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The Vegetarian Crusade

The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817-1921

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Vegetarian Crusade
    Book Description:

    Vegetarianism has been practiced in the United States since the country's founding, yet the early years of the movement have been woefully misunderstood and understudied. Through the Civil War, the vegetarian movement focused on social and political reform, but by the late nineteenth century, the movement became a path for personal strength and success in a newly individualistic, consumption-driven economy. This development led to greater expansion and acceptance of vegetarianism in mainstream society. So argues Adam D. Shprintzen in his lively history of early American vegetarianism and social reform. From Bible Christians to Grahamites, the American Vegetarian Society to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Shprintzen explores the diverse proponents of reform-motivated vegetarianism and explains how each of these groups used diet as a response to changing social and political conditions.By examining the advocates of vegetarianism, including institutions, organizations, activists, and publications, Shprintzen explores how an idea grew into a nationwide community united not only by diet but also by broader goals of social reform.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1269-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    In December 1988,Vegetarian Times—a popular national magazine devoted to vegetarian living, food, and culture—reflected on the growth of vegetarianism in the United States. The cover of the magazine noted the increasing number of vegetarian celebrities, including former Beatle Paul McCartney, “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, teen heartthrob River Phoenix, and children’s television icon Fred Rogers. The issue included a reflection on the comparative history of the vegetarian movement in Great Britain and the United States.

    The article’s author lauded British vegetarianism, noting that it had a longer and more prominent history than its U.S. counterpart. The article...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Proto-vegetarianism
    (pp. 10-38)

    It was the early morning of March 29, 1817. A cool breeze wafted through the foggy Liverpool air along with an overriding sense of excitement, anxiety, and anticipation. The Reverends William Metcalfe and James Clarke gazed out on their gathered flock, surveying the situation before them. Inspired by the providential timing—it was, after all, near the time of the year when the ancient Israelites made their exodus from Egypt—forty-one followers of the fledgling Bible Christian Church boarded the majesticLiverpool Packet.¹ For months church members had discussed rumors of religious freedom and abundant providence in the new American...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Transitional Years
    (pp. 39-58)

    In a January 1841 editorial focusing on the United States’ growing population of meat abstainers, the article’s author reflected on the current state of meatless dietetics in the United States. The writer proclaimed that “if the public choose to call us . . . Grahamites . . . we care very little. . . . Those to whom we may have the happiness to do a little good . . . will not care to inquire whether we bow at the shrine of any leader, ancient or modern.”¹ The article was featured in the physiological journalLibrary of Health, which...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The American Vegetarian Society
    (pp. 59-92)

    “In England the advocates of dietetic reform, some time ago, instituted an association,” reported William Metcalfe. The new organization interested Metcalfe because of its stated goal of spreading information about the “abstinence from the consumption of animal food.” Metcalfe was further intrigued because the group organized with an interesting and novel name, gathering “under the appellation of ‘The Vegetarian Society.’”¹

    The new association was “creating quite an excitement throughout the country,” and Metcalfe wondered why a similar organization could not be founded in the United States. After all, he argued, America was “distinguished throughout the civilized world for the noble...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Vegetarianism and Its Discontents
    (pp. 93-114)

    “He was the strictest Vegetarian of the community, and the most intolerant of the flesh-eating barbarians of the outer world,” claimedNew York Tribunereporter Thomas Butler Gunn. “He never used the words meat, beef, pork, or mutton; employing in lieu of them such denunciatory terms as dead flesh, cow’s corpse, butchered hog, and the like.” Such was the description of one dedicated vegetarian in Gunn’s 1857 narrative of life in a vegetarian boardinghouse. Gunn’s work,The Physiology of the New York Boarding-House, was filled with descriptions of visits to a variety of homes, including a boardinghouse filled with medical...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Looks Like Meat, Tastes Like Meat, Smells Like Meat
    (pp. 115-146)

    Beginning in the 1880s, vegetarians around the United States eagerly examined their mail, anticipating receiving their new catalog from the Battle Creek Sanitarium Health Food Company. Health reformers were anxious to see what new meat substitutes were available from the country’s center of healthy living. John Harvey (J. H.) Kellogg and his Battle Creek Sanitarium made their products available via mail order, promising foods that preserved “permanent good health” and restored consumers’ “well being.” The right food choices, vegetarians were told, ensured healthy, productive lives.

    Thanks to the company’s mail-order catalog it was possible to “have in your own home...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Would You Like to Be a Successful Vegetarian?
    (pp. 147-182)

    Although American vegetarianism shifted significantly with the development of Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium, the movement was not wholly disconnected from its past. The new movement vegetarianism of the late nineteenth century attracted adherents thanks to a growing vegetarian population whose members transformed their diet to maximize strength, energy, and productivity. Henry S. Clubb, by then a veteran of American movement vegetarianism, monitored these developments with great interest.

    Except for the brief time during his service in the Union army when he ate meat out of necessity, Clubb’s dedication to vegetarianism never waned. Following the war, Clubb moved to Grand Haven,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Muscular Vegetarianism
    (pp. 183-203)

    Writing in 1898 in his book documenting the history of worldwide vegetarianism in the nineteenth century, vegetarian and World’s Vegetarian Congress speaker Charles Forward commented on the state of physical fitness in the vegetarian movement. “In the earlier days of Vegetarian propaganda,” he wrote, “it was difficult to convince an audience of the possibility of any feats of physical strength or endurance being performed without the consumption of butcher’s meat.” There were two reasons for this, Forward explained. Athletes traditionally trained on a diet of mostly meat. In addition, “Vegetarian teachings were propagated mostly by men of intellectual mould, many...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 204-212)

    The active years of the Vegetarian Society of America (VSA) helped shape the development of modern movement vegetarianism. While the group disconnected vegetarianism from its politically oriented past, it also ensured that the movement remained relevant in a rapidly changing world. With vegetarianism growing in the United States and the first generation of movement leaders all gone, the group became interested in understanding its collective past.

    In March 1907, eighty-year-old VSA president Henry S. Clubb began writing a complete history of vegetarianism forVegetarian Magazine. Clubb planned for the series to cover the movement from biblical times through the modern...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 213-244)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-264)
  15. Index
    (pp. 265-268)