December 16, 2011

1951 Abolitionist Essay by founding member of The Vegan Society


The following essay was published in 1951 in The Forum:


VEGANISM DEFINED by Leslie Cross; 
one of the founding members of The Vegan Society

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 in 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, The Vegan Society)
39, Willow Crescent East, Uxbridge, Middx.

Source Link  (published in 1951)
           
For more writings by Leslie Cross, go to A Candid Hominem

6 comments:

ana v morris said...

Vegans are changing the world. A new breed of Power Vegans is coming along. The animals will be free! Bless Vegan Society <3

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a vegan but i am not just concerned with animal exploitation but also animals that are harmed through our non-exploitive actions such as pollution, landclearing, pesticide use, global warming etc. i think i have just as much a duty to change my lifestyle to reduce harm in these areas through being less consumerist, recycling, buying 2nd hand and walking or cycling when possible.
another form of dietary exploitation i never here mention of is using the dead bodies of animals as plant fertiliser. i think its odd to scrutinise ingredients and totally ignore this fact.
This artical says veganism is concerned with 'animal' exploitation. I hope this includes humans as humans are sentient and animals.

Nathan Schneider said...

http://www.ivu.org/history/world-forum/spring51.jpg
http://www.ivu.org/history/world-forum/1951spring.html

Hi Butterflies! Nitpicking here, but "The Vegan Society original magazine" is not correct. This piece was printed in a magazine called "World Forum". A picture of the cover is linked above. The same year a similar essay titled "The New Constitution" did appear in The Vegan. You can find it, along with many more writings by Leslie Cross, here: http://www.candidhominid.com/2011/07/leslie-cross.html

Vegan Poet said...

Thanks Nathan...making corrections...not nit-picking at all... I want to impart Truth....thank-you.

Anonymous said...

Against Single Issue Campaigns:
"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."

Against welfarist regulation of animal use (regardless of the end goal):

"veganism is not so much welfare as liberation"

"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."

And for veganism!

This from the 1951 UK Vegan Society. Absolutely amazing

Jeff Perz

unimaginativevegan said...

And I thought this kind of abolitionist thinking was a modern thing. The vegan society had it right!