Tel Aviv hosts first-for-world Vegan Congress, without the blood

Vegan-friendly IsraelVeganism has gone viral in Israel – the number of devotees doubling in the past two years!  With over 2% of the population off meat and dairy, it’s perfect timing for animal rights activists to join up with no-animal-product eaters at an inaugural congress of the vegan movement, held last Friday in Tel Aviv.

Vegan Friendly, a grassroots group that awards vegan-certification to Israeli dining establishments, organized the first-ever one-day event  to cap a year of public awareness-raising for the movement. Group founder, Omri Paz, said the “ongoing abuse and torture of animals” prompted the push for a gathering of advocates and activists, according to Maariv.

“The concept is to take all the activities and projects that different organizations are doing and connect them to people out there looking to be more active, and talk about the situation in Israel so that every year we can meet and talk about changes that have taken place and what we can do in the future,” Paz added.

Over 700 participants convened at Tel Aviv’s Duhl Center for a program of lectures and workshops aimed at reducing Israeli consumption of animal products.

The congress of activists aimed to encourage newcomers to embrace a no-animal-product diet, teach advocates more about veganism in Israel, and publicize organizations fighting for non-animal food sourcing.

Paz said the event would steer clear of gruesome images and shock tactics employed by some groups  to prove the cruelty of industrialized agriculture. There was no information whether 269life activists participated.

“The Vegan Friendly mission is to publicize the positive side of veganism, so we avoid anything bloody or negative. That’s how we got into the mainstream so easily,” he stressed.

In addition to the fair, Vegan Friendly Israel will hold events throughout the year to encourage more Israelis to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. A “Vegan-mobile” will travel from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat to promote veganism. The group will also host a vegan barbeque on Yom Haatzma’ut and a cheese-free Shavout festival to demonstrate how easy veganism can be in Israel.

“Businesses finally see us as a market. Our Facebook group has tens of thousands of followers and thousands of recipes,” Paz said. “Israel is probably the country where it’s easiest to be vegan in the whole world.”

Last year hundreds of Israeli restaurants added vegan options to their menus, and thousands of supporters peacefully protested against industrial animal slaughter. The movement is equally active around the world, as  increased media attention allows us to see inside large-scale food industries and many of us opt out of meat-based diets.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Vegan Friendly website – or tuck into an hour-long documentary by rancher-turned-no-meat-activist Howard Lyman.

Above image from YouTube

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