View Full Version : Donald Watson: A man to remember

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Nov 18th, 2005, 08:20 AM
An example to us all - RIP.

Nov 18th, 2005, 10:57 AM
What a great guy to have beaten such a path

rest in peace Donald Watson

Glad to walk in your footsteps


Nov 18th, 2005, 01:07 PM
I am very sad.... But he was a great inspiration to us all - to EVERYone in fact and yes, he was very fit and healthy - in fact he was mountain climbing on his 94th birthday I believe..... He will be sadly missed, but his life is a celebration and a triumph for veganism.

Nov 18th, 2005, 04:58 PM
Thank goodness for Donald Watson, not many people can say they founded a compassionate movement and inspired so many people. He was a truly wonderful man who has left a wonderful legacy. May he rest in eternal peace. My condolences to his family and friends.

Nov 18th, 2005, 05:58 PM
This man sparked off a movement that will eventually change the world forever, and impact upon every creature (human and otherwise) living upon it.

And as stated above, the fact that the 'first' vegan lived to be 95, says it all.

Nov 18th, 2005, 07:44 PM
Thank god for him. He has changed so many lives. I believe that one day his message will be realized by the whole world and everyone will be vegan, after all that's really the only way that we can survive on this wonderful little planet. It say's something for our cause that the first Vegan died healthy and cognicent at 95.

Nov 18th, 2005, 08:02 PM
You can see a photo of the lovely man himself at:


Here's a quote from veggie mailing lists:

Sadly Donald Watson died yesterday, aged 95. Donald was one of the founders of the Vegan Society, is credited with coining the word 'vegan', and he wrote and published the Vegan Society's first newsletter in November 1944 (see http://www.ukveggie.com/vegan_news/). He has remaining active his whole life, still regularly hill walking in the Lake District whilst in his 90s. He was interviewed by the BBC on his 95th birthday earlier this year.
And you can find online interviews with him at...
www.foodsforlife.org.uk/people/Donald-Watson-Vegan/Donald-Watson.html and http://tinyurl.com/8blwh

Any letters of condolence can be sent to the Vegan Society
(http://www.vegansociety.com/html/contact/), who will pass them on to Donald's family.

He lives on through everything vegan and compassionate.

Nov 18th, 2005, 08:25 PM
Rock on in the next life, fella. We'll keep the light on for you while you're away.

Nov 19th, 2005, 12:02 AM
He stayed true to what is right and lived a long, healthy life.
Thanks for the example.

Nov 21st, 2005, 11:29 AM
Next time you're eating out, down the pub, having a bite to eat at home, or having a cuppa etc etc, why not raise a toast to Donald Watson.

Never to be forgotten.

Thanks Donald.

Nov 21st, 2005, 09:18 PM
Obituary: Donald Watson

Friday, 18 November 2005, news.bbc.co.uk (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4450376.stm)

As a child in Mexborough, South Yorkshire where he was born in 1910, Donald Watson used to spend time on his Uncle George's farm.

One day one of the pigs was slaughtered - Watson never forgot its screams. Suddenly the idyllic country scene with its friendly livestock was transformed into what he described as a Death Row for animals.

From that day, he became a vegetarian and remained so for the rest of his life. However, he went further by forming an organisation, which he and his wife Dorothy coined the Vegan Society, for those seeking a lifestyle totally free from animal products for the benefit of people, animals and the environment.

Almost single-handedly, Watson edited a quarterly magazine entitled The Vegan News.

In its first edition in 1944, he wrote "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'.

The pioneers of veganism were apparently worried about whether they'd be able to stay healthy, although Donald Watson's longevity won't have harmed the view of this lifestyle.

Watson had been an active carpenter but, during the Depression of the 1930s, trained to be a woodwork teacher.

He remained in teaching until retirement, at first in Leicestershire and then, from the 1950s, in Cumbria where he lived the rest of his life.

A lifelong teetotaller, he became well known as a guide to hikers in the Lake District. A friend, George Roger, chair of the Vegan Society, described him as "a very gentle man, quite intellectual, very knowledgeable and a very caring person."

Donald Watson was once asked what he felt was his life's greatest achievement. His reply was "Achieving what I set out to do: to feel that I was instrumental in starting a great new movement which could not only change the course of things for Humanity and the rest of Creation but alter Man's expectation of surviving for much longer on this planet."

Click the link for the full article.

Thanks again Donald.

Nov 22nd, 2005, 12:46 AM
Let his life stand as a testament to what each being is capable of: Changing the world. :)

Nov 22nd, 2005, 07:51 PM
Donald died peacefully at his home in the Lake District whilst Janet his daughter and Joe Connolly, editor of Veg News, were at his side.

Joe said "Donald appeared to be totally at peace and was chatting philosophically and optimistically until shortly before he passed away"A little more info here. (http://veganworldwidenews.blogspot.com/2005/11/vegan-founder-dies-at-95.html#links)

Nov 30th, 2005, 04:53 PM
Donald Watson Obituary by his daughter, Janet.

Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society and originator of the word ‘vegan’, has died at his home in Keswick at the age of 95.

The son of a headmaster in the mining community of Mexborough, South Yorkshire, he was born into an environment in which vegetarianism, let alone veganism, was unknown. Donald’s parents, however, encouraged and supported their three children in determining their own paths in life, a liberal approach which enabled Donald to formulate ideas which were both challenging and controversial. He held his parents in great esteem, and often expressed his gratitude for their wisdom in accepting, if not understanding, his philosophy.

An obviously sensitive young man, Donald responded to the harshness and brutality of much which he observed in the industrial and farming community in which he grew up early last century, and he developed a great reverence for and in-depth knowledge of the countryside. An acute observer of the natural order and perfection of creation, this throughout life became his inspiration and guide, and led him to question man’s place in nature and his relationship with other species.

He became a vegetarian at the age of fourteen, although he knew of no others who followed this precept. A self-critical and free thinker, throughout his life he always responded to his inner convictions, regardless of any personal inconvenience or difficulties which this might entail. He was a quiet, strong-minded perfectionist, an abstemious man – teetotaller and non-smoker – who tried to avoid contact with any foods or substances which he regarded as ‘toxins’. Never one to criticise others, he himself never felt that his way of life demanded any personal sacrifice; rather, he puzzled at the risks, as he perceived them, which others took so readily.

On leaving school at the age of fifteen, he became apprenticed to a family joinery firm where he perfected the skills necessary to continue a life-long love of working with wood, later (from the age of twenty) becoming a teacher of this subject. He taught in Leicester, where he also played a large part in the Leicester Vegetarian Society, and later in Keswick, where he was able to enjoy his love of fell-walking and organic vegetable gardening until very shortly before his death.

From his early conversion to vegetarianism, he later came to view the abstention from the use of all animal products as the logical extension of this philosophy. A committed pacifist throughout his life, he registered as a conscientious objector in the war, and faced the harshest challenges to his ethical position. It was at this time that the need for a word to describe his way of life, and a society to promote its ideals, became apparent; together with his wife, Dorothy, they decided on the word ‘vegan’ by taking the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’, - ‘because veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion’, and the Society was founded in 1944. Donald ran this single-handed for two years, writing and duplicating the newsletter, and responding to the increasing volume of correspondence. From these early beginnings, more than sixty years ago, the world-wide movement which exists today developed, with the word ‘vegan’ appearing with increasing frequency on food labelling and restaurant menus.

Donald continued his life quietly in Keswick where he taught for twenty-three years; also working with the Cumbrian Vegetarian Society, campaigning through the local press on matters important in his home community, and, together with his family, enjoying his love of the mountains. For several years after his retirement from teaching he devoted much time to working as a guided walks leader. Other leisure-time activities included cycling, photography and playing the violin, and while not a party political supporter, he took a keen interest in political issues throughout his life.

He never sought any recognition for his early work in founding the Vegan Society, and indeed actively shunned the limelight, concerned only that his vision for a more compassionate way of life in harmony with the natural order should take root and grow. He was concerned to confound his many critics who claimed that he could not survive on his proposed diet by proving that he would not only survive but survive well and free from the need for doctors’ interventions until his final days. Within the last ten years of his life he climbed many of the major peaks of the Lake District. He viewed his home and garden in Keswick as his ‘little piece of heaven’, and died peacefully there, with his family with him, on 16th November 2005.

Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society and originator of the word ‘vegan’.
Born 2 September 1910, in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.
Died 16 November 2005, in Keswick, Cumbria, aged 95.

Dec 1st, 2005, 08:20 AM
gertvegan, thank you for posting that lovely obituary. What an inspiring yet modest man.

Dec 1st, 2005, 11:44 AM
It's nice to know that he passed away peacefully in the place he loved surrounded by his family.

Dec 2nd, 2005, 01:22 AM
RIP Don Watson 1910 - 2005

Interview with Donald




Dec 2nd, 2005, 01:28 AM

Donald Watson reading very first Vegan News (by Joeseph Connolly Veg News)

Interview (http://www.foodsforlife.org.uk/people/Donald-Watson-Vegan/Donald-Watson.html)

Dec 5th, 2005, 12:11 AM
I'm so sad to hear this news. Does anyone know what he died of? He should have gone way past 100 being a healthy vegan and all.

Dec 5th, 2005, 10:00 AM
He apparently always had a weak heart and yet defied his critics until 95.

Obviously his heart was a lot stronger than any Doctor could imagine.

Certainly few people on the planet have such a capacity for such a huge love of creation, nature and all living things.

Dec 9th, 2005, 08:56 PM
Obituary of Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society.

The Times (London)
December 8, 2005, Thursday
Donald Watson
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/articl...1914862,00.html (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1914862,00.html)

Donald Watson, founder of veganism, was born on
September 2, 1910. He
died on November 16, 2005, aged 95.

Founder of veganism whose dietary crusade grew to
attract a quarter of
a million adherents in Britain today

Dec 10th, 2005, 07:12 AM
We already have a couple of threads about Donald Watson.

Dec 11th, 2005, 05:08 PM
I'm curious, does anyone know what he ended up dying of? It didn't specify in the article.

Dec 11th, 2005, 06:19 PM
I read a great article recently in one of the magazines I've bought - most likely Veggie Life or VegNews. He seemed like such a great person - I'm glad he lived such a successful long life and has obviously made a huge impact. May he rest in peace.

Jan 11th, 2006, 08:44 PM
From the Vegan Society website.

Message from Donald Watson’s family to all supporters.


Donald's family would like to extend a very sincere thank-you to his many friends from around the world who have been in touch recently - firstly for the cards and messages received on the occasion of his 95th birthday in September, and later following his death on 16th November.

The birthday was a memorable occasion, starting with a chat to the BBC World Service, an excellent vegan lunch at a restaurant in Keswick, and a trip on the 'Gondola' on Coniston Water, followed a few days later by a splendid party attended by about fifty friends and family.

Don died peacefully at home a few weeks later, and we thank everyone for their support at this time in making the funeral, and the vegan buffet lunch party which followed it, a true celebration of his long and eventful life. We are deeply touched by the many very kind messages which we have received, and hope to respond eventually to those for whom we have addresses. With our love and gratitude to you all for the many ways in which you are carrying Don's work forward, and with our good wishes for 2006.

Jan and Tony

Thanks again Donald. :)