In what has become a yearly Independence Day tradition, millions of Israelis celebrated Israel’s 65th birthday grilling meats on Tuesday but a few hundred decided to reject the meat and hold a vegan barbecue in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park instead.

The barbecue was organized by Vegan Friendly Israel, an arm of the non-profit Organization for a Vegan Future. Vegan Friendly works with restaurants to increase their vegan options. Restaurants that increase these choices can get a certificate of vegan friendliness from the organization.

 “Vegan Friendly Israel’s slogan is to change reality,” Omri Paz, the head of Vegan Friendly and organizer of the event, told The Jerusalem Post.

The menu included vegan sausages made from wheat gluten and hamburgers made from  lentils,and butter and egg free vegan desserts. Plates and cutlery were made from biodegradable corn starch.

Besides the food, the event offered activities for children, including a puppet show that highlighted respect  and love for animals; lectures; a massage workshop; a drumming circle and information booths by animal rights organizations.

The event allowed vegans to join in the Independence Day barbecuing tradition, and the high turnout at the event may be a sign that veganism is on the rise in Israel.  Vegan activist Amnon Jonas,who took part in the barbecue, told the Post that he has seen a rise in interest in veganism in Israel, something he partially attributes to American animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky, who visited Israel in 2012.

Jonas said he was delighted by the strong turnout Tuesday, and was amazed by what he claims is a rise in veganism’s popularity. Looking around at the groups of vegans happily tucking into the food, Jonas noted that, “When I became a vegan 18 years ago, I could have held this event in my living room.”

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