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50 Years of Veganism!

Way back in 1970, Gentle World was not yet even a dream in the minds of its founders, but these two individuals were already beginning to lay the foundation for all that their organization has since achieved, by cementing their own commitment to what became, in February of this year, the 50th anniversary of their veganism.

Never having yet heard the word, nor having met anyone else who shared their perspective, they didn’t even realize at that time that they weren’t completely alone in the realization. 

Nevertheless, Light and Sun held fast to their convictions in spite of the concerns of their loved ones that they might be running the risk of not only becoming weak and frail, but actually dying for lack of protein.

It seems almost humorous now, at the end of the decade that has brought us a growing collection of increasingly popular films documenting the many powerful health benefits of veganism. But this was half a century ago, and the idea that one could sustain one’s health on a diet of only plant foods was almost unheard of.

The many vegan options that we take for granted today were still far from being envisioned, let alone created. Not only did these two pioneering individuals know of nothing resembling Beyond Meat, or any kind of vegan cheese, they had no tofu, soy milk, or any health food stores. Their go-to foods consisted of canned corn and peas, and peanuts with raisins, because they barely knew of anything else to eat.

Light and Sun’s certainty that veganism was the way of the future (at a time when there was barely anyone who felt the same) led them to embrace visionary roles of forerunners and pioneers.

Rather than pursue a life of worldly aims, they chose to devote their time and efforts toward the creation of Gentle World: a sanctuary for all who are willing to help build it, and a center for education and inspiration, where an all-volunteer team continues to share the imperative of the vegan way: a philosophy of inclusivity and nonviolence which is growing exponentially as we look out over the year 2020, but which was almost unheard of at the time of their vegan realization 50 years ago.

Light and Sun’s commitment to keeping Gentle World’s doors open for so many years has required a tremendous amount of hard work and inspirational leadership. As we enter this sixth decade of their veganism, Light is as dedicated as ever to the vision he shared with Sun, who remained steadfastly committed to their mission, until she passed in February of 2019.

Read a 50th veganniversary interview with Light here.

As we observe the Golden Anniversary of Light and Sun’s shared pledge to observe the Golden Rule, we invite our readers to reflect with us on these five decades of trailblazing accomplishments: from the publication of Gentle World’s pioneering recipe book way back in 1981, to the tremendous success of The Vegan Restaurant on Maui Hawaii, to the development of the two vegan educational centers to which we still welcome visitors today.

To celebrate this tremendous milestone, we reached into our archives to share with our readers this interview, captured ten years ago at our New Zealand location, when the Gentle World team was celebrating Light and Sun’s 40th veganniversary!

In this 25-minute segment, Light and Sun share the story of their own vegan awakening as a newly-married couple in Upstate New York, as well as reflecting on how becoming vegan affected their lives and their perceptions of the world around them, while also giving an inside look into how Gentle World came to be.

Note: We wish that the video and audio quality were better. However, the message is, as one would expect, inspirational. We offer our appreciation to those who helped us to capture this material and finally make it available to the world. Special thanks to Luke Avery, Sarah Hilliard, and Aaron Lanuza.

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