Resolutions for a New Year and a Better World

In 1924, Donald Watson went vegetarian as a New Year's resolution. Watson's conversion to the concept of veganism followed a family trip for the holidays to an uncle's farm:

One of my earliest recollections is of holidays on my Uncle George's farm where I was surrounded by interesting animals. They all "gave" something: the farm horse pulled the plough, the lighter horse pulled the trap, the cows "gave" milk, the hens "gave" eggs and the cockerel was a useful "alarm clock" - I didn't realise at that time that he had another function too. The sheep "gave" wool. I could never understand what the pigs "gave", but they seemed such friendly creatures - always glad to see me. Then the day came when one of the pigs was killed: I still have vivid recollections of the whole process -including the screams, of course. One thing that shocked me was that my Uncle George, of whom I thought very highly, was part of the crew. I decided that farms - and uncles - had to be reassessed: the idyllic scene was nothing more than Death Row, where every creature's days were numbered by the point at which it was no longer of service to human beings.

Twenty years later Watson created the term vegan from the beginning and end of the word vegetarian and launched a movement dedicated to creating a world free of animal exploitation. Because Watson reassessed what was happing around him and made that New Year's resolution in 1924 something wonderful happened.

Over the holidays many of us find ourselves at gatherings hosted by friends, family members or social acquaintances that feature the products of others' exploitation. Whether an aspiring or a long-time vegan, I think each of us can take this opportunity to reassess what is happening around us and each make New Year's resolutions that will take the vegan ideal a little further in the coming year.

For those of us who have already stopped using animal products our resolution could be to reject coffee, chocolate, sugar and diamonds produced with the labor of enslaved peoples, stop purchasing sweatshop clothing, eliminate processed foods, refuse to use a cell phone, cease driving a car, commit to simple living, quit an exploitive job, refuse to pay war taxes or alter any number of other daily practices that contribute to the exploitation of others.