|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
The Vegetarian World Forum
THE VEGETARIAN - NUMBER ONE - SPRING 1947 pp.45-46:
THE VEGAN WAY OF LIFE
The word Vegan has been brought into use since the formation of The Vegan Society in November, 1944, and it denotes a person who abstains from using animal products as food. Veganism is actually vegetarianism carried logically to a further stage; it is no fantastic theory, but a practical philosophy of Life based on fact and applied reason. The aim of all philosophies is to relate harmoniously, and to mutual advantage, the individual and the community. If the individual is well and happy, he becomes an instrument of service to his neighbours, but, if he is ill, he is a nuisance to himself and a burden to others. As Ruskin said, the real indication of successful civilisation is the number of healthy, happy human beings.
True health is based on harmony with Natural Law - to understand which one must review the very beginnings of Life. At first the earth was nebulous, holding all the elements in gaseous form until changes of speed and temperature produced the rocks, air and water. Further extremes in temperature acted upon the solid rock and the waters, creating mud in which Plant Life began to appear. All vegetation is a static form of life because it has the power to extract its requirements of nutrition direct from the mineral sources of the earth and from air and water, and it can store within its tissues the elements in organic form.
It is, however, a necessary feature of Animal Life to be mobile when seeking nutrition because it can only utilise the elements in their organic state. Thus it is in accordance with Natural Law that plants live on the earth -transmuting the elements into organic form - and that animals obtain their sustenance from plant life. All waste matter of either vegetable or animal origin is returned to the earth for disintegration and future utilisation. When animals prey on each other and consume animal foods, they are out of alignment with natural development and not in harmony with the Cycle of Life.
In the animal world, the higher creatures are classified, according to their feeding habits, into Omnivora, Carnivora, Herbivora and Frugivora. Of these, it is the Herbivorous animals that have developed the greatest physical strength and contribute loyal service to the community, while the Carnivorous or flesh-eating animals are characterised by stealth, fear and bloodshed.
The Human Being is naturally a development of the Frugivorous or fruit-eating group as indicated by certain physiological characteristics in the formation of the skin, the teeth, the digestive juices and the intestinal tract. It is therefore natural for "homo sapiens" to obtain all his nutritional needs from various forms of plant life. It has been shown by experiment and long experience that mankind is at his fittest, both mentally and physically, when living thus in harmony with the balance of Life. Peoples such as the Hunzas and the Doukhobors have proved this beyond doubt.
At the present day, however, we are surrounded by overwhelming evidence that mankind has strayed far from this path of natural development. In a world of plenty there are the numerous ravages of famine, of disease and of bloodshed, and in place of a contented cooperation between all living things, one finds a state of cruelty and exploitation. A vast number of human beings have gradually become ensnared by bad habits, ignorance and perverted tastes, so that now they blindly depend on the Animal Kingdom for what they regard as the necessities of life. Gentle, harmless creatures are kept in captivity, continuously exploited, forced to lead unnatural lives, callously robbed of their young, and eventually slaughtered.
Meats, and in fact most flesh foods, are the dead bodies of animals which have been specially reared and then killed to satisfy human desires, whereas milk is taken from the living animals and consumed in enormous quantities by human beings of all ages, although naturally it is a specialised food provided by the cow for her calf alone. Is it any wonder that civilisation is so chaotic when grown men still suckle themselves on the maternal milk of a lower species?
A THREEFOLD AIM
It seems a colossal presumption that Mankind should have interfered so tremendously with the life and liberty of the harmless creatures of the earth, but the result is indeed a sorry one. Directly due to man's exploitation, the animals have become both dependent and disease ridden, while man himself has drifted far from the happiness of healthy simplicity, and has become physically diseased, morally depraved and spiritually degraded.
The dreadful realization of this distressing trend in the development of the Human Race causes concern in many directions. Numerous thoughtful and sensitive people throughout the world feel so strongly about the matter that they are resolved, individually and collectively, to make an effort to bring about a change and stop this decline of civilisation. Within their own lives it becomes obvious that radical adjustments are needed in daily habits, and so a personal reform begins. As with all pioneers, difficulties are numerous, but inner conviction will surmount them all.
The Vegan Society has been formed to coordinate and assist these pioneers in their efforts, it has a threefold aim:
1 - To advocate that man's food should be derived from fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal products, and that it should exclude flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animals' milk, butter and cheese;
2 - To encourage the production and use of alternatives to animal commodities;
3 - To extend and organise Veganism nationally and internationally, and to facilitate contacts between those following the Vegan Way of Life.
It is a tremendous task to break down the customs and traditions of many generations, and the Society is in need of practical encouragement and assistance in its endeavours.
No change of diet is easy in the conventional world, but perseverance has already proved that vegetable proteins are available and are quite adequate alternatives for those who do not wish to use any animal foods. Similarly, fats and oils of excellent quality have been found in plentiful supply in plant life, and with a little ingenuity can be converted into butter, cream and milk. Throughout the period of severest restrictions it has been proved that the limited rations of a Vegan have been more than adequate for his needs.
Nature responds most bountifully to the sunshine and the rain and lavishes upon us a wonderful variety of fruits, nuts, salads, herbs, vegetables, pulses and cereals from which to select our daily food. It is important that these should be fresh and wholesome and unspoiled by processes of refining and cooking. Furthermore, great care should be taken to grow them on clean, healthy soil, in which no chemical manures have been used.
The adoption of the Vegan diet is usually followed by a change in attitude towards clothing and other commodities, with a ready realisation that one must eventually become independent of leather, bone, silk, wool and other animal products. The Vegan Way of Life shows a profound effect on the individual, promoting improved health, increased mental vigor and physical activity, less need of sleep, and a happy awareness of living, while, in the community, Veganism balances the various factors in their true perspective and completes the Cycle of All Life.