THIS is the link to the Vegfest Express blog entry.
In the fourth in the series, I look at the contribution to the vegan movement of Elsie (Sally) Shrigley, Dorothy Morgan (who became Dorothy [Dot] Watson), Kay Henderson, and Eva Batt.
THIS is the link to the Vegfest Express blog entry.
In the third of this series, Dr. Roger Yates of the Dublin-based Vegan Information Project, turns his attention to Leslie Cross, who would have a profound effect on the vegan movement and, with Arthur Ling, the development of plant milks.
"He was certainly one of the outstanding people who have served the movement and, in retirement, he went up and down the country, giving his lecture, “The Milk of Human Kindness” - all voluntarily of course, paying his own expenses."
Donald Watson, talking about Leslie Cross.
You can read the original Vegfest Express blog entry HERE.
Donald Watson: The Best Known Co-Founder of the Greatest Cause on Earth (Vlog 2)
Sociologist Matthew Cole argues that, "The breath-taking scope of the transformative vision of the vegan pioneers...may inspire a re-centring of vegan ethics in the practice of and advocacy of all those who oppose exploitation in [all its] forms."
Donald Watson himself said that the vegan movement opposed the exploitation of *all* sentient life in 1944.
The driving force of the vegan social movement represents a revolution that is arguably more needed now than it was in the 1940s and 1950s when these radical ideas emerged.
HERE is the original Vegfest Express blog entry.
Those who know me and my work will be aware that I seek to recover the radical vision of the vegan social movement pioneers which is rapidly becoming lost in vegan consumerism, and in efforts to reduce veganism down to the idea that it is merely a diet, or else only "for the animals."
It is undoubtedly true that the best known of the vegan social movement co-founders is Donald Watson, the man regularly claimed to have coined the word "vegan." That claim is contested. It is also claimed that Watson saw veganism exclusively in terms of diet - this is not true.
Indeed, in the first edition of the second volume of The Vegan magazine (Spring 1946), Donald Watson took the opportunity to restate "The Case for Veganism" as its editorial.
Watson states that earlier issues of the magazine had already set out the suggestion that a review of humanity's relationships with other animals would further "the interests of both animals and of ourselves." On page two of the editorial, this remarkably radical vision of the new relationship between human beings and other animals is recounted...
Please bear in mind that every one of us is a product of our time. We no longer use the term "man" is mean the whole of humanity, for example, and modern day writers would likely hesitate in using the phrase "thug species" as a description of humanity. However, once more it is crystal clear that the pioneers of the vegan movement, who founded the movement in 1944 during "World War Two," saw veganism as not restricted to a cause "for the animals" alone - but felt that vegan philosophy and the diet that follows from it would massively benefit humans and other animals - and more, since Watson concludes the editorial by stating that other animals will not become extinct through veganism, quite the reverse, as veganism would free up land for "unexploited creatures living natural lives." Furthermore, he argues that veganism would also see the restoration of the fertility of the soil which was being (as it perhaps still is) lost.
18 years later, in 1964, vegan pioneer Eva Batt would reassert their concern for the soil in this powerful statement of vegan values...
My plea to fellow vegans, especially those who have recently entered the movement, is please do not be fooled either by a new generation of "vegan activists" who themselves know or care little of the movement's history, and who will confidently tell you the lie that veganism has nothing to do with human issues, or others who suggest that veganism is merely a diet. The dietary aspects of veganism are directly linked to the radical vision of a vegan world in which all sentient beings, including humans, are benefited and, indeed, liberated.
Veganism as a social movement has always been about the moral evolution of humanity resulting in a new freedom for, as Donald Watson declares, other animals and for ourselves.
This blog entry is about vegan pioneers and I was originally going to call it “We are all Donald Watson.” Of course that is not true – Watson and his little band of early vegans “not easily scared by criticism, and filled with the spirit of pioneers,” became ethical vegans when most people thought they would be dead within weeks.
1944 sounds so long ago, right?
However, I think we can still say that these are early days as far as veganism is concerned and, therefore, we are also vegan pioneers. I have meet several people who have effectively said that they would be 100% plant-based if it was easier to do that rather than be consumers of dairy and flesh. Veganism is a lot more than a diet, of course, but a lot of people have difficulty seeing food choices as something to do with ethics and, for many, the whole issue is one of convenience.
Essentially these people are reliant on others leading the way – and this is where being a vegan pioneer comes into play. A vegan pioneer actively “puts themselves out” for the cause, even if it is only a willingness to “read the labels.”
But, of course, we do more than that – for example, in explaining to people that veganism is a movement that stands for justice for all sentient beings, in being fairly content and accepting that there are huge sections of supermarkets and stores where we need not bother going to, in using health and whole food stores, in making that extra journey to the specialist Asian or Polish stores, in walking further to find the plant-based restaurant (or the vegan-friendly ones if one is unlucky enough to live where there are no fully-vegan cafes and restaurants), and so on.
Of course, this feeds into the discussion going on in the animal advocacy movement about how easy or how hard it is to live vegan. Personally, I am a little torn on the issue because veganism, in terms of diet and the availability of vegan-friendly goods, is very easy compared to 1979 when I first decided to live in accordance with the philosophy of veganism. However, the sociologist in me also knows that the ease of being vegan depends on many factors, like geographical location, social class, social circumstances, relationships with significant others, and access to amenities, etc.
I want to propose a toast to all the vegan pioneers “out there.”
May you continue to live vegan and adhere to the justice-for-all philosophy of veganism in what can be a very vegan-unfriendly world, and continue to pave the way for others who will therefore find it easier and easier to gain access to plant-based foods and goods.
There can be little doubt that access to vegan-friendly goods and services assists in a person's decision to live vegan. For example, the dietary requirements of veganism are driven by the thrust of its overriding philosophical stance: justice-for-all. Essentially veganism is about getting the concept of justice over the species barrier, just as philosopher and author of The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan, succeeded in getting the concept of rights over the species barrier.
 I attended an anti-GMO event in Dublin recently, along with other members of the Dublin vegan community. During a session led by Dr. Brian John, it was noted that getting consumers to read labels was a major problem. People seem to believe that reading labels is some sort of terrible imposition on their busy day! Reminds me of a radio interview I heard when a Dubliner was complaining in all seriousness that the economic recession had meant that he now had to read the price tag on clothes before buying them.
Dr. Roger Yates is a rights advocate and sociologist