The city of Leicester, in England’s East Midlands region, has now an information panel commemorating that two of the founders of the Vegan Society, Donald Watson and Dorothy Morgan, lived there. The heritage panel, under the title “The Home of Veganism”, has been installed in Evesham Road, where they lived and ran the society during its initial years, including when they first chose the word “vegan” to describe a vegetarian who does not consume animal products and believes that all animal exploitation is wrong. 

The decision to create the Vegan Society (now headquartered in Birmingham) did not happen in Leicester, but in London, in November 1944, at a vegetarian restaurant called The Attic Club, where the couple and other dissident members of the Vegetarian Society met and decided to split and create a different society whose members would also abstain from milk, eggs, and honey, not just meat. 

The philosophy of veganism has existed for millennia in many different cultures, and there have been famous vegans throughout history (such as the 11th-century Syrian poet  Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī), but not until then had the word “vegan” been used to describe it, and a secular international socio-political movement aimed to save the world was created from it —constituting what can be called modern veganism.

Amit Gokani, from the Leicestershire Vegetarian & Vegan Group, the organisation responsible for the panel, said about Watson, “He saw veganism as the salvation of humanity. He felt that civilisation was now built on the exploitation of animals, so he wanted to move away from that. He was a man of compassion, he didn’t like violence. He wanted to better the world.”

Perhaps the Leicester panel may be the first step in creating a fully fletched Museum of Veganism, which could be built in Holborn, where the Attic Club used to be, an idea that Vegan FTA conceived.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.