Compiled by Malcolm Horne, one of the VV founders, to celebrate the 100th edition of Vegan Views.
Way back in April 1975 the first issue of this magazine was produced and distributed from a house in North London. A group of about a dozen mainly young people, including Marijke McCartney, David Barrett, Keith Bryan, and myself, met up one weekend and compiled a nine-page A4 issue, typed on stencils, and then laboriously duplicated on a rather hard-to-handle machine.
It was a newsletter then, not really a magazine. And it had no name. From issue 2, almost by default, it was called the VEGAN NEWSLETTER – and it was not until issue 14 (in 1977) that the name of VEGAN VIEWS came along, coinciding with the change from duplicating to printing, and effectively from newsletter to magazine.
The newsletter/magazine went hand in hand with our vegan community and vegan café, so those were heady days. Many people helped produce VV in the early years, especially Marijke, myself, David, Sue Taylor, and later Valerie Alferoff and Maggi Taylor. Eventually, in 1979, Vegan Views left London and moved north to Edenfield, near Manchester, where Valerie & David edited it until 1984. In 1985 I produced a couple of issues, before Harry Mather took it on from issue 35. And, of course, Harry is still going strong!
The very first issue can now be seen at www.veganviews.org.uk/backissues.html as can some early articles and contributions. My article 'Twenty years of Vegan Views' (from VV68) is also on the website, as are reminiscences from Marijke and Valerie (both from VV50).
These four pages feature assorted snippets from the early 'pre-Harry' years of VV, a personal selection from those issues, bringing back many memories. Hopefully the words are still relevant twenty or more years on.
|VV14 – the first magazine to be called "Vegan Views". Cover by Valerie Alferoff||VV16 cover by Anne Lovejoy|
James Okell (Vegan Newsletter 1, April 1975)
Veganism is essentially a reaction to certain negative aspects of society, and there would be no more need for a Vegan Society in a vegan world than there is need for a Society of Non-Cannibals at present. But veganism doesn't provide the complete answer to all that is negative in ourselves and society, and is but one component part of the complete reaction that is needed...
...By some quirk of fate, vegans have recognised the validity of the vegan ethic, but how many other great 'truths' have many of us not recognised? Many non-vegans have literally and selflessly given their lives for their fellow men. Most of us, as vegans, are living materially comfortable lives on a planet where half the human population starves and millions more suffer unspeakable agonies by man's insane violence. How much do we care? What would we be prepared to die for?....
The whole of this article can be seen on the VV website. The rest of the first issue is up there too, including Harry Mather's 'A New Form of Society' ("...vegans are drawn away from the sophistication of urban living towards a closer link with the country and agriculture..."). See www.veganviews.org.uk/backissues.html
Elspeth Innes (Vegan Newsletter 3, August 1975)
A very big thank you for Newsletter One. I have been following the vegan way of life since the early 1940s. Although it cost me the companionship of most of my family and friends – because of what they considered were my extreme views – it brought great peace and happiness into my life...
James Okell (Vegan Newsletter 10, November 1976)
No.1 DIETARY EXPLORERS (Determined to get to the Outer Limits. Unfortunately, those who go beyond fruitarianism seem to mysteriously disappear.)
No.3 PET LOVERS (Often pose fascinating philosophical problems such as "Am I being fair to my pet alligator by feeding it on nutmeat?".)
No.9 ANGRY ACTIVISTS (Determined to liberate everything, but are so altruistic they occasionally forget about themselves.)
No.13 RELIGION TRIPPERS (Know that Jesus must have been a vegan, and hope to persuade the Pope to join the Vegan Society.)
See the VV website for the full version. This humorous piece was later reprinted by London Vegans as a leaflet, and it then appeared subsequently in The Vegan.
(Vegan Newsletter 11, February 1977)
...For me very definitely veganism is only one small part of my whole philosophy of life. But at the moment it's rather crucial because so many other things are contradictory. Take Christianity for instance – to preach, as the Christians do, compassion and a belief in reality as being like a loving father, and yet think that such a God could make a world in which animals should have such strong feelings just in order to be thwarted so that human beings – I mean it's so incongruous isn't it, so contradictory. I think most people haven't been confronted with the situation – it's a real shock if they are.
Kathleen was Secretary of the Vegan Society from 1971-1984, and a most influential and inspiring figure. Marijke McCartney and I talked at length to her at her Leatherhead home. The full interview is on the VV website.
Anne Hoose (Vegan Newsletter 11, February 1977)
Since I became a vegan I have become, both spiritually and physically, a different person. I am so happy, so undeservedly madly happy! I feel as if I am flying and dancing on our poor and beautiful earth. And this feeling of release, and sometimes even mystical breakthrough, has lasted now for nine months or a year, and becomes stronger, as I become stronger.
Patricia Leitch (Vegan Newsletter 13, August 1977)
...I cannot help but be conscious of the falsity of all my pretentious beliefs when I live in the protection of a materialistic society. How long would my vegetarianism last, never mind my attempts at veganism, if I was starving? I often think it is all tied on with string. But I've only to think that to know it is not. The incredible giggling god who created us! I doubt if I could survive one autumn night without shelter, and one winter night would certainly kill me unless I was wrapped in animal skins. This use of animals for human benefit seems at times woven into the fabric of breath. Sometimes the idea of veganism seems totally ridiculous. And I have only to write that to know that vegan living is one of the green shoots pushing to the light; smashing, shattering the concrete deserts. So...tremendous thanks for your newsletter.
Audrey Thompson (Vegan Views 14, Winter 1977)
I get very concerned about the increasing number of 'special' diets many people are exploring, so if I share my thoughts with others, already following a highly specialised diet, perhaps some people can help to clarify my thinking, and convince me I'm worrying unnecessarily.
The 'special' diets I have in mind, from encountering many people on them, are Macrobiotic, Fruitarian, Raw Food and Natural Hygiene. I'm not worried, at all, about the nutritional value of any, knowing that, with common sense, the body's needs can be catered for on any of them. I feel, however, that food should be enjoyed, and there should be no guilt or torment about what is eaten. If I was offered the most succulent meat, cooked in the most skilful manner, I would feel no temptation to take some. The same feelings apply to other animal foods, so it seems right that I should eat vegan foods – there's no effort on my part. Surely, while there's any desire to have certain foods, such as cooked vegetables if you're a fruitarian, sugar if you're a macrobiotic, etc, it's better to have these things, enjoy them, and feel no guilt – knowing that the desire will gradually pass if you are on the right diet for you. If I have a strong desire for some chocolate biscuits, I buy a packet, scoff them down, enjoy them, feel no guilt, accept the fact I'll have catarrh as a consequence, and eat some fruit to counteract the catarrh. It's all over and finished with, and the length of time between 'binges' gets longer, with no effort on my part. I don't like to think that people impose guilt on themselves through what they eat, or lose joyfulness in eating by suppressing longings.
Perhaps in following special diets, people are exploring and experimenting, searching for a better way of life, which is good, but many people seem to be torn between what they feel they ought to eat, and what they would really like to. Is this doing more harm than good?
For any friends reading this, I do assure you I have no particular persons in mind. I still love you all and am very happy to cater for your special needs! Please keep coming.
Rog McFadden (Vegan Views 18, Winter 1978)
I really sympathise with some of your readers when they describe some of the problems that they have being vegan in a carnivorous world. Because of the pressure of having to exist in an intrinsically carnivorous society, I eventually had to forego the label of 'vegan' and revert to the more acceptable 'vegetarian'. The problem with being vegan is that there are no half measures and even the most mundane items have to be scrutinised for contamination by dairy products, etc.
...I seem to have reached a fair balance now by being mostly vegan at home and only eating dairy products occasionally (I can't resist cauliflower cheese). I do have pangs of guilt occasionally but console myself with the thought that if most people treated meat the way I treat cheese (ie as a rare luxury) then the world would be a much, much better place – and it would be much easier to be a vegan.
The complete letter is on the VV website.
Excerpt from 'Parents' (VV30, Autumn 1983) by Flam. The first VV cartoon appeared in 1983, and followed the adventures of a young couple Richard & Mandy and their son Sean. The whole of this cartoon is now on the VV website, along with some of the other Richard & Mandy cartoons.
Colin Edward Hicks (Vegan Views 18, Winter 1978)
Nine out of ten people in this world consider human life infinitely more important and valuable than animal life. This belief has been indoctrinated over a period of centuries. Yet in the same world life is held cheaply in so many places. Till human life becomes dear everywhere there can be little overall hope for animals. When and if human rights becomes the rule, then animals will improve on their present status of degradation. I believe that without human rights first, animal rights will never come. In democratic-style countries where human life is valued more highly, rights for animals are generally better than elsewhere...
The rest of the article is on the VV website.
|VV17 cover: Paper cut by Koh Kok Kiang, who quoted a Japanese haiku by Sora (648-710): "My broken fence: on purpose left unmended, As passage for the fawns I befriended."||VV30 cover by Andrew Clarke|
Brian Holland (Vegan Views 23, Autumn 1980)
...I see vegans as being people who are really trying to show the way forward for our society, and veganism as part of an overall philosophy. That might sound conceited but it's really not meant to be. For my part, I feel that the only way to convince people in general is by example, and by adopting the right attitude, which should be one of understanding, tolerance and leadership – not, as I've had the misfortune of witnessing, by ridiculing people who are genuinely trying to help, or by making unnecessary and savage criticisms over a minor difference of opinion between vegans.
See the VV website for the whole article.
Bronwen Humphreys (Vegan Views 25, Autumn 1981)
...As far as I can recall there is only one 'Sci Fi' novel that has a vegetarian as its central character and that is Ursula Le Guin's award-winning 'The Dispossessed'. Shevek is a vegetarian because the planet his people have colonised supports no animal life on land so, of necessity, they have to learn to make the most of plants. This is a mere descriptive detail, not essential to the plot, but as you read on you realise the theme of the story is about responsibilities and choices that are highly relevant to everyone concerned with the environment, peace and compassion.
See the VV website for the whole article. Does anyone know of more recent Sci Fi books with vegetarian/vegan characters or themes?
Colin K Watson (Vegan Views 25, Autumn 1981)
I am 64 and have been a vegan for six years...I have lived and worked in the countryside on farms, gardens and woodland for 34 years (the first three of which were spent in what is now called self-sufficiency) and I have come to the conclusion that Darwin's theory applies to human beings as well as plants and animals – ie, that life is a perpetual struggle to survive, and that one must battle with the elements and other forms of life in order to do so. The idea of perpetual peace and harmony does not seem to apply in nature – carnivorous animals destroy others, plants suffocate each other, and human beings, who are far too numerous for the space available, periodically slaughter each other, in competition for the natural resources of the earth...
The complete letter is on the VV website.
Myer Samra (Vegan Views 27, Spring 1982)
I've recently had a very frustrating argument with one of my non-vegetarian friends. She claimed to 'respect' my beliefs and diet but said I should respect those of other people. That really riled me. In most things, I do see the other person's point of view. I got really angry because as I tried to explain my point of view, she wasn't really listening. The angrier I got, the more smugly convinced she was of my 'problem' in seeing the other side...
The whole article is on the VV website.
Carol (Vegan Views 30, Autumn 1983)
Here at the 'Blue Gate' of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp eight of us have decided to become vegan. We would like to ask for recipes and ideas from other VV readers, bearing in mind that we cook over a wood fire. I particularly would like to know about soya 'cheese', as I remember being given some at a festival once. Yours in peace.
Dead Cat and Car (Ros Kane, VV20, Summer 1979)
Dead cat in the gutter.
'Ginger, is it you?'
I can't see well,
Dare not go nearer.
If it's my cat,
Can I bear the pain?
How will I know if it's mine
If I dare not look?
How long will it be
Before I know?
Half-demented, I question people -
My good friend looks,
Goes to look at the cat.
She's not sure.
'It's not a pretty sight.'
all this time
my cat was reclining
beneath a shrub
in a neighbour's garden
By tea-time the children were playing,
Playing near the dead cat's gutter.
The cat had disappeared.
The owner will grieve for a while.
Everyone will soon forget the dead cat.
I expect they'll say,
'It was only a cat,' or
'These things happen.'
but I had petted that cat
and fed it milk
it had sad green eyes
and I won its trust
It was a car,
A car that killed that cat -
A Philistine murderer
Against a tiny wanderer.
Spring (David Carr, VV19, Spring 1979)
Up in the sun-soaked
enjoying the freedom
of their limbs:
Each one with its own
Fox (Maggi Taylor, VV15, Spring 1978)
Fox you are so beautiful
but I know you are afraid
If I had not felt it so
you know I would have stayed
Just to gaze into your eyes
and feel your gentle stare
We were so very close for
a few moments there
But I felt your apprehension
and slipped quietly away
Maybe the day will come when
we can sit and be,
You a fox so graceful and I,
This spoof agony aunt column ran for several issues in the 1980s, but caused a few problems because a number of readers took it seriously...
Dear Ms Langhorne,
At Easter my boyfriend promised me he would turn vegetarian as a preliminary to becoming vegan by the time we plan to get married next year. But last week, by accident, I noticed him coming out of our local fish and chips shop with another woman. Maybe I should have turned the other way and ignored it, but I'm quite impetuous and I ran over to confront him. He stuttered that the woman was his cousin down from Rochdale, but I wasn't worried about that, I was more concerned about the package he had come out of the shop with. He wouldn't open it, saying he didn't feel hungry just at that moment, but I know – I just know – that there were more than chips inside. I caught him with his trousers down as it were, and he has been unfaithful. He won't talk about it. What should I do? Miss J.D. (Luton)
Laura: I think your boyfriend is (perhaps understandably) rebelling against the pressures you have put on him. Perhaps he only intended to become vegetarian (and later vegan) just to please you, and this is a weak base for him to operate from. If having a vegan partner is so important to you, you've got to face it now – say goodbye to him and start fishing around for somebody who is already vegan. If you try to change somebody against their will, sooner or later – I'm sorry to say – it will rebound on you. Better to realise it now than when it's too late. (VV31, Winter 1983)
Recently I discovered that modern-day mirrors invariably are not vegan. Apparently a small amount of animal fat is used in their manufacture, in order to obtain glossier and more reflective surfaces. I'm finding it easy enough not to have mirrors in my own home, but it's much harder when I go out. I have to be on constant alert in friends' houses (especially their bathrooms) so as not to get my image caught on their mirrors – and of course those modern shops with four-sided mirror columns, or even whole walls of mirrors, are pure hell. Do you have any advice? Do you know of any suppliers of vegan mirrors? What do other vegans do about this problem? T.P. (Huddersfield)
Laura: I think most vegans take the attitude that it's sufficient not to own mirrors of their own, and that it doesn't matter to be seen in other people's. However you have taken the hard-line but ethically consistent approach, and of course this will necessarily cause severe practical problems. Mirrors are a dilemma for all those vegans who enjoy agonising over what else they can give up, and I do sympathise. I'm afraid that as yet no vegan mirrors are on the market in Britain, so for the foreseeable future you're just going to have to be very alert. At least we can be sure our shadows are vegan, so all is not gloom. (VV33, Winter/Spring 1985)