Why World Vegan Day needs your vote
‘Tis the Season to be Silly: Why World Vegan Day needs your vote
I practically choked on my muesli this time last week, when a Facebook post announced a proposal to change the date of World Vegan Day.
As the creator of World Vegan Day, this was news to me.
I established the Day in 1994 when I was Chair of the Vegan Society, then celebrating its half-centenary. What better way to celebrate 50 remarkable years than a global day of celebration? What better date than the Society’s own birthday? After all, the inaugral meeting in November 1944 was where it all started.
It still sends shivers own my spine to think of a small, determined group of like-minded souls coming together to form the Society and to name a new, kinder, and ultimately, happier way of being. In the beginning, was the Word. And the word was Vegan. Wow! The birth of a movement. This was my inspiration.
And inspiring it has been to see World Vegan Day, the annual celebration of this historic occasion, gathering momentum with each passing year. After 20 years, it’s blossomed into an internationally recognised event and feature of the media calendar. (Google it). We have reached critical mass.
So the idea that anyone would seek to change this date is baffling to me. The proposers say: “We should move this event to a summer month so that any activities and events put on by vegans can benefit from the wider variety of seasonal food, the longer days, and the much improved weather”.
But they are missing the point. As Brian Jacobs from London Vegans was quick to comment on facebook: “Shall we move Christmas to summer as well?”
World Vegan Day is not a moveable feast.
And it’s in a pretty good place right now.
Socially, November is one of the busiest and most vibrant times of the year: the start of party season. (I say this as a venue owner and DJ). Culturally it’s also a good fit. Traditionally, early November is a time for revelry, feasting, and fireworks, and for remembering the dead, which makes it all the more poignant and fitting for me. Summer may be warmer (marginally, if today is anything to go by) but as any festival-goer knows, you forget your wellies at your peril.
And besides, there is scope for more vegan days and events for those who have an inspired idea and the energy to run with it. The more the merrier. Look what VegFest has achieved.
Be creative, set up your own. (A summer music festival is something I’d love to see!) But don’t meddle with another’s vision.
The Vegan Society itself is opposed to a date change. They have issued a statement with their reasoning:
“Moving World Vegan Day (WVD) from November to June or July would not be desirable operationally nor strategically. As The Vegan Society was founded in November, probably 5th November 1944, we should stay true to our founders’ visionary approach by celebrating WVD in November. World Vegan Day and Month have been celebrated around the globe in various ways by many different organisations since its inception over 20 years ago. Its timing is such that it gains maximum publicity globally and it is not a seasonal event. Moreover, for vegan communities in the southern hemisphere the first of November is at the start of summer. They may not be keen to move it to their winter. If The Vegan Society members were to change the date, thousands of vegans’ views would effectively be ignored. The Vegan Society and vegan advocates everywhere should campaign and participate in events throughout the year and use any opportunity to promote veganism.”
As the ones who have been implementing WVD since Day One, they deserve our support and respect. Why anyone would disregard their experience and advice, is beyond me.
Many leading voices in the vegan community have said they will vote against (some have already). They include Fat Gay Vegan, Tim Barford of VegFest, Robb Masters from London Vegan Meet Up, and Kevin White – all experienced event organisers. Robb summed up the arguments against rather well I thought in one of his Facebook comments:
- It’s the anniversary of the society’s foundation.
- It would be a major snub to those vegans in the southern hemisphere. “Hey, we’re making it colder for you to make it warmer for us, as there are more of us and we don’t get enough vitamin D.”
- We’re probably better off with an event that isn’t at the same time of year as World Environment Day and World Population Day, so that it has its own distinct identity rather than getting lost, and we have more opportunities throughout the year to promote veganism.
- It’s been established for two decades so is starting to get some recognition, which would be wasted.
- With other international organisations celebrating it, it would rather arrogant for us to unilaterally move it. And would undoubtedly lead to confusion with different organisations celebrating on different days.
- Those with experience in the charities and events sector recommend against it.
- It suggests that The Vegan Society is a UK organisation rather than a global one.
Thus far, I’ve seen no comments supporting this proposal, apart from the proposers own – which suggests there isn’t a groundswell of support. But we need to make sure by voting.
So if you’re a Vegan Society member do vote, either online or in person at the AGM on 27th June. More info here.
It’s silly it has come to this. But come to this it has. If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry, right?
So let’s laugh, for Silly Season has officially arrived. (A British phenomenon that happens every summer. I kid you not – check out its Wikipedia entry.)
So in the spirit of silliness, I’ll sign off with this cautionary comedy sketch from Monty Python: the classic People’s Front. Remember, that could be you. SPLITTER!