1st Nov 2021 |
It’s amazing how things we don’t bat an eyelid at today were once regarded as oddball or the preserve of the wealthy.
Duvets instead of blankets, showers instead of baths and 50-inch flat screen TVs rather than the temperamental box with just four channels in the corner of the room.
Having a ‘V’ sign on food labelling may have been viewed very differently ‘back in the day’ but now we all know that V stands for Vegan and it’s fair to say it is commonplace in 2021.
So much so that there are now two months of the year dedicated to the practice. Veganuary, which suggests the new year is perfect for a new diet, and November which marks World Vegan Month, starting with World Vegan Day on November 1.
It wasn’t always like this. The Vegan Society was formed at The Attic Club in Holborn, London in November 1944 at a meeting of just six people.
An offshoot of the vegetarian society it catered for people who eschewed not only meat, but also eggs and dairy products from their diet.
They saw this as a natural progression for a lifestyle which did not, as they termed it, “exploit” animals and founding member, Donald Watson, is said to have come up with the term Vegan as “the beginning and end of vegetarian”.
Life as a vegan wasn’t easy. As “Ripened by Human Determination”, the history of The Vegan Society records, Britain was subject to rationing and requests to the War Office to allow a fat ration suitable for vegans as an alternative to butter and lard rations was rejected.
You could register for vegetarian rations, but they were of no use to vegans as they were entirely animal foods such as an additional egg per week and 12oz of cheese.
Watson’s request that vegans be given additional lentils and dried fruits in place of the meat, cheese, milk and egg coupons that they did not use fell on deaf ears.
Now there are an estimated 600,000 vegans in Britain alone, with Vegan options available in many cafes, schools, and workplaces.
Our grab and go pots or many of our soups you will find on supermarket shelves are testimony to the rise in the number – and quality – of plant-based options available to consumers, often purchased on taste preference alone as much as ethical or health beliefs.
How ironic that today, 77 years on from when the War office refused to grant rations for followers of a vegan diet, the Government now recommends everyone eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to reduce certain diet related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
And no-one would argue we’re better for it!