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Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 - November 16, 2005

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    Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 - November 16, 2005 Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 - November 16, 2005 Founder of veganism whose dietary crusade grew to
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      Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 - November 16, 2005

      Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 - November 16, 2005
      Founder of veganism whose dietary crusade grew to attract a quarter
      of a million adherents in Britain today
      December 08, 2005

      http://www.timesonl ine.co.uk/ article/0, ,60-1914862, 00.html

      DONALD WATSON survived to the age of 95; good propaganda in his
      campaign to convince the world that there is nothing inherently
      lethal about a vegan diet. He always regarded himself as a
      propagandist, in the term’s non-pejorative sense. When interviewed at
      92 he was pleased to report that he had lived thus far without resort
      to medication “either orthodox or fringe”, and with hardly a day’s
      His parents were meat-eaters who did not enjoy particularly good
      health or long lives. His father, a headmaster who had worked his way
      up from being a farm boy, impressed on his son the importance of
      never swearing, which was helpful, Watson said, when spreading the
      word: “It annoys some people, and propagandists should not annoy
      anyone except with the truth of their message.”

      While staying at the farm run by his much-loved Uncle George, Watson
      was shocked to see his uncle direct the slaughter of a pig. Its
      screams remained with him ever after. “I decided that farms — and
      uncles — had to be reassessed: the idyllic scene was nothing more
      than death row, where every creature’s days were numbered.” He became
      a vegetarian, but continued to worry about dairy and other animal
      products and the way in which their industries were linked to the

      He left school at 14, but failed to find a job as a woodworker in the
      Depression, so he trained as a woodwork teacher. When war came in
      1939 he registered as a conscientious objector. His elder brother and
      younger sister later joined him as vegetarians and COs. All were
      teetotallers and non-smokers, causing Watson’s mother to say that she
      felt like a hen that had hatched a clutch of duck eggs.

      Towards the end of the war, Watson formed a committee of “non-dairy
      vegetarians”, who wanted to remove animal products entirely from
      their diet and initiate a new movement. He was keen to capitalise on
      the tuberculosis reported in Britain’s dairy cows, and the scarcity
      of eggs. He laid out the first issue of his Vegan News in November
      1944, over 12 typed and stapled sheets of A4. The word vegan he took
      from the front and back end of “vegetarian”, expressing his belief
      that this new, absolutist diet was in fact the first impulse and the
      final destination of the vegetarian journey. He asked for other
      suggestions, and “dairyban”, “vitan”, “benevore”, “sanivore” and
      “beaumangeur” were offered, but most of the 25 members were happiest
      with vegan.

      The early issues of the newssheet, written in Watson’s
      straightforward but eloquent style, became the “Dead Sea scrolls” of
      veganism, the first warning to the faithful that: “We may be sure
      that should anything so much as a pimple ever appear to mar the
      beauty of our physical form, it will be entirely due in the eyes of
      the world to our own silly fault for not eating ‘proper food’.
      Against such a pimple the great plagues of diseases now ravaging
      nearly all members of civilised society (who eat ‘proper food’) will
      pass unnoticed.” Subscriptions rose rapidly, but his meagre resources
      limited the print run to 500. The Vegan Society’s 25 members swelled
      steadily to the 5,000 of today. There are now an estimated 250,000
      vegans in Britain.

      The American Vegan Society, and other international groups, cropped
      up without any prompting or help from Watson who, in later years,
      served the Vegan Society mainly as a source of inspiration.

      While other vegans, such as Alan Long, were willing to lambast
      lacto-vegetarians as co-conspirators of the dairy industry, Watson
      insisted that vegetarianism was an essential “staging post” to a true
      diet. Watson never set out to be a guru. When asked whether he
      condemned or condoned animal liberation groups, he always maintained
      that he simply could not make up his mind on them.

      He moved to Cumbria, where his one-acre vegetable patch was his main
      concern — always turned over with a fork instead of a spade to avoid
      killing worms.

      His wife predeceased him. He is survived by his daughter.

      Donald Watson, founder of veganism, was born on September 2, 1910. He
      died on November 16, 2005, aged 95.

      Live Simply So That
      Others May Simply Live

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