It's World Vegan Day! Did you even know it existed? Well, it has for 24 years and I've had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Louise Wallis, activist, former restaurateur at Karamel N22, and Chair of The Vegan Society when she founded this day of celebration, in 1994.
And we should celebrate because, according to The Telegraph, the number of vegans, in GB alone, rose by 360 percent over 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, and the last two years have seen veganism become more mainstream than ever before.
This increased exposure is partly because of the efforts of Animal Rights Activists who spend their free time promoting anti-speciesism; on the streets, online, and with family and friends. Which means more and more people have been made aware of new information and truths that have, for so long, been hidden by the animal-using industries.
I have seen this first-hand when participating in activism events and, in the last 18 months, I have encountered so many vegans, people who are knowledgeable about veganism or have vegan friends and family.
This wasn’t the case just a few years ago, when most people hadn't even heard of the word vegan! So much has changed in such a short space of time, because of just a few compassionate, dedicated people.
This shows us the huge impact activism is having, and how veganism is growing, rapidly. This is wonderful, because if we want to save the earth, harm fewer beings and be healthier, then being vegan is essential.
We can see the global growth in veganism in a huge variety of areas including food; as more plant-based options fill supermarket shelves and restaurants create vegan menus; fashion, as more designers ditch leather, wool, fur, silk and down; celebrity, as the number of outspoken vegan stars is rising; advertising, with the examples of the Oatly and Plenish campaigns, as well as the upcoming Surge campaign across TFL; and even politics, as there is more talk in Parliament of protecting the environment and the impact of meat and dairy.
Aiyana Goodfellow speaks to thousands of people at the London Animal Rights March in 2017
The general public, too, are abandoning the old, negative stereotype of vegans and, as many in society now look to celebrities as lifestyle inspirations, more people aspire to live like vegan and plant-based celebrities, including Venus and Serena Williams, Miley Cyrus, Jessica Chastain, Evanna Lynch, Joaquin Phoenix, Liam Hemsworth, Sia, Lucy Watson and David Haye, to name just a few!
Creating vegan awareness through activism is the key reason why more people are choosing to eat a plant-based diet and to live vegan. However, most of the vegans I come across are not active and are unsure how to become active.
But just as veganism is on the rise, so too is the diversity of activism events and organizations. So, if we do want to make a difference in our lifetime, we are going to have to do more, as Martin Luther King Jr said: "There is a time when silence becomes betrayal."
There may have been a time when you have done activism yourself, and not even realized. Talking, sharing information, and the like are all forms of activism and are great ways to build up your confidence before you go to an activism event.
Whether you're new to activism or have tried but not been so keen, there are a load of ways that you can stand up for animals. At least one of them would suit you and, in the unlikely event there isn't one, just create your own!
You can use your skills to do something amazing for the animals. A good thing to do is play to your strengths, because, if you are doing something you enjoy, you are more likely to do it well and with effect. Anything can be activism when you are promoting Animal Liberation.
Just because there are still many non-vegans in this society, does not change the fact that veganism is the kindest and best way to live. As Leo Tolstoy said: "Wrong does not cease to be wrong, because the majority share in it."
So…Be a rebel. Be vegan. Be a vegan activist. One day, the majority will be right. One day, the majority will be vegan.
A Vegan World: Is It Coming? It Is Coming… because WE will make it happen.
Happy World Vegan Day!