Jordi Casamitjana, the author of the book “Ethical Vegan”, imagines how the Museum of Veganism could look like, and how could it teach about the history of this philosophy
I love museums.
I always feel safe in them. I found them soothing and relaxing — if they are not full of tourists during the high season, that is — and I love the silence and serenity most of them induce. Strolling in them, I like the freedom to direct my attention to whatever I want to. Read this sign but ignore that one; spend two seconds in this exhibit and half an hour in that one. I love to learn about the history and the foundations of the places, objects, and even concepts I use in my life. I enjoy imagining what it would be like to be from another place and another time, and as a rational person, I like well-packaged information aimed to approximate the truth designed to be digested at your leisure.
When I left Cataloni in the 1990s and emigrated to the UK, during my first two years in London (a city not only with about 200 museums but with many of them being free) I would visit museums every week. In fact, attempting to translate all the signs of London’s Natural History Museum, and assess my progress every week, was one of the methods I used to teach myself English.
I love museums, and every time I go to a new place, I check if there are any I can visit. However, despite I have been vegan for over 20 years and travelled a lot during this time, I have never visited the Museum of Veganism. There is a good reason why: It doesn’t exist yet. I would really like to visit such a museum and physically experience a glimpse of the history of this philosophy and transformative socio-political movement, but nobody has built it yet.
Well, there was a place in the US called The Vegan Museum (formerly the National Vegetarian Museum), but this is not what I had in mind. This was a travelling exhibition about mainly vegetarianism, which toured different locations in and around Chicago. As far as I know (I have never seen it), the exhibition only consisted of 12 seven-by-three-foot panels (no artefacts or exhibits, as you would expect to find in museums). It covered the history of the Chicago Vegetarian Society, the Pure Food Lunch Room (Chicago’s first vegetarian restaurant, established in 1900), and the Vegetarian Times magazine. It only changed its name to the “Vegan Museum” in 2020, and it may no longer exist, as when I went to its website https://veganmuseum.org/, I got a broken link. If I ever return to Chicago I will try to see if still exists, but, even if I am sure is quite interesting, this is not what I consider a “proper” museum of veganism, but rather a small exhibition on vegetarianism (with an emphasis on local history as opposed to the global movement).
When I think about a Museum of Veganism, I am thinking about something much bigger and permanent, something of the calibre of the British Museum, the Louvre, the Smithsonian Museums, the Rijksmuseum, or the National Museum of China — and I am thinking in a museum of veganism in all its dimensions, not a museum of only the vegan diet. There is nothing like this so far, but I think there will be at some point in the future. If you ask me, I have a very specific idea of what I would like to see in it.
If you are someone considering creating such a museum, if you enjoyed the fiction-style article I wrote about the metaphor of The Vegan Mansion, if you like to learn about the history of veganism, or simply want to know what I had in mind out of curiosity, this article may be for you.
Where Should the Museum of Veganism Be?
I think it’s great that Chicago created its exhibition about vegetarianism and veganism focusing on their local history because I hope that, in the future, every major city does that. In the same way that all major cities tend to have a museum of art, a museum of the history of the city, or a museum of science, I think that every city should have a museum of veganism, so visitors can learn how veganism developed there, local historical and cultural vegan milestones can be preserved and schools can send their pupils there to learn about the philosophy.
But when I think about the idea of The Museum of Veganism, I am thinking of something more international, more global… the mother of all local and national museums of veganism. An emblematic big museum people all over the world would purposely travel to visit. Which would be the best location for such an epic museum?
Somewhere in the Indian state of Bihar could be a good place, as this is the modern location of what was the ancient Kingdom of Magadha, where the concept of ahimsa, a Sanskrit word translated as “do no harm” or “no violence”, which is the main axiom of the philosophy of veganism, became a key tenet of important religions that emerged there millennia ago. In the Kingdom of Magadha, considered the centre of political and cultural power and a haven of learning (perfect for a museum), philosophers and monks following Hinduism, Jainism, Ajivikanism, and later Buddhism, discussed what would be the best way to manifest ahimsa (and although they disagreed about the extend of such manifestation, they all rejected the killing of animals for food). That would be a good place for an International Museum of Veganism, as I think veganism is the modern secular manifestation of ahimsa.
Perhaps somewhere in Patna, the capital of the Bihar state, historically known as Pataliputra, could be a good location for the museum. One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, Patna was founded in 490 BCE by the king of Magadha. Pataliputra was a seat of learning and fine arts, and today it has already several big museums (the Patna Museum, The Bihar Museum, and the Srikrishna Science Centre). However, although India is the country with more vegetarians in the world, today Bihar is not a state with a relatively high percentage of vegetarians anymore (probably around 7.5% of the population is vegetarian, while in other states further west, such as Rajasthan, Haryana or Punjab, most of the population are). For that reason, I think there must be a better location.
Another good place for the Museum of Veganism could be Crotone, on the southern tip of Italy, in modern Calabria. That is where, around 530 BCE, the ancient Greek Pythagoras became the leader of a cult when the city was called Kroton — and it was Greek then. He believed in reincarnation (he used the concept of “transmigration” to explain how souls move between non-human animals and humans), and he and his followers avoided consuming meat and eggs because they did not want to eat anyone who could have been a human before. His cult became more and more influential, and when other Greeks saw it as a threat he eventually had to flee from Croton and he died in exile, but the Pythagoreans continued until the 4th century BCE. Before the term vegetarian was coined many centuries later, the term Pythagorean was used all over the world to describe anyone who did not eat animal flesh. However, there are only three vegan restaurants in Crotone today, we do not really want veganism to be associated with any cult, and Pythagoras consumed dairy products anyway, so there must be a better location.
The Judean Desert along the Dead Sea where archaeologists believe that the Essenes lived (an ancient Jewish sect whose members did not eat animal products, including milk and eggs, and which flourished around the 2nd century BCE) would not work either as a good location for the museum because…well, it’s a desert. North Street in Philadelphia, where William Metcalfe, an English preacher who in 1817 had started a vegetarian church, would not do either because…well, it would be too linked to religion and vegetarianism rather than veganism (which currently is a strong secular movement, although very tolerant of religious thought).
I think I have found the perfect place for the Museum of Veganism, though. Somewhere in the vicinity of 144 High Holborn, London, UK. This is the site where there used to be the Attic Club, a vegetarian restaurant that opened at the beginning of 1944. This is where, on a Sunday in November of that year (possibly the 5th), five months before WW2 in Europe ended, Dorothy Morgan, Donald Watson, Sally Shrigley, Fay Henderson, George Henderson, and possibly other members of the Vegetarian Society, met to discuss their opposition to the consumption of milk and eggs. They concluded they had to split from the Vegetarian Society and create a new one, the Vegan Society (which still exists today, and which, after lots of refining, created the official definition of veganism which has not changed since 1988).
These were the people who first coined the term “vegan” (the beginning and end of the word vegetarian, as some of them put it), and interpreted it as opposing the exploitation of all sentient life (that is why they opposed the consumption of honey from the very beginning). These are the people who spelt out the philosophy in a clear way and finally found a complete and coherent way to manifest ahimsa without linking it to any religion or culture. These are the people who saw veganism as “the greatest cause of all”, and as a way to solve the major global problems (including environmental and social justice problems).
Although vegans had already existed for millennia, the concept of veganism had already evolved for centuries, and vegetarianism had already been secularised with the creation of the Vegetarian Society in 1847, it could be argued that veganism as a transformative global socio-political movement began in 144 High Holborn, London, on that Sunday. In Holborn, from all places, the borough of London where the British Museum is. In London, from all cities, one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world today, if not the most (with more than 150 fully vegan eateries). In England, where the first Vegetarian, Vegan, and anti-vivisection societies were created. In Great Britain, the first jurisdiction in the world that officially recognised ethical veganism as a protected philosophical belief akin to any other major philosophy or religion. In the UK, one of the countries with the oldest animal rights movements. A perfect location, if you ask me — ah, and about an hour’s walk from my home.
The Architecture of the Museum of Veganism
If the Museum of Veganism in London has to compete with architectural jewels such as the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, The British Library Museum or the Design Museum, it better look good. It will have to be a big building, but that will not be enough. It will have to be an architectural marvel.
As the building where the Attic Club was located no longer exists, and in its place, there is just an office building now, we do not have to worry about preserving an old building for the museum, so it could be built from scratch (in a vegan-friendly way). A way to make it comparable with the other big museums from an architectural point of view, as well as being in alignment with veganism, the Museum of Veganism should be, in its building and running, Carbon Negative (as ahimsa also applies to the environment, which is the home of all sentient beings). This means that, if possible, it should be powered only by renewable sources of energy, and, any energy that needs to be bought externally, should come from vegan-friendly energy company suppliers (luckily, we already have one in the UK, Ecotricity, certified by the Vegan Society as they do not use biofuels that come from animal agriculture). The building should have proper isolation for winter, could have solar glass (glass for the windows which doubles as energy-producing solar panels), and a natural air ventilation system for summer, like the ones termites invented (good architects could figure that one out).
However, the building should also absorb CO2, as otherwise it may only be Carbon neutral. One way to achieve that would be to have a veganic orchard on the roof (with a greenhouse for winter), which would produce the vegetables for the museum cafeteria (and absorb CO2 in the process), and there would not be energy wasted in transporting some of the food. On the floors below it, there could also be a small vertical farm that would produce some greens and absorb more CO2. Additionally, another way could be to have some of those structures built with materials that passively absorb CO2. This could take the form of a giant green V (the letter of veganism) which could stand high above the building and become a photographic landmark.
The museum should have plants all around too, all edible and usable for the cafeteria. If it is going to be built in Holborn, there probably would not be room to have a big outside garden, as it’s a very dense part of central London (but that would be a good thing to have if another location is chosen instead). However, some trees could always be planted around the building.
As veganism is a transformative movement, the museum should be big enough to cover the past, present, and future. The lower floors should be about the past, and the higher floors about the future (which fits well the idea of the veganic orchard on the roof as it will be growing the food that has yet to be eaten).
In other words, the design of the building should spell sustainability, future, diversity, harmony, nature, compassion, equality, truth, fairness, and all these attributes the vegan world would have. Above all, it should be a welcoming place for all, and this is why it must be a free museum for any visitor.
Sections of the Museum of Veganism
Veganism is such a big deal, that a museum with just a couple of floors will not do. We will need several floors to be able to cover all the dimensions of veganism fairly, the five gateways or wings of the Vegan Mansion, as I sometimes put it (the animals, the environment, health, spirituality, and social justice).
The ground floor could be about the spiritual dimension of veganism, as, chronologically, the first people we could identify in history who followed a vegan lifestyle (or an approximation of it) were linked to particular religions. Here is where visitors would learn about ahimsa, but also about the Taoists, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Pythagoreans, Essenes, Therapeutae, Ebionites, Manichaeans, Neoplatonists, Sufi mystics, Bogomils, Cathars, Vaishnavas, Adventists, Dorrelites, and any other community who advanced the concept of veganism through spiritual practices (although they did not use this name and they may have only advanced some aspects of it) through the years all over the world (if you want to know more about all these my book Ethical Vegan covers them).
The second floor could be about health, as, thanks to the Greek Platonist philosopher Plutarch, since the first century of the Common Era abstaining from consuming animals has been linked to good health. In this section, visitors would be able to learn about the key scientific discoveries regarding the plant-based diet. From the work of Dr C.V. Pink and Dr Frank Wokes, who first used vitamin B12 in 1952 to successfully treat vegan patients deficient in it, to the work of modern vegan physicians and researchers such as Dr T. Colin Campbell (who coined the term whole-food plant-based, and who wrote with his son Thomas M. Campbell II the influential 2005 book The China Study).
The third floor (the core of the building) could be about animal rights, showing the history of the animal rights movement and how this and the veganism movement merged over time. This is where visitors will learn about the creation of the Vegan Society, the philosophy of veganism as we understand it today (with its five main axioms), animal sentience, the horrors of animal exploitation, and the history of specific animal protection movements (such as the anti-vivisection movement, the anti-captivity movement, the anti-hunting movement, the anti-bullfighting movement, etc.). Particular emphasis should be given in this section to inform about the suffering of animals in the dairy, egg, wool, and honey industries. On this floor, a section about animal sanctuaries would allow visitors to learn about “happy stories” of animal rescues.
The fourth floor could deal with the environmental dimension of veganism, and here visitors would learn about Kathleen Jannaway, one of the pioneers of eco-veganism and the General Secretary of the Vegan Society from 1972 to 1983, about how veganism can solve the current climate change and mass extinction crises, about the environmental damage of animal agriculture, and about rewilding. On this floor, visitors could also see a section on precision fermentation using algae, bacteria and fungi, a small vertical farm that would produce some greens for the cafeteria all year long, and also a section about veganic farming (perhaps sponsored by the Vegan Organic Network).
The fifth floor could deal with social justice, the fifth gateway of veganism, where the overlapping of the veganism movement and other social justice movements will be explored. Visitors would learn about pre-colonial vegan traditions, community veganic gardens, dietary racism, eco-feminism, intersectionality, programmes of free vegan meals for marginalised communities, etc. They will also learn about important social justice vegetarians and vegans, such as revolutionaries from the French Revolution, the anti-slavery William Wilberforce MP, the 19th-century antivivisection pioneers, Dr Anna Kingsford (a women’s rights and anti-vivisection activist), the French vegan anarchists such as Louis Rimbeault, the ecofeminist Marti Kheel (who in 1982 founded Feminists for Animal Rights), the feminist-vegan advocate Carol J. Adams (author of the influential 1990 book The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory), Angela Davis (author of the 1981 book Women, Race & Class), Aph Ko (anti-racist activist and founder of Black Vegans Rock), Dr Breeze Harper (author of the 2010 anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society), etc.
I think there could be a sixth floor that deals with veganism today, with a section about the Anthropology of the Vegankind (I have a chapter in my book titled like this) with all the types of vegan identities there are and the demographics of the vegan movement, a section about vegan symbols (such as the vegan flag, the trademarks, the V sign, etc.), a section about the different types of vegan activism and advocacy, a section about vegan innovation (with all the advances in leather, wool, silk, meat, egg, dairy, and honey alternatives), and a section about the first openly vegan presidents of nations (by then there may be already some), mayors of municipalities, parliamentarians of political houses around the world (the UK parliament already has a few), and other key decision-makers.
On top of that, we can have the roof with the veganic orchard, some exhibitions about the vegan world of the future, and the giant V (wouldn’t be nice if, at night, there would be sufficient energy left to have two green laser rays on the top of the V sign projecting a green V in the sky?).
Whether all these are floors or wings of a one-floor building it does not matter. The important thing is that they are distinct sections with enough space for all the necessary exhibits and that there is a chronological and logical order to visit each section.
Exhibits in the Museum of Veganism
As the modern “state-of-the-art” facility the Museum of Veganism should be, it should use all the most successful types of exhibit styles the best museums use today.
For instance, in the first hall after the main entrance, there could be a large selfie-friendly marble stone carved with the official definition of veganism, which is, “Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Somewhere in the museum, there should be an exhibit showing the entire timeline of major events and achievements in the history of animal rights and veganism, such as the founding of various organisations, the running of successful campaigns, the staging of major protests, the passing of important lawsuits, key legislation passed, the creation of essential documentaries, the life of famous vegans, the launching of iconic vegan products, etc. This should not be Eurocentric and should cover the progress and challenges of the vegan movement in any part of the world.
Another interesting exhibit could be a recreation of the scene when the Vegan Society was created, with a replica of the Attic Club room and life-size figures of Donal Watson and the other pioneers deciding to split from the Vegetarian Society (I think there are sufficient photos of the restaurant and the participants of that meeting to be able to reproduce the event with accuracy).
In the animals’ department, there could be a life counter with all the animals being killed every second in the world, counters for every exploitation industry, and perhaps a physical demonstration of the numbers of domestic vertebrates exploited compared with the number of wild vertebrates and the number of humans — using grains of sand, rice, or marbles.
Another exhibit on the animals’ floor should be a closed side room (so visitors can choose to bypass it if it is too hard for them to watch) titled “The Horrors of Animal Exploitation”, in which real cages and devices used in different animal exploitation industries would be displayed. Darkly lit and with sad or scary background music, visitors could see things like battery hen cages, pig gestation crates, calf huts, or macaque lab cages. The real structures would be shown without any animals, but when visitors push a button, a holographic image of the animals in such devices could appear — which should shock the audience. The sound of cows and calves calling to each other when separated soon after birth, or of pigs suffocating in gas chambers, could also be played in headphones for those brave enough to want to listen.
On a much more positive style, Virtual Reality tours of big vegan animal sanctuaries where visitors can virtually experience the life of happy rescued animals (such as running with unmounted horses, jumping with happy goats, eating grass with old cows, or sunbathing with experienced pigs), would be a good detoxifier for those visitors who entered the horrors’ section. The exhibit about animal sanctuaries could also show life-size holographic images of rescued animals in sanctuaries and watch videos of their rescue, recovery, and happy long life at several sanctuaries all over the world. That’s where visitors would be able to hug a warm animatronic live-size figure of Esther the Wonder Pig, the famous Canadian vegan influencer who sadly died when we published this article.
Another interesting exhibit would be a cage the size of a telephone box with a couple of plastic plants inside and with one of the walls pained as if it was a big house, where visitors could go in and a photo would be taken of them, as this is the average size a UK zoo enclosure would be for a human, considering the actual sizes of mammal enclosures zoos provide to their inmates in comparison with their minimum home range in the wild.
In the health section, there could be a series of animated panels about dietetics showing how proteins are formed from amino acids created by plants, or where the vitamin B12 comes from. We could have interactive screens where people input what they eat and what they like, and they can get a recommendation of what they could do to improve their diet. In other exhibits, you could select a particular disease or condition, and you would get a response about what science knows about how a vegan diet can help to deal with that disease (the entire collection of Dr Michael Greger’s short videos on Nutritionfacts.org could be shown there; It would be interesting to have an interactive AI run holographic versions of him telling you directly). I imagine quick cooking demonstrations of healthy plant-based dishes could also be part of this section of the museum, and perhaps an entire section of the history of tofu, tempeh, seitan, tahini, humous, and oat milk.
An exhibit about vegan cuisine around the world, showing the traditional dishes that are already vegan, and those that can be easily veganised, could be interesting (I imagine a nice exhibit about Ethiopian vegan food).
The section of the Anthropology of the Vegankind could have scattered lifesize hologram-style videos of real vegans describing their experiences and how they see their particular vegan identities (such as raw vegans, straight-edge vegans, eco-vegans, intersectional vegans, ethical frutarians, etc.) — excluding those who misappropriated the term “vegan”, such as beegans, veggans, entovegans or ostrovegans, of course. Each testimonial video could use one of those special speaker systems where only people placed in a particular spot (in front of the figure) can hear the sound. Also, after the video ends, the figure could then become interactive with the visitor and respond to questions via a conversational AI program, which by then would already be very advanced and be able to respond as the person the video depicts.
The section on demographics could have a live counter of the number of vegans in the world, with an interactive world map that shows the stats of each nation (special events around the counter could be organised when it reaches particular milestones).
Throughout the museum, historical paintings on issues related to veganism, and the works of art of vegan artists, could be displayed (there could also be special temporary exhibitions of their work).
Artefacts in the Museum of Veganism
As far as artefacts are concerned, as with all good museums, there should be unique original historical objects of the history of veganism and its precursors, some of them perhaps loaned from other important museums — alternatively, accurate replicas would have to do.
From ancient times, I imagine things such as an ancient Jain sculpture with the symbol of ahimsa; a replica of ancient Greece sculptures of Pythagoras and Plutarch; a replica of one of the famous animal-friendly edicts of the Buddhist Indian emperor Ashoka carved in stone; a painting of Lord Liu An (the king of Huainan and Taoist philosopher who around 160 BCE allegedly invented the process to make both soymilk and tofu) and a replica of one of the first tofu presses.
From the Middle Ages to the 17th century, I imagine an early copy of the poem “I No Longer Steal from Nature” from the 11th-century Syrian vegan poet Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī shown by a life-size figure of him; paintings of the Renaissance philosophers Pierre Gassendi, Margaret Cavendish, and John Locke; or a first edition of the book “The English Hermite, Or, Wonder of this Age” from the 17th century English vegan Roger Crab (currently in the British Museum).
For the 19th and early 20th centuries, I imagine a first edition of the book “The Perfect Way in Diet: A Treatise Advocating a Return to the Natural and Ancient Food of Our Race” from Dr. Anna Kingsford; a replica of the statue of the Brown Dog, currently in London’s Battersea Park; everyday objects of Alcott House, where the vegan Concordites lived from 1838 to 1848 in Richmond upon Thames, England; a painting of the animal rights philosopher Henry Stephens Salt; the first issues of the magazine “The Vegan” from the Vegan Society; the first soya milk carton from Plamils Food; and old menus of the first vegan restaurants of major cities.
From more modern times I imagine some garden tools from Kathleen Jannaway’s veganic garden in Leatherhead; a hand-written letter from the philosopher Tom Regan; the first edition of “The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals”, the first full-length all-vegan cookbook in America, written by Light and Sun from Gentle World; a selection of historical animal rights leaflets; the first sketches of the poster for the documentary Earthlings; the undercover camera used to record the documentary Dominion; the prototype of the vegan flag; the first 100% vegan violin; signed T-shirts that famous vegan celebs wore in demonstrations and protests, sports paraphernalia signed by vegan sports champions, and objects like that.
Important vegan and animal rights organisations around the world (such as the many Vegan Societies that now exist) could also donate historical documents regarding their creation and campaigning, and any product that became the first vegan version of something that was traditionally not vegan-friendly (such as a tennis ball, an army boot, or a British King’s Guards’ cap) could also be displayed.
Funding and Peculiarities of The Museum
If the Museum of Veganism ends up being created in Holborn as I suggest, I think it would be great if it is run and administered by the British Museum and the Vegan Society, each providing the expertise required for the task (I hope both read this and perhaps get inspired to begin working on it). The British Library could also get involved, as recently it hosted an exhibition titled “From the Margins to the Mainstream: Animal Rights in Britain”, and in 2020 acquired the Kim Stallwood Archive with lots of documents related to the animal rights movement — some of which could be exhibited in the museum.
I think its building could be partially funded by major donors, contributions from all vegan, environmental, and animal rights organisations, and public grants from the London local authority and the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (or equivalent). Perhaps some professional vegans could offer their work in building it, or provide some of the exhibits, for free, realising how much the museum could help to promote veganism — wouldn’t be great if a top architect specialised in sustainable eco-buildings became vegan and decided to design the building pro-bono.
Sources of funding for the running of the museum could include an affordable Whole Food Plant Based restaurant located on the ground floor which could be the first one where all vegs served are veganically grown (it could be called The New Attic Club). Additionally, operational income could also come from the gift shop, the cafeteria, and renting audio guides. As many big museums in London already do, despite it being free to visit, there should be donation boxes at the exits (I believe most vegan visitors would happily donate to support it). Also, there could be a big hall that could be rented for vegan events (even weddings), as well as a vegan cinema (where not only vegan documentaries are premiered, but also only vegan-friendly films are shown, such as those from vegan directors and cast, those on vegan themes, etc.) where conferences and events could take place.
If that is not enough to cover all the costs and investments, a membership plan could be created where members pay a fee in exchange for free entrance to special exhibitions (as the Tate Modern Museum now does), a discount in the gift shop and the restaurant, a free tour guide, etc.).
The gift shop could also be an attraction for providing many things vegans may want to buy as gifts to others. It may sell seeds of edible plants, tofu presses, nutrition charts, caps and clothes with the word vegan on them, vegan pins, vegan flags, the major books on veganism, posters with clever vegan messages, framed quotes from celebrated vegans (such as the poem from al-Maʿarrī I mentioned earlier, which I already framed and hung in my home’s living room), and even “vegan activist starter kits” (I leave it to you to imagine what would be in them).
Another thing that would make it stand out would be being the only companion-animal-friendly museum. Dogs could be allowed in but would have to be carried or on a leash, and, perhaps, some clever robotic cleaners could be tracking them all the time to be able to immediately clean any “mess” they may accidentally create. There could be free vegan dog treats (and cat treats) available, to give an incentive to the dogs to want to visit again!
Vegans from all over the world could make of visiting the museum something they must do at some point in their lives. There would be enough going on for them to spend one entire day in the museum. They could visit half of the floors in the morning, have lunch in the cafeteria, visit the rest in the afternoon, do some shopping before closing time, have dinner at the New Attic Club in the evening, and go to see a vegan movie afterwards at the vegan cinema. What a day!
Imagine how effective would the museum be at “vegan outreach” compared with any of the leafleting, chalking, tabling, or similar outreach activism that happens just for a few hours a week in London, run by very dedicated activists but with very limited resources and time. Imagine how much it would legitimise the philosophy and push it to mainstream culture. Imagine the impact it would have if schools in the UK and beyond organised educational field trips to it. Imagine if the popularity of the museum accelerated the closure of London Zoo. Imagine if it becomes an international hub for veganism inspiring many cities to build their own museums of veganism.
I know that it is unlikely this museum as I imagine will be built in all its splendour any time soon —certainly not in my lifetime. I know that many would feel that, instead, it would be better to use all the funds that it could cost to build to help struggling animal sanctuaries or small campaigning organisations — although if it is successful it could work as a good platform to promote them and channel donations toward them. But if we want the vegan world of the future to be built, if we want veganism to become normalised, and if we want animal exploitation to be abolished, we must dream big. We must start drawing the plans so future generations may build what we can only dream about today.
When we proudly celebrate veganism as we celebrate today any other social, cultural, and technological progress, we will begin to feel that the vegan world is truly around the corner. That is the infectious optimist feeling we need to spread so those still in doubt decide to join us.
I love the Museum of Veganism I created in my mind.
I visit it often when I close my eyes.