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Veganism history: Looking back, how did it change over time?

Today, being Vegetarian has been very popular among us, as people continue to consume the world's resources at a rapid pace. More and more people around the world continue to transit into a plant based diet in hopes of doing good for the planet and its inhabitants, staying healthy, and fighting for animal cruelty. By being vegetarian, we can stop our consumption of animal products and prevent rapid depletion of the Earth’s resources, slow down the effect of climate change, and protect our planet for many future generations. Some of you may be wondering, how did these vegetarian and vegan diets even become such a popular thing today? I got you covered. This article contains a pretty brief analysis and explanation of veganism in the past, and how it has evolved over the years.

Vegetarianism could be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation in 3300-1300 BCE in the Indian subcontinent. Most of the early vegetarians usually included Indian and Greek philosophers. The term veganism was first introduced by Greek Philosopher Pythagoras in around 500 BCE. Pythagoras adapted to an early form of strict vegetarianism, and people who followed him were prohibited from eating beans, and from wearing any clothing that was made from an animal, such as wool garments. He promoted compassion among all species, including humans. Many other followers of religion such as Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, decided to advocate veganism, and believed that humans shouldn't inflict pain on other animals.

The first society of vegetarians was first formed in 1847 in England. A number of groups in Britain actively promoted and followed meat free diets, with most of the groups in the society were members of the Bible Christian Church. Three years later, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, then co-founded the American Vegetarian Society. A diet called the meatless Graham diet, which consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, water, and bread made from stone ground flour, became a popular remedy for health in the United States. In November 1944, animal rights advocate Donald Watson announced that because vegetarians ate dairy and eggs, he was going to make a new term called vegan, to express people who didn't, as dairy and eggs were also a form of animal products.

Veganism was finally established in the 19th century as a movement in Britain and the United States. Some vegetarians in that era began to avoid animal products in their entirety. William Lambe, a London physician, adapted to a plant based diet as a result of health problems. He stated that a water and vegetable diet was enough to cure anything from tuberculosis to acne. Lambe also called animal food an irritation and argued that milk and flesh eating are branches that must stand or fall together.

Looking back at the history of veganism, it shows the path of what actions people have taken to do good for the future of the environment and the next generations. Many people around the world continue to become vegetarian and vegan in hopes of the benefits for their own health, the planet, and animals. We must fight to protect our world and to do what is best for it.

Written by Bruce Chan

Edited by Cissy So


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