These early vegan pioneers were revolutionaries and visionaries. Sociologist Matthew Cole speaks of veganism, "initial critical vigour and radicalism, summed up in Donald Watson’s characterisation of veganism as 'the greatest Cause on earth'".
How distraught would they be if they saw the current, bland, reduced, and limited vegan movement? Indeed, just how fast would the dead pioneers be spinning in their graves?
Matthew Cole writes:
- From 1948-1951, The Vegan, the quarterly journal of The Vegan Society (the world’s first, founded in the UK in November 1944), bore the strapline, ‘Advocating living without exploitation’ on its front cover. That ambition to live without exploitation is arguably fundamental to contemporary Critical Animal Studies (CAS), especially when we consider that to live without exploitation entails active engagement with what were in 1944, and remain today, brutally exploitative social systems, for many humans as well as for other animals. In this chapter, I...argue that modern veganism (that is, veganism since the formation of The Vegan Society) was a critical enterprise at birth, in a way that anticipated CAS in some respects: Veganism from its inception was engaged in a revolutionary transformation of human relationships with other animals, with other humans, and of vegans themselves.
Extract from: Cole, M. (2014) "'The Greatest Cause on Earth’: The historical formation of veganism
as an ethical practice", in N. Taylor & R. Twine (eds) The Rise of Critical Animal Studies – From the Margins to
the Centre, Routledge.