Tony Banks (left) and Donald Watson
My British friend Kim Stallwood
, author of Speaking Out for Animals
and A Primer on Animal Rights
and founder of the Animals and Society Institute
, wrote the following about two British animal advocates who died recently. I thought I'd share it with you.
We mourn the passing of Donald Watson and Lord Tony Banks, whose lives enriched our world with compassion.
Founder of the British Vegan Society in 1944, Donald Watson died peacefully at his Cumbria home at age 95. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, he was reported to have said in 2004, “At age 93 and never having taken medicines, orthodox or fringe, I am proof that after a weak childhood in a meat-eating family, veganism works. Are there any other nonagenarians who have never taken medicine?”
In 1976 I followed Donald’s footsteps and became a vegan, later serving on the Vegan Society’s governing council. Although I never met Donald, his modest, stoic, benevolent approach to veganism permeated the society. I wonder how he would react to the new generation of vegans who eat at such haute cuisine restaurants as Madeleine's Bistro (Tarzana, CA) and Candle 79 (New York) or those tattooed vegans who shop on-line for fashionable non-leather belts, shoes and jackets.
Lord Tony Banks, former member of the British House of Commons, was a tireless campaigner for animal protection. A passionate vegetarian, he championed the Hunting Act (2004) that banned fox hunting. He died from a fatal stroke at age 62. He was scheduled to speak last October at Empty Cages, the International Compassionate Living Festival that we co-produced with Tom Regan and the Culture and Animals Foundation. Sadly, last-minute problems with his trans-Atlantic flight prevented his attendance.
During the 1980s I was the lobbyist for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which is when I first met Tony. He could be relied upon always to speak up for the animals in his inimitable down-to-earth “cheeky chappie” witty way.
Kim W. Stallwood