Category Archives: Vegan Philosophy

Vegan Origins


This ‘festive’ edition of the Vegan Society’s quarterly magazine was published in December 1989.  I am guessing that this edition is now long since out of print, so to summarise what was in it, the 1989 AGM Report; an article entitled ‘Animals-in-law’ summarising their legal status; a ‘Cookless Cuisine’ article on ‘raw foods’; several recipes on the centre pages; a couple of articles on pregnancy and one on acupuncture; two travel articles on visiting Egypt (though why I don’t know as it would have been way beyond the budget of most of the readership); a noticeboard with events and local groups; book reviews; classifieds, as you’d expect; news featuring various snippets from the mainstream media submitted by readers; and the feature below written by Vegan Society founder Donald Watson on the society’s origins.  I don’t have a pdf writer so I’ve photographed it and had to shrink it to such a size that WordPress would upload it.  So I hope that it is legible enough to read (note that it is better viewed using WordPress Reader as the image reproduces bigger).


I cannot recall seeing any previous editions on sale, which is why I do not have earlier parts of this column on the Vegan Society’s origins in order to post on here.  There are different reasons why different people may adopt a vegan diet and broaden into non-dietary issues: the most common is usually a combination of ethics and health, for some people ecology is a reason, for others there may also be esoteric reasons.  When the article was published, obesity was not as common as it is now and when the Vegan Society was founded 45 years previously, it would have been rare given the food rationing that existed during the 1940’s.  The article does raise the issue of whether it is fair to propose a diet which could be restrictive at a time when the population was already experiencing a restrictive diet, or would a vegan diet have been easier then for people to adapt to?  Reading the article it would be nice to travel back in time and meet not just Donald Watson, but the people that he mentions (and to get a train from Leicester to London and back for five bob).

This article forms part of my hypothesis that the vegan movement is sociologically a development of English non-conformism (as was the vegetarian movement before it), though in a secular, rather than a religious, sense.   From the article, the first public vegan meal was held in Coventry, a city with a dissenting tradition and which later (in 1973) gave birth to the Ecology Party.

At the time of this edition’s publication during the Winter of 1989/90, Generation Snowflake had yet to be conceived, so in no part of the magazine was there any of the Newspeak nonsense of ‘intersectionality’ or ‘safe spaces’ peddled by some idiots who have tried attaching them to veganism in recent years.

Of the news articles, here’s one that shows how times have changed:

As predicted in the Spring 1989 Vegan, gelatine-free photography is now a reality.  The Canon Ion Camera is in the shops for about £500.  Instead of using film it uses a two-inch floppy disk similar to those used in computers.  Immediately after pictures are taken, the camera is plugged into the aerial socket of a TV and the pictures appear on the screen.  No processing is required and the 50-image capacity £5 floppies can be erased and re-used an almost indefinite number of times.  Although not intended to produce prints, this is now possible using desktop publishing systems.  Meanwhile, Toshiba and Fuji have joined forces to produce the IC Memory Card which uses a card containing 18 individual 1-megabit chips.  Its makers claim that the resulting pictures are superior to those produced by the Canon Ion.  Retailing at around £2,000, the IC Memory Card will be available by Christmas.

Sources: Daily Telegraph 29.9.89 and New Scientist 11.11.89

Oh and if you are curious, I bought this magazine when visiting Durham from a shop called Earthcare, which was located in Saddler Street, but which has long since closed down.  It was a non-food shop, which sold various ‘green’ and esoteric ‘new age’ type publications; postcards, stationery and possibly a small range of household ‘green’ stuff.  I recall buying one of those big cubes of olive oil soap, which were too big to use and difficult to cut even with a bread knife.  Back then, a few minutes walk away in New Elvet, there was a wholefood shop, also run as a workers’ co-op, called Maggie’s Farm (named after the Bob Dylan song presumably).  The North East of England was pretty good back then as there were four vegetarian restaurants (including The Red Herring) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as the Beanpot wholefood shop at the bottom of Westgate Hill.


Vegan Philosophy

This is slightly edited for grammatical tense from something which I originally posted just over four months ago, but deleted as part of a process of winding this blog down.  (I deleted the subsequent post as well, as it was too autobiographical).  I am reposting this because there is something else I intend to publish on here before the end of this year dealing with the origins of the vegan movement.vegan

The world’s first vegetarian society was founded in Manchester, England in the mid-19th Century.  Nearly a century later and also in England, it was from within the Leicester Vegetarian Society that the world’s first vegan society was founded.  Vegan ethics developed out of a long tradition of English radicalism dating back to the Lollards and the Levellers; through Thomas Paine and William Wilberforce to Donald Watson.  It should be no surprise that vegan ethics have been most receptive in those countries with the same tradition, broadly speaking most of the Anglosphere.

As I mentioned on this blog when exposing the fake libertarians who continually attack vegans, these fake libertarians do so because they are too ignorant to realise that the reason that so many people adopt vegan ethics is because they are non-conformists, free thinkers, who are willing to challenge social and political orthodoxies.  Within ‘Western’ societies one of the greatest orthodoxies is that animals are nothing more than industrial production units.  Donald Watson challenged this and his views have been adopted by people who have similarly radical views.

Such radical views can only flourish in those societies where dissent is tolerated, where freedom of speech is encouraged.  This is not the case in the ‘European Union’, which is by stealth becoming increasingly totalitarian, not in a military sense, but in a more subtle one, gradually outlawing any criticism of it.  There ought to be a greater awareness of and opposition to this in those continental European countries which experienced fascist or communist governments during the last century, but most of the populations there are sleepwalking, believing that they can ‘reform’ what no longer can be.

All of which is a way of saying that in our long overdue referendum, I voted for Brexit.  Britain leaving the EU will not in itself mean an end to subsidies of the meat, dairy and poultry industries, but it should allow political debate on these to be opened up within our Parliament.  Any ‘debate’ in a parliament without legislative powers is meaningless.  It should also mean there will be a greater chance of banning live animal exports to continental Europe; such a ban can never happen within the EU where such exports are considered as merely commodity transfers from one state to another.

However this isn’t an argument for English or British isolationism.  I am a great supporter in the principal of international co-operation, but why should our relationships with countries outside of Europe be defined by a political project which is seeking to create an artificial and conformist ‘European’ identity, one which seeks to eradicate the tradition mentioned in the first paragraph?  The Vegan Society was founded at a time when Britain stood alone in Europe against fascism; that it was allowed to exist is because freedom of expression was and still is valued here.

If we remain within the EU we will find ourselves trapped in a superstate, where dissent will be eradicated, where criticism of any of its foundation stones, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, detailed in this blog post, will not be tolerated.  Brexit should be the first step in dismantling the EU and with it the CAP, restoring democracy and with it the chance of radical change, to national parliaments throughout Europe.  I feel very strongly about this, I am well into middle age and I had never, to date, been allowed a vote on Britain being within the EU.