Five Trustees Leave Vegan Society in Argument Over Claim Veganism Is ‘Cultural Appropriation’

Five trustees left the Vegan Society last month over allegations of institutional racism and transphobia, sparked by a bitter row over whether the word “veganism” was “cultural appropriation.”

Last summer, the association, which was founded nearly eight decades ago, tasked Ijeoma Omambala QC to investigate allegations that then-Vice President Eshe Kiama Zuri had posted racist comments online.

Her report, published in June, found that Zuri had written two “unprofessional and inappropriate” comments about society, but neither of them were racist.

The lawyer also noted that the “vast majority” of complaints against 25-year-old Zuri were unfounded, but seemed motivated by an anonymous person’s “deep personal hostility” towards Zuri for their “identity and protected features.”

Zuri describes themselves on their personal website as “disabled and non-gender,” meaning they do not identify as male or female.

They have wrote how veganism was conceived by a “white man,” but “hippie vegan food” is based on culinary traditions, including dal from Pakistan, tofu and wheat from China, and hummus from the Middle East.

Jeje Omambala QC

Last summer, the association, which was founded nearly eight decades ago, tasked Ijeoma Omambala QC to investigate allegations that the then Vice-President, Eshe Kiama Zuri, had posted racist comments online.

Vegan Society co-founder Donald Watson coined the word

Vegan Society co-founder Donald Watson coined the word “vegan” as a way to describe non-dairy vegetarians and produced the first copy of Vegan News in 1944

Donald Watson: co-founder of Vegan Society who coined the term ‘veganism’

Born in 1910, Watson - who died in 2005 - became a vegetarian at age 14 after a pig being slaughtered on his uncle's farm horrified him.

Born in 1910, Watson – who died in 2005 – became a vegetarian at age 14 after a pig being slaughtered on his uncle’s farm horrified him.

Vegan Society co-founder Donald Watson coined the word “vegan” as a way to describe non-dairy vegetarians and produced the first copy of Vegan News in 1944.

Born in 1910, Watson died in 2005 and became a vegetarian at age 14 after a pig slaughtered on his uncle’s farm horrified him.

He became a vegan in the 1940s because he felt that the production of milk-related products was unethical.

The Mexborough and District Heritage Society, which organized the plaque, said it played “an important role in founding the modern vegan movement that is now this amazing global movement.”

“Veganism has never been more popular than it is now and all vegans owe a huge debt of gratitude to Donald Watson and the pioneering early members,” it added.

Vegan Society co-founder Donald Watson coined the word “vegan” as a way to describe non-dairy vegetarians and produced the first copy of Vegan News in 1944.

The attorney’s report to the society added that Zuri was “mis-sexed” at his meetings — to a gender they do not identify — and that the council is “not equipped to have mature and constructive conversations about diversity and inclusion issues.” ; nor is it able to deal effectively with the challenges of the prevailing orthodoxy,” reports the Sunday Telegraph.

At the publication of Ms. Omambala’s report, Zuri, Robb Masters, Joel Bravette, Michele Fox and Sally Anderson resigned as trustees last month. Zuri’s letter of resignation says they were “naive” to join the council in 2019 as a “multiple marginalized trustee, black, queer, disabled and working class” who accused the charity of being “institutionalized racist”.

Zuri claimed they had been ‘forced out’ due to a ‘slander campaign’, adding“I can confidently say that the Vegan Society is not a safe place for young people, for black people, for queer people or for other marginalized people.”

They claim to have provided “a perspective to the council that challenged not only administrators as individuals, but also the systemic racism and oppression that exists in any organization founded without taking any time to look at diversity or inclusivity… and with a white supremacist structure. ..’

In his letter of resignation, ex-chairman Robb Masters complained of a “toxic environment” in which Zuri faced “hostility” while other “oppressions” were commonplace, including transphobia and validism – discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

He said the hope that “while we continue to focus on fighting the exploitation of other animals, we strive not to maintain the oppression of marginalized people while doing so” was short-lived.

Instead, he claimed to have been the victim of a “public smear campaign…instigated by certain trustees” who prioritize “income over ethics while strangleholding a predominantly white, predominantly male, predominantly cisgender, heterosexual, healthy and neurotypical stranglehold.” about sustaining the vegan movement. the newspaper added.

Ms Omambala found complaints that Mr Masters supported alleged racism by Zuri were also unfounded.

A spokesperson for The Vegan Society told MailOnline: “Four trustees, including the chairman and vice-chairman, have decided to step down with immediate effect. Another trustee resigned on July 6.

Five trustees left the Vegan Society last month over allegations of institutional racism and transphobia, sparked by a bitter row over whether the word 'vegan' was 'cultural appropriation'

Five trustees left the Vegan Society last month over allegations of institutional racism and transphobia, sparked by a bitter row over whether the word ‘vegan’ was ‘cultural appropriation’

“There has been a conflict between the Board of Directors that we have worked hard to address and it is regrettable that the most recent resignations were received the day before a scheduled mediation session. We thank them for their commitment to society and wish them every success in the future.

“The association recently had an independent report prepared by Ijeoma Omambala QC regarding member complaints against two of the former trustees. We aim to implement the general recommendations to the board in the report as quickly as possible.

“As with many charities, The Vegan Society has some challenges that we need to address as we evolve into an even more diverse and inclusive organization.

“This is something we are actively working on, supported by respected third-party ED&I consultants, and our commitment is to create an inclusive environment for all of our employees, administrators, members and supporters.”

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