We don’t feel it’s necessary to cover these reasons here and would prefer to highlight the foundation of veganism and the Vegan Society of the UK. It will probably come as a surprise to many to learn the term ‘vegan’ was coined in 1944 by Donald and Dorothy Watson, and there began our movement!
While vegetarianism has existed for centuries (and similar ideas, like Pythagoreanism, has existed for millennia), there were significant inconsistencies and misgivings. Watson, among others, observed that vegetarianism was eroding and was concerned with this trend. While at its heart, and on a logical level, ‘true’ vegetarianism was essentially a vegan diet, dairy and eggs were increasingly appearing on the plates of ‘vegetarian’ meals.
Watson wanted to eliminate these inconsistencies and infuse a spirit of consideration and respect for other animals. He saw that a new movement was needed and therefore coined the term “vegan”, which he described as being comprised of the “beginning and end of vegetarianism”.
The definition for ‘vegan’ is:
Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. The Vegan Society
This is a highly considered and well-thought out definition which describes much more than a diet. You can find this definition in the Vegan Society’s Articles of Association (PDF), and there’s an interesting history of these terms by Jo Stepaniak.
It’s a philosophy, mindset and outlook opposed to the exploitation of other animals – human or otherwise. It’s inclusive: all species deserve consideration, so let’s stop using them. Let’s challenge the idea we can dominate others; we humans will never be free from the effects of domination so long as it’s tolerated for other species. A change is needed, and we need to try to set the example.
This is our motivation for promoting veganism, and we hope it resonates with you as well.
- Ripened By Human Determination – details of the Society’s founding
- An informative interview with Donald Watson from 2002 (PDF)
- History of veganism from The Vegan Society
- For a deep dive into less commonly discussed vegan topics, check out the Vegan Fidelity blog!