The first Vegan News by Donald Waston from 1944

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NO. 1. NOVEMBER 1944.

Also available as a scanned PDF of the original newsletter (1.3MB) > get into the matter and into the historical developments at the Vegan Society.

The recent articles and letters in “The Vegetarian Messenger” on the question of the use of dairy produce have revealed very strong evidence to show that the production of these foods involves much cruel exploitation and slaughter of highly sentient life. The excuse that it is not necessary to kill in order to obtain dairy produce is untenable for those with a knowledge of livestock farming methods and of the competition which even humanitarian farmers must face if they are to remain in business.

For years many of us accepted, as lacto-vegetarians, that the flesh-food industry and the dairy produce industry were related, and that in some ways they subsidised one another. We accepted, therefore, that the case on ethical grounds for the disuse of these foods was exceptionally strong, and we hoped that sooner or later a crisis in our conscience would set us free.

That freedom has now come to us. Having followed a diet free from all animal food for periods varying from a few weeks in some cases, to many years in others, we believe our ideas and experiences are sufficiently mature to be recorded. The unquestionable cruelty associated with the production of dairy produce has made it clear that lacto-vegetarianism is but a half-way house between flesh-eating and a truly humane, civilised diet, and we think, therefore, that during our life on earth we should try to evolve sufficiently to make the ‘full journey’.

We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals’ bodies. Even though the scientific evidence may be lacking, we shrewdly suspect that the great impediment to man’s moral development may be that he is a parasite of lower forms of animal life. Investigation into the non-material (vibrational) properties of foods has yet barely begun, and it is not likely that the usual materialistic methods of research will be able to help much with it. But is it not possible that as a result of eliminating all animal vibrations from our diet we may discover the way not only to really healthy cell construction but also to a degree of intuition and psychic awareness unknown at present?

A common criticism is that the time in not yet ripe for our reform. Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by human determination? Did Wilberforce wait for the ‘ripening’ of time before he commenced his fight against slavery? Did Edwin Chadwick, Lord Shaftesbury, and Charles Kingsley wait for such a non-existent moment before trying to convince the great dead weight of public opinion that clean water and bathrooms would be an improvement? If they had declared their intention to poison everybody the opposition they met could hardly have been greater. There is an obvious danger in leaving the fulfilment of our ideals to posterity, for posterity may not have our ideals. Evolution can be retrogressive as well as progressive, indeed there seems always to be a strong gravitation the wrong way unless existing standards are guarded and new visions honoured. For this reason we have formed our Group, the first of its kind, we believe, in this or any other country.


Our 25 Members are scattered far and wide, therefore a Committee is not possible. In the absence of other volunteers I have undertaken the duties of Hon. Secretary, Hon. Treasurer, and Hon. Auditor, and if this undemocratic Constitution offends, I am open to receive suggestions of any scheme that would enable me, either intentionally or accidentally, to embezzle the Group’s funds from subscriptions of a shilling a year!

The work of the Group at first will be confined to the propaganda contained in the bulletin. Very great interest has recently been aroused by our arguments, and it seems certain that the bulletin will be widely read. Many orders for the first four quarterly issues have already been received, and more will come when we advertise. Mr J.W.Robertson Scott, Editor of “The Countryman”, has written to us – “I should be glad to hear what success you have in collecting non-dairy produce consumers. I have always felt that from the agricultural point of view the vegetarian occupies an illogical position, for just as eggs cannot be produced without killing cockerels, dairy produce cannot be economically got without the co-operation of the butcher.” The clarity by which vegetarians generally are seeing this issue is well represented by the result of a recent debate arranged by the Croydon Vegetarian Society, when the motion was carried almost unanimously ‘That vegetarians should aim at eliminating all dairy produce’. If we remember rightly the voting was 30 to 2.

Our Members are pronounced individualists, not easily scared by criticism, and filled with the spirit of pioneers, and one feels they will never allow their magazine to degenerate into a purely secretarial production. All are invited to subscribe something periodically to make the magazine interesting, useful, and thought provoking. Could we have a series of articles (of about 600 words) on “My Spiritual Philosophy”? Articles, letters, recipes, diet charts, health records, press cuttings, gardening hints, advice on baby culture, advertisements (free to Members), all will be welcome. Letters of criticism from those who disagree with us will also be published. This is real pioneer work, and if we cooperate fully we shall certainly see an advancement in humanitarian practice, and perhaps we shall reveal some otherwise inaccessible dietetic truths. Let us remember how very much of modern dietetic research is fostered by vested interests and performed in vivisection laboratories, and that incidentally we are still without much data concerning the merits of diets free from animal food. We know that domesticated animals to-day are almost universally diseased, therefore so long as 99.9999% of the population consume the products of these diseased bodies, how are we to measure the mischief such foods may be doing? A hundred people living strictly on a ‘live’ non-animal diet for a few years would furnish data of inestimable value. Government grants have been made for much less useful social work!


We should all consider carefully what our Group, and our magazine, and ourselves, shall be called. ‘Non-dairy’ has become established as a generally understood colloquialism, but like ‘non-lacto’ it is too negative. Moreover it does not imply that we are opposed to the use of eggs as food. We need a name that suggests what we do eat, and if possible one that conveys the idea that even with all animal foods taboo, Nature still offers us a bewildering assortment from which to choose. ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Fruitarian’ are already associated with societies that allow the ‘fruits'(!) of cows and fowls, therefore it seems we must make a new and appropriate word. As this first issue of our periodical had to be named, I have used the title “The Vegan News”. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as a VEGAN diet, and we should aspire to the rank of VEGANS. Members’ suggestions will be welcomed. The virtue of having a short title is best known to those of us who, as secretaries of vegetarian societies have to type or write the word vegetarian thousands of times a year!


The object of our Group is to state a case for a reform that we think is moral, safe and logical. In doing so we shall, of course, say strongly why we condemn the use of dairy produce and eggs. In return we shall expect to be criticised. It will be no concern of ours if we fail to convert others, but we do think it should concern them if, deep in their hearts, they know we are right. In any case, there need be no animosity between ourselves and the ‘lactos’. We all accept that lacto-vegetarianism has a well appointed place in dietary evolution, and for this reason several of us spend a great deal of our time working for the lacto-vegetarian Cause. During recent years the two national vegetarian societies have devoted much space in their magazines to this question of the use of dairy product, and we have every reason to believe they will attach importance to our work and occasionally report on it. (Before forming the Group, the suggestion was made to The Vegetarian Society that such a Section be formed as part of the Society. The suggestion was considered sympathetically by the Committee, who decided that the full energies of the Society must continue to be applied to the task of abolishing flesh-eating, and that any such Group would, therefore, be freer to act as an independent body.) The need to prove that it is possible to thrive without dairy produce is, of course, far too important for any lacto-vegetarian to ignore. To resign oneself to lacto-vegetarianism as a satisfactory solution to the diet problem is to accept a sequence of horrible farmyard and slaughter-house incidents as part of an inevitable Divine Plan. Need it be added that it would imply too accepting the spectacle of a grown man attached to the udder of a cow as a dignified and rational intention on the part of Nature!

Without making any claims to self-righteousness, we feel in a strong position to criticise lacto-vegetarianism, because the worst we can say will be but a repetition of criticism we have already levelled against ourselves. Therefore we shall express the Truth as we see it and feel it, and though our friends the lacto-vegetarians may reject our ideas if they wish, we hope they will not reject us for stating them.


So far as we are aware, every Member of our Group has discarded the use of dairy produce for humanitarian reasons. We are not by any means ignorant of orthodox dietetic theories, and in exercising our moral conviction we find we must refute some of these theories. We do so without fear because we feel that a moral philosophy combined with a dash of common sense is a more rational guide than theories hatched in vivisection laboratories. We will not accept that adequate nutrition need violate conscience. We question very strongly whether those dieticians who laud the praises of animal proteins have ever tried living on a sensible diet free from such proteins, and if they have not, we fail to see how they can pass useful judgment. We know that man’s anatomy is unquestionably frugivorous. We know that milk drinking by adults is an absurdity never intended by Nature. We know that we are at least as well without dairy produce as we were with it. We know that 40% at least of cows are now tubercular. We know that pasteurisation enables the milk retailers to sell milk several days old. We know what happens to those who feed on the ‘nourishing first-class proteins’ recommended by orthodox dieticians – they nearly all die of malignant and filthy diseases. Heaven help us if our diet fails us to anything like the same degree!

Apart from saying that we are ‘Quite well, thanks’, we consider the time perhaps premature to make any great claims for the physiological superiority of our diet. Humbly, your Secretary is able to state that he can now cycle 230 miles in a day, whereas years ago when he stoked himself with milk and eggs he was ready for Bed and Breakfast after doing half that distance. He can also dig his allotments for ten hours a day without feeling any different next morning, but we must be careful in making claims lest the world hears of us and expects to meet eight foot rosy cheeked muscular monsters who are immune to all ills of the flesh. We may be sure that should anything so much as a pimple ever appear to marr the beauty of our physical form, it will be entirely due in the eyes of the world to our own silly fault for not eating ‘proper food’. Against such a pimple the great plagues of diseases now ravaging nearly all members of civilised society (who live on ‘proper food’) will pass unnoticed. It is as well that we gird ourselves to meet our critics! In our more reflective moments we cannot help thinking that there are greater risks in life than living on clean salads, fruits, nuts, and whole cereals. We can hardly wish to be classed as moral giants because we choose to live on a diet so obviously favouring self preservation.

Believing that some Members may wish to correspond with each other, we propose to publish in our next issue their names and addresses. Any Member preferring not to be included in the list should let me know.

We hear that a pamphlet opposing the use of milk was written 40 years ago by a Harley Street specialist. Does any Member happen to know anything of this publication?


We agree that to eliminate all dairy produce creates personal difficulties which vary in magnitude from one individual to another. We agree also that the present is not the easiest time to make such a change, but we think that in laying the foundations of our Movement now, many will soon join us as one of their ‘Peace Aims’. We know that there is particular unrest in the minds of vegetarians generally concerning the use of rennet in cheese making, and as this appears to be the most glaring inconsistency of lacto-vegetarianism, we suggest that others do as we did and eliminate cheese first. Our friend and fellow member Dugald Semple tells us he has never tasted cheese, therefore it cannot be considered as an essential ‘binding agent’ for body and soul! The following passages from the editorial of the current issue of “The Vegetarian News” does not, we think, allow of much argument: “Most vegetarians are doubtless aware that the use of calve’s rennet in the production of cheese has always presented a problem to anyone of humane principles, necessitating as it does the killing of calves to obtain the rennet. In the supposed absence of any purely vegetarian substitute for rennet some vegetarians abstain altogether from the use of cheese, except for the simple cottage varieties, while probably the majority of vegetarians take their ration of ordinary cheese and try to forget the incidence of the calve’s rennet in its making.” Should moralists dissipate their energies trying to forget such things?

During the war eggs have all but vanished, and they can readily be dispensed with for good without any sense of loss if one dwells on the fact that they are for the most part nothing more than reconstituted grubs and beetles! The elimination of milk undoundtedly presents the greatest difficulty. Nut milk is a good substitute, but it does not go well in tea (therefore cut out the tea and add yet another ten years to your life!)

Those of us who have lived for long periods without dairy produce are able to give the assurance that we remain well and strong; that we enjoy our food as much as ever, and that once the new diet has been arranged the sight and smell of dairy produce is soon forgotten.

“The incidence of disease of one kind and another continues to be a great limiting factor in milk production, besides involving loss to the farmer. Tuberculosis is one of the most intractable sources of trouble, so much so that a speaker at the Farmers’ Club recently said we had made no progress in the last 40 years.”

The Agricultural Correspondent,
“The Yorkshire Post”,
“Give me a drink of whisky, I’m thirsty.”
“You should drink milk – milk makes blood.”
“But I’m not blood-thirsty.”

67 Evesham Road,
November 24th, 1944.

Donald Watson.

Fragment on sentience and speciesism

Sentience stands in contexts, do you poke into the functionalities of a beings nervous system to analyze the “quality” of their sentience, then you set the standard with human notions of what they treat as neurologically relevant sentience, or do you understand that all interaction between nonhuman animal life and the natural environment is an interaction marked by sentience, by physical interaction on endlessly complex and fragile levels, which would be the kind of sentience/s you can’t fit into the idea humans normally hold about their own cognition as “higher” – then you step into the hierarchical conflict zones of “human” self-definition.

Sentience indicates the intricate connectedness of life. You can’t easily open a door for a human defined “standard” side of sentience, while closing a door to other facts and phenomenons of sentience and be eco-ethically and antispeciesistically fair.

Establishing a language of “right, dignity and integrity” in terms of nonhuman animals should in my point of view be a venture of highlighting interrelatedness, of a lot of differentialization work amongst social and ethical-ecological fields and of creating new spaces of thinking.

Speciesist objectifications: being considered edible

Edibility in the case of the human-animal-relationship always goes along with the legitimization of “meat eating” via objectification of the animal body. The question should thus not be the distracting: “are we ‘allowed’ to consume nonhuman animal bodies”, but: why are you eating the ‘opposite’ animal subject?
antibiologistic animal sociology

Pluralism works

Criticizing human supremacism while practicing it?
An animal sociology should in our view ideally be a system of full access to animality, i.e. nonhumans are social agents, the old view of “society” as “the strictly human realm” is passe. We live on earth.
It doesn’t make sense otherwise. #animalsociology #antispe
For an antibiologistic antispeciesist animal sociology!

Destruction by definition

Speciesism = destruction by definition

The “common denominator” is often used to derogate animality:

Like “animals and humans both experience emotions/sensations like pain, joy, hunger, affection” … yet nonhumans are supposedly driven by instinct the same people say at the same time …

The common denominator only is that: a common denominator. It doesn’t explain animality in any sense autonomous from human domination.

Putting ourselves as “humans” in hierarchies over nonhuman animality mostly stays in place with people citing the classic common denominators, where nonhumanity is attributed with any similarities or resemblances we think fit for the nonhuman animal realm.

As long as people explain nonhumanity in terms of biologistic or any other reductive parameters, common denominators aren’t really a step to break up the theoretical disenfranchisement that always makes up the basis for human societies to ‘destroy by definition’.

The common denominator gains its sense when you accept the compared one in their own autonomous and thus inviolable rights.

Why the Manichaeans Abstained from Animal Food

Mani and the Manichaeans >
Why the Manichaeans Abstained from Animal Food
> Against the Manichaeans, Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustin: The Writings Against the Manichaeans and Against the Donatists, vol 4 of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip Schaff (Buffalo, 1887; Google Books: Online Library of Free eBooks).

Much of which is known about “Why the Manichaeans Abstained from Animal Food,” is related by St. Augustin in his Writings Against the Manichaeans from 368-402.

Augustin informs us that the Manichaens in “abstaining from the slaughter of animals and from injuring plants” called “the destruction of a tree or of an animal murder,” with the belief that “in the case of men, we have a community of rights…the same in the case of beasts and trees.” (84)

Flesh, you [Manichaeans] say, is made up of pollution itself. (79)

[According to the Manichaeans] part of God…exists in corn, beans, cabbage, and flowers and fruits. From the beauty of the color…and the sweetness of the taste; this is evident; and as these are not found in rotten substances, we learn that their good has been taken from them. (80)

You [Manichaeans] do not eat flesh, and so your followers must not slaughter animals. (84)…You make this slaughter unlawful even for your followers. (86)

The [Manichaeans] story…is that the heavenly princes who were taken from the race of darkness and bound, and have a place assigned them in this region by the Creator of the world, have animals on earth specially belonging to them, each having those coming form his own stock and class; and they hold the slaughters of those animals guilty, and do not allow them to leave the earth, but harass them as much as they can with pains and torments. (85)

What [Manichaeans] object to in sacrifice is the slaughter of animals.…You [Manichaeans] are merciful to beasts, believing them to contain the souls of human beings. (169).

Augustine asks why “if you [Manichaeans] will not eat flesh why should you not slay animals in sacrifice to your God, in order that their souls, which you hold to be not only human, but do divine as to be members of God Himself, may be released from the confinement of flesh, and be saved from returning by the efficacy of your prayers? Happy vegetables, that, torn up with the hand, cut with knives, tortured in fire, ground by teeth, yet reach alive the altars of your intestines! Unhappy sheep and oxen, that are not so tenacious of life, and therefore are refused entrance into your bodies! Such is the absurdity of your notions.…Why do they not act up to their opinions about other things as well as about animals? Why do they not abstain altogether, and starve themselves to death, instead of persisting in their blasphemies? (170-171)

You [Manichaeans] consider it a crime to kill animals, because…the souls of men pass into them.…[Gentile philosophers] dreaded slaughtering a relative in the animal; but you dread the slaughter of your god, for you hold even the souls of animals to be his members. (261)

And although at first the following two passages might suggest that Augustine was an abstainer of animal food himself, a few lines at the end of the paragraph as well as his continued tirades against “the Manichaeans prohibition against the use of flesh,” confirm that this is not the case.

Many who are strong [abstain] for the sake of the weak; with many the reason for so doing is…but that they may have a cheaper diet, and may lead a life of greatest tranquillity, with the least expensive provision for the support of the body.…Those, then who are able, and they are without number, abstain both from flesh and from wine for two reasons; either for the weakness of their brethren, or for their own liberty. Charity is principally attended to. There is charity in their choice of diet, charity in their speech, charity in their dress, charity in their looks. Charity is the point where they meet, and the plan by which they act. To transgress against charity is thought criminal, like transgressing against God. Whatever opposes this is attacked and expelled; whatever injures it is not allowed to continue for a single day. (61)

It is clear, then, I think for what end we should abstain from flesh and wine. The end is threefold; to check indulgence, which is mostly practiced in this sort of food, and in this kind of drink goes in length of intoxication; to protect weakness, on account of the things that are sacrifices and offered in libation; and, what is most praiseworthy of all, from love, not to offend the weakness of those more feeble than ourselves, who abstain from all things.…Prove then to me your doctrine that flesh eating defiles the eater, when it is taken without offending any one, without any weak notions and without any excuses. (79)

Cognitions and sentiences in their own ways

Can anybody tell me why anyone needs scientific proof about animal cognition and sentience, etc. Address the individual/group themselves to get an answer in and under their own terms!

Those middlemen are never authorized to judge about congnitions/sentiences that they most likely don’t even understand – by measuring limited criteria with limited parameters.

Those middlemen see the animals in question in oversimplified ways, in relation to factual reality, just to offer some well meant biologistic data about your “species” in question.

They’d never use such parameters to describe themselves, as humans, but nonhumans can supposedly be objectified and limited in such scientific ways.

Nonhumans are social subjects/selves/agents not biological objects.

antispeciesist animal sociology


Recent thoughts I tweeted about animal allyship when it turns weird:

Weird when people call the human friends of a nonhuman animal their “dad” e.g.,
blurring out that this nonhuman has own parents ( – and these nonhuman families have tragic histories …),
while talking at the same time about what’s supposed to be radical antispeciesism. #antispe

Weird also when humans pose with single nonhumans for photos, acting as if being with a human was the greatest thing, and socialising for nonhumans with other nonhumans would be a bit secondary at that moment. #anthropocentrism

Their is a lot of these type of weird things going on the “our” (the vegan/AR) movement … strikes me weird.


Scrap the biologistic speciesism that leads you to assume that nonhumans wouldn’t know that the/ir entire world is being oppressed.
A reductive concept of intelligence leads you to think of nonhumans as having to be pressed into the human concepts of how to measure perception.

The bad thing is that we still run around with views of animals and animality that are not much different to the “animal-machine” model (by Descartes), only on an “advanced”/”diversified” biochemical level. The idea that animals are acting in causalistic ways is still similar.

[1] Eine Frage, die mit einer Frage beantwortet werden muss … Haben Tiere Vernunft und können Tiere denken?

The german artgerecht is a speciesist term

A very biologistic term: “artgerecht”

The German language holds a term that describes that there can be things/actions by humans that are “artgerecht” for nonhuman animal species. That there human actions/treatments that are suitable for a specific species. This term stems mostly from animal agriculture to legitimate their imprisonment and killing of nonhumans and from zoologists classifying nonhuman animals by defining in a reductive way their specific typical “needs” (…).

Humans wouldn’t want to reduce themselves onto categorical needs such as: foraging, territorial behaviour and reproduction. The term “artgerecht” exactly invites you do see nonhumans and their behaviour basically in such reductive way. All behaviour is classified and traced back to some categories humans hold a definitory might over.

Ecological complexity in regards to nonhuman animal sociology is not really a subject for anyone who applies such typical form of biologistic speciesism. The tragic thing is that many people in the German speaking countries use exactly this term when they seek to defend nonhuman animals, so this kind of terminology is not being reflected critically at all. Like they want justice for nonhumans, but they also want to keep pigeonholing nonhumans biologistically in such fundamental ways.

Meaningful, super complex behaviour becomes belittled with clichés of nonhuman species behaviour.

It’s a term that leaves nonhumans in their situations where they are exposed to human definition, when allies use such term, they are not making these settings visible.



“Artgerecht” bases much on the concept of “instinct” – which is one of the most questionable concepts to encounter nonhuman animals and animality with

Fragment continued …

“Artgerecht” alsways means the setting is given or influenced by humans.

Interesting is also that the rethorics of the > deliberate or wanted impact of human actions depending on species > which implies that a nonhuman is or should be treated (indirect passive role attributed to nonhumans) “artgrecht” in a manner predertermined by frames humans construct and prepare for the nonhuman, are always scrutinously chosen fitting to each different setting:
labs, farms, households, … and that dependent on how people classify each of the species …
So “artgerecht” means: any generic biologistic speciesism, while it consciously pretends to be meant to some advantage for the nonhumans within contexts of human definitory spaces.
It never means the nonhuman animals are understood as self-creative active agents in any environment in a sense beyond instinct, beyond biologistic and/or any other determinism for nonhuman animal behaviour.
Any behaviour becomes subject to reductive interpretations. No open space in terms of definitions is allowed from the human defining side.


Fragment three

“Artgerecht” always means the setting is given/influenced by humans.

Interesting is how rhetorics, that imply that a nonhuman is or should be treated (…) “artgerecht”, tend to just modify ideas/institutions of domination.

The details for the staged normalcy are always chosen carefully dependent on setting and animal group:

labs – agriculture – captivity – mingling with wildlife.

The idea behind the progress supposedly aimed at by the “artgerecht” treatment/measure (…) always sets forth that a nonhuman is basically instinctual.

This is the old prejudice about nonhuman animality not be self-creative….


Animal Sociology means Animal Sociology

Nonhumans are a case for their own sociology, and not one for our biology.

Probably only 1 percent of people in the Animal Rights movement understand the necessity of anti-biologism in antispeciesism. They understand the problematic key role biologism has played in racism, in sexism … and as we see finally too: in the derogation of nonhuman animality.

antibiologistic antispeciesist animal sociology – build/develop/evolve liberated terms
1% … and even if it’s just you … don’t let the others act as if humans like you wouldn’t exist!