November 2014 is a milestone for The Vegan Society, exactly 70 years on from its formation in 1944. To mark the occasion, staff and volunteers have been exploring the historical archives stored at Donald Watson House in order to re-tell the exciting story of The Vegan Society; from its hard-won, early beginnings to achievements spanning the birth and proliferation of an entire movement.
E-book ‘Ripened By Human Determination’ details The Vegan Society's founding at the height of rationing in wartime England, its first members battling severe economic constraints that prevented them from meeting regularly. Founder Donald Watson, a conscientious objector, often found himself working single-handedly to keep the society running alongside his low-paid job as a woodwork teacher.
The historical document pulls together little known facts surrounding the society and its difficult conception, touching upon the search for vegan alternatives during and after rationing, the discovery of B12 and the honey question. Most importantly, it documents veganism’s rise and rise, which continues to this day. One such recent achievement includes the vast increase in the number of vegans worldwide since 2009 – 70 years on from its humble beginnings.
You can read the e-book which documents this fascinating history here, in pdf format.
"Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by human determination? Did Wilberforce wait for the ‘ripening’ of time before he commenced his fight against slavery? Did Edwin Chadwick, Lord Shaftesbury, and Charles Kingsley wait for such a non-existent moment before trying to convince the great dead weight of public opinion that clean water and bathrooms would be an improvement? There is an obvious danger in leaving the fulfilment of our ideals to posterity, for posterity may not have our ideals. Evolution can be retrogressive as well as progressive, indeed there seems always to be a strong gravitation the wrong way unless existing standards are guarded and new visions honoured. For this reason we have formed our Group, the first of its kind, we believe, in this or any other country." - Donald Watson, November 1944.