Donald Watson: Vegan Legend


When it comes to veganism and the famous, you might think of Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Lewis Hamilton or Venus Williams – and rightly so.  However, how about “Donald Watson”, the “godfather” of veganism?  Maybe, although likely maybe not…Well, this quiet, unassuming Yorkshireman is something of an original vegan legend.  And here’s why…

Donald was born in the quiet northern English town of Mexborough in what is now South Yorkshire, in 1910.  Spending some of his time as a child on his uncle’s farm, he was exposed to the sounds of the slaughter of pigs.  His preconceptions of farming as something being benign and natural were torn apart by that harrowing experience.

As a result of that, young Donald went on to become vegetarian.  But for him, that wasn’t enough.  He began to look into to the cruelty of human exploitation of animals and how that went beyond just meat.  He soon recognized the equally as cruel dairy and egg industries too.

Consequently, Donald went on to reject all animal exploitation, be that meat, dairy, egg or any other animal by-product.  In doing so, he came up with the word “vegan” – a lifestyle derived from the start and end of the word “vegetarian” – “veg” and “an.”

In 1944, Donald established the Vegan Society, publishing its newsletter called “Vegan News.”  In the years after the Second World War, those who identified as vegan were very limited in number. However, courtesy of Donald and his harnessing the idea of veganism, we now have the continual growth of the lifestyle in our day and age and beyond!

Donald passed away in 2005, at the age of 95.  As he neared the end of his life, he offered up the following on what he believed he had been able to offer:

 “Achieving what I set out to do: to feel that I was instrumental in starting a great new movement which could not only change the course of things for Humanity and the rest of Creation, but alter Man’s expectation of surviving for much longer on this planet.” [1]

Not bad for a quiet kid from Mexborough, eh?

[2] Image source:

About Author:

Dave Hewitt – British vegan spreading the word from the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio!  Doesn’t matter where you live though – life is life!  Go vegan – for the animals, for your health and for the planet

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