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History of the Scottish Vegetarian Society

From the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchster), January 1893, p.26-27:


A meeting of those interested in the cause of food reform was held on Wednesday, the 23rd November, in the "Garden" Vegetarian Restaurant, 17, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, for the purpose of forming a local Vegetarian Society. The meeting was fortunate in having Mr. Joseph Knight, of Manchester, as chairman, and there was a good attendance. - The Chairman, in his opening remarks, touched upon the growth of the movement, the success it has already achieved, the obstacles in the way of progress, the need forearnest effort for its promotion, the support that will be given to individual effort by organised work &c.; and was glad the Glasgow friends had resolved upon and had called this meeting for the purpose of forming a Vegetarian Society. He referred to the two bases on which local societies were formed, - the one he called the "solid basis," where the officers and the committee consist of Vegetarians only; the other which introduced an element of weakness by admitting to office those who are not Vegetarians. He then invited expression of thoughts and questions. - After some friends had given expression to their opinions, it was resolved to adopt the basis of all officers being Vegetarians. The following office bearers were appointed :- Chairman, Mr. H. S. Bathgate; Secretary and Treasurer, pro tem, Mr. Jno. Barclay; Committee, Messrs. Scott, Frolich, McBride, Jamieson, and Moffat, and Mrs. Francis Smith, and Mrs. Moffatt. It was also agreed to invite the following to become Vice-Presidents:- Mr. E. C. Clark (Manchester), Joseph Knight (Manchester), Mr. John McFadyean (Irvine), Mrs. John Smith (Bothwell), Mrs. M. Bean (Inverness). After careful consideration and some discussion, it was agreed that the name of the Society be "The Scottish Vegetarian Society"." - The Chairman expressed hearty congratulations and good wishes for the Society and the cause throughout Scotland. - The meeting terminated with a hearty vote of thanks to the chairman.

  • The Lost Society - a brief history of the Scottish Vegetarian Society, from The The Vegetarian Winter 1999.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), March 1893, p111:

Glasgow. - The Scottish Vegetarian Society held its first annual banquet on Tuesday evening, the 7th inst., in the Garden Vegetarian Restaurant. About 55 ladies and gentlemen sat down to dinner, and all seemed very much pleased with their repast. The menu was as follows: Soups - Hotch potch, brown lentil. Savouries - Savoury rice fritters, haricot rolls, tomato pudding, green peas and curried rice. Sauces - Tomato, brown gravy, curry. Vegetables - Sprouts, peas, haricots, rice, tomatoes, cabbage, carrot, potatoes, turnip. Sweets - Garden pudding, fig pudding, apple tart, pineapple, figs, apples, green figs, prunes, raisins. The Chairman then spoke briefly as to the aims and objects of the Society, and said that all the Society asked of unbelievers was a fair and impartial trial of the Vegetarian system of diet. A first-rate musical programme was then entered upon, varied with short speeches. The solos were "The King's Own" (Mr. Goold), "Five o'clock in the morning" (Miss Young), "O, Nannie, wilt thou gang wi' me?" (Mr. Barclay), "Charge of the Light Brigade" (Mr. Moffat), "Ida with the Golden Hair" (Mr. McBride), "My Heather Hills" (Mrs. Bathgate), There were also various part songs, recitations, and readings, and Mrs. Emil Frolich gave selections on the zither, and was heartily encored. Mrs. Macintyre presided at the pianoforte with great taste and skill, The speakers were Messrs. Paterson, McFadyean, Ford, Strang, and Barclay (Secretary), who dealt with different phases of Vegetarianism. A very pleasant evening was brought to a close by the company singing "Auld Lang Syne."

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), January 1894, p26: Detailed report of meetings.

In 1908 the Scottish Vegetarian Society sent a letter of support to the first meeting of the International Vegetarian Union in Dresden, Germany.

The folowing is from the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine), February 1909

"At Home" and Summer School re-union at Glasgow - The Scottish Vegetarian Society held a very successful "At Home" and Re-union on January 16th, at Glasgow. About 140 guests were present, and of this number half were Summer School scholars - from Nottingham, Manchester, St.Andrews, Edinburgh, and places near Glasgow. The evening was happily spent in greetings, musical selections, and dancing. Mr.H.S.Bathgate, the genial president of the society, presided, and addresses were given by Mr Crawford, of Edinburgh, and the Secretary of the Vegetarian Society, who paid a deserved tribute to the Secretary of the Scottish Society (Mr.J.P.Allan), for the spirit of good fellowship and unselfishness he had always manifested at the Summer Schools. Their success had been largely due to his personal influence. - The Scottish Vegetarian Society held its monthly "At Home" in the Arcadian Restaurant, 132, St.Vincent Street, on December 19th. Tea was served from 6 to 7 o'clock, followed by music and dancing. Misses Gillanders and McClaren, and Messrs. Ferguson, McClaren, McClellan, and Webster contributed the music, and readings were given by Mr. Horton and Mr.A.Stewart. The attendance was good and the gathering was very successful.

.. and from the April 1910 issue of the Vegetarian Messenger:

Vegetarianism in Scotland.
Our movement in Scotland is making encouraging advance. The Scottish and Edinburgh Societies are actively engaged in helpful propaganda. At Edinburgh the lectures are very well attended. At two lectures given by the Secretary of the Vegetarian Society the room has been crowded to the door, many standing. At Glasgow during the month of April Miss Macdonald will give four cookery lectures and demonstrations in the Arcadian Restaurant, 132, St. Vincent Street, on Thursday evenings at 7-45 p.m. It is pleasant to see the spirit of friendly interest and co-operation between the Scottish and the Edinburgh Societies. We wish success to their work.

... from the August 1910 issue:

Mr. Dugald Semples Lectures
Mr. Dugald Semple, the Scottish apostle of the Simple Life, is arranging lecturing tours for the coming winter. He is prepared to give lectures for a modest fee, and we are sure that his services would be appreciated by vegetarian and allied societies. His address is Wheelhouse, Bridge of Weir, Scotland.

By 1912 the Scottish Society was formally afficliated to the Vegetarian Society based in Manchester, this does not appear to have been the case when the Society was founded. In 1912 there were also Vegetarian Societies in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee which were directly afficliated to the Vegetarian Society, Manchester. It is not clear whether they were also affiliated to the Scotish Society.

From The Heretics Feast by Colin Spencer:

At the end of the war civilian rationing began on 1 January 1918 with sugar, then meat, butter and margarine. The Government used two vegetarians Mrs Leonard Cohen and Mr Dugald Semple, to spread the message, so as to eke out the rations and propose meat substitutes.

From the reports of the 1938 IVU Congress, held in Norway:

The delegates from Gt. Britain were ... Mr. Dugald Semple (President of the Scottish V. S. and Vice-President of The Vegetarian Society) ...

Vegetarianism and Peace.
The concluding address of the Congress was delivered by Mr. DUGALI) SEMPLE (Gt. Britain photo right), who spoke on "Vegetarianism and Peace." Mr. Semple said that the question of peace was one of the most important problems with which the various countries of the world were concerned at the present time, and people were naturally interested in what we, as vegetarians, had to offer in place of war and preparations for war. The situation throughout Europe was tragic because war was no longer confined to armed forces but meant the slaughter of innocent women and children. The relation between food and war may come as a surprise to many people, hut Socrates pointed out the relationship many years ago. When Plato first outlined the ideal life for his country he suggested that it might be necessary to introduce flesh-foods into his community. Socrates replied by saying that when you introduce flesh-foods it means that you are not going to have sufficient land to grow food and to raise cattle at the same time, and then you will go to your neighbour's territory and cut a slice off his land, and he will object, and then you will go to war with each other. That was the lesson we saw in the last great war and we observe today that many nations which are not self -supporting have a tendency to quarrel with their neighbours.

In Great Britain, before the war, there was only 7.6% of the population living on the land, as against 20% in Belgium, 25% in Holland and 30% in Germany. Today we have only 4.6% of the population in Britain living on the land. It means that the more we get away from nature and congregate people in towns and cities, there is more crime, disease and war. We cannot get away from nature without suffering thereby. We have got to live closer to the laws of our being. We must have a healthy body, but that is not enough. We are suffering today from an unbalanced proportion of activities - we seem to know how to do everything, and yet we do not know how to walk properly. We can link up the world by means of electricity, but we cannot link it up with love and human sympathy. Our attitude towards animals must be completely changed. We must cease to refer to them as "dumb" animals and "livestock." We must remember that they are our co-partners in civilization.

Vegetarianism is not merely a matter of food reform - it is a philosophy of life, and war will only cease when we cease to live as beasts of prey. So long as we prepare for war we shall get war. We must not only study Darwin but also Kropotkin. Those animals which are carnivorous are becoming less and the vegetarian animals are increasing. Vegetarianism is the first great step. The killing of human beings is akin to the killing of animals and so the exploiting of animal life leads to the selfish exploitation of human beings. In quoting Burns, Mr. Semple appealed for a more widespread appreciation of the real values in life - more sunshine for the body, more love for the soul, peace for every living creature the world over.

Peace Resolution.
Following the address by Mr. Semple a resolution was passed by the Congress "calling upon all peoples and their governments to maintain and work for peace." The resolution, voicing the opinion of the representatives of the different nations assembled, expressed disapproval of the repeated air raids on defenceless towns, on unarmed vessels and on peaceful peoples in Europe and Asia. It stated that vegetarians, being opposed to the killing of animals, protested against any effort to promote conditions involving the slaughter of human beings, with its attendant destruction of cul-tural and intellectual values and the widespread debasement of human life.

From reports of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in Stonehouse, England:

... The business included reports from representatives of Societies affiliated to the I.V.U., and were given by ... , Mr. Dugald Semple (Scotland), ...[Mr Semple also chaired one one of the sessions of the Congress]

From reports of the 1950 IVU Congress, held in the Netherlands:

Brief speeches were made by delegates from the countries represented. ... A. Reid (Scotland), ...

According to the minutes of the IVU Executive Committe meeting, May 1-2, 1954, Dugold Semple was still president of the SVS, one of several Vice Presidents of IVU, and listed as a speaker at the 1955 World Vegetarian Congress in Paris.

Since the first article above appeared a new Scottish Vegetarian Association has been formed, and can now be found at:

See also the South East Scotland Vegetarians at: - and lots more local groups around Scotland can be found from the VSUK Local Network at:

If you have any more information about anything on this page please contact John Davis -