29 Jan Where did it all begin?
Well before we get going delivering regular bulletins of what’s going on in the world of veganism we thought it would only be right to just go back and see how we got to where we are today.
So although this in many ways is a history lesson, it is genuinely interesting.
Veganism has been around a long time folks. Evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products can be traced back over 2,000 years. As early as 500 BC, Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (I hated him in school with a passion) promoted benevolence among all species and followed what could be described as a vegetarian diet. Around the same time, Siddhārtha Gautama (more commonly known as Buddha) was discussing vegetarian diets with his followers.
Fast forward to 1806 and the earliest concepts of veganism are just starting to take shape, with Dr William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley amongst the first to publicly object to eggs and dairy on ethical grounds. Even before that, followers of the ancient Indian religion of Jainism practiced a ‘no harm to animals’ diet.
The principle of ahimsa (non-violence or non-injury) is the most fundamental and well-known aspect of Jainism. The everyday implementation of the principle of non-violence is more comprehensive than in other religions and is the hallmark for Jain identity. Jains believe in avoiding harm to others through thoughts , speech, and actions.
Jains extend the practice of nonviolence and kindness not only towards other humans but towards all living beings. For this reason,vegetarianism is a hallmark of Jain identity, with the majority of Jains practicing lacto vegetarianism. If there is violence against animals during the production of dairy products, veganism is encouraged. So in the modern world of food production Jains are of course Vegans as with the economic demands on producers you cannot produce a product invilving an animal without some sort of abuse to te animal
Veganism the “brand” wasn’t officially born until 1944, and here’s what happened.
In November 1944, Donald Watson (who very interestingly worked in the timber trade and we will have future bulletins on this industry) called a meeting with five other non-dairy vegetarians, to discuss non-dairy vegetarian diets and lifestyles. Though many held similar views at the time, these six pioneers were the first to actively found a new movement. The group felt a new word was required to describe this lifestyle, something more concise than ‘non-dairy vegetarians’.
So hold onto your hats the various names they considered were “Dairyban”, “Vitan” and wait for it “Benevore”
Thankfully they settled on ‘vegan’, containing the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’. In the words of Donald Watson, it marked “the beginning and end of vegetarian.” ha ha very funny Donald well done
In 1949 Leslie J Cross suggested the definition of veganism be: “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man”. This is later clarified as “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”. Sounds good to me but apparently not quite good enough?!
So………when the society became a registered charity in1979, the Memorandum and Articles of Association updated this definition of “veganism” to: ‘a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude as far as is possible and practicable 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. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.’
So there you have it my friends, a potted history of where we are today and why we are Vegans and proud of it. I must say though I’m so pleased I’m not a “Benevore” sounds a bit creepy or a holiday resort in Spain!
We will be dealing how we are perceived by the wider community in future bulletins and don’t worry this will include laughing at ourselves but if our doubters consider the definition of Veganism in 1979 – well really how do you argue against that?