History of veganism
Sorry, these unreferenced sentences are not really reliable, please use instead: Vegan History.
Although the actual term "vegan" was coined in 1944 when the history of modern and well-defined veganism starts, the roots of vegan lifestyle go many centuries back. Veganism does not come from one single culture, but has it beginnings in many different places, from Jainists in Asia to the filosophy of Leonardo da Vinci in Italy.
The Jaïnism, one of the main historical Indian religion, apeard around 680 BC. Its founder, Mahavira, attached great importance to life ; today the word ahimsa (the main Jain rule, religious wish) means in Hindi "non-violence".
Jainism respects life in all its forms, therefor Jains exclude from their diet all meat, fish, egg, honey, unfiltered water and plants with roots (because animals may be killed by tearing).
Some Jain ascets also wear on their face a mask of cotton so as not to swallow microscopic animals, and Jains in India have opened several hospitals for animals or even houses for animals to retire.
French Cathares : Some good men in the french middle-age
This religious movement appeared in the Languedoc (south of France) region, during the XIth century, they were erased at the beginning of the XIIIth century by the Albigensian Crusade, when the Catars were persecuted and massacred as heretics.
They were calling themselves using the terms "Good Men" (Bons Hommes) or "Good Christians" (bons chrétiens).
Among them, some, called "Perfecti", had to follow strict ascetic rules as not eating meat, milk, eggs and animal fat.
Killing an animal was considered as a murder, and there is several stories about their compassion for animals, as this one who fall into tears seeing a butcher killing calves, when he was himself led to the stake.