The Vegan Society
FoundedNovember 1944; 79 years ago (1944-11)
FounderDonald Watson
TypeNon-governmental organisation
Area served
MethodInformation, 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 regionUnited Kingdom
Effective since27 February 1990
Legal statusRecognised by the consumers

The Vegan Society is a registered charity and the oldest vegan society in the world, founded in the United Kingdom in November 1944 by Donald Watson and his wife, Dorothy, along with four friends - Elsie Shrigley, Mr G. A. Henderson and his wife Fay K. Henderson among them.[3][4]

Watson coined the word "vegan" to stand for "non-dairy vegetarians" who also ate no eggs.[4] 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.[5] However, the founding of The Vegan Society is thought to have been either 5 or 12 November 1944.[6]

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."[7]


The word 'vegan' was coined by Donald Watson from the first three and last three letters of 'vegetarian' in 1944.[8]: 4  Vegans separated from the Vegetarian Society in 1944 because that group refused to support veganism, which they saw as extreme and antisocial.[8]: 4 

In November 1944 the then-new Vegan Society held its first meeting, at the Attic Club, 144 High Holborn, London. Those in attendance were Donald Watson, Elsie B. Shrigley, Fay K. Henderson, Alfred Hy Haffenden, Paul Spencer and Bernard Drake, with Barbara Moore observing.[9]


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 and her husband Jack.[11][12][13]

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. 18 November 2005. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Interview with Donald Watson - Vegan Founder". Foods for Life. 15 December 2002. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Vegetarians in Paradise/Donald Watson/Vegan Society/24 Carrot Vegetarian Award". 11 August 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  5. ^ "A Cruelty Free Vegan-Friendly Rock N' Roll Website". Save A Scream. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  6. ^ Calvert, Samantha (31 October 2014). "Ripened by human determination: 70 years of The Vegan Society" (PDF). The Vegan Society. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Definition of veganism".
  8. ^ a b Laura Wright (2015). The Vegan Studies Project: Food, Animals, and Gender in the Age of Terror. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-4856-8.
  9. ^ Richard Farhall, "The First Fifty Years: 1944–1994", iii (full names of members on following pages), published with The Vegan, 10(3), Autumn 1994, between pp. 12 and 13.
  10. ^ "Vegan Trademark standards". The Vegan Society. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Vegan Views 96 – Kathleen Jannaway 1915–2003: A Life Well Lived". 26 January 2003. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  12. ^ [1] Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Kathleen Jannaway 1915-2003: A Life Well Lived Harry Mather & Malcolm Horne., Vegan Views 96 (Spring 2003)