The Vegan Society is a “Proud” Partner With Vivisectors

In August 2014, I wrote an essay about the fact that The Vegan Society in the U.K. had become “corporate partners” with a bank that invested in “sustainable” animal agriculture.

Now I write about The Vegan Society joining a campaign being led by a group that promotes vivisection.

Here is a page from The Vegan Society site that states:

The Vegan Society prides itself on being an evidence-based organisation with an active Research Advisory Committee. Our policy work is guided by accurate information based on the latest scientific evidence and research. We have many values in common with Sense About Science and are therefore proud to be part of their Ask for Evidence campaign.

I visited the Sense for Science page and looked to see who supported their funding. The funding sources are here and include:

British Pharmacological Society
British Psychological Society
British Toxicology Society
Cancer Research UK
Institute of Cancer Research
Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Royal Society of Chemistry
Society for Applied Microbiology
Society for Endocrinology
Society for Experimental Biology
Society for General Microbiology
Society of Biology
Society of Chemical Industry
The Physiological Society
Understanding Animal Research

Sense for Science has also received help with equipment, facilities and services from various groups, including:

Association of Medical Research Charities
British Pharmacological Society
The Physiological Society
Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Science Council
Society of Biology

I was very surprised that The Vegan Society would be joining a campaign with such a group. So I wrote to Sense for Science and asked a simple question:

Can you please tell me your position on the use of animals in experiments?

I received this reply:

Thanks for getting in touch with us. We tend not to have official positions as an organisation and we have not campaigned on the use of animals in experiments. In our guide, Making Sense of Drug Safety Science, we say:

“For safety reasons, before a drug is tested on any humans, preclinical studies are carried out on animals in order to learn more about any toxic effects the drugs may have. Although some consider the use of animals in research unacceptable, their similar anatomy and physiology means that until alternatives can be found, their use in drug development is compulsory. Once researchers are satisfied with the safety/toxicity of a drug in animals, human trials can start.”

Otherwise, when people come to us with questions about the use of animals in experiments, we generally point them to Understanding Animal Research

Please do let me know if you have any further questions about our work.

I then visited the website that Sense for Science refers people to, which also happens to be one of its funders: Understanding Animal Research. The site is a completely pro-vivisection website:

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The website of Understanding Animal Research states explicitly and clearly:

Understanding Animal Research was founded at the end of 2008 by bringing together two UK organisations, Research Defence Society and Coalition for Medical Progress. It is a membership organisation with over 110 member organisations and many more individual supporters. Organisational members are drawn from various sectors including academic, pharmaceutical, charities, research funders, professional and learned societies.

The leader of both the Research Defence Society and the Coalition for Medical Progress that formed Understanding Animal Research was none other than Colin Blakemore, the notorious defender of vivisection. And here, Understanding Animal Research states that:

UAR is delighted that Colin Blakemore was awarded a knighthood in the Queens Birthday Honours. Sir Colin was recognized ‘for services to scientific research, policy and outreach’.

Sir Colin was instrumental in the creation of UAR. He chaired the councils of both the Research Defence Society and the Coalition for Medical Progress as they fused to become UAR and then chaired UAR’s council in its first year.

And Understanding Animal Research is the group that Sense About Science refers people to? The Vegan Society proclaims publicly:

We have many values in common with Sense About Science and are therefore proud to be part of their Ask for Evidence campaign.

Colin Blakemore must be delighted that The Vegan Society is now involved with groups that promote his views.

This is absolutely shocking on many, many levels.

I can understand that The Vegan Society wants to be an “evidence-based” group. They should be. But I am completely bewildered as to why The Vegan Society would formally join any campaign with a group that so shamelessly promotes pro-vivisection propaganda, much less be “proud” to do so. Putting aside the scientific controversy about the efficacy of vivisection, vivisection cannot be morally justified despite any efficacy.

As my past posts have made clear, there is a great deal about The Vegan Society that bewilders and deeply troubles me, not the least of which is that they have explicitly rejected veganism as a moral baseline. So I suppose that its partnership with pro-vivisection PR groups should not surprise me.

The one thing that is crystal clear: Donald Watson, who founded The Vegan Society in 1944, would not recognize what now bears that once magnificent name.


If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2015 Gary L. Francione

Addendum: Friday, January 9, 2015:

The Vegan Society responded to a complaint about this by claiming that The Vegan Society is “confronting” vivisectors.

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Okay, so let’s see if I have this right. The Vegan Society joins a campaign being led by a pro-vivisection group and makes a statement:

We have many values in common with Sense About Science and are therefore proud to be part of their Ask for Evidence campaign.

And that’s “confronting” vivisectors? For those who think this is anything but nonsense, let me sell you the Brooklyn Bridge!