A History of Vegetarianism

Compared to veganism, the history of vegetarianism is longer and better documented. Several books have been written on this topic, such as "Sins of the Flesh" (2009) and "Vegetarianism: A History" (2002). Also, many relevant primary source documents are available for free on the internet. Please check the endnotes for links. This essay looks at vegetarians prior to the emergence of veganism. The primary topic is what they were saying about, and whether they were abstaining from, forms of nonhuman exploitation other than ‘meat’. Ruminants' milk and birds' eggs in particular.

written in 2010; February to June

For several millennia a small percentage of humans throughout the world have abstained from eating muscle, fat, skin, and other body parts of nonhuman animals. Reasons offered for engaging in this practice include health, cruelty, hygiene, economics, vitality, aesthetics, ecology, temperance, frugality, pacifism, humanitarianism, and more.

This diversity of motives has been demonstrated by high profile and influential vegetarians who have advocated their diet. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) felt not eating flesh was essential to placing humans back on "the path of nature" [0]. The teacher Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) lauded its role in bringing about "spiritual and psychic advancement" [1]. The scientist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) believed it would "beneficially influence the lot of mankind" with a "physical effect on the human temperament" [2].

The religious doctrine with the most extensive history of influencing individuals to eschew ‘meat’ is ahimsa, a Sanskrit word that roughly translates as ‘without violence (or harm)’. Ahimsa is central to the lives of Jains in particular, but also many Hindus.

Before the mid 1800s, those we now call vegetarians were referenced in a variety ways. Some of the most common: abstainers from "animal food", eaters of a "vegetable diet", and "pythagoreans" [3]. This final term is based on what are reputed to be teachings of the Greek thinker Pythagoras (570-495 BC) [4]. Despite how modern readers might interpret them, the first two descriptors typically did not suggest the avoidance of avian eggs and ruminant milk. For example, in "An Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food as a Moral Duty" (1802), Joseph Ritson (1752-1803) wrote of a family's diet: "their provision is chiefly oatmeal, potatoes, milk, and butter — no animal food whatever" [5]. William Alcott (1798–1859), first president of the American Vegetarian Society, authored "Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages" (1838) [6]. Most of the cited "medical men" (i.e. doctors) reported eating nonhumans' milk and/or eggs. Also, to the second edition (1849), Alcott added a recipe section with dishes like "Sunderland pudding", which requires "[~2/3] teacup full of flour, three eggs, and a pint of milk".

Official Society Definitions
The word vegetarian is probably an English or American invention of the late 1830s [7]. It was most likely coined by combining ‘vegetable’ with the suffix ‘-arian’. Some 19th century vegetarians claimed it had been derived from the Latin word ‘vegetus’ (meaning vigorous or lively) [8]. However, this was typically a contrived response to critics who noted their consumption of animals' secretions, and not merely vegetables. In either case, a secular organization formed in 1847 that adopted and popularized, more than any other factor, this new name for an ancient diet [9]. The original objectives declared by the Vegetarian Society at their first convention, which took place in Ramsgate, England:

[To] induce habits of abstinence from the flesh of animals as food, by the dissemination of information upon the subject, by means of tracts, essays, and lectures, proving the many advantages of a physical, intellectual, and moral character resulting from vegetarian habits of diet; and thus to secure, through the association, example, and efforts of its members, the adoption of a principle which will tend essentially to the increase of human happiness generally.

In 1850, a convention was held in New York to establish the American Vegetarian Society. The objectives that were adopted are almost identical to those used by the original society three years earlier [10]. Alcott organized this event with the reverend William Metcalfe (1788-1862) of the Bible Christian Church (1809-1930), a group that preached the eschewal of nonhuman flesh and was key in helping form and financially support the English society [11]. After emigrating from England in 1817, his efforts to educate included self-publishing his 1840 sermon "Bible Testimony on Abstinence from the Flesh of Animals" [12]. Metcalfe believed the goals of their new organization should be to promote [13]:

[K]nowledge of the principles, and an extension of the practice of a Vegetable Diet in the community; — to induce habits of abstinence from fish, flesh and fowl, as food; and secure the adoption of a principle which would tend essentially to promote a "sound mind in a sound body".

The London Vegetarian Society emerged in 1888 following three years as a branch of the original Vegetarian Society (based in Manchester) [14]. The differences between these two English societies, which did not completely reunite until 1969, were primarily tactical rather than ideological. Their credo as presented in an 1891 advertisement [15]:

[E]stablished for the purpose of advocating the total disuse of the flesh of animals (fish, flesh, and fowl) as food, and promoting instead a more extensive use of fruits, grains, nuts, and other products of the vegetable kingdom; and also to disseminate information as to the meaning and principles of vegetarianism by lectures, pamphlets, letters to the press, etc.; and by these means, and through the example and efforts of its members, to extend the adoption of a principle tending essentially to true civilisation, to universal humaneness, and to the increase of human happiness generally.

The Total Vegetarians
From the original definitions onward, ‘vegetarian’ has most frequently been used to denote abstinence from ‘meat’. The rejection of secretions taken from nonhumans has never been integral to the term. A few years before the Vegetarian Society was established, John Smith wrote "Fruits and Farinacea: The Proper Food of Man" (1845) in England [16]. He predicted that as "more correct notions respecting diet prevail" vegetables will not be "prepared with animal matter", except for "eggs, milk, butter, cheese, etc., to which few vegetarians object". Charles Forward, in his "Fifty Year of Food Reform: A History of the Vegetarian Movement in England" (1897), claimed that he had discovered "nothing in the annals of the Vegetarian Society to indicate that its founders desired to narrow down its objects beyond abstinence from what James Joynes (1853-1893) called ‘corpse-eating’" [17].

Though a minority, there have always been vegetarians who exclude ruminants' milk and birds' eggs and from their diet. Like their less ‘strict’ comrades, they have been motivated by a variety of factors. It was not uncommon for vegetarians who lived in the 1800s and early 1900s, particularly those of the ‘total’ variety, to also eschew a few widely eaten plant-based foods. This resulted in what many contemporary readers would consider a rather insipid diet. In many cases, they were exercising an opposition to ‘stimulants’. An influential proponent of this stance was Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), a Presbyterian minister who helped form the American Vegetarian Society and advocated several other lifestyle and food reforms, including avoidance of white flour [18]. His "Lectures on the Science of Human Life" (1839) collected ideas and experiences from a decade of speaking engagements.

Graham opposed salt, spices, tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco and other "pure stimulants" because they "afford no nourishment" and "wear out" our bodies by needlessly expending "vital properties of the organs" [19]. They can produce a "permanent irritability of the system", enhance the "selfish propensities", and "make men quarrelsome, cruel, and destructive" [20]. Although "flesh-meat" does provide some nourishment, its "stimulating and heating nature" causes a "greater exhaustion" to our system than "a proper vegetable diet" [21]. Especially when consumed along with pure stimulants, flesh "develops and strengthens the animal propensities and passions", which makes humans more violent and "strongly inclined to be fretful and contentious" [22]. Graham also claimed "primitive inhabitants of the earth subsisted entirely on vegetable food, and lived to a very great age". When using this phrase he meant to "comprehend all fruits and farinaceous seeds and roots, and other kinds of esculent vegetables proper for human aliment" [23].

As for nonhumans' milk and eggs, he was slightly more equivocal. Both have stimulating properties, and eggs are "perhaps more exciting to the system". However, many of his objections to eggs were satisfied by their being "fresh and good", as well as not overcooked or prepared with extra oil [24]. Of course, it was not unusual for Graham to provide advice on how to optimally prepare foods that people were determined to eat "in defiance of consequences" and his strong recommendations against them [25].

His arguments were all propelled by concern for human health. So his discussion of the "impure and unwholesome food" fed to cows enslaved for milk purposes, along with factors like "improper confinement" and "filthy stables", was ultimately related to the fact that what "affects the health of the cow correspondently affects the quality of her milk" [26]. After reviewing the "vast amount of evidence in favor of milk as an important article in the diet of mankind", Graham states that a "milk and vegetable diet is far better than a flesh and vegetable diet". Despite this, he reports that "eight years of very extensive experiment and careful observation have shaken many of my preconceived opinions" concerning the suitability of milk and eggs as human food [27]. For instance, he notes that "the young of all mammiferous animals, including those of the human species, naturally subsist for a certain period exclusively on milk", but "in proper time instinctively begin to accustom themselves to other kinds of food adapted to their system". Graham's overall position, minus certain caveats, is perhaps best captured by the following: [28]:

I am convinced that as a general and permanent rule, the whole human family would do best, after a certain period in very early life, to subsist entirely on the products of the vegetable kingdom and pure water.

William Alcott was far more hesitant than Graham to criticize nonhuman secretions, but he shared several of his other viewpoints. In 1839, Alcott's "Tea and Coffee: Their Physical, Intellectual and Moral Effect on the Human System" was published, three years after a similar work on tobacco [29]. These steeped drinks are "first a stimulant", and ultimately have a "narcotic and sedative" effect [30]. He endorsed Graham's assertion that "tea and coffee are among the most powerful poisons of the vegetable kingdom".

Graham, Alcott, and a majority of early vegetarians belonged to or followed the guidance of the temperance movement, which reached its height from the mid 19th to early 20th century [31]. Proponents of temperance, which means self-restraint or moderation, focused their efforts on opposing alcohol, described as "insidious, tempting, and violently intoxicating" in the first issue of the English journal "Temperance Advocate" (1832) [32]. The religious components of this movement also inculcated a spirit of "self-denial" that undoubtedly reinforced the ascetic behaviors of many total vegetarians [33].

Broson Alcott (1799-1888) differed from his cousin William in the matter of consuming secretions taken from nonhuman animals [34]. In 1843, along with his small but loyal following, Alcott established a short-lived community experiment called ‘Fruitlands’ on land in Harvard, Massachusetts purchased by his comrade Charles Lane. Some of their goals were attaining "simplicity in diet, plain garments, pure bathing, unsullied dwellings, open conduct, gentle behavior, kindly sympathies, [and] serene minds" [35]. A letter written with Lane at Fruitlands includes a description of their eating habits:

No animal substances, neither flesh, butter, cheese, eggs, nor milk, pollute our table or corrupt our bodies, neither tea, coffee, molasses, nor rice, tempts us beyond the bounds of indigenous productions. Our sole beverage is pure fountain water. The native grains, fruits, herbs, and roots, dressed with the utmost cleanliness and regard to their purpose of edifying a healthful body, furnish the pleasantest reflections and in the greatest variety requisite to the supply of the various organs.

Russell Trall (1812-1877) was a physician who practiced hydropathic techniques and participated in the convention that formed the American Vegetarian Society [36]. In 1852 he founded New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College, one of the first accredited medical schools to accept women and men on equal terms [37]. A 1910 book on the history of medicine presented a selection of his stances: "anti-tobacco, anti-drink, anti-flesh-eating, anti-salt, anti-drugging, anti-slavery, anti-vaccination, anti-vivisection" [38]. His dietary habits were described as "most simple and abstemious, consisting chiefly of Graham bread, hard Graham crackers, fruits, and nuts—two meals a day, without salt". He drank neither "tea, nor coffee, nor milk—nothing but pure soft water". In an 1873 edition of the journal "Health Reformer", Trall claimed: "all real vegetarians are weaned when the teeth are developed" [39]. He thought it "strange" that many people assume "vegetarians, if they discard flesh, fish, and fowl, have no objections to milk, butter, cheese, eggs, and oysters". A year later, he reported in his "Hygeian Home Cook-Book" that since the early 1860s his "table for invalids [sick or injured people] has been prepared without the employment of milk, sugar, salt, yeast, acids, alkalies, grease, or condiments of any kind" [40]. The simple, "unseasoned" recipes are all fully plant-derived. Trall presented his position before this shift in "New Hydropathic Cook-Book" (1853). Although a "vegetarian in theory as well as in practice", he would "admit or permit, in the case of many invalids under hydropathic treatment, moderate use of animal food" [41]. He claimed most people were "not yet sufficiently educated to carry out an exclusively vegetable regimen". Recipes included "Cottage Pudding", which calls for mixing "two pounds of pared, boiled, and mashed potatoes with one pint of milk, three beaten eggs, and two ounces of sugar".

Francis William Newman (1805-1897), who became a vegetarian in 1867 after a "lengthy correspondence with the Vegetarian Society", of which he later became president from 1873 to 1884, collected a selection of his writing and lectures in "Essays on Diet" (1883) [42]. He praised the term "V E M" (vegetables eggs milk), which was never widely adopted, for being a "convenient and truthful" alternative to ‘vegetarian diet’. Newman reported that "a few vegetarians (only a small fraction of those known) abstain from milk and eggs as severely as from beast, bird, and fish". These individuals either wish to "avoid all cavil", or recognize that while there is "demand for milk, male calves and oxen will be killed for the table and probably cows also before they pass middle age".

George Dornbusch (1808-1873), a vegetarian since 1843, avoided "tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs of every kind" "tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs of every kind" [43]. Newman posthumously detailed his diet [44]:

[He] went even beyond vegetarianism. He not only abstained from all the received animal foods—from everything that had animal life, and from eggs, milk and its products—but from every form of vegetable grease or oil, from the chief vegetable spices, such as pepper and ginger, and emphatically from salt.

A.G. Payne acknowledged in his "Cassell's Vegetarian Cookery" (1891) that avian eggs and ruminant milk are not nutritionally necessary for humans [45]. Despite this, he decided to include many recipes featuring them:

[S]trictly speaking, real vegetarians would not be allowed the use of eggs and milk; but it appears that many use these, though there are a considerable number of persons who abstain. There is no doubt that the vegetable kingdom, without either milk or eggs, contains every requisite for the support of the human body. In the following pages will be found ample recipes for the benefit of parties who take either view.

Arno Elsässer was a German vegetarian who helped establish a fruit-growing colony named Eden in 1893 [46]. That same year he entered and won a "walking competition" from Berlin to Vienna, before which he had been a "strict vegetarian for over four years, not even using eggs, milk, butter or cheese". During the three months leading up to this week long race, Elsässer "lived exclusively upon fruit, fresh and dried, and nuts".

Dugald Semple (1884-1964) filled such roles as president of the Scottish Vegetarian Society, vice president of the International Vegetarian Union, and chairperson of the Vegan Society [47]. Writing in 1963, he reflected on his personal dietary history [48]:

I began rather drastically over 50 years ago [~1910] by cutting out not only all meat or flesh foods, but milk, eggs, butter, tea and coffee. Cheese I have never eaten; indeed I hate the very smell of this decayed milk. Next, I adopted a diet of nuts, fruit, cereals and vegetables. On this Edenic fare I lived for some ten years, and found that my health and strength were greatly improved. […] While I was in London (during World War I), I found it necessary to add some dairy products to my meals, but on returning to Scotland I gradually eliminated these again.

Moving Beyond Food
There have always been vegetarians who reject nonhuman exploitation involved with products and practices that are not food-purposed. However, many such individuals have simultaneously defended the consumption of hens' eggs and ruminants' milk. An exception was Bronson Alcott and the Fruitlands community, where they reluctantly began making a cow and ox work in their fields after having difficulty relying solely on human labor [49]. Louisa Alcott was ten years old when her father formed Fruitlands. She recalled in 1873, thirty years later, that they had worn only linen from flax because "cotton, silk, and wool" represented "slave-labour, worm-slaughter, and sheep-robbery" [50]. Bronson considered taking ruminants' skin for human use "an invasion of the rights of animals" [51].

By the mid 1800s, a few different materials, collectively referred to as ‘vegetable leather’, were being invented and used [52]. In 1860, a New Zealand newspaper wrote of a London facility manufacturing "great quantities of artificial leather" that were "now much used for bookbinding and several other purposes for which tanned calf and sheepskins are employed by us" [53]. Some vegetarians took an interest in such developments. An 1879 issue of the Vegetarian Messenger, the society's official periodical at the time, reported on a presentation by Herr Bohrmann to vegetarians in Eisenach, Germany [54]:

[He] introduced himself to the meeting as a thoroughly consistent vegetarian, who considered that animals were no more indispensable for our clothing, etc., than for our nourishment. Clothes and implements might be adequately supplied, he said, without the aid of leather, horn, bone, bristles, wool, etc. He exhibited samples of the various materials, [...] and explained in detail what mischief and danger — for example by spreading contagion — was evidently connected with the use of skin, hair, wool, etc. [...] Although few may at first be inclined to deviate from custom in this direction, it is interesting to be able to prove that even here vegetarianism would produce no inconveniences.

Anna Kingsford (1846-1888), a long-time vice president of the Vegetarian Society, authored "The Perfect Way in Diet" (1881), which is based on the final thesis for her medical degree [55]. Although her primary goal was making a case for abstinence from "flesh-meat", she also discussed a few non-food matters. A patent from 1877 titled "Improvements in the Manufacture of Vegetable Leather" was mentioned, and she lambasted "the furs which decorate our women" for supporting "horrors of the fur trade" merely to satisfy "careless whims of fashion". Kingsford held that the use of nonhumans for "sport" (e.g. hunting) is "closely connected with the rationale" behind the consumption of nonhumans' flesh. She believed "the inevitable tendency of moral, intellectual, and aesthetic progress is to eradicate in man the desire to kill and to torment". Like Trall, and many other vegetarians in the 19th century, Kingsford supported campaigns against vivisection. She equated the "vivisector's laboratory" with slaughterhouses because both are "inherently antagonistic to the needs, intuition, and progress of civilised humanity". In an 1885 issue of the Vegetarian Messenger, she claimed to have abandoned "sheep-wool" in favor of "Lairitz's Pine Wool Fabrics", which were made from "fibrous tissues contained in the leaves of the pinaster" and advertised "for prevention, relief, and cure of rheumatism and gout" [56].

Josiah Oldfield (1863-1953) was editor of the London Vegetarian Society's periodical The Vegetarian in 1895 when it reported on paper he presented at conference in Birmingham, England titled "The Necessity of Leather and some Experiments with Vegetarian Boots" [57]. He showed a few pairs of boots made with "vegetable substances", and concluded that a perfectly suitable boot could be made without "a particle of leather".

Judging by the dishes in her "Golden Rule Cook Book: Six Hundred Recipes for Meatless Dishes" (1907), Maud Freshel did not object to using birds' eggs or ruminants' milk [58]. Despite this position, she expressed the following about clothing:

The true vegetarian will not be seen adorned (?) [sic] by any of the reapings from a dead body, whether they be feathers or furs, for these have no beauty in the sight of those who see them in thought, dripping with blood from which they can never be truly cleansed.

A Mounting Debate
Kingsford's 1881 treatise argued that, "without inconsistency", vegetarians can eat certain foods of "animal origin" such as "milk, eggs, cream, butter, and cheese" [59]:

1) All animals of the order to which man himself belongs, are nourished during their infancy by milk, the derivatives of which cannot therefore be regarded as improper to their or his nutrition;
2) because all these substances, especially cheese and curds, habitually formed part of the diet of the ancient phytivorous peoples;
3) because morality is in nowise outraged by their use;
4) because […] their use is not excluded by economical considerations.

Kingsford was asked, via correspondence in an 1885 issue of the Vegetarian Messenger, "how are we to get milk and cream and butter if we do not kill cattle?" [60]. In reply, she said "the milk of animals" is not "necessary" or "wholesome", and "more dangerous as a medium for the conveyance of infectious disease that even flesh". However, if cows' milk were eaten "in moderation" by a society of vegetarians, killing could be avoided by using male cows as "beasts of burden". Alternatively, "superfluous males" could be "mercifully" killed immediately after birth, and their bodies used as fertilizer.

Henry Thompson was never a vegetarian, but he stated in a footnote to the 1st edition of "Food and Feeding" (1879) that only those who are "strictly vegetable eaters" possess "any right to the title of vegetarians [61]. By the 10th edition (1898), this work contained a considerably expanded critique, disguised in one instance as a prediction [62]:

The term "vegetarian" will, assuredly, soon cease to have a meaning, if clearly drawn definitions be not adopted to distinguish the man who consumes only products of the vegetable kingdom, from the man who adds thereto the animal proteids and fats which exist richly in eggs, in milk and its derivatives.

Oldfield, responding to Thompson in an 1898 essay titled "Vegetarian Still", argued avian eggs and ruminant milk "may rightly form and integral part of a vegetarian dietary" [63]. To support his contention that vegetarianism "does not mean vegetable-eating", he appealed to the tradition of organizations up until that point:

I never heard of any vegetarian society forbidding its members the use of animal products. Many sects have sprung up at different times and have called themselves Edenites, fruitarians, etc., and many vegetarian writers have written strongly in favour of a dietary wholly derived from the vegetable kingdom, and a large number of vegetarians take but a minimum of animal products, but no vegetarian society that I have ever heard of has tabooed animal products.

The dispute over whether or not vegetarians should reject more than ‘meat’ accelerated in the 20th century. With a diet as their starting point, the consumption of hens' eggs and ruminants' milk was the most frequently discussed topic. In 1905 the Vegetarian Society published A. W. Duncan's "The Chemistry of Food and Nutrition" [64]. He reported that "milk and eggs are permissible in a vegetarian dietary, and as a rule, vegetarians use them". However, Duncan said any suggestion that "eggs, cheese and milk" are nutritionally required displays "weakness and want of confidence in the sufficiency of vegetable foods". He also raised moral issues, including routinely poor treatment. For instance, "milk cows" were "commonly kept in unhealthy houses, deprived of exercise and pure air, [and] crowded together". The exploitation of nonhumans for eggs and milk inevitably involves slaughter, from which vegetarians "cannot be altogether exonerated":

[On] an egg and poultry farm, the superfluous male birds are killed, and as the hens become unprofitable layers they are also killed. A similar humane objection applies to the use of cow's milk by man. The calves are deprived of part of their natural food, the deficiency being perhaps made up by unnatural farinaceous milk substitutes. Many of the calves, especially the bull calves, are killed, thus leaving all the milk for human use. When cows cease to yield sufficient milk they too are slaughtered.

Duncan did not ultimately issue a definitive condemnation of these practices. He pointed out that "eggs, cheese, and milk are a great convenience", at least while it remained difficult to obtain "really good vegetarian fare" away from home. The ability of these ‘foods’ to help humans stop eating nonhuman flesh was also touted:

In support of the use of animal products, it may be said that we have become so fond of animal foods and stimulating drinks, that the use of milk, butter, cheese and eggs renders the transition to a dietary derived from the vegetable kingdom much easier. By means of these, cooked dishes can be produced which approach and sometimes can scarcely be distinguished from those of cooked flesh.

Florence Daniel's original idea for her "The Healthy Life Cook Book" (1908) was "to compile a cookery book for those vegetarians who are non-users of milk and eggs" [65]. She abandoned the project because it would have "curtailed the book's usefulness, especially to vegetarian beginners". Two years later, her initial thought was realized by Rupert Wheldon's "No Animal Food" (1910), which presents a comprehensive case for restricting one's diet to plants, information on nutrition, and 100 very basic recipes [66]. He sought to vindicate "a dietary consisting wholly of products of the vegetable kingdom, and which therefore excludes not only flesh, fish, and fowl, but milk and eggs and products manufactured therefrom". A review in the Vegetarian Messenger described his challenge to the orthodoxy as "demanding the attention of vegetarians", and his recipes as demonstrating the possibility of creating a "variety of palatable dishes without recourse to either eggs or milk” [67]. Of the arguments most frequently "advanced on behalf of the vegetable regimen", Wheldon considered "the question of health" to be of "primary importance". Food has a "definite influence upon physical well-being", and "indirectly affects the entire intellectual and moral evolution of mankind". He also discussed concerns such as financial feasibility, inefficient land use, and the aesthetic revolt humans have for blood and killing. Speaking on the ‘intent’ of nature and inevitability of harm:

Is it reasonable to suppose that nature ever intended the milk of the cow or the egg of the fowl for the use of man as food? Can anyone deny that nature intended the cow's milk for the nourishment of her calf and the hen's egg for the propagation of her species? It is begging the question to say that the cow furnishes more milk than her calf requires, or that it does not injure the hen to steal her eggs. Besides, it is not true.

At several points during the first half of the 20th century, editors of the Vegetarian Messenger issued statements and printed reader comments addressing the many points of disagreement. An unease felt by some vegetarians of the era is typified by an admission from 1909: "the longer I go on, the less I like the idea of being responsible for the taking of life, even indirectly, as in using eggs, milk, etc" [68]. The next several remarks are from various 1912 issues of the magazine [69]. Duncan, whose position appears to have evolved, unambiguously asserted: "as long as we drink milk, eat butter and cheese, or use leather, we are taking part in the slaughter and cruelty to which certain animals are subject". Semple shared Wheldon's belief that "eggs were meant to produce chickens and not omelettes; and cow's milk is a perfect food for a calf, but most assuredly not for a grown-up human being". A.S. Hunter claimed to have always viewed birds' eggs and ruminants' milk as "transitory", and thus held they should be "used in moderation while we await a more humane diet". Eric Mackenzie found this position problematic because "people await a more humane diet until life has passed away", and "contribute largely towards the slaughter of cockerels and calves" in the meantime. He had "no sympathy or patience with those who say they cannot live without animal secretions". C.P. Newcombe, editor at the time, received 24 letters to his request for arguments from both sides. Unimpressed with "the defence of the use of eggs and milk by vegetarians", he concluded: "the only true way is to live on cereals, pulse, fruit, nuts and vegetables".

Henry Salt (1851-1939) advocated several social causes and authored works including "The Humanities of Diet", published by the Vegetarian Society in 1914 [70]. He believed "the moral basis of vegetarianism is the one that sustains the rest". However, he defended "temporary use of [non-flesh] animal products", and rejected the pursuit of "barren, logical ‘consistency’". The word vegetarian had "a quite definite meaning", and he wished people would stop "quibbling" about it. Salt demonstrated that "food-reformers" had not neglected this issue by quoting his own "A Plea for Vegetarianism" (1886). At both points in time, he sought "not so much the disuse of animal substances in general", but "the abolition of flesh-meat in particular". Although avian eggs and ruminant milk are "quite unnecessary, and will doubtless be dispensed with altogether under a more natural system of diet", he maintained that "one step is sufficient". Slaughterhouses "might easily be abolished" and then "the question of the total disuse of all animal products" could be addressed. Salt took issue with vegetarians who were emphasizing the importance of eliminating all ‘foods’ derived from the bodies of nonhuman animals:

As for those ultra-consistent persons who sometimes write as if it were not worthwhile to discontinue the practice of cow-killing, unless we also immediately discontinue the practice of using milk—that is to say, who think the greater reform is worthless without the lesser and subsequent one—I can only express my respectful astonishment at such reasoning.

In 1926 the International Vegetarian Union, a federation of vegetarian societies formed in 1908, held their 6th World Congress in London [71]. An account of remarks by Elizabeth Douglas, who presided over the event, appeared in the Vegetarian Messenger [72]:

Twenty years ago if one did not eat meat it was remarked upon. Now people apologised for eating meat themselves. The problems of consistency were difficult, but so long as they consumed milk and butter they were involved in the horrors of the slaughterhouse system.

The traditional understanding of vegetarianism was often defended from the standpoint of tactics. Many have claimed it is conducive to personal transformations and gaining the interest of nonvegetarians. In 1934 the Vegetarian Messenger declared vegetarians "ought not to resort to dairy produce" if they are "to be consistent in relation to [their] philosophy of life" [73]. However, those who do should be "regarded as taking one step at a time in the accomplishment of a great reform". The magazine's impression in 1935 was that "lacto-vegetarians, on the whole, do not defend the practice of consuming the dairy products except on the ground of expediency". The editor at this time described "the question as to whether dairy products should be used by vegetarians" as becoming "more pressing year by year". William Langford labeled diets without animal flesh a "half-way house". Although they can "offer an excellent means of habituating oneself to the change over", he warned: "if we can never get beyond that, our movement is rather futile". In 1942, the magazine echoed Salt's perspective on how vegetarian advocates should proceed:

The ethical argument against flesh-eating is unassailable, and thus, from the point of view of making most progress in eliminating the undoubted horrors of the traffic in flesh foods, a far wider, and more successful, appeal is possible if the public is asked to proceed "step by step".

Tipping Point Reached

It is a disturbing fact that some hundreds of the keenest vegetarians in this country have had no alternative than to organise themselves outside the vegetarian movement in order to advocate consistent vegetarianism. — Donald Watson in 1948 [74]

Vegetarians who disapproved of the direction taken by their society could either acquiesce, or select from three general strategies: subgroup, reform, and splinter organization. Given the views being expressed, any new or updated association would at least promote a truly herbivorous diet, and perhaps opposition to nonhuman exploitation for purposes other than food. Following several decades of arguments that vegetarianism should explicitly rule out consumption of hens' eggs and ruminants' milk, the leadership of the Vegetarian Society received a proposal in 1944 requesting an official subgroup for total vegetarians. A few months after they refused this initiative, the Vegan Society was formed to advocate against, and help people overcome obstacles to avoiding, all nonhuman exploitation. Several of the first vegans kept ties with the Vegetarian Society, and continued their attempts to reform it [75]. Other individuals have taken up this task over the years [76].

Follow these developments in an essay on the history of veganism.

[0] www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/shelley01.htm

[1] www.ivu.org/congress/wvc57/souvenir/sivananda.html

[2] www.ivu.org/history/northam20a/einstein.html

[3] Respectively: www.ivu.org/history/england19a/ritson.html ; www.ivu.org/history/williams/forster.html & www.animalrightshistory.org/animal-rights-romantic/hun-james-leigh-hunt.htm

[4] www.ivu.org/history/williams/pythagoras.html

[5] books.google.com/books?id=Cn8EAAAAYAAJ (page 194)

[6] www.gutenberg.org/files/30478/30478-h/30478-h.htm (page 305) & www.ivu.org/congress/1850/convention.html

[7] Entry for ‘vegetarian’ in the Oxford English Dictionary

[8] books.google.com/books?id=qgQFAAAAQAAJ (page 332-336)

[9] www.ivu.org/congress/1847/rules.html & books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ (page 22)

[10] www.ivu.org/congress/1850/convention.html

[11] www.ivu.org/history/england19a/bible-christian.html

[12] books.google.com/books?id=Ww44HAAACAAJ

[13] www.ivu.org/congress/1850/convention.html

[14] www.vegsoc.org/news/2000/21cv/history.html

[15] www.gutenberg.org/files/14594/14594-h/14594-h.htm

[16] www.ivu.org/history/england19a/Smith_Fruits_and_farinacea_the_proper_food.pdf (page 252)

[17] books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ (page 76). More on Joynes: www.henrysalt.co.uk/friends/james_leight_joynes/

[18] www.ivu.org/history/williams/graham.html

[19] "Lectures on the Science of Human Life" (pages 156, 211, 270 — as printed on the book itself, not reported by Archive.org)

[20] Ibidem at page 214

[21] Ibidem at page 196

[22] Ibidem at page 215

[23] Ibidem at page 225

[24] Ibidem at page 226

[25] Ibidem at page 224

[26] Ibidem at page 225

[27] Ibidem at page 225. The original quote does not reference eggs, but on page 226 Graham says "all that I have said concerning milk" in the section from which this quote derives, is "strictly applicable to eggs".

[28] Ibidem at page 225. One caveat: "there may be particular cases in which the invalid and the delicate and the sedentary may be benefited by a temporary use of a milk diet".

[29] books.google.com/books?id=v38EAAAAYAAJ (1839) & books.google.com/books?id=XxIVAAAAYAAJ (1836)

[30] books.google.com/books?id=v38EAAAAYAAJ (pages 141 & 139)

books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ (page 62) & The Imperial dictionary (1883)

[32] books.google.com/books?id=3psuAAAAYAAJ (pages 4-5)

[33] An essay titled "Self-Denial" was printed in the December 1856 issue of the "Bristol Temperance Herald". This term appeared several times in the first issue of the "Temperance Advocate" (1832)

[34] www.ivu.org/history/usa19/bronson-alcott.html

[35] www.ivu.org/history/usa19/bronson_alcotts_fruitlands.pdf (pages 44, 49-50)

[36] www.ivu.org/history/usa19/trall.html & www.ivu.org/congress/1850/convention.html

[37] "Women and Hygiene", chapter 51 of Herbert Shelton's "Natural Hygiene: Man's Pristine Way Of Life" (1968) & "The Hygienic System", a section of Marc Micozzi's Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Cancer Care and Prevention (2006) — Trall's school was not certified to confer the degree of M.D. until 1857

[38] books.google.com/books?id=04MfAAAAYAAJ (pages 192, 190-191)

[39] books.google.com/books?id=YaYNAAAAYAAJ (page 302)

[40] www.archive.org/details/hygeianhomecookb00tral (preface)

[41] www.archive.org/details/newhydropathicco00tral (pages 19-20)

[42] books.google.com/books?id=ggNbAAAAQAAJ (page 24). More on Newman: www.ivu.org/history/europe19b/newman.html & books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ&q=newman

[43] books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ (page 32). More on Dornbusch: Obituary in The Temperance Record & books.google.com/books?id=QKBiVemexusC&pg=248

[44] books.google.com/books?id=ggNbAAAAQAAJ (page 66)

[45] www.gutenberg.org/files/14594/14594-h/14594-h.htm (preface)

[46] books.google.com/books?id=gYRIAAAAYAAJ (pages 156-158) & www.ivu.org/congress/wvc32/eden2.html

[47] More on Semple: Obituary ; www.ivu.org/history/societies/vsuk-1930s.html & www.ivu.org/history/societies/scottish.html

[48] "Living the Simple Life". Printed in "Here's Harmlessness: An Anthology Of Ahimsa", edited by Jay Dinshah (5th edition – 1993) page 34

[49] books.google.com/books?id=oAIcpOQP7ZsC (pages 71, 158)

[50] books.google.com/books?id=oAIcpOQP7ZsC (pages 68, 164). More on Louisa Alcott: womenshistory.about.com/od/alcottlouisamay/a/lma_transcend.htm

[51] books.google.com/books?id=Vj9aAAAAMAAJ&q=invasion+of+the+rights+of+animals

[52] paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NENZC18600310.2.18 — Rubber, cotton, and plant-based waxes were commonly used ingredients

[53] paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=OW18600204.2.7

[54] www.ivu.org/history/societies/nordhausen.html

[55] www.anna-kingsford.com/english/Works_by_Anna_Kingsford_and_Maitland/Texts/02-OAKM-I-PWayDiettxt-web.htm (pages 107, 109, 114)

[56] books.google.com/books?id=qgQFAAAAQAAJ (pages 274, 294, 348)

[57] www.ivu.org/history/vfu/meeting18.html & www.ivu.org/history/vfu/meeting16.html

[58] books.google.com/books?id=cWcEAAAAYAAJ (page 24)

[59] www.anna-kingsford.com/english/Works_by_Anna_Kingsford_and_Maitland/Texts/02-OAKM-I-PWayDiettxt-web.htm (pages 50-51)

[60] books.google.com/books?id=qgQFAAAAQAAJ (pages 273-274)

[61] books.google.com/books?id=ZqMVAAAAYAAJ (page 381)

[62] books.google.com/books?id=ibFLE9J9pOwC (page 29)

[63] books.google.com/books?id=jde3AAAAIAAJ (pages 251, 247-248)

[64] www.gutenberg.org/etext/15237

[65] www.gutenberg.org/etext/10632

[66] www.gutenberg.org/etext/22829

[67] www.ivu.org/news/3-98/vegsocuk.html

[68] Ibidem

[69] Leah Leneman. "No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 1909-1944" (1999 article)

[70] Henry Salt. "The Humanities of Diet" (1914 article)

Henry Salt Archive (website)

[71] International Vegetarian Union. "6th World Vegetarian Congress 1926"

[72] Report from the 6th World Vegetarian Congress (1926)

Wikipedia. "Elizabeth Douglas-Hamilton, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon"

[73] Leah Leneman. "No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 1909-1944" (1999 article)

[74] Donald Watson. "Should the Vegetarian Movement be Reformed?" (1948 article) appeared in the spring 1948 issue of "The Vegetarian" (number 1 volume 2) pages 23-27

[75] Ibidem

Donald Watson. "Should the Vegetarian Movement be Reformed?: Donald Watson Answers His Critics" (1948 article) appeared in the fall 1948 issue of "The Vegetarian" (number 3 volume 2) pages 30-31

[76] Stanley Sapon. "What's In A Name: Vegetarianism's Past, Present and Future" (1996 article)

Bill Dollinger. "Vegetarian Society of D.C.'s Logical Conclusion" (2006 essay)