Veganism can be traced back to at least 550BCE when Pythagoros talked about not eating meat, Budda also extolled the virtues of a meat free diet at the same time. Whilst there are some religions that believe in a vegetarian or vegan diet, the decision of people to take on a vegan diet purely for health or non-religious reasons has only been noticeable more recently.
It is very difficult to calculate how many vegans there are in the world but the most common estimate is around 79 million. In the USA there are almost 10 million vegans. More impressive, is that the amount of vegans as a percentage of population is growing at an astounding rate.
The actual term “Vegan” was first used in 1944 by Donald Watson. He took the word vegetarian and shortened it. He also started the first vegan movement with five other non-dairy vegetarians in the same year.
The majority of people who adhere to a vegan diet do so mainly for ethical reasons. They believe that eating meat or animal based products is cruel to animals. They therefore say that they will not eat or take advantage of anything that came from an animal. There are also some religions that believe in a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle such as Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Seventh Day Adventists and Jains.
Many people also adhere to this kind of diet for health reasons, believing that a vegan diet is more healthy. Vegans can be classified into different categories based on the way they eat: dietary vegans (plant-based diets), low-fat vegans (fruits and no high-fat foods), junk-food vegans (heavily processed vegan food, like vegan meat and desserts), raw-food vegans, and whole-food vegans (diets rich in whole grains, nuts, and fruit). (BBC)
More and more companies are rising to the challenge and are manufacturing foods for the vegetarian and vegan market. They try to make them appealing so that even those who do not keep to these diets will be drawn to the products as will people on even more restrictive diets. They also often believe that nutritionally balancing the foods to make sure that their customers are getting all the nutrients they need and also the ones that are harder to get on a vegan diet is paramount.
Teva Deli, based in Israel, which has the highest concentration of vegans in the world, has jumped to the challenge of creating vegan food that is not compromised in any way. They believe that just because a person is vegan, does not mean that they should do without good food just like everyone else. They create many high quality, meat alternatives that try to replicate the taste and texture of meat and provide all the nutrients that a vegan needs.
Veganism is on the rise and there are many kinds of vegan diets. The opportunity is being seized by companies to provide non-compromised food for the growing vegan population.