When Is World Vegan Day? 
For all your planning purposes, World Vegan Day 2021 is November 1st. Wait, World Vegan Day is a holiday? I know, I know, everything is a holiday these days, but celebrating Vegan Day 2021 is actually kind of important! When veganism, sustainable lifestyles, and a plant-based focus can literally change the world, it’s worth a little attention.
I’ve got all the details on how this even became a holiday and how to find ways to celebrate! Pull up your favorite sustainable fashion blogs, put on your hemp bra, and brush up on organic cotton vs cotton, cuz we’re celebrating Vegan Day together!
WHAT IS WORLD VEGAN DAY?
It’s a day that both celebrates and draws attention to veganism and the vegan movement. Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, and even diehard meat-eaters can celebrate Vegan Day—we all can embrace the holiday.
It first started in 1994, established by Louise Wallis, the chair of The Vegan Society in the United Kingdom. Although the holiday celebrates the vegan movement in general, World Vegan Day was actually in honor of The Vegan Society’s 50th anniversary.
WHAT IS THE VEGAN MOVEMENT & VEGAN SOCIETY?
Believe it or not, veganism has some seriously deep roots, dating back to WWII and beyond. The founders of the vegan movement, Donald Watson and Elsie Shrigley, were involved in England’s oldest and still-functioning society: The Vegetarian Society. I know—how surprising that this is the oldest society in a very old country!
But because Donald and Elsie wanted to cut out other animal products from their diet—and The Vegetarian Society wouldn’t allow them to differentiate their lifestyle—they started The Vegan Society.
In November 1944, the word “vegan” came to be, initially identifying vegetarians who didn’t consume dairy products. Fun fact: “vegan” was just one option for the name. Others included:
- Non-dairy vegetarian
In the end, Donald and Elsie decided to take the first three letters of “vegetarian” and combine them with the last two letters. And so, veg+an = vegan!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE VEGAN?
Today, World Vegan Day (also known as National Vegan Day) celebrates veganism, which has evolved since 1944. Actually, veganism’s true origins go back over 2,000 years! Both the Greek philosopher Pythagoras and Buddha promoted diets that avoided animal products around 500 BCE. And in 1806 CE, two Europeans, Dr. William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley, publicly objected to eating eggs and dairy.
The first definition of veganism stated a goal “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.” That goes far beyond just not eating meat and animal byproducts, which is why it’s important to look beyond your diet if you want to embrace veganism.
In 1988, the definition expanded, focusing on avoiding exploitation and harm to animals within two categories: diet and lifestyle. So, being vegan means eating a plant-based diet, wearing affordable ethical clothing and embracing the minimalist clothing lifestyle, and paying attention to your overall carbon footprint.
CAN YOU CELEBRATE WORLD VEGAN DAY EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT A VEGAN?
Full transparency: I don’t fall into the above definition of veganism. Sure, I don’t eat meat or eggs, but I still eat honey, I wear shoes with leather, and my cat loves fish. But that doesn’t mean that I, or anyone who isn’t vegan, can’t embrace and celebrate Vegan Day! It’s equally important to bring attention to the movement as a whole.
Here’s something I found interesting about veganism in the US:
- Only 1% to 2% of Americans are vegan.
- Only about 5% of Americans are vegetarian.
- The plant-based food industry is worth $3.3 billion.
Wait. How can the plant-based industry be worth so much, but less than 10% of our population eats a vegetarian or vegan diet? That’s because it’s okay to dabble! If you love a good burger, of course, the plant-based burgers are marketed to you, right? It’s totally okay if you’re not a strict vegan—you’re still doing your part!
BABY STEPS TO A VEGAN-LIKE LIFESTYLE
Have you come across this quote by Anne Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef? She says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” So don’t beat yourself up if you eat a beef burger one week and a plant-based burger another. It’s all about baby steps!
When I first altered my lifestyle, I took it one thing at a time. It’s how I knew I would be successful. Here’s how I progressed:
- Cut out certain meats. To start, I decided to cut out meat that I didn’t enjoy, so I only ate chicken and seafood. I never really liked beef, pork, or other meats, anyway.
- Cut out all the meat at home. This was really helpful! I didn’t ever eat meat at home but allowed myself to splurge if I went out for a meal. Eventually, my tastebuds evolved, and now I don’t crave meat at all.
- Cut out eggs. This one was both challenging and easy for me. I used to eat eggs for breakfast or put hard-boiled eggs on a salad for protein. But after researching, I learned too much about eggs to ever have an appetite for them! So although they were a big part of my diet, it was easy to cut them out in the end.
- Cut out dairy (as much as possible). I’m getting vulnerable with you here. I. Love. Cheese. I’m so sorry, but I do! I know it’s like the worst of the dairies, but fresh burrata, anyone? I still eat it occasionally, but I’m eliminating it with baby steps and imperfectly, as Anne Marie Bonneau suggests.
All of that to say, you can do it, too! Focus on what you want to change (diet, clothing, home products, lifestyle, transportation) and make small changes little by little. Break it down like I did above and embrace the imperfectness. I still have a ways to go, but even my small contributions are adding up. And imagine if millions of people do the same!
HOW TO CELEBRATE WORLD VEGAN DAY
Okay, so now that you know a bit about World Vegan Day (aka National Vegan Day), and you have permission to celebrate even if you’re an imperfect vegan, how should you honor this day? Here are a few ways you can celebrate Vegan Day alone or with your community.
1. SHOP SUSTAINABLE FASHION
If you love to shop, read about the environmental and humanitarian effects of the fashion industry. Many focus on fast fashion, but the industry as a whole is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s more than maritime shipping and international travel COMBINED.
Instead, embrace slow fashion and shop brands that offer sustainable fabrics, use low impact dyes, and focus on eco-friendly materials like hemp. National Vegan Day is a great day to update your wardrobe with vegan clothing brands and vow to reduce your fashion ecological footprint.
If you need new undies, WAMA offers breathable underwear and embraces hemp clothing benefits. Hemp is one of the strongest materials, requires almost no water (typically just rainwater), is naturally pest-resistant, and actually strengthens the soil around it. It’s great for your netherregions and the environment!
2. LEARN SOME NEW RECIPES
A huge part about Vegan Day 2021 and veganism is not eating meat or animal byproducts. With the interwebs at your fingertips, there are so many vegan and plant-based recipes that are way better than their animal-based alternatives.
There are several ways to discover new recipes for World Vegan Day. My go-to’s include:
- Online Blogs. I know the internet loves to joke about how long it takes to get to an actual recipe, but if you have the patience to scroll, you can find some seriously delicious creations on blogs. Everyone is different, so peruse and decide who/what you like the most! A few of my favs are The Happy Pear, Ela Vegan, and The Minimalist Vegan.
- Social Media. If pictures are more your thing, scour social media instead! Instagram or Pinterest is perfect for visuals, but Tik Tok is slowly becoming the place for quick-and-easy recipes. You’ll also find many vegan hacks on social media.
- Books. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned cookbook does the trick. You’ll find many vegan and plant-based books, and you can get most of them in online-reader format.
- Forums. Forums are a blend of blogs and socials. You get a little of both but with people’s opinions, advice, and reviews. Facebook has tons of groups you can join, or you can peruse Reddit.
3. BECOME AN ADVOCATE
Let’s be honest, veganism doesn't exactly have the best reputation. Vegans are often seen as elitists and a lifestyle borne out of privilege—not everyone has the luxury of picking and choosing their diets, and many see veganism as expensive.
Sure, if you’re only buying vegan alternatives to conventional products, then, yes, it’s expensive. But if you stick to plant-based products like produce, legumes, and cereals, a vegan diet can actually be more affordable.
Advocacy tackles the problem of misinformation well. You’re helping spread accurate information, bust myths, and expose ways to embrace veganism no matter who you are. The more mainstream plant-based diets become, the more accessible and affordable they will be! And, remember the power of millions to do it imperfectly.
SO, WHEN IS WORLD VEGAN DAY?
A few takeaways:
- World Vegan Day 2021 (National Vegan Day) is November 1st.
- It was founded in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Vegan Society.
- Veganism is not just about diet—it’s about avoiding the exploitation of animals in any form.
- You can celebrate by supporting sustainable and vegan brands, trying new vegan and plant-based recipes, and advocating.
Whether you’re vegan or not, you can celebrate Vegan Day 2021! Don’t worry if you still eat cheese sometimes (guilty). Just embrace the imperfectness and work toward your vegan and plant-based goals step-by-step.
How will you celebrate World Vegan Day 2021? Lemme know in the comments!