Donald Watson

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Donald Watson (2 September 191016 November 2005) was an English animal rights advocate who coined the word vegan and founded The Vegan Society.


  • 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.
    • Inaugural newsletter of the Vegan Society, Vegan News no. 1 (November 1944). Quoted in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, edited by Linda Kalof (Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 30.
  • One of my earliest recollections in life was being taken for holidays to the little farm where my father had been born. … The cows "gave" milk, the hens "gave" eggs … but I couldn't for the life of me see what the pigs "gave", and they seemed … such friendly creatures, always glad to see me, and grateful for almost anything that was thrown to them in the sty. … I still have vivid recollections of the whole process from start to finish, including all the screams of course, which were only feet away from where this pig's companion still lived. And then, when the pig had finally expired, the women came out, one after another, with buckets of this scalding water, and the body of the pig was scraped – all the hairs were taken away. The thing that shocked me, along with the chief impact of the whole setup, was that my Uncle George, of whom I thought very highly, was part of the crew, and I suppose at that point I decided that farms, and uncles, had to be re-assessed. They weren't all they seemed to be, on the face of it, to a little, hitherto uninformed boy. And it followed that this idyllic scene was nothing more than Death Row. A Death Row where every creature's days were numbered by the point at which it was no longer of service to human beings.

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