January is celebrated as Veganuary all around the world and although veganism has had a surge in popularity in recent years, it has been around as long as humans.
The actual term vegan was coined in the UK in 1944 by a man named Donald Watson, when he co-founded the Vegan Society. At first, he used it to mean 'non-dairy vegetarian', but from 1951 the Society defined it as the doctrine that [people] should live without exploiting animals.
And that is what it is – living in a way that minimises human impact on the animal world.
This doctrine extends beyond food, encompassing everything from clothes, makeup to cleaning products, travel and avoiding places where animals are used for human entertainment.
Some vegans choose to actively advocate for animals – providing a voice for the voiceless – while others simply choose to adopt a plant-based lifestyle.
Others still opt for a plant-based diet because of the proven health benefits or for its clearly positive effect on the environment. Whatever the reasons, veganism is based on compassion, for animals, the planet and for people.
Veganism has grown exponentially across the globe in recent years. While figures suggest only 1% of the global population is vegan – the number equates to a staggering 79 million people and if vegetarians and flexitarians are added in, the percentage jumps to 8% of the world population.
In the UAE, we have seen a growing trend towards plant-based eating, reflecting what is happening in the rest of the world.
There is certainly a growing awareness of the benefits and effects of a plant-based diet, with more restaurants now offering vegan menu items and groups such as Dubai Vegan Days, offering the chance to try out vegan food, meet like-minded people and learn more about what it means to be vegan.
There is also a growing number of exclusively plant-based restaurants and vegan markets and events popping up all over the UAE.
As we enter a new year, it is another chance to try out Veganuary. Every year, this growing movement encourages people to try out veganism for just a month.
As a charity, it is free to sign up and you receive recipes, inspiration and support.
The idea started in the UK in 2014, with more than half a million people pledging to go vegan for the month in 2021. Savvy brands also use Veganuary as a perfect time to introduce new products to market – with 2021 seeing some 825 new vegan products and menu options launched in Veganuary’s key campaign countries.
Ananda Shakespeare, Founder of Dubai Vegan Days
Dubai Vegan Days were launched and conceived by Ananda Shakespeare, as a way of helping people enjoy and learn more about veganism, ethical living and how to live with more compassion. Each event brings people together to enjoy good food, good company and good products and hopefully encourage fun, learning and friendship. We encourage dialogue and information-sharing around veganism but are not preaching hippies.
For more information, visit the Dubai Vegan Days Instagram and Facebook.
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