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The Vegan Option

39 episodes in the feed.


Ian McDonald brings you "Stories, science, and analysis from vegan perspectives."

VegHist Ep 15: Liberation. Veganism, hippies, and the animal rights movement. With Sam Calvert and Maneka Gandhi; at London, Cambridge, and Bangalore
13 Sep 2017 at 7:57am

How has western vegetarianism risen, within living memory, from fringe to mainstream choice? And how has veganism gone from nowhere to everywhere?

Episode 15: Liberation

This final episode recounts the growth of veganism, vegetarianism, and the modern animal advocacy movement.

Ian treads in the footsteps of the handful of pioneers who set up the vegan movement in the 1940s, and meets a life vegan born in 1951.

He investigates the sixties counterculture that combined the philosophy of ethics, activism, and new ways of living and working, visiting one of Britain’s first vegetarian wholefood co-operatives.

And as vegetarian and vegan movements increasingly link up around the world, he looks at developments in China and India. In New Delhi, he meets the vegan politician who is also the most prominent animal advocate in the world’s largest democracy.

Play or download (70MB MP3 49min) (via iTunes)

Contributors: Dr Samantha Calvert (@SamCalvert) Edwin Cluer, Wimbledon Prof Julia Twigg (University of Kent, Canterbury) Reg Taylor, founder of the precursor of Suma Wholefoods David Jarvis, Les, George, and others, Arjuna Wholefoods Cambridge Dr Vincent Goossaert (Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités), Paris Dr James Staples (University of Brunel, London) Maneka Gandhi (Parliament of India) (People for Animals) (Wikipedia) Members of Bengaluru Vegans (Vegan Bangalore on Facebook) Archive Donald Watson archive interview with George Rodger by kind permission of The Vegan Society (transcript of full interview [PDF]). Jay Dinshah at Vegan Society of South Jersey, Health Expo. Moorestown, NJ, USA, Nov 10 1990, courtesy of The American Vegan Society Richard Ryder, talking in 2001’s “Animal Rights”, courtesy of Vegetarian Guides. Francis Moore Lappé, talking in Diet for a Small Planet, 1974, courtesy of Bulldog Films. The Vegeburger Rap, courtesy of Gregory Sams Open Door, 1976, by the BBC and The Vegan Society Readings Various (Alice Bonus, Dugald Semple, Florence Sexton inter alia) “The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review”, 1909-12, referenced in Leneman (see below) A Guthrie Badenoch, Letter, British Medical Journal, 1952 Cyril Pink, 1952, see below Ruth Harrison, the start of “Animal Machines”, 1964 Production Notes

There was a gap of months between the broadcast edit and the podcast of this episode.

This is partially because the episode had quite a different script for broadcast and podcast. Many of you who listen to the podcast are also part of the movement this episode is about; it’s not like previous episodes, where I can talk about long gone vegetarian groups in the third person on the certain basis that no listeners are part of them.

I also wanted to give the podcast edit more of a global scope. It’s okay for a radio show broadcast in London to centre on London. In this episode, I talk more about what’s going on in the rest of the world.

And I think that trimming the episode to the broadcast slot took a lot of stuff out; the podcast edit is two thirds longer.

The conclusion at the end is completely different – and if you’re interested you can listen to the broadcast edit of Episode 15 on the Resonance FM Mixcloud.

The End and the Beginning

Kickstarter backers and Resonance FM listeners might notice I changed the title. From the start of the project, the final episode title(s) were going to be “The End and the Beginning”, referring to Donald Watson’s comment that “vegan” was the beginning and end of “vegetarianism”.

There were a couple of problems with this. Firstly, I never explained the reference in the show.

In fact, as I learnt from Samantha Calvert during production, Donald Watson originally had a very different background for the word vegan. (Via the Hendersons suggesting “Allvega”, probably inspired by the “Vega” restaurant.)

Plus, coy references for episode titles don’t cut much ice with search engines. So I went for “Liberation”, as a nod to Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation”, and a word that became very important to the movement in the late twentieth century.

Birth of the Vegan Society

As veganism becomes more influential, there are more active debates about its beginnings. My comments on that will be a blog post of their own, but let me confess to leaving a couple of things out of the show.

Dr Samantha Calvert credits Elsie Shrigley as a co-founder of the Vegan Society, because of her role bringing people together. I missed that out because I don’t think it’s that unambiguous, and there wasn’t time to delve into it.

One interesting thing that got cut for time was how the vegan movement got some national attention in its first ten years. I didn’t have time to mention them all in the show:

Dec 1946 – Vegan meal in House of Commons, Westminster Mar 1951 – The Daily Mirror publishes a sympathetic article about the Vegan Society with the headline “600 people who’ll only kick a vegetarian football.” Mar 1951 – BBC broadcasts two vegan episodes
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