Everyone Can Celebrate Vegan Progress

Today, vegan is a familiar word. Chances are you know someone who is vegan, and you may have even considered going vegan yourself. Restaurants in many areas of the U.S. have vegan options, and some have a special vegan menu. Grocery stores and supermarkets have increased their vegan food; especially introducing customers to new plant-sourced items in the dairy and meat sections. People are surprised to realize how much they already eat is vegan: fruits, vegetables, grains, and more. Ethnic foods such as tofu and hummus have become popular as well.

However, this is not how things have always been, and is not everywhere now. Only a few decades ago, vegan food and living were considered extreme and inadequate. People approached them with apprehension. 

The Seventh-day Adventists, a religious group founded in the 19th century, are known for encouraging a vegetarian diet. They pioneered health food stores, introduced and marketed foods such as soy milk and grain/legume/nut savories, wrote cookbooks, and have a history of running lifestyle centers for health restoration. When a series of studies were conducted on the Adventists in the late 20th century, it was found that their rates of various cancers and other ailments were significantly lower than the general population. They also enjoyed greater longevity.

This is just one example of people who paved the way to where vegans are today. The rise and acceptance of all things vegan was ushered in by various individuals, now remembered as vegan heroes, who started vegan businesses, developed vegan recipes, studied the nutrition, and sold vegan food. 

The range and stature of vegan cuisine has advanced tremendously through the years by the efforts of many people who must be honored. Let’s celebrate their accomplishments,” says American Vegan Society President Freya Dinshah who wrote The Vegan Kitchen (1965), the first vegan cookbook in the U.S.

February as Vegan Cuisine Month spotlights vegan heroes. Daily honorees include:

Feb 2- Pietro Rotondi wrote Vegetarian Cookery 1942; he hosted Los Angeles dinners and drew a cast of characters.

Feb 3- Dr. J. A. Scharffenberg & Seventh-day Adventists hosted disease-prevention cooking classes since the 1960s.

Feb 7- Louise Hagler et al. wrote The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook in 1975 and Tofu Cookery in 1983. Also celebrate the work of The Farm Community in Tennessee.

Feb 17- Vegan Registered Dieticians established adequacy and benefits of vegan nutrition: George Eisman wrote A Guide to Vegan Nutrition in 2015, Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis Becoming Vegan in 2013. 

Feb 21- East Coast Restaurateurs, vegan fine-dining innovators: Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza, Candle Café 1995 NYC; Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, Vedge 2011 Philadelphia

Feb 22- Food developers: Tal Ronnen (chef – Crossroads Kitchen since 2013, consultant to Gardein from 2006-2010, cofounded Kite Hill 2010), Miyoko Schinner (founded Miyoko’s Creamery 2014) 

Feb 29- Seth Tibbott is the founder of Tofurky, an international vegan food company in operation since 1980.

To celebrate Vegan Cuisine Month, eat more vegan meals and support vegan businesses. Doing so can benefit you and your health. You’ll save animals’ lives, and vegan food has a less harmful impact on the environment. You may just inspire others in the process. For more information, resources, and all the February vegan heroes, visit the Vegan Cuisine Month page.