Toward the end of 1975 the BBC began an innovative series of community-based television programs called ‘Open Door.’ They selected a handful of organisations to help them make programs about themselves. Among the first was one by and about The Vegan Society.
I recall watching the program as a vegetarian. My Mum also watched it as she had become a vegetarian too. We agreed that the vegans featured on the program had a point or two. But, we thought, they were all rather, well, odd. Looking back, it was clearly original programming and an ambitious step for the Vegan Society to take. The BBC programme generated some 9,000 enquiries and added about 1,000 new members to its books.
Two of them were Mum and me, as we went vegan on January 1, 1976. I subsequently got to know some of the vegans who appeared. They were not odd at all, but dedicated pioneers. (Perhaps by then I had become odd, too.) For example, I am eternally grateful to Kathleen Jannaway who was the society’s secretary and played a prominent role in the program. She had a profound impact on many people through her indefatigable work for the society for many, many years. She was a quintessentially English vegan who personified stoic determination.
I have not watched the Vegan Open Door since 1975 until today, as it is now available on Youtube. I encourage everyone to watch. It is truly amazing to see how these vegan pioneers presented themselves so well. They are articulate, thoughtful and confident. Nevertheless, they are all a bit odd. And I love them all the more for it. Everyone who is vegan today and hereafter has much to thank them for. They were originals who developed the case for veganism which resembles in many ways the one that we make today.
PS added on April 6, 2018: I am misremembering the sequence of events to do with the BBC Open Door program and when my mum and me went vegan. I am now reliably informed the programme was broadcast on 31st January 31, 1976. I think what happened was that during January we experimented with vegan meals but it wasn’t until after we watched the Open Door programme that we decided to go vegan.