The History of World Vegan Day

With World Vegan Day on the horizon (Thursday November 1st) and an increasing number of people switching to veganism, it’s a good idea to throw back to the origins of the event, the term ‘veganism’, and The Vegan Society.


What is World Vegan Day?

Around the globe, World Vegan Day is celebrated through seminars, exhibitions, public debates, and workshops. It’s a day jam-packed with opportunities for anyone wanting to adopt the vegan lifestyle, and is the perfect way for vegans to advocate their lifestyle, share ideas, sensitise friends and family on veganism’s importance, and celebrate their values.

There is no specific venue for the celebration of the event; it can be held anywhere. Multiple celebrities are known to take part in festivities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, Peter Dinklage, Bellamy Young, James Cameron, Pamela Anderson, among others.

In 1994, 50 years on from The Vegan Society’s formation, Louise Wallis (who was chair of The Vegan Society at the time), wanted to commemorate the coinage of the terms vegan and veganism, as well as the conception of The Vegan Society.


Who created The Vegan Society?

In 1944, Donald Watson and Elise Shrigley, two members of long-standing group, The Vegetarian Society UK, were dissatisfied. As well as removing meat from their diets, the two also avoided all animal-derived products. Yet, The Vegetarian Society did not authorise them to differentiate their lifestyle, which ultimately pushed the pair to co-found The Vegan Society, along with 23 other members.

Watson, aided by Shrigley, took the initiative to call a meeting of five other non-dairy vegetarians that he knew were keen to discuss their diets. The culmination of the meeting resulted in a new movement that would eventually be called the vegan lifestyle. Over the years, they clarified the definition of their vegan diet, and in 1979, it became a registered charity.

In an interview, released by Donald Watson on 11th of August 2004 he stated: “I invited my early readers to suggest a more concise word to replace non-dairy vegetarian. Some bizarre suggestions were made like dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivore,beaumangeur, and etcetera. I settled for my own word, vegan, containing the first three and last two letters of vegetarian the beginning and end of vegetarian. The word was accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary and no one has tried to improve it.”


Why November 1st?

When Wallis was considering a date for World Vegan Day, there was (and still is) mass doubt as to the exact date in November 1944 that The Vegan Society was established. With this uncertainty, and not wanting the event to coincide with Day of the Dead and Halloween, Wallis chose to go with the first day in November.


However you decide to celebrate World Vegan Day, we hope have fun!




The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.