Veganism is nothing new. While the term was coined relatively recently (in 1944), the idea has been around for at least 25 centuries — from Jainism’s “ahimsa”, to Pythagoras of Ancient Greece, to Leonardo Di Vinci of 15th Century Florence.
As an American example, yesterday was Amos Bronson Alcott’s birthday. Born in 1799 in Connecticut, Alcott was a teacher and philosopher who advocated for veganism (before the term was coined). He was also an abolitionist who opposed human slavery and a strong proponent for women’s rights. He was concerned with ecological sustainability as well, long before the modern environmental movement.
What an inspiration that Alcott and so many others throughout history have recognized the importance of nonviolence, social justice, and sustainable living.
Veganism is not (yet) the majority paradigm, but its foundation has been laid over millennia. And, as Philip Wollen aptly noted in a powerful speech quoting Victor Hugo, there’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
(For more on the history of animal advocacy, check out The Vegan Option podcast and blog. It’s an excellent project that explores the animal movement from prehistory to present.)