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Donald Watson

Donald Watson
Donald Watson reading the first issue of The Vegan
Born (1910-09-02)2 September 1910
Mexborough, Yorkshire, UK
Died 16 November 2005(2005-11-16) (aged 95)
Keswick, Cumbria, UK
Occupation Woodwork teacher[1]
Known for Founder of the Vegan Society and coining the word vegan

Donald Watson (2 September 1910 – 16 November 2005) was an English animal rights advocate who coined the word vegan and founded the Vegan Society.


  • Early life 1
  • Teaching 2
  • Veganism and The Vegan Society 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Watson was born in

  • First issue of the Vegan Society newsletter November 1944, Published and written by Donald Watson. Accessed November 2009
  • Vegan Society main website (contains various, changing information pages and leaflets about Donald Watson)

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary: Donald Watson". BBC. November 18, 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  2. ^ Interview with Donald Watson
  3. ^ Donald Watson The Guardian
  4. ^ The Vegan Summer, 2003 Edition.. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  5. ^ a b Davison, Phil (24 November 2005). "Donald Watson - Founder of veganism and the Vegan Society". Obituary (London: The Independent). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  6. ^ a b Interview with Donald Watson at Accessed 2 Nov 2009
  7. ^ Donald Watson in Vegan News nº1, November 1944.
  8. ^ a b c d "Interview with Donald Watson - Vegan Founder". Foods for Life. December 15, 2002. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  9. ^ "Obituary: Donald Watson". BBC News. 18 November 2005. 
  10. ^ a b Booth, Jenny (December 8, 2005). "Donald Watson". Obituary (London: TheTimes). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  11. ^ George D Rodger’s Unabridged Interview With Donald Watson on Sunday 15 December 2002
  12. ^ Elliott, Rose (14 January 2006). "Donald Watson - The first vegan, who invented the word - and outlived his many critics". Obituary (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 


Watson never sought any recognition for his early work in founding the Vegan Society. He was able to surprise his many critics[12] who claimed that he could not survive on his proposed diet by proving that he would not only survive but survive well and free from the need for doctors’ interventions in his final days.[10]

His influence extended to others in his own family, as his brother and sister both adopted vegan lifestyles along with him. All three Watson siblings registered as conscientious objectors during World War II.[1]

Watson enjoyed cycling, photography and playing the violin, and while not a party political supporter, he took a keen interest in political issues throughout his life.[6][11] Watson was an agnostic.[8]

Personal life

Watson expanded his philosophy to object to any harm to living creatures. A committed pacifist throughout his life, Watson registered as a conscientious objector in World War II.[10]

In November 1944 in Leicester, he and his wife, Dorothy, and four friends founded the Vegan Society.[8] Someone in the group would have come up with a word to describe their way of life, he believed, but he suggested 'vegan'—"the beginning and end of 'vegetarian'"—"because veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion."[8] Watson and the group launched the first edition of the Society's quarterly newsletter, The Vegan News, in the same year.[9] He ran the publication single-handed for two years, writing and duplicating the newsletter, and responding to the increasing volume of correspondence.[8]

As Watson grew up, he did not smoke, consume alcohol, or make contact with foods or substances which he regarded as 'toxins'. In the 1940s, after learning about milk production, he became a vegan.[1] He explained his motivation as ethical concern for sentient animals:

Veganism and The Vegan Society

[5] On leaving school at fifteen, Watson was apprenticed to a family


His journey to veganism began when he was very young, at the farm of his Uncle George. There, he said:


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