All the world is nuts about
Vegetarians and vegans around the world mourned the passing last month of Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society who created the term vegan in 1944. Watson died peacefully in his home in the North of England on November 16, 2005, only a few months after celebrating his 95th birthday. His daughter Janet and her longtime partner Tony were at his side. Joe Connelly, editor of VegNews, was in Watson's home at the time, but excused himself to give the family members their privacy.
"Donald appeared to be totally at peace and was chatting philosophically and optimistically until shortly before he passed away," Connelly said.
Watson was honored by Vegetarians in Paradise in 2004 when he received the 24 Carrot Award from for his efforts to "promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth." The complete interview with Donald Watson appears at 24 Carrot Award
In his column "On Language" in The New York Times Magazine, January 30, 2005, language authority William Safire quotes from the interview as he discusses the origin and use of the word "vegan." Safire traces vegetarianism back to Pythagoras and concludes with Watson developing the term "vegan" in 1944. The column refers to the VIP interview and quotes Watson's answer on the correct pronunciation of the word.
"The pronunciation is "VEEGAN" not "VAI-GAN," "VEGGAN." or "VEEJAN." The stress is on the first syllable," Watson responded.
The New York Times columnist felt Watson inherited his mother's "feel for language." He cites the VIP interview again, specifically Watson's answer to the VIP question, "How do your family and friends react to your vegan philosophy?" Watson answered, "When my older brother and younger sister joined me as vegetarians, non-smokers, teetotalers and conscientious objectors, my mother said she felt like a hen that had hatched a clutch of duck eggs."
Watson was instrumental in starting The Vegan Society in November 1944 and edited the first edition of Vegan News, the organization's newsletter. He was a vegetarian for nearly 82 years, a vegan for 63, since 1942.
There will be, no doubt, many tributes paid to Donald Watson in the coming years. We at Vegetarians in Paradise, can only offer modest recognition of this humble woodworker who spent a great part of his life attempting to make the world a more compassionate place. Or as he said about the future of vegetarianism in the VIP interview, "The genie is now out of the bottle and no one can ever put it back."
To vegans around the world Donald Watson will always be our cherished MR. VEGAN!