

Celebrity Advocates

Thom Yorke, Moby and Woody Harrelson are just a handful of celebrities now advocates of the vegan lifestyle. Morrissey has even campaigned for General Motors to make vegan leather for car interiors. Whether you think it’s just a fad or that it has defensibly firm roots deep in human history, the first vegans certainly weren’t the last.


1 Response

Jean Larsson
Jean Larsson

August 01, 2019

I had the pleasure to know, personally, Donald Watson. He lived in my home town Keswick in the English Lake District. He was a woodwork teacher. He enjoyed walking in the beautiful countryside and climbing the mountains. He coined the word “vegan” by taking the first 3 and last 2 letters from “vegetarian”.

Leave a comment


Also in Leafy Souls' Vegan Blog

are all vegans alike?
Are All Vegans Alike?

August 25, 2019

Vegan can be taboo in some contexts. Conversations about it often create conflict and contort meanings. A lot of people argue about what veganism is when it isn’t really that important. 
Read More
ACCEPTANCE OF VEGANISM
Acceptance of Veganism

August 24, 2019

Veganism is growing. The more news the world sees how we are destroying the planet and the solutions that need to be implemented, the more the world is turning vegan. There are your die-hard environmentalists who easily turned to veganism once given a good reason,
Read More
HOW TO BECOME A VEGAN
How To Become a Vegan?

August 24, 2019

When you go vegan, you change so much of your consumer lifestyle. You have to save up your money and wait to find that perfect item or bit of food that you can’t live without - hopefully manufactured animal and eco-friendly. 
Read More

be a part of the leafy souls community

Sizing Guide

In this guide you can see the detailed sizing charts to all our products

Unisex Tshirts

S M L XL 2XL 3XL 4XL 5XL
Width, in 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33
Length, in 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
Sleeve length, in 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11

 

S M L XL 2XL 3XL 4XL 5XL
Width, cm 47 52.1 57.2 62.2 67.3 72.4 77.5 82.6
Length, cm 72.4 74.9 77.5 80 82.6 85.1 87.6 90.2
Sleeve length, cm 18.4 19.7 20.9 22.2 23.5 24.8 26 27.3

 

Women's Tees:

S M L XL 2XL
Width, in 17 18 19 20 22
Length, in 26 26 27 28 28
Sleeve length, in 7 8 8 8 8

 

 

S M L XL 2XL
Width, cm 41.2 43.8 46.3 50.2 54
Length, cm 64.4 66 67.6 69.2 70.8
Sleeve length, cm 17.3 17.9 18.5 19.1 19.7

 

Hoodies:

  

S M L XL 2XL 3XL 4XL 5XL
Sleeve length, in 25 25 25 25 25 25 27 27
Length, in 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Width, in 20 23 24 26 28 30 33 34

 

S M L XL 2XL 3XL 4XL 5XL
Sleeve length, cm 62.9 62.9 62.9 62.9 62.9 62.9 67.9 67.9
Length, cm 68.5 71.1 73.6 76.2 78.7 81.2 83.8 86.3
Width, cm 50.8 55.9 60.9 66 71.1 76.2 81.3 86.3