Donald Watson was born in September 1910 in South Yorkshire, UK. As a child he spent time on his Uncle George’s Farm where the slaughtering of a pig changed his life. He realised it wasn’t idyllic farm life but no more than death row.

So aged 14 he made a new years resolution never to eat meat again and became vegetarian. 18 years later he continued his journey when he realised that dairy production “involves much cruel exploitation and slaughter of highly sentient life.” In November 1944 Watson, his wife Dorthey and 4 friends founded the Vegan Society. They created a newsletter and Donald suggested that it should be called “The Vegan News”. The word vegan was formed from the first 3 and last 2 letters of vegetarian.

I have used the title “The Vegan News”. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as a VEGAN diet.
Donald Watson - 1st Edition, The Vegan News. November 1944. 

Of course they probably were not the first to adopt this diet. Greek philosophers and Buddha spoke of being plant based long before. But Watson brought it into the modern world and gave it a name. Since then veganism has seen a consistent growth worldwide and people choose to adopt the lifestyle for multiple reasons.

Donald Watson died in November 2005 aged 95. His legacy, The Vegan Society, goes on.

For more information on the history and work of The Vegan Society head over to:

Or read the first edition of The Vegan News.