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Veganism Defined


Written by Leslie Cross, 1951
Vice-President of the first Vegan Society in the UK

Recently the Vegan Society adopted revised and extended rules which among other things clarify the goal towards which the movement aspires.

The Society's object and meaning of the word "veganism", have until now been matters of inference and personal predilection, are now defined as follows:

'The object of the Society shall be to end the exploitation of animals by man"; and 'The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals."

The Society pledges itself 'in pursuance of its object" to 'seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.

Membership its the Society is available to all who wish to see the object achieved and who undertake to live as closely to the ideal as personal circumstances permit. An Associate makes no promise as to behaviour but declares himself in agreement with the object. The door is thus widely opened, and the Society welcomes all who feel able to support it. Direction and management of the Society's work, however, rest with the members.

The effect of this development is to make veganism unique among movements concerned with animal welfare. For it has crystallised as a whole and not, as are all other such movements, as an abstraction. Where every other movement deals with a segment - and therefore deals directly with practices rather than with principles - veganism is itself a principle, from which certain practices logically flow.

If, for example, the vegan principle is applied to diet, it can at once be seen why it must be vegetarian in the strictest sense and why it cannot contain any foods derived from animals. One may become a vegetarian for a variety of reasons - humanitarian, health, or mere preference for such a diet; The principle is a smatter of personal feeling, and varies accordingly. Veganism, however, is a principle - that man has no right to exploit the creatures for his own ends - and no variation occurs. Vegan diet is therefore derived entirely from "fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal products," and excludes "flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey and animal milk and its derivatives.''

In a vegan world the creatures would be reintegrated within the balance and sanity of nature as she is in herself. A great and historic wrong, whose effect upon the course of evolution must have been stupendous, would be righted. The idea that his fellow creatures might be used by man for self-interested purposes would be so alien to human thought as to be almost unthinkable. In this light, veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of man; not so much an effort to make the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built.

Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes. It possesses historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves. Were it put into effect, every basic wrong done to animals by man would automatically disappear. At its heart is the healing power of compassion, the highest expression of love of which man is capable. For it is a giving without hope of a getting. And yet, because he would free himself from many of the demands made by his own lower nature, the benefit to man himself would be incalculable.

Leslie Cross, (Vice-President,Vegan Soc.) 
39, Willow Crescent East, Uxbridge, Middx.

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This definition of veganism is absurd.

I used "Google Translator" I regret the poor translation:
The definition of veganism 1951 has three errors. The first and clearest is using a sexist language when you use the word man instead of the human word. The second error is that it is discriminatory, particularly reinista, it gives someone like belonging to the animal kingdom or not, what matters is it ethically someone, that is, it is a consciousness. The third mistake is less visible, but deeper: who is harmed does not care who or what is what hurts, just not to be prejudiced; therefore, the purpose of ethics is not to wash human guilt, but avoid having victims because ethics revolves around who may be harmed, not about the cause of that injury.
Another mistake that I discovered is that he says veganism only refers to non-human. That is, according to this definition, the farms and slaughterhouses where they are human victims are vegan: waiter!Give me a steak human!Are vegan!
David Díaz
RespuestasVeganas.Org

Hi David, 

I disagree with the claim of "sexism" in the letter. The letter was written in 1951, when using the term "man" was widely accepted and not considered to be inappropriate. To claim that the author used the term in a derogatory manner is not something I accept. 

I think also that, in the last sentence of the letter, Leslie Cross shows that he sees veganism as being beyond the issue of other animals, although that is certainly the focus. 



RespuestasVeganas.Org said:

This definition of veganism is absurd.

I used "Google Translator" I regret the poor translation:
The definition of veganism 1951 has three errors. The first and clearest is using a sexist language when you use the word man instead of the human word. The second error is that it is discriminatory, particularly reinista, it gives someone like belonging to the animal kingdom or not, what matters is it ethically someone, that is, it is a consciousness. The third mistake is less visible, but deeper: who is harmed does not care who or what is what hurts, just not to be prejudiced; therefore, the purpose of ethics is not to wash human guilt, but avoid having victims because ethics revolves around who may be harmed, not about the cause of that injury.
Another mistake that I discovered is that he says veganism only refers to non-human. That is, according to this definition, the farms and slaughterhouses where they are human victims are vegan: waiter!Give me a steak human!Are vegan!
David Díaz
RespuestasVeganas.Org

Thanks Carolyn for posting this! Refreshing to see this clear definition of veganism as a moral principle of animal liberation and abolition of all exploitation and abuse of animals for human use - 64 years ago, it is as fresh as ever, the somewhat dated manner of writing notwithstanding. The roots of veganism are straight and true, and connected also to the deep wisdom traditions of ahimsa as well.

This definition of veganism rejects nonviolence. There are vegans who are spreading this definition and on the basis of her claim that veganism is not to humans: http://filosofiavegana.blogspot.com.es/2014/11/el-veganismo-se-refi... humanos.html

This is as absurd as saying that the anti-racism has nothing to do with respect to those who are white, or anti-sexism (or feminist) have nothing to do with respect to men.


Will Tuttle said:

Thanks Carolyn for posting this! Refreshing to see this clear definition of veganism as a moral principle of animal liberation and abolition of all exploitation and abuse of animals for human use - 64 years ago, it is as fresh as ever, the somewhat dated manner of writing notwithstanding. The roots of veganism are straight and true, and connected also to the deep wisdom traditions of ahimsa as well.

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