Oldest, Longest Vegan Celebrates 95th Birthday

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Donald Watson the man who created the word vegan from the begining and end of vegetarian 60 years ago and founded The Vegan Society is 95 on Friday 2nd September 2005. A maverick in his day he has been proved right by health and nutrition experts.

Donald Watson hasn't eaten meat or fish for over 80 years and has been vegan for over 60 years.

He is living evidence of the phrase "The proof is in the pudding". Even at 94 he still tends his garden and walks to the top of local hills.

He's always the first to highlight the work of the people who carried on the fight after he started the vegan society in London in November 1944 praising the Society's many volunteers.

Donald tells us "In the two years before we formed a democratic Society, I literally ran the show. From the response that I had - thousands of letters - I feel that if I hadn’t formed the Society someone else would have done so, though it might have had a different name. The word “vegan” was immediately accepted and became part of our language and is now in almost every world dictionary, I suppose. I can’t help comparing our attractive quarterly magazine with my humble “Vegan News” which I produced at great labour. Normally I spent a whole night assembling the various pages and stapling them together. I’d limited the number of subscribers to five hundred because I couldn’t cope with a bigger number. Compared with democracy, dictatorship has obvious advantages. In the early days of "Vegan News" I could do everything my own way. I don’t think I could have survived if I had had to write to the few people concerned and ask for their opinion. I had no telephone and no motor car - I could only hope that they would see my point, until I handed over the work to a committee."

Now there are millions of vegans and hundreds of vegan groups all over the world.

Donald says "The genie is now out of the bottle and no one can ever put it back to the ignorant days before 1944, when this seed was planted by people full of hope. Now wherever Man lives he can have a vegan diet."

Donald Watson had originally wanted to set up a sub group within the UK vegetarian Society but they refused. He is still a member of The Vegetarian Society and has a message for vegetarians. "Accept that vegetarianism is only a stepping stone between meat eating and veganism. There may be vegans who made the change all in one leap, but I’m sure that for most people vegetarianism is a necessary staging post. I’m still a member of the Vegetarian Society to keep in touch with the movement. I was delighted to learn that at the World Vegetarian Conference in Edinburgh the diet was a vegan diet and the delegates had no choice. This little seed that I planted 60 years ago is making its presence felt."

Campaigners are hoping to encourage Donald, who generally shies away from the media, to agree to help make a documentary of his life.

Donations and offers of technical assistance should be made care of http://www.veggievision.co.uk a new internet TV production company.

World Vegan Day celebrates the formation of The Vegan Society by Donald Watson on November the 1st each year.

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Tony Bishop-weston
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