In a remarkable historical document from 1944, the co-founder of the vegan social movement in Britain, Donald Watson, stated that we cannot simply wait for people to be “ready” for a new and radical idea. No, on the contrary, Watson insisted that the “dead weight of public opinion” should be “ripened up” to new ideas and he used the European anti-slavery movement as his example.
Watson subtitled The Vegan News, “the quarterly magazine of the non-dairy vegetarians.” This is because the term “vegan” was merely a suggestion in November 1944. The reason The Vegan Society was formed in the first place was the refusal of The Vegetarian Society to have within its ranks a “non-dairy” section. The reason the vegetarians did not want a non-dairy section was because they feared that this would make vegetarianism seem “difficult.”
Fast forward to the 21st century and we find a similar thing going on. There are a number of vegans, vegetarians, and reducetarians who regard the term “vegan” as a scare word to be largely avoided. Some vegetarians suggest that we should rarely use the term “vegan” in our outreach efforts (or, in addition, phrases such as “animal rights” and “anti-speciesism.”).
More than 70 years after Donald Watson urged us to ripen the population to the new fangled idea of veganism, there are animal advocates too scared to do it. However – much worse – they want vegan activists of the world not to do it.
In my workshop at VegFest Bristol entitled, “Why Vegans Should Promote Veganism,” I will talk about how 21st century vegans should ignore the vegetarians and reducetarians, evoke the radical spirit of the justice-for-all vegan pioneers such as Donald Watson, and continue ripening up the public to VEGANISM and nothing less.
Please join me there.
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from Vegfest UK