Tomorrow (November 1, 2007) is World Vegan Day. The event, sponsored by the UK-based Vegan Society and other international vegan groups, is designed to promote the vegan lifestyle and raise the profile of veganism.
A number of vegan organizations internationally are planning various events in and around World Vegan Day tomorrow. The celebration actually began on October 27, and will go until November 4. This week-long series of events has been deemed National Vegan Week to encourage countries throughout the world to hold their own week-long national celebrations as well as participate in the international World Vegan Day. (You can review a list of World Vegan Day Events here. You can see what actions the organizers are asking people to take here. These actions include signing a World Vegan Day petition and poll.)
Not only is there World Vegan Day and National Vegan Week, but the entire month of November is being celebrated as Vegan Month, sponsored and promoted by the UK-based Vegan Society. Read all about Vegan Month and the various actions and activities planned for November by the Vegan Society here.
Numerous vegan food producers, retailers and others will be celebrating World Vegan Day and Vegan Month by holding promotions and other events.
One company that's going vegan in a big way for the international event is UK-based natural health and beauty care and cosmetics company Lush. Although all Lush products aren't vegan, all are made using vegetarian ingredients. Most of the wildly successful natural product company's health, beauty and other products are suitable for use by vegans, the company says, and Lush was recently licensed to use The Vegan Society logo on all their Lush and B brand natural products. These products also are animal cruelty-free.
For World Vegan day Lush and its employees are going all out. All staff members plan on adopting a vegan diet for the day, even the meat-eaters among them. Many of the staffers will dress for the day in giant vegetable costumes (November 1 is the day after Halloween as well, so its a nice tie-in) at their workplaces.
One food event of note, a food fair in London, England on November 17, is designed to introduce non-vegans to the variety and quality of vegan foods available. The food fair is sponsored by the Vegan Society and numerous vegan food companies, retailers and restaurants, such as Natural Balance Foods, Soy Foods Ltd., Zedz Foods, Rosie's Products, Oasis Natural Foods Products, Pogo Cafe, Food For Thought, and dozens of others. You can read more about the food fair and the sponsors here. The event will feature prepared foods from these sponsors as well as displays of scores of products being produced by food companies using 100 percent vegan-approved ingredients.
Promoters of a vegan lifestyle, such as The Vegan Society and others, not only point to the health benefits of eating vegan but also to its Green benefits. Among the Green benefits of a vegan lifestyle, they point to the fact that it takes much less land to produce vegetables than it does to produce animals for meat.
Vegans also argue that veganism is more environmentally sustainable than a meat-based lifestyle; that its much "greener" to grow plants for food than to produce them for animal feed; that growing plants to eat rather than feed to animals conserves water, reduces energy consumption and results in less carbon released into the environment, among other environmental benefits. Vegans also believe raising and killing animals for food is cruel. (Read more here about the positive health and environmental arguments vegan groups make. Read more here about the Vegan Society's point of view about animals, veganism and the environment.)
Research: The Vegetarian and Vegan Market
A survey done a couple years ago by market researcher Mintel predicted the retail market for vegetarian foods (those foods that directly replace meat or other animal products) would nearly double by this year (2007) from 2003. Sales in 2002 were about $1.5 billion annually and Mintel projects vegetarian category food sales to be about $2.8 to $3 billion by the end of 2007. Based on current category sales figures the market looks like it should end-up at about $3 billion in annual sales by year-end.
There is a difference between vegetarians and vegans. Vegans don't consume any fish, dairy, eggs or honey in addition to not eating meat or poultry. Vegetarians, on the other hand, can eat these products if they choose, as long as they don't eat meat, and still be called vegetarians.
Some vegetarians choose not to eat dairy, eggs or honey but don't always self-identify themselves as vegan. As such, the two classifications, vegan and vegetarian, are closely related but have qualitative differences, especially to vegans.
The Mintel survey also found that non-vegetarian and vegan consumers were turning to plant-based foods like soy and to fresh vegetables and fruits as a way to diversify their diets, which is a key factor in nearly doubling the market over this short time span.
Mintel also found grocery stores, restaurants and food manufacturers are responding to the growth in the category with new products (food manufacturers), increased shelf-space and more frequent promotions (food retailers), and additional plant-based and vegetable offerings (restaurants). In other words, both consumer demand and increased availability are fueling the category's growth. You can read a complete summary of the Mintel survey here.