People celebrate holidays—national, religious, and personal. We as humans have an inherent need to occasionally break the routines of daily life, set aside our usual work, and focus on having fun. With all the work to do to end the suffering of animals, should vegans celebrate? Of course we should! Celebrations serve a dual purpose of promoting our cause and being fun, motivating, and affirming.
Here’s a list of vegan celebrations. It could never be complete! If you know additional vegan celebrations, please contact AVS here, and we’ll consider adding them.
January 14: Albert Schweitzer’s Birthday
Albert Schweitzer’s legacy of compassion for all beings is a powerful one. Schweitzer received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of "reverence for life"; he exhibited this philosophy in numerous ways, most notably through founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné in current-day Gabon. Schweitzer was also largely a vegetarian. H. Jay Dinshah quoted Schweitzer’s views on meat-eating in the book Here's Harmlessness: An Anthology of Ahimsa, "I am conscious that flesh-eating is not in accordance with the finer feelings, and I abstain from it whenever I can." Like Dinshah, Schweitzer recognized the energetic connection between violence inflicted upon humans by humans and violence inflicted upon animals by humans, stating “Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Celebrate Albert Schweitzer’s birthday by educating your friends, family, and colleagues about this important leader’s life and legacy, cooking delicious vegan food and opening your home to share it, or reading one of the many publications authored by this great man. An annotated bibliography of his works is available at SchweitzerFellowship.org.
January 31: Vegetarian History Day
This is the birthday of Rynn Berry, an expert on the historical roots of the vegetarian/vegan movement, who dedicated his life to educating others about veganism and its roots. He authored five books—The New Vegetarians, Famous Vegetarians, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism and the World’s Religions, Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover, and The Vegan Guide to New York City. Rynn coauthored a sixth book—Becoming Raw, with vegan nutritionists Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis. Rynn’s articles have appeared in numerous well-respected journals and magazines. Vegetarian History Day was proposed by Jerrylin Halbert, a good friend of Rynn’s and a leader of Vegan World Radio, a program broadcast out of Houston Texas that reports on the vegan movement from many angles. Four Rynn videos are on American Vegan Society YouTube channel.
February: Vegan Cuisine Month
A celebration of vegan food, its history and its future. Complete information on our Vegan Cuisine Month page, inspiration for vegan events, ideas to get vegan cuisine on the menu at more locations, and the honorees. Click here.
March 20: Meatout Day
Meatout Day was created by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) and has been celebrated worldwide since 1985. Participate in Meatout Day by helping those around you to evolve toward a wholesome, compassionate plant-based diet. The Meatout website can direct you towards positive actions you can take in your community on Meatout Day, including how to help others pledge to be vegan for a day, how to find and participate in a Meatout event in your area, and resources to help you organize your own Meatout information table. Learn more at Meatout.org.
April 22: Vegan Earth Day
This is also “regular” Earth Day, but the good folks at FARM take this opportunity to educate the public about the environmental benefits of veganism. Few people realize that animal agriculture contributes more to climate change than all other greenhouse gas-producing activities combined. Participate in Vegan Earth Day by informing yourself, friends, family, and colleagues on the environmental benefits of veganism, and the environmental cost of consuming animal products. FARM has an excellent educational web resource for greening your diet and organizing events. GreenYourDiet.org
May 4: International Respect for Chickens Day
Launched by United Poultry Concerns in 2005, this day celebrates chickens throughout the world and protests their suffering and abuse. Ways to participate in this important day include holding an office party or a classroom celebration; leafleting on a busy street corner; writing a letter to the editor; phoning a radio show; tabling at a local church, shopping mall, or community festival; creating a library display; hosting a delicious vegan open house; writing an informative blog post; visiting an animal sanctuary; or simply talking to family and friends about chickens. UPC-online.org
October 1: World Vegetarian Day
and the start of Vegetarian Awareness Month The North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) created and promotes both World Vegetarian Day and Vegetarian Awareness Month. This day and month are all about informing others of the benefits of vegetarianism, including benefits to our health, to animals, and to the environment. Participate by displaying NAVS’ free, colorful, informative posters in your community—your local store, office, coffee shop, library, or school. This is a great time to start discussions about benefits of vegetarianism with the people in your life. WorldVegetarianDay.org
October 2: International Day of Nonviolence, World Day for Farmed Animals, and Ahimsa Day
October 2 is a wonderful opportunity to spread the message of nonviolence towards all living beings. Let the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi guide you: "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” The United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2007 commemorates Gandhi’s birthday as International Day of Nonviolence to disseminate the message of nonviolence through education and public awareness. Jains declared this day as Ahimsa Day in 2002 to bring attention to the concept of nonviolence. Declared World Day for Farmed Animals by FARM in 1983 it’s dedicated to exposing the needless suffering and death of sentient animals for food. Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” UN.org/en/events/nonviolenceday jaina.org DayForAnimals.org
October 4: The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Many churches in the United States, especially Catholic, celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St. Francis, who was born in the twelfth century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. In addition to his love for animals and nature, St. Francis is remembered for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to minister to lepers. Many people honor the animals in their lives by bringing their pets or photos of their pets to church for the “Blessing of the Animals.” St. Francis would be saddened by the state of most animals on this planet. This holiday presents a wonderful opportunity to remind people that pets are not the only animals in their lives, and that all animals are sentient beings, just like dogs, cats, and humans. Church-going vegans can bring photographs of the cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals to be blessed along with the usual dogs, cats, and fish.
November 1: World Vegan Day and the start of World Vegan Month
Based in the U.K., The Vegan Society created and promotes both World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month. World Vegan Day as November 1 was chosen in 1994 by Louise Wallis who was president of The Vegan Society to celebrate their founding as the world’s first vegan society fifty years earlier in November 1944. The word "vegan" was coined by the founder of The Vegan Society, Donald Watson, when he took the first three and last two letters of "vegetarian." These first "vegans" felt a freedom in no longer using products that were tied to the meat industry. They looked forward to a civilization that was not based on the slavery and abuse of animals. VeganSociety.com
November 2: Dynamic Harmlessness Day
This is the birthday of H. Jay Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society and lifelong proponent of the practice of ahimsa. In his words, “Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term that literally means nonharming. Until the twentieth century it was considered mainly, if not entirely, in its negative, or ‘thou shalt not,’ aspect. Mahatma Gandhi stressed the positive aspect of constructive loving action. Today we consider it in its fullest positive aspects as well as negative and explain it as ‘dynamic harmlessness.’ It means to go through life doing the least amount of harm, hurting, killing, as possible; and it means to do the most amount of helping, assisting, and benefiting of others as possible. So you see that ahimsa has two sides to it, one negative and one positive, to be understood and practiced together, in balance. This can help us determine what we should not do and what we should.” Ways to participate include encouraging your school, workplace, or community to celebrate by organizing a project such as picking up litter at a park; volunteering at an animal sanctuary; donating clothes, food, money, and/or time to aid people in unfortunate circumstances; and of course, go vegan. Read Powerful Vegan Messages and discuss it with others. More ideas for projects and inspirational quotes at: AmericanVegan.org/DHD.html
First Saturday every month: Vegan T-Shirt Day
Vegan T-Shirt Day (VTSD) is a critical-mass advocacy project for animals, people, and the planet. Conceived by biologist/author Jonathan Balcombe, VTSD involves displaying your vegan/pro-animal message prominently (t-shirt, bumper sticker, hat, etc.). As participation grows, the power of the movement will become visibly apparent to all. If you like this idea, wear it and share it! Join the VTSD FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/VeganTshirtDay. The first Saturday is the “official” VTSD; no restrictions apply for other days!