We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

22 May 2007

The Roots of Vegetarianism

Where are the roots of the vegetarian way of life? Sites like The International Vegetarian Union and The Vegetarian Society provide some useful info.

Beginning in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries due to the industrial revolution, large factories were being established and more and more people found themselves crammed into close city quarters, working long hours on poor diets. An interest in animal welfare and improving one's health was developing in certain areas, with Manchester being at the center. A minister called William Cowherd from Salford, near Manchester, converted his entire congregation to vegetarianism.

As the interest grew in the vegetarian movement, around 1817 some of Cowherd's congregation left England for the United States, where they settled in Philadelphia and set up a vegetarian group, which is considered to be the start of the American vegetarian movement. The interest in Britain spread beyond Manchester to other parts of the country, and in Ramsgate Kent a health resort/vegetarian hospital was developed. A group of vegetarians organized a meeting there on 30 September 1847 and formed the Vegetarian Society, with James Simpson, its first president. Joseph Bratherton, a then Member of Parliament, was an ardent vegetarian, and his wife produced what is widely believed to be the first vegetarian cookbook in 1810. In 1848 they held the first Annual General Meeting of the Society in Manchester and since 1849 the society has been publishing a magazine.