Donald Watson was born in 1910. Today would have been his 104th birthday (He passed away in 2005, at the age of 95). Watson was a vegetarian for over 80 years and a vegan for 60!
Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 – November 16, 2005
As a child, growing up in the UK, Watson would visit his uncle’s farm. At age 14, after hearing the screams of a pig being slaughtered (something I’ve also witnessed), he went vegetarian. As an adult, realizing that animal slaughter is a part of large-scale, commercial dairies and egg farms, Watson cut out animal byproducts and went vegan. He wasn’t the first to omit animal products from his life, but he (along with his wife Dorothy) was the first to coin the term vegan.
Watson invented the word vegan by taking the beginning and end of the word vegetarian and fusing them together.
In 1944, Watson founded The Vegan Society, along with a handful of other non-dairy vegetarians. The Society, which has stuck with the vision of its founding members (working towards a world in which humans do not exploit other animals), is still going strong today. Watson ran the society, and created the first Vegan Society newsletter.
If you’d like to learn more about the father of modern veganism, check out the interviews and links below.
Food for Life interview with Donald Watson
Veg News interview with Donald Watson
BBC obituary for Donald Watson