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Twenty Years of Vegan Views by Malcolm Horne and Harry Mather, Vegan Views 68 (Spring 1995)


TWENTY YEARS AGO... on the weekend of 26th and 27th April 1975, a small group of about a dozen vegans met up in a North London house and produced the very first issue of this magazine. I was one of them.

But it wasn't a proper magazine then, just a small duplicated newsletter with no name. From the second issue on it was called simply the VEGAN NEWSLETTER, and the name VEGAN VIEWS didn't arrive until issue 14 in November 1977 when the switch from duplicating to printing (and from newsletter to magazine) was made.

It was Marijke McCartney's vision and energy that led to the birth of the newsletter. And not only the newsletter but also the Wray Crescent vegan community that was set up the following year, and the Vegan Cafe near Tufnell Park in North London that ran throughout 1976 and 1977.

Those were vibrant years. The newsletter grew quite rapidly, and through all our varied activities we came into contact with a large number of people, some of whom became close friends. Kathleen Jannaway, then the secretary of the Vegan Society, supported us and gave encouragement and publicity. There was no element of competition with the Vegan Society (and I think there never has been in subsequent years); instead we saw ourselves as complementing the Society's more formal work.

As time passed, Marijke became less involved with the newsletter and I became more involved (we frequently disagreed on how to produce it!). Others helped too, notably David Barrett (who had also been involved from the start), and then a little later on Valerie Alferoff. David and Valerie met through VV, and have lived together ever since. When I gave up editing the magazine (after issue 20 in 1979) they took over as editors and VV moved from North London up to their home in Edenfield in Lancashire. Valerie's nicely written account of the early years of VV (and Marijke's too) can be found back in the fiftieth issue in 1990.

More Changes
In 1984 (after issue 32) Valerie and David felt they had had enough. I stepped in and produced two further issues, but didn't want to continue beyond that. This was the one time when VV might have died, but at almost the last moment Harry Mather offered to take over, and so at the end of 1985, the magazine moved to Bournemouth where it has remained ever since. Harry (more than nine years and 34 issues and rising) has proved that he has far more staying power than the rest of us.

VV's different editors have each given the magazine a quite different emphasis and appearance; there was a greater visual emphasis in many of the earlier issues, with small sketches and drawings often filling every available margin. But the common thread - a pot-pourri of ideas and readers' contributions - has always remained. I think it's quite an achievement for a small magazine such as this one, run for love and definitely not money, to have survived for so long. The thing is that although it's a "small" magazine, it's not all that small: in the early days, with 100 or 150 readers, it wasn't so much work, but once it built up and we were printing almost a thousand copies, then the load did become heavy. I think I've been the only editor who tried combining running it with a full-time job, and I do remember that being quite intensive.

Grass Roots
But it's not just about congratulating ourselves for having produced a nice magazine for twenty years. I hope, and believe, that VV has played a part in the vegan movement, not especially as a campaigning magazine (we never intended that) but mainly by increasing contact between vegans at grass roots level, and also by the sharing and developing of everyone's ideas.

That first issue which we produced in 1975 included a personal view of veganism by James Okell: "... 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". And Ann Shepherd argued the case for buying and eating only foods in season. Harry Mather (a familiar name!) sought "a new form of society", suggesting small communities which would aim to "live in accordance with standards of ecology and beauty rather than measuring all efforts in terms of cash".

I don't actually remember too much about that first weekend. I think I recall an elderly typewriter, and an ancient duplicator that had to be caressed (or maybe hammered) into working - and I vaguely remember sitting around a large table and swapping ideas. It's good that the tree we planted on that weekend has grown and prospered.


The present editor would like to remember with gratitude that he took over a growing concern with good advice from Malcolm Horne on how to set about preparing the magazine for the printers. Some parts of the magazine have not been altered and some of Malcolm's fine lettering is still used - so there is a continuity.

A feature that has lasted a long time is the Cartoon which was taken over rather tentatively by Mark & Sally Popplewell, who seem to improve with the years and never fail to amuse yet always making a serious point.

The present circulation goes to about 300 subscribers all over the U.K. with perhaps 50 going abroad and about 400 to retail outlets. Another 100 and more copies will go to new subscribers or go into stock awaiting new readers who ask for back issues and as sample copies for tentative enquirers. On the present price and with a considerate printer, we pay our way.

So will we carry on for another 20 years? The present editor is not certain where his future is leading and a change of address is anyway likely in the next two years. If a vegan community does get established soon, it might be an excellent base for V.V. and a sharing of the work load.

Meanwhile, do keep sending in letters and articles. Without them V.V. would not exist and please send some recipes. They don't have to be elaborate. Even plain ones will be a help to new vegans who would like to know what other vegans eat.

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Cross-reference: History