The Vegan Society

The Vegan Society
Founded November 1944 (1944-11)
Founder Donald Watson
Type Non-governmental organisation
Focus Veganism
Area served
Method Information, support, campaigns
4,000 (in 1988[1] and 2005[2])
George Gill
Key people
Donald Watson
Vegan Trademark for the labelling of vegan products
Effective region United Kingdom
Effective since 27 February 1990
Legal status Recognised by the consumers

The Vegan Society is a registered charity and the oldest vegan society in the world, founded in the UK in November 1944 by Donald Watson, Elsie "Sally" Shrigley, and 23 others.[3]

Watson coined the word "vegan" to stand for "non-dairy vegetarians" who also ate no eggs.[3] The founding of The Vegan Society is celebrated annually on 1 November, World Vegan Day. The day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, the then President and Chair.[4] However, the founding of The Vegan Society is thought to have been either 5 or 12 November 1944.[5]

The Society now defines veganism as "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."[6]


  • Information – The Vegan Society provides information on all aspects of vegan living on their website, from their nutritional pages such as Vitamin B12: the key facts to the how and why of going vegan, to lifestyle articles and blogs. Their 30 Day Vegan Pledge has been running since 2008, each day providing a recipe, tips and advice on going vegan. The Vegan Society also offer tools for activists such as free leaflets, as well as advice on effective outreach.
  • Campaigns – The Vegan Society campaigns on various issues. Current campaigns involve improving hospital catering and their 'Grow Green' campaign, whereby farmers are incentivised to move from animal farming towards plant protein crops.
  • Support – The Vegan Society provides support via its UK network of local contacts as well as a free email-in service.
  • Registers vegan products with its Vegan Trademark – ensures all products and its derivatives that are registered are free from animal ingredients and testing. The Vegan Society defines 'animal' as all vertebrates and invertebrates, meaning its animal testing policy does not exclude insects, water fleas or any other creature.[7]
  • Publishes The Vegan – a quarterly magazine sent free to members.

Movement for Compassionate Living

A breakaway group from The Vegan Society, the Movement for Compassionate Living, was founded in 1984 by the former Vegan Society Secretary Kathleen Jannaway.[8][9]

See also


  1. Debra Blake Weisenthal, Powers in the Western world. How do they match up to one other?. Vegetarian Times, December 1988, pp25. Seen on 10 March 2015
  2. "Health | Obituary: Donald Watson". BBC News. 2005-11-18. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  3. 1 2 "Vegetarians in Paradise/Donald Watson/Vegan Society/24 Carrot Vegetarian Award". 2004-08-11. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  4. "A Cruelty Free Vegan-Friendly Rock N' Roll Website". Save A Scream. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  5. Calvert, Samantha (31 October 2014). "Ripened by human determination: 70 years of The Vegan Society" (PDF). The Vegan Society. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  6. "Definition of veganism".
  7. "Vegan Trademark standards". The Vegan Society. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  8. "Vegan Views 96 - Kathleen Jannaway 1915-2003: A Life Well Lived". 2003-01-26. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  9. Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.

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