Naturalism in the Vegetarian, Raw Foods, Natural Hygiene, Vegan Movements


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Exploring the Roots of Naturalism in the Vegetarian, Raw Foods, Natural Hygiene, and Vegan Movements
Documented by excerpts from publications from the early 1800’s, supplemented with select earlier and later excerpts.

by Thomas E. Billings

Copyright 2012: text on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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Many of the more idealistic beliefs found in vegetarian-related advocacy today have historical roots in religion, mythology, and/or old, outdated science. The hostility that some modern vegetarian advocates display towards non-vegetarians has historical roots in the cultural imperialism of the early 1800’s. Instead of being repeated (often without question), these outdated beliefs and attitudes should be rejected and excluded from modern vegetarian,  raw-foods, natural hygiene, and vegan activism.





In modern-day advocacy for vegetarian-related diets: vegetarian, raw foods, natural hygiene, and vegan, one can find beliefs and claims that are highly questionable. Examples of such beliefs include the following.



The issue of naturalism underlies many of these claims, and as we will see below, they are motivated by a model of nature that is based on religion and mythology.  This article goes back to the early 1800’s, before the word “vegetarian” existed, to examine the historical roots of the movements named, and to document early examples of such beliefs. We will observe that the statement “the more things change, the more they are the same.” (attributed to French novelist  Alphonse Karr) applies to modern advocacy for the listed diets.


Article structure. This article is written for both casual readers and scholars with an interest in the history of vegetarianism, raw foods, and natural hygiene. Many of the primary sources cited here are out-of-copyright, and lengthy excerpts from the full text are provided in an appendix. The reference list also includes URLs and links to full text online, for those who wish to read the complete original sources.  Internal links to excerpts from full-text sources and other article sections are provided for those who want to read the article (or parts of it) on a by-topic basis. The structure of the article – discussion section, a summary, with excerpts from full text – introduces some redundancy if one reads the article in a straight-line, sequential way.


Table of Contents




Context/primary sources


Historical writings and discussion



Conclusions and summary








Appendix 1: Cross-reference index of excerpts by subject


Appendix 2: Excerpts from the original sources



Appendix 3: References and source details, with URLs for free full text access to select sources



Context/primary sources


The primary focus of this article is on the beliefs about vegetarian diets as presented in three books written in the period 1811-1815. The subject books and their authors, along with a religious organization - the Bible Christian Church - were major influences in the formation of the vegetarian movement which started to formalize in the (later) period 1847-1850 in the US and England. The 3 primary authors and referenced works are:


Newton, John Frank 1811. The return to nature, or, A defence of the vegetable regimen; with some account of an experiment made during the last three or four years in the author's family.


Shelley, Percy Bysshe 1813, as republished in 1884; with a preface by Henry Stephens Salt, William Edward Armytage Axon. A vindication of natural diet, Issue 4.


Lambe, William 1815. Originally published under the title: Additional Reports on the Effects of a Peculiar Regimen in Cases of Cancer, Scrofula, Consumption, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases; republished in 1850 under the title: Water and Vegetable Diet in Consumption, Scrofula, Cancer, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases.


Additional works are referenced where relevant, including Plutarch’s Morals and work by Georges Cuvier, the founder of the science of comparative anatomy. Note that William Lambe was a medical doctor (M.D.), and, yes, the Shelley cited above is the famous English Romantic poet, i.e., the author of Queen Mab and other works.


Newton, Shelley, and Lambe were all friends and influenced each other in many ways. Shelley frequently cited Newton in his Vindication. The focus here is on the ideas presented in their writings, not their personal lives. Readers interested in more personal historical information on these writers should consult the relevant International Vegetarian Union web page and some of the sources listed in Appendix 3.


Terminology. The early 1800’s predated the modern terms for the diets discussed here. The word vegetarian was coined in the 1840’s, and vegan in the 1940’s. Prior to the existence of the term, vegetarian diets were referred to as vegetable diets, Pythagorean diet, and via other terms.  Raw food diets did not have a name in the early 1800’s; later they were referred to as unfired foods diets.  Although Sylvester Graham (who started his dietary reform work in the 1830’s) is considered to be the founder of natural hygiene, the provenance of the term natural hygiene in modern usage is unclear.  It might date to 1898, the book Natural hygiene, or Healthy blood  by Heinrich Lahmann (an English translation of a previous German edition).



Historical writings and discussion



Suggestion to readers: this section is long and detailed. Consider the option of skipping this section on the first read and go to the Conclusions and summary section, read that, then come back and read the portions of this section that are of interest.



Religious (Christian) influence on modern vegetarian-related movements.


In most Western countries, at this time, the modern vegan, vegetarian, natural hygiene, and raw foods movements are predominantly but not exclusively secular. There is a small religious/spiritual component as well, e.g., the sects of some religions specify a vegetarian diet as part of their standard beliefs, and there are subgroups within these movements that have a strong religious/spiritual focus. However, even though these movements are largely secular/non-religious, many of the beliefs and attitudes actively promoted therein have historical roots in religion and mythology.


It is not well-known that the roots of the modern vegetarian communities (in most Western countries) are derived from religious, predominantly Christian movements that started in the 1700’s and 1800’s in England and the U.S.  Readers should note the context here: in most Western countries at this time. Vegetarianism has a different historical basis in some countries, e.g., lacto-vegetarianism has a long history in India, where it was driven by religion and culture, vegetarianism as a monastic practice has a long history in select Buddhist sects in Japan and China, and so on.


Bible Christian Church. A major driver of the modern vegetarian movement was the Bible Christian Church, founded in Salford, England in 1807 (or 1809, depending on the source cited) by the Rev. William Cowherd, a minister in the Anglican sect/denomination.  The church believed that Jesus was a vegetarian, and that following a vegetarian diet was God’s law. The church based its belief in the vegetarian diet on select scriptures from the Bible (Bible Christian Church, exc. BBC-v), supported by imaginative and selective reinterpretation of the scriptural references that discuss meat or fish. (Grumett & Muers 2010; Iacobbo and Iacobbo 2004).


In 1817, William Metcalfe and 40 other members of the Bible Christian Church emigrated to the US, with many settling in Philadelphia.  Many of the people who emigrated to the US soon left the church, and resumed meat-eating and drinking. Metcalfe continued, however, to promote vegetarianism and temperance (avoiding alcohol consumption) (Iacobbo and Iacobbo 2004).


The Bible Christian Church had a small membership and little impact on society in England or the US in the early 1800’s. However, they had a major, long-term influence on the vegetarian movement in England and the US:


Note that the [British] Vegetarian Society exists and is active today; the American Vegetarian Society founded in 1850 no longer exists, but multiple successor organizations are active today.



Model of nature: religious and mythological visions of an earthly paradise.


Newton and Shelley both cite the story from the Bible of the Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise where the first humans lived and presumably followed a vegetarian diet.  Newton regards the story as literal truth (at least partially):  “Had this elegant story been an allegory instead of an historical narration”. He suggests an interpretation of the two trees in the Garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as symbolically representing plant foods and animal foods.  Newton suggests that the penalty for the fall from the Garden of Eden, i.e., from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is “premature diseased death”.   The idea that eating animal foods was the original sin – a powerful concept in Christian theology – is not stated explicitly by Newton, but it is hinted at his writings. (Newton 1811, exc. N-2, N-4).


Newton cites an earlier work, the Aceteria by John Evelyn (1706) that quotes the naturalist John  Ray: “what the heathen poets recount of the happiness of the golden age sprang from some tradition they had received of the Paradisian fare, their innocent and healthful lives in that delightful garden” (Newton 1811, exc. N-98).


Shelley interprets the story of the Garden of Eden as an allegory, but one that reflects reality: “The language spoken, however, by the mythology of nearly all religions seems to prove, that at some distant period man forsook the path of nature, and sacrificed the purity and happiness of his being to unnatural appetites. The date of this event seems to have also been that of some great change in the climates of the earth, with which it has an obvious correspondence. The allegory of Adam and Eve eating of the tree of evil, and entailing upon their posterity the wrath of God, and the loss of everlasting life, admits of no other explanation than the disease and crime that have flowed from unnatural diet.” (Shelley 1813, exc. S-9). Clearly, Shelley believed in a paradise in the distant past where people had vegetarian diets, and interprets “unnatural diet” – i.e., non-vegetarian diet - as the reason for the loss of the paradise state.


Newton and Shelley both mention the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology.  Citing Newton, Shelley states: “Prometheus stole fire from heaven, and was chained for this crime to Mount Caucasus ... Prometheus first taught the use of animal food ... and of fire, with which to render it more digestible and pleasing to the taste” with the result that “man forfeited the inestimable gift of health which he had received from heaven; he became diseased”. Here the use of fire/cooking of animal foods is specifically named as the cause of disease (Shelley 1813, exc. S-9).


Newton and Shelley’s beliefs in a “paradise diet” were explicitly based on the biblical story of the Garden of Eden and the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology. One can find modern day vegetarians, mostly raw fooders and natural hygienists, promoting similar beliefs that have been stripped of their religious and mythological context (e.g., raw vegan “evolution” theories with no credible scientific basis that are creationist in nature because they assert that evolution could “not happen” during 2+ million years of humans eating animal foods). One wonders if they would continue to actively promote such claims if they knew the origin of those beliefs.


Claim: diseases are unnatural, caused by diet/animal foods, i.e., a diet-driven naturalism


Associated with the belief of a paradise in the distant past, is the belief that disease is the result of humanity not following the “paradise diet”. Some modern-day raw fooders and natural hygienists promote similar beliefs. These beliefs have many of the same roots as the belief in a paradise in the distant past:



Salt and Axon, writing in the preface to the republication of Shelley (1813, exc. S-3b) assert that Shelley’s primary aim was to promote the idea that “vegetable diet is the most natural, and therefore the best for mankind. It is not an appeal to humanitarian sentiment”. Shelley’s advocacy was primarily driven by naturalism, and does not address the issues of cruelty or animal welfare. 


Only one disease.


In the general vegan/vegetarian community, it is not hard to find advocates claiming that their specific diet, often high starch conventional vegan, low fat raw vegan, or natural hygiene is – in effect – the “one and only, true religion and science of diet”. (They don’t use those exact words, but that is the essence of their claims.) The idea that there is only “one disease” may be the predecessor for these modern beliefs, and Dr. Lambe expressed this idea in 1815:



Claim: wild animals never get sick.


Nowadays it is well known that disease is an important evolutionary selective pressure on all life forms, including wild animals; check for example, the Journal of Wildlife Diseases . What is astonishing is that one can still find - in the raw foods and natural hygiene communities - activists, diet gurus, and even self-proclaimed “science experts” making the fallacious claim that wild animals never get sick.


This claim originated long ago, and it was advanced by two of the primary authors discussed here.  Newton claims that domesticated animals exist in a deteriorated state, caused by the unnatural diets that humans feed to them. In contrast to this, he claims: “The wild animals, on the contrary, escape the evils above enumerated, as far as we are permitted to judge … nor is there reason to believe that they are subject to any debility” (Newton 1811, exc. N-17, N-27). Shelley makes similar claims: “Man and the animals whom he has infected with his society, or depraved by his dominion, are alone diseased … [wild animals] are perfectly exempt from malady” (Shelley 1813, exc. S-12a). Neither Newton nor Shelley explicitly explain the basis for their claims. However, one feasible explanation would be that wild animals follow their natural diets which, per the model of a past paradise, implies a disease-free existence, i.e., wild animals have not “disconnected” from the Divine like humans were when expelled from the paradise.


Joel Shew, writing in the preface to the 1850 republication of Lambe (1815, exc. L-pf1), expresses doubts regarding the validity of the claim that wild animals are exempt from disease. That indicates that this bogus claim was being questioned by 1850, at the latest.


Claim: comparative anatomy (CA) “proves” that vegetarianism is the most natural diet.


Comparative anatomy (CA) claims are common in vegetarian lore. They are presented to provide allegedly “scientific” support for claims that vegetarian/vegan diets are the “most natural” diets for humans. The basic idea is that the natural diet of humans can be ascertained by comparing the anatomy and/or physiology of humans against that of other animals whose natural diet is “herbivorous,” carnivorous, and/or in some cases omnivorous. (Herbivorous is in quotes because it is vague, and covers a broad range of diets, e.g. folivore, frugivore, and other diets.)


Most comparative anatomy proofs presented in vegetarian advocacy are of extremely low quality. For an in-depth discussion and debunking of such proofs, refer to Billings (1999).  A few of the common claims found in many of these proofs include:



The emphasis here is on the historical origins of these proofs and their claims.


Newton (1811, exc. N-2) makes as his primary direct CA claim, that human intestines are similar to those of the orangutan. He then quotes the Acetaria by John Evelyn, from 1706, where the additional argument is made: “Certainly man by nature was never made to be a carnivorous animal, nor is he armed at all for prey and rapine [seize and plunder], with jagged and pointed teeth, and crooked claws sharpened to rend and tear” (Newton 1811, exc. N-99).


Shelley makes similar arguments:


Lambe (1815, exc. L-120b) provides a comparative anatomy argument based on teeth, the type of jaw movement, and intestines; these are compared against “monkeys”. The earliest well-documented comparative anatomy claim appears to be that of Plutarch, who lived from 46-120 A.D., i.e., roughly 2000 years ago. He wrote:


“But that it is not natural to mankind to feed on flesh, we first of all demonstrate from the very shape and figure of the body. For a human body no ways resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth…” (Plutarch 1878 republication, exc. P-1).


This demonstrates that comparative anatomy claims in support of vegetarianism have a very long history; some of these claims date back approximately 2000 years. Consider that Plutarch was writing before knowledge of evolution and before many scientific fields even existed. In the light of modern knowledge, we now know that the specific claims above have very little (if any) little scientific merit. In this writer’s opinion, such claims are pseudo-science at best, and it is irresponsible for vegetarian advocates to make such claims. Unfortunately, bad habits are hard to break; for a modern example of these claims, see Mills (2009).


Claim: humans are frugivores, “naked apes” without tools.


It may surprise conventional vegans and vegetarians to learn that the claims above are still being repeated in the natural hygiene and raw food communities.  Such claims are not new, per the following.


Lambe presents the “naked apes” argument: “As man is devoid of all natural clothing, we must suppose him placed in the tropical regions; here the air is always of a genial warmth; the fertility of the earth is abundant; and it is confined to no particular season; and the shade of the trees would protect him from the oppression of a vertical sun” (Lambe 1815, exc. L-123).  


The claim that use of tools is somehow unnatural for humans was also made by Lambe, “Man must have been fed previous to the invention of any art, even the simple one of making a bow and arrows. He could not then have lived by prey, since all the animals excel him in swiftness.” (Lambe 1815, exc. L-123). The earliest instance of this claim appears to be Plutarch (1878 republication, exc. P-1): “But if you will contend that yourself was born to an inclination to such food as you have now a mind to eat, do you then yourself kill what you would eat. But do it yourself, without the help of a chopping-knife, mallet, or axe, — as wolves, bears, and lions do, who kill and eat at once. Rend an ox with thy teeth, worry a hog with thy mouth, tear a lamb or a hare in pieces, and fall on and eat it alive as they do.”


Given the advances in our knowledge of human evolution, we now know that use of tools goes back as far as humans have existed, and possibly even before that to a previous species, i.e., Australopithecus [the latter point is controversial and the subject of recent scientific discussion]. The claim that the “natural” human diet is constrained to one that excludes use of tools is ridiculous. Despite this, one can still find raw food diet gurus and natural hygiene self-proclaimed “science experts” making this science fiction claim.


Claim: the orangutan is the model non-human primate.


In the early 1800's, the orangutan was the "model" non-human primate, i.e., the primate believed to be "closest" to humans:



By the mid-1800's the similarity between humans and orangutans was known to be exaggerated: "Of all animals, this [orangutan] is reputed to bear the nearest resemblance to Man ... but the exaggerated descriptions of some authors respecting this similarity…" (Cuvier 1849 repub., exc. C-55). The recognition of chimpanzees as "model" non-human primates started then as well; "By the general consent of living naturalists, the Chimpanzee is placed next to Man in the system, preceding the Ourangs, which it exceeds in general approximation to the human form" (Cuvier 1849, excerpt C-56).


Today, the chimpanzee is commonly used as the model non-human primate in anthropology and other sciences, to the point that the term "chimpocentric" is used to describe the practice. (Note: for a contrast between the behavioral similarities and genetic dissimilarities, chimps vs. humans, check Billings (2010).)


The origins of the modern raw foods movement.


The historical origins of the modern raw foods movement are not well-known and poorly documented. Berry, in a single chapter in Davis et al. (2009), provides scant coverage of the early history of the raw foods movement. One of the few books that provides information on the topic is Kennedy (1998), a pictorial anthology that provides only limited historical information and covers a later period, 1883-1949. The major emphasis of Kennedy (1998) is on German naturalism, with the result that the influence of German naturalism on the modern raw foods movement has been greatly over-estimated. In reality, the seeds of the modern raw foods and natural hygiene communities were planted in the first half of the 1800’s in England and the U.S.


Some of the primary authors discussed here were the first to publicize raw foods. Shelley and Newton both cite the legend of Prometheus from Greek mythology, that fire was used to cook animal foods to make them more digestible (Shelley 1813, exc. S-9). Shelley provides an explicit endorsement of raw foods: "What is the cause of morbid action in the animal system? ... Something then wherein we differ from them [animals]; our habit of altering our food by fire" (Shelley 1813, exc. S-15).


Lambe provides the first "scientific" rationale for raw foods, while openly admitting that cooking may be beneficial in some cases:


Fruit – a controversy.


The controversy over the merits/demerits of fruit has a long history: "This notion of fruit being unwholesome has descended to us, even from the days of Galen...Dean [Jonathan] Swift, in several of his letters, complains that he could not eat a bit of fruit without suffering, and declares how much he envied persons whom he saw munching peaches, while he durst not touch a morsel". Lambe makes a number of fanciful claims about fruit consumption, e.g., people in the West Indies living on fresh sugar cane juice, “tribes of people” are  “principally supported” by fruit, etc. (Lambe 1815, exc. L-96). Jonathan Swift as referenced here is better known as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, and Galen was a prominent Roman physician of Greek origin, who lived AD 129-199 (dates approximate).


The modern (present day) controversy over fruit is somewhat different; it revolves around the questionable claims made by advocates of diets in which fruit is the dominant calorie source, e.g., “low fat raw vegan”. These diets are promoted as being optimal, “species-specific”/most natural, and “well-researched” (despite there being zero published scientific studies on such diets). In contrast to such positive claims, the long-term failure rate by those who attempt such diets is close to 100%, and those who fail are often criticized by the promoters of these diets. There is a negative, hostile, cult-like atmosphere around these diets.


Natural instinct.


The claim that eating plant foods is instinctive is common in vegetarian advocacy and has deep historical roots: Shelley claims that our desire to eat plant foods is instinctive, and it is important that we follow this instinct:



Moral superiority of a vegetarian diet.


If you eat a vegetarian diet, you are enlightened/morally superior, an arrogant position that one frequently encounters in modern vegetarian advocacy, and expressed by Shelley in 1813:



Negative/hostile view of meat-eating;

the cultural imperialism of vegetarian advocates.


The points below summarize a number of claims made by the principal authors discussed here, in vegetarian advocacy in the early 1800’s. Some, but not all, of these points are still made being made by vegetarian advocates today. This is unfortunate, as you may conclude after reading the claims below.


Newton and Shelley believe that their personal, negative reaction to animal foods is universal, a profoundly egocentric claim that is still common in vegetarian advocacy circles today:



Bad health from meat eating is caused by humans not following the divine plan, i.e., the result of our “sin”:



Eating meat makes you stupid, which implies that they believe (with no real proof) that vegetarians are smarter than meat eaters, i.e., more egocentrism:



Comparing meat eaters to cannibals, who at the time were usually referred to as “savages”:



Pre-industrial cultures and tribes that eat meat do so because they are ignorant, a view driven by cultural imperialism:



Nowadays unacculturated hunter-gatherer societies, both past and present, are seen as the best approximation to "natural" humans in anthropology. Lambe’s view is different; he regards such tribes as “savages”, and the least natural. Modern day raw food/vegetarian advocates (implicitly) do the same thing when they disregard the evidence that hunter-gatherer tribes have omnivorous diets. It appears that Lambe and some modern raw food advocates are egocentric enough to think that their paradise-fantasies of nature are more relevant than the experience of real human beings living without benefit of industry/technology, in nature.


Meat is stimulating.


Shelley and Lambe both believe that meat is “stimulating”, a view that is still being promoted today in natural hygiene circles:



The idea that “meat is stimulating” hence harmful was promoted later in the 1800’s by Sylvester Graham, the founder of natural hygiene and also an important influence on the raw foods movement. (Note: this view is not so common/relevant to the conventional vegan and vegetarian communities.)


Positive health effects of a vegetarian diet.


Unrealistic, over-optimistic claims are common nowadays for raw food and natural hygiene diets, and are also made for conventional vegan and vegetarian diets. The claims below from the principal authors indicate that this bad habit has a long history.


Examples of a perfectionist attitude and magical beliefs in the vegetarian diet include:



The latter part of Shelleys’s claim above, “wherever the experiment has been fairly tried”, is still in common use today by raw food and vegetarian activists. Anyone who does not succeed on the subject diet is attacked and accused of not doing the diet “intelligently”, implying they did not give the diet a fair trial. Claims like the above can be used to rationalize away failures on ANY diet, including omnivorous ones, and, in the long run, reflect the intellectual laziness (or intellectual dishonesty) of those who use the claim with no regard for any relevant underlying facts.


An unclear and potentially questionable claim – tribes and nations following the vegetarian diet have great health and vigor – is presented by Newton with no evidence or proof:



After the over-optimistic claims of healing above, it is refreshing to see the principal authors present some constraints on the healing power of the vegetarian diet:



Detox and cleansing diet.


Detoxification aka detox aka internal cleansing was not a new concept in the early 1800’s. The idea that food and other factors can cause the accumulation of “toxins” in the body dates back to Ayurveda and the concept of ama; check Srinivasulu (2005) for a discussion. However, the primary authors discussed here presumably had no knowledge of Ayurveda, and it is interesting to observe that they promoted a similar concept:



If a non-vegetarian diet creates “bad flesh”, one must wonder if that is a factor in the negative attitudes towards meat eaters displayed by the primary authors, or is this merely a “bad” choice of words by Lambe?


Weight loss; merits of a minimal diet.


Vegetarian and simple, minimal diets promote weight loss and enhance health. This is not controversial, so long as the diets in question are nutritionally adequate.



Environmental arguments for vegetarianism.

Some readers may think that environmental arguments in support of a vegetarian diet are a recent phenomenon. That is incorrect; the primary authors discussed here were making similar arguments in the early 1800’s:



Shelley’s remark above regarding dietary reform was prescient, as it preceded the era of dietary reform initiated a few years later by Sylvester Graham, the founder of natural hygiene. Lambe’s remark above regarding the limit to population supported by England was also prescient in a sense, as it preceded publication of similar beliefs by the Rev. Thomas Malthus.


Mixed feelings re: consumption of dairy, eggs.


Long before the word vegan was coined, the vegetarian Dr. Lambe expressed concerns with dairy foods and eggs:



Longevity from vegetarian diet.


The primary authors had different beliefs regarding the effect of a vegetarian diet on longevity. Shelley believed that “On a natural system of diet, old age would be our last and our only malady”  (Shelley 1813, exc. S-19a), and, citing Newton, that the term of existence on a vegetarian diet should exceed 152 years (Shelley 1813, exc. S-27). On this point, Lambe was more conservative, claiming that life will be extended by 10% on such diets (Lambe 1815, exc. L-61). It is worth noting here that Newton lived approximately 58 years – far less than the 152 he claimed; Lambe lived for 82 years – an impressive age at the time, and Shelley died young from drowning hence his age at death is not relevant in this context (Forward 1898).


Criticism of foie gras.


Controversy over the practice of preparing foie gras, the liver of specially fattened geese, is not new. In a footnote, Dr. Lambe describes the cruel treatment of geese required to create fattened livers for the delicacy, ‘fat goose liver pies,’ (Lambe 1815, exc. L-74).


Background information on select authors cited.


Shelley was a strict vegetarian for only a limited time:


From the preface to the reprint of Shelley (1813): “At the time of writing his "Vindication of Natural Diet," Shelley had himself, for some months past, adopted a Vegetarian diet ... In 1818, he left England for Italy, and during his last four years, the most dreamy and speculative period of his life, he seems to have been less strict in his observance of Vegetarian practice... from a line in his letter to Maria Gisborno, written in 1820, "Though we eat little flesh and drink no wine" [his diet] was not entirely a Vegetarian one.” (Shelley 1813, exc. S-4).


Shelley the food prankster:


Shelley was a prankster who secretly made and shot pellets of bread at unsuspecting people, for his amusement.  When taking panada (bread soup) he would often, again for his amusement, proclaim “I am going to lap up the blood of the slain! To sup up the gore of murdered kings!" (Stoddard 1877, exc. SB-165).


Plutarch – an incomplete picture:


Plutarch's pro-vegetarian writings are publicized in vegetarian circles, but vegetarian advocates often ignore the following, also from Plutarch’s Morals:


 “Let us eat flesh; but let it be for hunger and not for wantonness. Let us kill an animal; but let us do it with sorrow and pity, and not abusing and tormenting it, as many nowadays are used to do…” (Plutarch 1878 republication, exc. P-3).


Republications used here are true to originals.


As a final note, the republications used here (when original editions were not available) are true to the originals; for validation, check: Shelley (1813, exc. S-3a) and Lambe (1815, exc. L-61).



Conclusions and summary


Three early pro-vegetarian publications from the period 1811-1815 were reviewed in full text to identify ideas that are still present in modern vegetarian-related activism. The specific writings reviewed were by John Newton (1811), Percy Shelley (1813), and William Lambe, M.D. (1815); related publications were also reviewed where appropriate.  For better or worse, some of the beliefs presented in Newton, Shelley, and Lambe are still being promoted in modern vegetarian-related advocacy.


Religious influences on modern Western vegetarian-related movements.  Modern vegetarian-related movements in Western countries are predominantly secular/non-religious, except for a few subgroups.  The current secular status obscures the historical fact that these movements (in Western countries) have deep roots in religion, especially Christianity:


Naturalism based on religion and mythology.  Newton and Shelley promoted a simplistic and naive naturalism explicitly derived from religion and mythology, as a major part of the basis for their belief that the vegetarian diet is “most natural” for humans.   They both believed in a paradise in the distant past, where people followed vegetarian diets; for Newton it was the story of the Garden of Eden from the Christian Bible, while Shelley adopted a more ecumenical view, reporting that other religions made similar claims. They both cite and discuss the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology, and how fire was given to humans to enable the consumption of animal foods, and how such use of fire was a curse.


Diseases are result of unnatural diet. The religious naturalism and paradise-based diet promoted by Newton and Shelley led to the belief that diseases are the result of humans following an unnatural diet.  Lambe also viewed meat eating as a factor in all disease, but did not cite religious naturalism as a basis. The belief that wild animals are following their diet as in the past paradise may motivate the claim by Newton and Shelley that wild animals never get sick.  This irrational claim is still being advanced in natural hygiene and raw food circles, today.


Naturalism based on outdated science/comparative anatomy.  This is the argument that vegetarian diets are the natural diets for humans because we lack fangs, claws, and other features of carnivores. Newton makes these claims, citing a source from 1706. Shelley and Lambe make similar claims, adding in comparisons of the human intestines with those or the orangutan or “monkeys”. However, the earliest reference to these claims comes from Plutarch’s Morals, which was written around 2000 years ago. Comparative anatomy claims are still being made today for vegetarianism; such claims are unnecessary and –because they are outdated and incorrect – detract from the pro-vegetarian message.


Shelley and Lambe both present arguments that humans are frugivores. Back then it was believed that non-human primates were vegetarians and frugivores; nowadays we know that the diets of frugivorous non-human primates are decidedly non-vegetarian. This too is a specious argument at best.


Lambe presented the argument that humans are naked apes without tools, a bogus argument still found today in natural hygiene and raw foods advocacy. The belief that tools are irrelevant dates back to Plutarch, 2000 years ago. The claim was incorrect back then, and there is no excuse to make such claims today.


Newton and Shelley both cite the orangutan as the model non-human primate that is “closest” to humans.  That belief was superseded by 1849, when the chimpanzee was cited as being closest to humans in an updated republication of Cuvier’s classic work on comparative anatomy.


Roots of the raw foods movement.  Newton and Shelly present a negative view of fire based on the Greek mythology story of Prometheus, an indirect endorsement of raw foods. Shelley claims that humans differ from animals by the use of fire for cooking, and it is the cause of disease.  A modern analogy to Shelley’s claim is the statement “Cooked foods are poison!” that is stated at the end of most chapters in a popular raw foods book (the book in question is a blatant plagiarism of the book Raw Eating by Arshavir Ter Hovannessian).


Lambe makes the most detailed case for raw foods, one that is based on the nutritional and anthropological science of the day. He should be recognized as the grandfather of the modern raw foods movement, and the very first raw foods “guru” although he did not promote 100% raw.  Lambe also discusses the controversy over eating fruit, which dates back to the time of Galen (approximately 1900 years ago). Lambe feels the controversy is misplaced, and makes a number of fanciful claims about fruit.


Superiority of veg diet and hostility towards non-vegetarians. Shelley asserts that eating a vegetarian diet is instinctive, and that people who eat such diets are “enlightened”.  Newton claims that people are naturally repulsed by animal foods, an egocentric and culturally insensitive view – but one still found today in vegetarian advocacy.


Lambe claims that eating meat makes you stupid, a view echoed in Plutarch’s Morals.  Lambe also compares meat eaters to cannibals and “savages”. Unlike modern anthropologists, who regard unacculturated hunter-gatherers as the best approximation to natural humans, Lambe condemns them as being the least natural because they lack “morality”. Lambe’s condemnation of such people was presumably driven by the cultural imperialism and racism of the early 1800’s. Modern veg advocates cannot use that excuse, and the criticism of non-vegetarian hunter-gatherers seen in some raw foods advocacy should cease.


Positive health effects of veg diets. Similar to many modern vegetarian advocates, Newton and Shelley both make exaggerated claims regarding the positive health effects of a vegetarian diet. Shelly does constrain his claims slightly, to exclude hereditary disease from the list of diseases that the diet can cure. Lambe, as an actual M.D., is more conservative and calls for research on the diet-disease linkage.


Longevity. Newton claims that average lifespan under a vegetarian diet should be 152 years, and Shelley claims that as a minimum value. Lambe is more conservative again, saying that vegetarian diets should extend lifespan by 10%.


Miscellaneous topics. A variety of claims regarding vegetarian diets are far from new, and are expressed in at least one of the primary sources discussed here (some of the claims below are controversial, others are not):



Refer to the discussion section and extracts in the appendix for more details on the above.


The power of naturalism: a reassessment. Some of the claims listed above will seem outlandish to those following – in a rational manner - a conventional vegetarian, vegan, or high-raw diet. However, most of these claims are still being made today in vegetarian-related advocacy. Also, recognize that vegetarian-related movements have been promoted for hundreds of years with fallacious information. When naturalism and invalid models of nature are used as a major promotional tool for the diet, one should not be surprised when followers abandon vegetarianism after they learn that the model of nature “sold” to them is incorrect. Indeed, that is happening today (2010-2012) in the raw foods movement; many people, including some raw diet gurus, are abandoning raw veganism for raw lacto-ovo-vegetarianism or raw omnivory. This is the result of a conflict that centers on naturalism, i.e.



This phenomenon – people abandoning vegetarianism - is what happens when a movement is based on false premises, e.g., a false model of nature, outdated science/pseudoscience, hostility to others that is cultish, and so on. Advocates and activists for the diets discussed here would be well-advised to reconsider the role of naturalism in their promotion of these diets, to improve the factual and scientific basis for their advocacy, and to remove the other negative claims discussed here from their advocacy.




Some readers who follow the diets named – vegetarian, raw foods, natural hygiene, and/or vegan – may have a strong emotional reaction to this article, e.g., denial, anger, and even attacking the messenger. Needless to say, such reactions are counter-productive. The purpose of this article is to document some of the outdated and inappropriate beliefs that are still present in modern advocacy for the diets listed, and to remind advocates/activists that removing these obsolete beliefs from vegetarian-related advocacy would be a major improvement.


Many of the obsolete ideas discussed here are counter-productive when raised in modern vegetarian-related advocacy, as they are easily dismissed and distract from the core message. So, if you follow one of the diets listed, and believe that they offer benefits to their followers, then there are productive actions to consider. First, engage in and/or promote honest, realistic advocacy. Second, without resorting to personal attacks, discourage the obsolete, idealistic advocacy claims discussed in this article, when you encounter them. In closing, instead of attacking this messenger, you should focus on improving the message in your own advocacy/activism. Thanks for reading!




Why vegan is last in the title. The terms in the title of this article, “Vegetarian, Raw Foods, Natural Hygiene, and Vegan Movements” are listed in order of their founding in modern times.  The word vegan was invented and the vegan movement was founded in 1944, more than 100 years after the period of primary interest here.


Raw foods naturalism is not limited to vegetarianism.  While the founders of the raw foods movement as discussed here were vegetarian, many later advocates of predominantly-raw food diets were/are non-vegetarian. Modern non-vegetarian raw diets are based on a more up-to-date and more realistic/scientific model of nature than the “paradise-based” vegetarian diets still promoted in some circles. Modern non-veg raw diets include: instinctive eating aka instincto aka anopsology, primal diet, and raw versions of Paleolithic diets. The relevant point is that these diets also have a model of nature as a major part of their basis. Finally, note that the inclusion of raw meat in raw foods diets is not a modern phenomenon, e.g., Christian & Christian (1904) allowed the use of raw meat in such diets.


Natural hygiene is not limited to vegetarianism.  Natural hygiene is not restricted to raw foods, veganism, or vegetarianism; there are non-vegetarians and non-vegans [lacto- and/or ovo- vegetarian] who follow natural hygiene, and eating cooked food is not forbidden. The foremost promoter of natural hygiene in the modern period was the late Herbert Shelton; he served cooked foods and non-vegan foods to visitors at his health retreat. John Tilden was a major promoter of natural hygiene, and he allowed non-vegetarian foods as well. Similar to raw foods, natural hygiene has multiple, contradictory and competing underlying models of nature to support the practice.





This article would not have been possible without the resources and assistance of:




Appendix 1:

Cross-reference index of excerpts by subject


Appendix 2 provides excerpts from relevant works published in the early 1800’s. The list below provides a quick reference guide to the excerpts in Appendix 2, by subject. The format used is:  Topic or claim followed by a list of the related excerpts, with a link to the excerpt in this article.



Christian basis for vegetarianism:


Bible Christian Church (1922), BC-v


Models of nature -- the Garden of Eden, Greek mythology:


Newton (1811), N-4

Newton (1811), N-98

Shelley (1813), S-9


Explicit naturalism of the diet:


Shelley (1813), S-3b

Shelley (1813), S-9

Lambe (1815), L-95a


Diseases are unnatural, caused by diet:


Newton (1811), N-2

Shelley (1813), S-9


One disease, one true human diet:


Lambe (1815), L-76

Lambe (1815), L-102


Wild animals never get sick; domestic animals suffer from many illnesses:


Newton (1811), N-17

Newton (1811), N-27

Shelley (1813) S-12a

Lambe (1815), L-pf1


Comparative anatomy arguments for vegetarian diets:


Newton (1811), N-17

Newton (1811), N-99

Shelley (1813), S-12b

Shelley (1813), S-13c

Lambe (1815), L-120b

Plutarch (1878 republication), P-1


Humans are frugivores, naked apes without tools:


Shelley (1813), S-12b

Shelley (1813), S-13b

Lambe (1815), L-123

Cuvier (1849 republication), C-46

Plutarch (1878 republication), P-1


Early beliefs re: non-human primates:


Newton (1811), N-17

Shelley (1813), S-13c

Cuvier (1849 republication), C-55

Cuvier (1849 republication), C-56


Raw vs cooked foods, noble “savages”:


Shelley (1813), S-9

Shelley (1813), S-15

Lambe (1815), L-95b

Lambe (1815),  L-96

Lambe (1815),  L-101

Lambe (1815), L-124


Controversy over fruit:


Lambe (1815),  L-96


Natural instinct:


Shelley (1813), S-14b

Shelley (1813), S-17


Moral superiority of vegetarian diet:


Shelley (1813), S-18b


Negative/hostile view of meat-eating; cultural imperialism of vegetarian advocates:


Newton (1811), N-64

Newton (1811), N-99

Shelley (1813), S-13a

Shelley (1813), S-14a

Lambe (1815), L-84

Lambe (1815), L-88

Lambe (1815), L-117

Lambe (1815), L-124

Lambe (1815), L-125



Meat eating dulls the mind:


Lambe (1815), L-84

Plutarch (1878 republication), P-2


Meat is stimulating:


Shelley (1813), S-14a

Shelley (1813), S-24

Lambe (1815), L-71


Positive health effects of vegetarian diet and minimal/simple diet:


Newton (1811), N-77  

Newton (1811), N-89  

Shelley (1813), S-18a

Shelley (1813), S-23

Lambe (1815), L-55

Lambe (1815), L-64

Lambe (1815), L-69


Detox/internal cleansing:


Newton (1811), N-115  

Lambe (1815), L-72


Weight loss, minimal diet:


Lambe (1815), L-57

Lambe (1815), L-70

Lambe (1815), L-72


Environmental argument for vegetarianism:


Shelley (1813), S-20

Shelley (1813), S-22

Lambe (1815), L-89


Mixed feelings re: consumption of dairy, eggs:


Lambe (1815), L-89

Lambe (1815), L-94


Longevity from vegetarian diet:


Shelley (1813), S-19a

Shelley (1813), S-27

Lambe (1815), L-61


Criticism of foie gras:


Lambe (1815), L-74  


Drink only distilled water:


Shelley (1813), S-26


Background information on select authors cited:


Shelley (1813), S-4

Stoddard (1877), SB-165

Plutarch (1878 republication), P-3


Republications used here are true to originals:


Shelley (1813), S-3a

Lambe (1815), L-fc


Appendix 2:

Excerpts from the original sources



  1. The material below was obtained from out-of-copyright sources.
  2. Many of the original works that are sources for the excerpts are available via Google Books and other online sites; check Appendix 3 for URLs to access the full text of some of the cited works.
  3. The excerpts from Newton (1811) were obtained from the physical copy of the book in the collection of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. (Update: while this article was on pre-publication hold, full text for Newton (1811) became available on Google Books. See Appendix 3 for the URL.)
  4. The material below was edited to make it more accessible to modern readers:

·         minor typos and obvious optical scan errors were corrected,

·         some archaic spellings were updated, while others were retained as-is, and

·         explanatory notes are provided in  square brackets [*] where appropriate.

  1. The excerpts reflect the time period when they were written (i.e., most are from the early 1800’s). Racism, sexism, support for slavery, and indifference to slavery were common attitudes of the time. Please keep this in mind when reading the excerpts.
  2. Most – but not all – text excerpts are in sequential page order.



Excerpts from Newton (1811)



Newton, John Frank, 1811. The return to nature, or, A defence of the vegetable regimen; with some account of an experiment made during the last three or four years in the author's family. London, England; printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies. Accessed at Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Newton (1811), excerpt N-2   [all diseases are artificial, i.e., unnatural]


pg. 2:


to lay before the public what shall constitute a strong presumption that all diseases, including deformity, are artificial, as much so as any production can be artificial; that the existence of poverty is our choice, not our necessity; and finally, that this heated and furious condition of things which we see around us, this infinite scene of toil and contest without any competent purpose, is produced by the dire effects on the human frame of animal food....


Newton (1811), excerpt N-4  [Garden of Eden is the model of nature]


pp. 4-6:


… I should have believed it impossible to contrive a fable better adapted to convey the truths I am about to press on the reader’s attention than that sacred novel. Man is created and placed in a garden abounding with fruits and vegetables, with which he is commanded to sustain himself. “Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat.” In the midst of the garden stand two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;  that is, of the knowledge of evil, for good Adam possessed already. Of the fruit of one of these trees he is encouraged to partake, of the other he is forbidden. Had this elegant story been an allegory instead of an historical narration, I should have thought it evident that these distinguished trees represented mysteriously the two kinds of food which Adam and Eve had before them in Paradise, viz. the vegetables and the animals; over which latter, dominion was given to man, not surely that he should rob them of all they have, their lives; a permission irreconcilable with a state of perfect innocence; but that he might render them serviceable to himself in cultivating the earth, and in other respects. Of the flesh of animals then, in this view of the supposed fable, our first father was ordered not to eat, and was warned* that in failure of his obedience he should “surely die.” But of what sort was this threatened death? Immediate we know it was not. May I venture, without drawing upon myself the charge of presumption, that the penalty incurred was premature diseased death: for it is manifest that it could not have been the divine purpose, had no transgression taken place, to constitute mankind at once generative and immortal. Theirs would have been such comparative immortality as the food suited to their anatomy would have secured to them, a protracted and healthy existence. This was curtailed by the fall of Adam, which brought diseases into the world; and it appears sufficiently consistent with this explanation that one of Adam’s sons should be a shepherd tending his flock.


pg. 5 footnote:


* Genesis, ch[apter] ii, v[erses] 16, 17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” The words in Italics would seem to have an allegorical application.


Newton (1811), excerpt N-17  [comparative anatomy arguments for vegetarian diet]


pp. 17-20:


That man is wholly adapted to vegetable sustenance is evident from his anatomy,* [pg. 17 footnote] which, especially the form and disposition of the intestines, is very similar to that of the Orang Outang [orangutan: Pongo species], or man of the woods,* [pp. 17-18 footnote] an animal which lives on fruit and vegetables in so vigorous a state that half a dozen men are required to hold him when he is taken; although that and the other species of monkeys, fed as they generally are in these northern climates, become subject to various diseases, particularly to scrofula [tuberculosis in the skin] and consumption, which rage so dreadfully among ourselves. At the tower of London, experience has taught those who have the care of the menagerie, that feeding monkeys on flesh renders them gross and shortens their lives, from which practice the keeper told me that they have therefore desisted. [Jonathan] Swift observes somewhere that man is the only carnivorous animal which is gregarious;* [pg. 20 footnote] and this is nearly though not entirely true. The domestication of animals which are rendered useful to us in our civilized state, entails upon them many disorders and much misery. Sheep suffer in a way to call forth the most ordinary compassion; and it is not uncommon for a gentleman who has three or four saddle horses in his stable, to be unable on the same day to ride any one of them. An English horse, indeed, is become so precarious a possession, that, wherever he goes, it requires an English groom to keep him alive. We learn from veterinary writers that horses are more exposed to tetanus than the human subject; that rheumatism is frequent among them, and that they are not even exempt from gout. How different this from the horse in his savage state! While yet unsubdued, yet untouched by the withering hand of man, we find this beautiful animal so active and powerful that he easily defends himself against the strongest bull.


pg. 17 footnote:


* See “Reports on Cancer,” [Lambe’s 1803 book]  page 27, where the reader will find, among other interesting particulars, a statement respecting the colon of herbivorous animals as distinguished from the same intestine in the carnivorous tribes, which alone may go far to convince any but the most tenacious and obstinate. It is in substance, that all carnivorous animals have a smooth and uniform colon, and all herbivorous animals a cellulated one. I am informed that the reason of this variety is, that vegetable food assimilating less readily to the animal nature than flesh, more time is required for its concoction; consequently, provision is made in the bodies of herbivorous creatures for something like a second digestive process in the alimentary canal, to which this membranous colon administers. Mons. Cuvier, in his “Lecons d’ Anatomie Comparée,” tome iii. p. 366, leans to the opinion that the gastric juice of herbivorous animals is chemically different from that of the carnivorous. It is of some importance that this fact should be ascertained, at well as the chemistry of the gastric fluid in the human subject.


pp. 18 footnote:


It is stated in books of instruction in anatomy, that a change is operated upon the contents of the cecum [appendix] after they have proceeded into the colon. May not that change be effected by means of partial absorption?  If so, it may be productive of most important consequences to the health, whether the matter absorbed be animal matter, or whether it be, according to the intention of nature, vegetable. Such indeed is the absorption which takes place in the lower intestines, that a man may be supported several weeks without eating, merely by the means of clysters [enemas]. Is it then too much to assert, that a subtle poison thus continually passing into the frame may profusely account for the ulceration, the abscesses, the thickening of the coats, the cancer, the mortification, to which these viscera are liable. The cecum of children is proportionably larger than that of men. It seems gradually to shrink, from improper diet. And here let me ask, why has every member of the college of physicians contented himself with talking (for I know that they do talk) about this new theory? Why has not one of them attempted to answer these doctrines of their colleague? Dr. Lambe’s opponents are called upon to shew, either that classification in the natural sciences means nothing, or that the human teeth and intestines do not resemble those of the Orang Outang, so as to mark us as the first link in the same chain of animals. This is the grievous truth from which, though God himself be the author of it, man turns aside with shame or with scorn. What an habitual reluctance there is in the rogue to acknowledge his poor relations!



pp. 18-19 footnote:


[Warning: racist content in following footnote]

* In Collins’s account of New Holland, and of the colony of Port Jackson, there is this passage concerning the inhabitants: “Their lips are thick and the mouth extravagantly wide, but when opened, discovering two rows of white, even, and sound teeth. Most of them have very prominent jaws; and there was one man who, but for the gift of speech, might have passed for an Orang Outang. He was covered with hair; his arms appeared of an uncommon length; in his gait he was not perfectly upright; and in his whole manner seemed to have more of the brute, and less of the human species about him, than any of his countrymen.”


Admiral Gantheaume carried with him an African pongo [chimpanzee or maybe  an orangutan] on one of his voyages. This creature is described as the completest sailor on board his ship. When the Admiral stretched into a northern climate, the poor pongo sickened and died, from too constantly and actively doing duty on deck, and in the shrouds. This intelligent animal was much regretted by his master.


pg. 20 footnote:


* Dr. [Jonathan] Swift probably took this idea from Aristotle’s 6th book, [Greek title omitted]


Newton (1811), excerpt N-27  [domesticated animals are inferior, wild animals never get sick]


pg. 27:


Tell me, reader, is that originally noble creature man more, or is he less deteriorated than the mouflon [wild sheep, possible ancestor of domesticated sheep]?


pg. 30:


The wild animals, on the contrary, escape the evils above enumerated, as far as we are permitted to judge. Contagious distempers likewise we may conclude to be unknown among them; for we are never told by sportsmen, or by the country people, that the hares, the foxes, the crows, or any other tribe of untamed animals are lying dead in numbers through the fields; nor is there reason to believe that they are subject to any debility, save that irremediable failure of strength consequent of their having reached the usual period of existence appointed to their kind by the Creator.


pg. 112:


…animals may be made to grow up and live on what is evidently not their natural food…perversion of diet among all the domestic animals



Newton (1811), excerpt N-64  [eat animal food and die: punishment for humanity]


pg. 64:


…had it not been the heavenly dispensation that man, by living on animal food, should become unhealthy and rapidly perish…



Newton (1811), excerpt N-77  [perfectionist attitude]


pg. 77:


If there be a single person existing whose health would not be improved by the vegetable diet and distilled water, then the whole system falls at once to the ground.


Newton (1811), excerpt N-89  [health effects of vegetarian diet; quote from John Evelyn, 1706]


pg 89:


From the “Acetaria” of John Evelyn, a man of some eminence in his time, I will give several extracts. The work was printed in 1706, and dedicated to John Lord Somers.


“And now after all we have advanced in favour of the herbaceous diet, there still emerges a third inquiry; namely, whether the use of crude herbs and plants is so wholesome as pretended? What opinion the prince of physicians had of them, we shall see hereafter; as also what the sacred records of elder times seem to infer, before there were any flesh shambles [slaughterhouses] in the world; together with the reports of such as are often conversant among many nations and people who, to this day, living on herbs and roots, arrive to an incredible age in constant health and vigour: which, whether attributable to the air and climate, custom, constitution, &c. [etc.] should be inquired into.”


Before I proceed to the next extract, I must lay some stress upon the last phrase, should be inquired into," in which sentiment I entirely coincide with this author. No subject can possibly be more interesting to mankind in general than an inquiry taken with great caution and earnestness into the means of rendering life longer and healthier than it is. A commission, distinct from medical practice, ought to be established for that purpose. The triumph which Dr. Lambe has obtained in twenty instances over incipient cancer, in all of which he has checked the progress of that frightful disease, entitles his opinions and his plan to the fullest and fairest investigation.


Newton (1811), excerpt N-98  [vegetarian diet based on Garden of Eden paradise]


pg. 98:  [another quote from the Acetaria by John Evelyn, published in 1706]


And when after, by the Mosaic constitution, there were distinctions and prohibitions about the legal uncleanness of animals, plants of what kind soever were left free and indifferent for everyone to choose what best he liked. And what if it was held indecent and unbecoming the excellency of man’s nature, before sin entered and grew enormously wicked, that any creature should be put to death and pain for him who had such infinite store of the most delicious and nourishing fruit to delight, and the tree of life to sustain him? Doubtless, there was no need of it. Infants sought the mother’s nipple as soon as born; and when grown and able to feed themselves ran naturally to fruit; and still will choose to eat it rather than flesh; and certainly might so persist to do so, did not custom prevail, even against the very dictates of nature. Nor question I but that what the heathen poets recount of the happiness of the golden age sprang from some tradition they had received of the Paradisian fare, their innocent and healthful lives in that delightful garden. P. 146 [page number in Aceteria]


Newton (1811), excerpt N-99  [flesh foods repugnant, comparative anatomy]


pg. 99: [another quote from the Acetaria by John Evelyn, published in 1706]


Let us hear our excellent botanist, Mr. Ray [John Ray, naturalist], “The use of plants,” says he, “is all our life of that universal importance and concern, that we can neither live nor subsist with any decency and convenience, or be said to live indeed at all without them. Whatsoever food is necessary to sustain us, whatsoever contributes to delight and refresh us, are supplied and brought forth out of that plentiful and abundant store. And ah! How much more innocent, sweet, and healthful, is a table covered with these than with all the reeking flesh of butchered and slaughtered animals. Certainly man by nature was never made to be a carnivorous animal, nor is he armed at all for prey and rapine [seize and plunder], with jagged and pointed teeth, and crooked claws sharpened to rend and tear; but with gentle hands to gather fruit and vegetables and with teeth to chew and eat them.” P. 170 [page number in Aceteria]


[For a brief introduction to naturalist John Ray, check the relevant International Vegetarian Union web page.]


Newton (1811), excerpt N-115  [detox, cleansing]


pp. 115-116:


Let it then be granted that of all animals man is the most unhealthy. Still I would contend that this state of disease is a forced state; and it will be found by those who adopt the diet which I am recommending, that they will regularly retread their progress in diseased action. This retrograde movement will sometimes be slow, nor must we expect, even where there is still much vigour in the constitution, that it will be more rapid than has been stated. It ought to be sufficiently so to satisfy us, when there is reason to believe that the attacks subsequent to the institution of the regimen are peculiarly salutary, and that every illness, more mild than the preceding, evolves from the frame some portion of that deleterious matter which would in time bring on premature death.



Excerpts from Shelley (1813),

derived from 1884 republication




Shelley, Percy Bysshe 1813, as republished in 1884; with a preface by Henry Stephens Salt, William Edward Armytage Axon. A vindication of natural diet, Issue 4. London, England: F. Pitman; Manchester, England: John Heywood; and offices of the Vegetarian Society, 1884.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-3a  [from preface; history of the text]


pp. 1-5: 


PREFATORY NOTICE. [by Henry Stephens Salt, William Edward Armytage Axon]


Shelley's "Vindication of Natural Diet" was first written as part of the notes to "Queen Mab," which was privately issued in 1813. Later in the same year the "Vindication" was separately published as a pamphlet, and it is from this later publication that the present reprint is made. The original pamphlet is now exceedingly scarce, but it is said to have been reprinted in 1835, as an appendix to an American medical work, the "Manual on Health," by Dr. Turnbull, of New York.


pg. 4 footnote:


Shelley's pamphlet appeared in 1813. The Vegetarian Society was not founded until 1847.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-3b  [from preface; naturalism]


pg. 3:


The main object of Shelley's pamphlet was to show that a vegetable diet is the most natural, and therefore the best for mankind. It is not an appeal to humanitarian sentiment, but an argument based on individual experience, concerning the intimate connection of health and morality with food. It has no claim to originality in the arguments adduced; its materials being avowedly drawn from the works of Dr. Lambe and Mr. Newton,


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-4  [from preface; Shelley was non-vegetarian later in life]


pp. 4-5:


At the time of writing his "Vindication of Natural Diet," Shelley had himself, for some months past, adopted a Vegetarian diet, chiefly, no doubt, through his intimacy with the Newton family. There seems no reason to doubt that he continued to practise Vegetarianism during the rest of his stay in England, that is from 1813 to the spring of 1818. Leigh Hunt's account of his life at Marlow, in 1817, is as follows :—"This was the round of his daily life. He was up early, breakfasted sparingly, wrote this 'Revolt of Islam' all the morning; went out in his boat, or in the woods, with some Greek author or the Bible in his hands; came home to a dinner of vegetables (for he took neither meat nor wine); visited, if necessary, the sick and fatherless, whom others gave Bibles to and no help; wrote or studied again, or read to his wife and friends the whole evening; took a crust of bread or a glass of whey for his supper, and went early to bed."


In 1818, he left England for Italy, and during his last four years, the most dreamy and speculative period of his life, he seems to have been less strict in his observance of Vegetarian practice. It is not true however, as has sometimes been asserted, that Shelley lost faith in the principles of Vegetarianism; for his change in diet was owing partly to his well-known carelessness about his food, which became more marked at this time, and partly to a desire to avoid giving trouble to the other members of his household, which-, as we see from a line in his letter to Maria Gisborno, written in 1820, "Though we eat little flesh and drink no wine" was not entirely a Vegetarian one. Yet, even at this period of his life, he himself was practically, if not systematically, a Vegetarian, for all his biographers agree in informing us that bread was literally his "staff of life."


[End of preface excerpts and end of material written by Henry Stephens Salt, William Edward Armytage Axon; Shelley reprint follows.]


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-7  [reprint of original cover, capitals as in original]


pg 7:


A vindication of natural diet




Printed For J. Callow, Medical Bookseller, Crown Court, Prince's Street, Soho,

By Smith & Davy, Queen Street, Seven Dials. 1813.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-9  [naturalism; paradise in the past, vegetarian diet is disease-free, cooking  causes disease]


pp. 9-12:


I hold that the depravity of the physical and moral nature of man originated in his unnatural habits of life. ..


The language spoken, however, by the mythology of nearly all religions seems to prove, that at some distant period man forsook the path of nature, and sacrificed the purity and happiness of his being to unnatural appetites. The date of this event seems to have also been that of some great change in the climates of the earth, with which it has an obvious correspondence. The allegory of Adam and Eve eating of the tree of evil, and entailing upon their posterity the wrath of God, and the loss of everlasting life, admits of no other explanation than the disease and crime that have flowed from unnatural diet.


The story of Prometheus is one likewise which, although universally admitted to be allegorical, has never been satisfactorily explained. Prometheus stole fire from heaven, and was chained for this crime to Mount Caucasus…Prometheus (who represents the human race) effected some great change in the condition of his nature, and applied fire to culinary purposes; thus inventing an expedient for screening from his disgust the horrors of the shambles [slaughterhouses]. From this moment his vitals were devoured by the vulture of disease. It consumed his being in every shape of its loathsome and infinite variety, inducing the soul-quelling sinkings of premature and violent death. All vice arose from the ruin of healthful innocence… I conclude this part of the subject with an extract from Mr. Newton's Defence of Vegetable Regimen, from whom I have borrowed this interpretation of the fable of Prometheus.


" Making allowance for such transposition of the events of the allegory as time might produce after the important truths were forgotten, which this portion of the ancient mythology was intended to transmit, the drift of the fable seems to be this: Man at his creation was endowed with the gift of perpetual youth; that is, he was not formed to be a sickly suffering creature as we now see him, but to enjoy health, and to sink by slow degrees into the bosom of his parent earth without disease or pain. Prometheus first taught the use of animal food (primus bovem occidit Prometheus)* and of fire, with which to render it more digestible and pleasing to the taste. Jupiter, and the rest of the gods, foreseeing the consequences of these inventions, were amused or irritated at the short-sighted devices of the newly-formed creature, and left him to experience the sad effects of them. Thirst, the necessary concomitant of a flesh diet," (perhaps of all diet vitiated by culinary preparation) " ensued; water was resorted to, and man forfeited the inestimable gift of health which he had received from heaven; he became diseased, the partaker of a precarious existence and no longer descended slowly to his grave."*


footnote, pg. 11: * " Return to Nature." Cadell, 1811.


footnote, pg. 12: *" Plin. Nat. Hist.," Lib. vii., Sec. 57.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-12a  [wild animals never get sick]


pg. 12:


Man and the animals whom he has infected with his society, or depraved by his dominion, are alone diseased. The wild hog, the mouflon [wild sheep, possible ancestor of domesticated sheep], the bison, and the wolf are perfectly exempt from malady, and invariably die either from external violence or natural old age.



Shelley (1813), excerpt S-12b [comparative anatomy arguments, humans are frugivores]


pp. 12-13:


[Warning: racist content in following paragraph]

Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in everything, and carnivorous in nothing: he has neither claws wherewith to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living fibre [animal flesh, in this context]. A mandarin of the first class, with nails two inches long, would probably find them alone inefficient to hold even a hare.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-13a  [cultural imperialist view of non-vegetarians]


pg. 13:


It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-13b [ignores human use of tools]


pg. 13:


Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a decisive experiment on its fitness, and, as Plutarch recommends, tear a living lamb with his teeth, and plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood; when fresh from the deed of horror,


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-13c [comparative anatomy]


pp. 13-14:


The orang-outang perfectly resembles man both in the order and number of his teeth. The orang-outang is the most anthropomorphous of the ape tribe, all of which are strictly frugivorous. ... In many frugivorous animals, the canine teeth are more pointed and distinct than those of man. The resemblance also of the human stomach to that of the orang-outang is greater than to that of any other animal.


The intestines are also identical with those of herbivorous animals, which present a large surface for absorption, and have ample and cellulated colons. The cecum also, though short, is larger than that of carnivorous animals; and even here the orang-outang retains its accustomed similarity.


The structure of the human frame then is that of one fitted to a pure vegetable diet, in every essential particular.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-14a [animal foods are stimulating, criticism of people who eat animal foods]


pg. 14:


It is true that the reluctance to abstain from animal food, in those who have been long accustomed to its stimulus, is so great in some persons of weak minds, as to be scarcely overcome;


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-14b [instinct is “unerring”]


pp. 14-15:


Young children evidently prefer pastry, oranges, apples, and other fruit, to the flesh of animals… Unsophisticated instinct is invariably unerring; but to decide on the fitness of animal food, from the perverted appetites which its constrained adoption produce, is to make the criminal a judge in his own cause…


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-15 [raw foods]


pg. 15:


What is the cause of morbid action in the animal system? ... Something then wherein we differ from them [animals]; our habit of altering our food by fire, so that our appetite is no longer a just criterion for the fitness of its gratification. Except in children there remains no traces of that instinct which determines, in all other animals, what aliment [food] is natural or otherwise; and so perfectly obliterated are they in the reasoning adults of our species, that it has become necessary to urge considerations, drawn from comparative anatomy, to prove that we are naturally frugivorous.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-17 [instinct; rejection of “civilized life”]


pg. 17:


Pregnant, indeed, with inexhaustible calamity is the renunciation of instinct, as it concerns our physical nature; arithmetic cannot enumerate, nor reason perhaps suspect, the multitudinous sources of disease in civilised life. Even common water, that apparently innoxious [innocuous] pabulum, when corrupted by the filth of populous cities, is a deadly and insidious destroyer.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-18a [magical healing power of vegetarian diets, negative view of medicine]


pg. 18:


There is no disease, bodily or mental, which adoption of vegetable diet and pure water has not infallibly mitigated, wherever the experiment has been fairly tried. Debility is gradually converted into strength, disease into healthfulness…


pg. 19:


It is found easier, by the short-sighted victims of disease, to palliate their torments by medicine, than to prevent them by regimen.



Shelley (1813), excerpt S-18b [moral superiority of vegetarian diet]


pg. 18:


But it is only among the enlightened and benevolent that so great a sacrifice of appetite and prejudice can be expected, even though its ultimate excellence should not admit of dispute


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-19a [longevity]


pg. 18:


On a natural system of diet, old age would be our last and our only malady: the term of our existence would be protracted…


pg. 19:


The vulgar of all ranks are invariably sensual and indocile; yet I cannot but feel myself persuaded, that when the benefits of vegetable diet are mathematically proved; when it is as clear, that those who live naturally are exempt from premature death, as that nine is not one, the most sottish of mankind will feel a preference towards a long and tranquil, contrasted with a short and painful life.



Shelley (1813), excerpt S-19b [Shelley credits Newton]


pg. 19:

consult Mr. Newton's luminous and eloquent essay.* It is from that book, and from the conversation of its excellent and enlightened author, that I have derived the materials which I here present to the public.


pg. 19 footnote:


* Return to Nature, or Defence of Vegetable Regimen. Cadell], 1811


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-20 [environmental argument for vegetarian diet, no need for spices]


pp. 20-21:


The change which would be produced by simpler habits on political economy is sufficiently remarkable. The monopolising eater of animal flesh would no longer destroy his constitution by devouring an acre at a meal…The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox, would afford ten times the sustenance, undepraving indeed, and incapable of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth.


The most fertile districts of the habitable globe are now actually cultivated by men for animals, at a delay and waste of aliment absolutely incapable of calculation.


How would England, for example, depend on the caprices of foreign rulers, if she contained within herself all the necessaries, and despised whatever they possessed of the luxuries of life? How could they starve her into compliance with their views? Of what consequence would it be that they refused to take her woolen manufactures, when large and fertile tracts of the island ceased to be allotted to the waste of pasturage? On a natural system of diet, we should require no spices from India; no wines from Portugal, Spain, France, or Madeira;


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-22 [dietary reform is top priority]


pg. 22:


The advantage of a reform in diet is obviously greater than that of any other. It strikes at the root of the evil.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-23 [limits on health effects of vegetarian diet]


pg. 23:


The healthiest among us is not exempt from hereditary disease. The most symmetrical, athletic, and long-lived, is a being inexpressibly inferior to what he would have been, had not the unnatural habits of his ancestors accumulated for him a certain portion of malady and deformity. In the most perfect specimen of civilized man something is still found wanting by the physiological critic. Can a return to nature, then, instantaneously eradicate predispositions that have been slowly taking root in the silence of innumerable ages?  Indubitably not. All that I contend for is, that from the moment of the relinquishing all unnatural habits, no new disease is generated; and that the predisposition to hereditary maladies gradually perishes for want of its accustomed supply. In cases of consumption, cancer, gout, asthma, and scrofula [tuberculosis in the skin], such is the invariable tendency of a diet of vegetables and pure water.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-24 [meat is stimulating, perfection in vegetarian diet]


pg. 24:


The proselyte to a pure diet must be warned to expect a temporary diminution of muscular strength. The subtraction of a powerful stimulus will suffice to account for this event.


He will feel none of the narcotic effects of ordinary diet.


He will find, moreover, a system of simple diet to be a system of perfect epicurism. He will no longer be incessantly occupied in blunting and destroying those organs from which he expects his gratification.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-26 [drink only distilled water]


pg. 26:


Drink No Liquid But Water Restored To Its Original

Purity By Distillation.


Shelley (1813), excerpt S-27 [vegetarians should live longer than 152 years]


pg. 27:


[Note: derived largely from Newton (1811).]




Persons on vegetable diet have been remarkable for longevity. The first Christians practised abstinence from animal flesh, on a principle of self mortification. Other instances are, Old Parr 152; Mary Patten 136; A Shepherd in Hungary 126; Patrick O'Neale 113; Joseph Elkins 103; Elizabeth de Val 101; Aurungzebe 100; St. Anthony 105; James, the Hermit 104; Arsenius 120; St. Epiphanius 115; Simeon 112; and Rombald 120.


Mr. Newton's mode of reasoning on longevity is ingenious and conclusive. “Old Parr, healthy as the wild animals, attained to the age of 152 years. All men might be as healthy as the wild animals. Therefore all men might attain to the age of 152 years." The conclusion is sufficiently modest. Old Parr cannot be supposed to have escaped the inheritance of disease, amassed by the unnatural habits of his ancestors. The term of human life may be expected to be infinitely greater, taking into the consideration all the circumstances that must have contributed to abridge even that of Parr.



Supplement to Shelley: excerpt from a biography of Shelley



Stoddard, Richard Henry 1877. Anecdote Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company.



Stoddard (1877), excerpt SB-165  [Shelley the food prankster]


pp 165-167:


Bysshe's dietary was frugal and independent; very remarkable and quite peculiar to himself. When he felt hungry he would dash into the first baker's shop, buy a loaf and rush out again, bearing it under his arm; and he strode onwards in his rapid course, breaking off pieces of bread and greedily swallowing them. But however frugal the fare, the waste was considerable, and his path might be tracked, like that of Hop-o'-my-Thumb through the wood, in Mother Goose her tale, by a long line of crumbs.


The spot where he sat reading or writing, and eating his dry bread, was likewise marked out by a circle of crumbs and fragments scattered on the floor. He took with bread, frequently by way of condiment, not water-cresses, as did the Persians of old, according to the fable of Xenophon, but common pudding raisins. These he purchased at some mean little shop, that he might be the more speedily served; and he carried them loose in his waistcoat-pocket, and eat them with his dry bread. He occasionally rolled up little pellets of bread, and, in a sly, mysterious manner, shot them with his thumb, hitting the persons—whom he met in his walks—on the face, commonly on the nose, at which he grew to be very dexterous.


When he was dining at a coffee-house, he would sometimes amuse himself thus, if that could be an amusement which was done unconsciously. A person receiving an unceremonious fillip on the nose, after this fashion, started and stared about; but I never found that anybody, although 1 was often apprehensive that someone might resent it, perceived or suspected, from what quarter the offending missile had come. The wounded party seemed to find satisfaction in gazing upwards at the ceiling, and in the belief that a piece of plaster had fallen from thence. When he was eating his bread alone over his book he would shoot his pellets about the room, taking aim at a picture, at an image, or at any other object which attracted his notice. He had been taught by a French lady to make panada [bread soup]; and with this food he often indulged himself. His simple cookery was performed thus. He broke a quantity— often, indeed, a surprising quantity—of bread into a large basin, and poured boiling water upon it. When the bread had been steeped awhile, and had swelled sufficiently, he poured off the water, squeezing it out of the bread, which he chopped up with a spoon; he then sprinkled pounded loaf sugar over it, and grated nutmeg upon it, and devoured the mass with a prodigious relish. He was standing one day in the middle of the room, basin in hand, feeding himself voraciously, gorging himself with pap.


" Why, Bysshe," I said, "you lap it up as greedily as the Valkyrias in Scandinavian story lap up the blood of the slain! "


"Aye!" he shouted out, with grim delight, "I lap up the blood of the slain!”


The idea captivated him; he was continually repeating the words; and he often took panada, I suspect, merely to indulge this wild fancy, and say, “I am going to lap up the blood of the slain! To sup up the gore of murdered kings!"


Having previously fed himself after his fashion from his private stores, he was independent of dinner, and quite indifferent to it; the slice of tough mutton would remain untouched upon his plate, and he would sit at table reading some book, often reading aloud, seemingly unconscious of the hospitable rites in which others were engaged, his bread bullets meanwhile being discharged in every direction.


The provisions supplied at lodgings in London were too frequently in those days detestable, and the service which was rendered abominable and disgusting. Meat was procured wherever meat might be bought most cheaply, in order that, being paid for dearly, a more enormous profit might be realized upon it ; and those dishes were selected in which the ignorance in cookery of a servant-of-all-work might be least striking.



Excerpts from Lambe (1815),

derived from 1850 republication



Lambe, William 1815. Originally published under the title: Additional Reports on the Effects of a Peculiar Regimen in Cases of Cancer, Scrofula, Consumption, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases; republished in 1850 under the title: Water and Vegetable Diet in Consumption, Scrofula, Cancer, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases. Republication includes a forward by Joel Shew. New York: Fowler and Wells.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-1   [front cover of republication, all capitals as in original]
























Lambe (1815), excerpt L-fc   [from preface by Joel Shew; relatively minor changes from 1815 version]


The work which is here presented to the American public, was first published in London, under date of 1815, with the title "Additional Reports on the Effects of a Peculiar Regimen in Cases of Cancer, Scrofula, Consumption, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases." I have thought better to change this name to that of "Water and Vegetable Diet in Consumption, Scrofula, Cancer, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases," as being more expressive of the true character of the work.


I have also, in the following work, changed many of the technical or scientific terms to such as will be better understood by the generality of readers. Numerous typographical errors, and some other mistakes, which had crept into the London edition, I have also corrected. I have likewise taken the liberty of omitting many of the marginal references of the former edition, references which were, for the most part, made either to works that are not accessible to American readers, or to those of foreign languages, which also are not here to be obtained. By making these omissions (which I consider does not at all depreciate the value of the work), it has been brought into a smaller space than it otherwise could have been, and is, as a consequence, afforded at a lower price. The notes and additions which I have made in the body of the work, will be recognized by the latter initial of my name.


[End of preface excerpts; Lambe reprint follows.]


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-pf1  [wild animals don’t get sick] 


pp. 21-22 footnote:


It may be doubted whether wild animals, living strictly according to their natural habits, suffer any constitutional disease; but the question cannot be easily determined. It is obvious, however, that those become most diseased, which recede the farthest from their natural habits of life.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-55  [animal food promotes disease, healing power of vegetarian diet]  


pg. 55:


The use of animal food is one of these habitual irritations to which most persons, who have it in their power, voluntarily subject themselves. Nothing need be said to show that this custom produces a great change in the system in its ordinary state of health. This is a change which, as long as health continues, is commonly thought to be for the better. But omitting wholly that consideration, it seems certain that it predisposes to disease, and even of those kinds the immediate origin of which may be traced to other causes.


pg. 57:


It seems, moreover, highly probable that the power inherent in the living body, of restoring itself under accidents or wounds, is strongest in those who use most a vegetable regimen, and who are very sparing in the use of fermented liquors.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-57  [value of minimal diet]  


pp. 57-58: 


These facts are enough to induce a suspicion that our diseases are much exasperated by our manner of living, and the full diet of animal food, to which we are habituated. In Schenk's collection, the following amusing story of the same description is found: " The noble Francis Pechi—when he had mounted his mule, to dispatch some commissions of our illustrious duke—a man of fifty, gouty, and much oppressed with the continual torments of this disease, was secretly thrown into prison by a certain marquis, his wife, only son, and other people thinking him dead. In the year 1556, after a lapse of twenty years, he was found by the French, who took the citadel, and to the astonishment of all the inhabitants of Vercelli [, Italy], preserved like Lazarus from the tomb, he walked through the city, with his sword by his side, without stiffness of his joints, without the aid of a stick. He thus escaped all the misery of the gout by means of a slender diet, imposed on him by his jailers; and finding his wife and son dead, he began to claim his houses, farms, and other property, which had been sold, and were of great value. In diet, therefore, is the medicine."


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-61  [longevity, promoted by austerity]  


pp. 61-62:


That the members of those monastic orders, who abstained from the flesh of animals by the rules of their institution, enjoyed a longer mean term of life in consequence, has been proved by the result of an actual examination. This fact is well-established by the author of an interesting tract, published at Geneva, in 1789, entitled Apologie du Jeune. As this tract appears to furnish some important and instructive matter, I am sorry that my own knowledge of its contents is derived from the scanty details of a medical journal. From this source, however, I have obtained the calculation which seems sufficient to justify the conclusions of the author.


This writer extracted from Baillot [probable reference to Guillaume Baillot, a French physician, 1538-1616] the length of the lives of 152 monks (solitaires), or of bishops, who used the same austere mode of life [presumably ascetics]. He took them promiscuously [freely], as they were presented, in all times, and in all sorts of climates. They produced a total of 11,589 years; and consequently they gave an average of seventy-six years and a little more than three months, which may be expected from a regimen confined principally to fruits, herbs, roots, etc. He took, in like manner, 152 academicians, half members of the academy of sciences, and half of that of Bellas Lettres [i.e., less prestigious academies]. They gave only 10,511 years, affording an average of sixty-nine years and a little more than two months. The ancient austerity, therefore, so far from abridging life, lengthens it rather more, upon an average, than seven years; and the long life of the anchorites [secluded, ascetic Christian hermits/monastics; see note below] was the effect of the frugality of their regimen.


According to the evidence produced, the system [human body] wears faster under a mixed regimen than under a vegetable regimen; and at such a rate that those who would die under the former regimen at seventy, would, under the latter, reach to seventy-seven nearly; that it is to say life is prolonged about one tenth.


[For more information on anchorites, see Grumett & Muers (2010).]


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-64  [limits on vegetarian diet effects]  


pg. 64:


From this view of the subject, I think it is easily explained how the vegetable regimen has fallen into a species of disrepute; and how impossible it is to obtain from it, when the system is hastening toward dissolution, even a temporary respite from suffering. Let us make an assumption which is certainly quite extravagant; but let us suppose that, other things remaining the same, life would be doubled by vegetable regimen. In the beginning or middle of life this would be a momentous consideration; but how would it be toward its close? A man, we will say, is consumptive, and has but half a year to live. By the vegetable regimen, then, he would, by the supposition, live a whole year. But he would still during the whole period be a dying man; the symptoms might be less severe, but they would persist. And how much more evidently must this be the case if, what would doubtless be the real fact, life was not prolonged a month? In these circumstances it can hardly be conceived that the patient should, as far as he could judge from his feelings, be sensible of any benefit whatever. And as no practitioner will pretend to so correct a judgment as to be able to fix, in these circumstances, and foretell death within three or four weeks, the advantage gained, though real, would elude the observation of the medical attendants quite as much as that of the patient.


It is no wonder, then, that while vegetable regimen has been confined to cases of this kind, persons should be insensible of its advantages. The most strenuous advocates for a vegetable regimen have been some solitary individuals in common life, living commonly in a confined circle, and acting either from a regard to health or from a principle of conscience.


pg. 66:


It is no reproach to the vegetable regimen that it cannot affect impossibilities; that it cannot restore a constitution worn out with age and disease.


pg. 67:


I repeat, then, that abstemiousness [abstention from meat] does not cure constitutional disease; but it palliates [reduces symptoms], where to cure is obviously impossible.


pg. 68:


They are, as I have said, prolonging life to a certain degree, and rendering disease more mild. But no instances have been given of the eradication of deep constitutional disease, where the symptoms were well marked and unequivocal. On the contrary, such symptoms have been known to arise under a strict regimen of this kind, of which, in the sequel, I shall cite some examples.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-69  [call for proof of diet-disease linkage]  


pg. 69:


I can therefore pay little attention to the relations of the extraordinary benefits of vegetable diet, in persons who have afterward used, for a length of time, the customary diet of the country, without perceptible injury. If, in fact, disease be caused by diet, if not the immediate symptoms, still the diseased state of the constitution is really attributable to this source, the constitution should improve by a change of diet, and either the same symptoms, or at least the same diseased state of constitution, should recur upon relapsing into the former habits. Such only can be allowed to be a legitimate proof. In other cases, such as I have alluded to, the abstinence enjoined may have been beneficial, but the restoration to health must be conceived to have been due to other causes.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-70  [vegetarian diet may promote weight loss]  


The pallidness and shrinking of the features and of the whole body, which sometimes succeed the disuse of animal food, is apt to excite an alarm, and a fear of essential and irretrievable injury to the constitution. Let us consider how impossible it is that this should be otherwise, and therefore how little is to be apprehended from it.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-71  [meat is stimulating, shortens lifespan, and promotes premature pregnancy]  


pg. 71:


If, therefore, the use of animal food be an unnatural custom, its primary operation is to give an unnatural excitation to the brain; and all its consequences of improved color, increased strength, and even of apparently improved health, must be reckoned consequences of this excitation.*


A further consequence is, that life is, in all its stages, hurried on with an unnatural and unhealthy rapidity. We arrive at puberty too soon…the system becomes prematurely exhausted and destroyed: we become diseased and old when we ought to be in the middle of life.


pg. 71, footnote:


I have known more cases than one in the city of New York of flesh eating mothers, of very feeble health, who yet have become pregnant, time after time, on an average of nearly every year, and each and every time after the first, while the child was yet at the breast. The undue stimulus of animal food has evidently a strong influence in these cases at premature pregnancy.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-72  [fasting, detox, weight loss lifespan]


pp. 72-73 footnotes:


That the mere loss of flesh, and, to some degree, strength—circumstances which must sometimes, though by no means always, occur—on commencing vegetable diet, are not necessarily unfavorable, is abundantly proved by the success of the hunger cure, which I have seen practiced in Germany. If a person is losing bad flesh, which, under a properly regulated vegetable diet, must often be the case, he is certain of growing stronger again as he gets better muscle.

pg. 73:


It affords no trifling grounds of suspicion against the use of animal food, that it so obviously inclines to corpulency.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-74  [criticism of foie gras]


pg. 74, footnote:


I presume most persons have heard something of the process of fattening geese for the purpose of enlarging their livers, which are considered by the eating and drinking gentry in the old country a great rarity. This business, revolting as it is both to the feelings and taste of a person of undepraved appetite, is made a regular occupation in certain parts. Men and women both follow the art of thus fattening geese as their only means of getting a worldly subsistence. It is carried on principally in Belgium. The mode is as follows: Geese of a suitable size are nailed with their feet upon a board, a T-headed nail and a piece of leather being used for each foot. (I do not know whether women engage in this part of the operation.) The animals thus fastened are set before a fire. This is done to cause a feverishness in their systems, through which they became very thirsty. Pots of milk are then set by them, of which they drink freely to quench the thirst. After this they are fed with a dough of Indian meal as long as they will eat. More is then forced into their throats, and pressed down their neck into the stomach. This is a practice that requires taet [misprint; teat or a funnel?], otherwise the animals would become choked. After this 'stuffing,' as it is called, they are put away in a dark place to sleep. Three times in the forenoon, and the same in the afternoon, the geese are thus placed before the fire and fed. At the end of three weeks they have become so fat and stupid they are nearly on the point of dying. They are then killed to save them, their bodies being almost an entire mass of fat, with livers also fat and most enormously enlarged. With these are made the famous 'fat goose liver pies,’


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-75  [recommends moderation]


pg. 75:  


I do not think it worth while to insist upon perfect strictness, where the ultimate advantage is not likely to be great; nor is it very politic in a practitioner to recommend with earnestness what it is probable will never be attended to.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-76  [one disease, one human diet]


pg. 76:


I have already said, that however various constitutions may be, diseases, with different and even opposite symptoms, may be in their essence identical. The variety of constitution is displayed in the various and ever varying forms of disease...If the gentleman who tells me that one man's meat is another man's poison, and who is so much better versed in the anatomy of the human body than I pretend to be, will show me in what I have mistaken when I have asserted that man is herbivorous in his structure; if he can show that there is any radical difference in this respect among the individuals of the human species, I shall then subscribe to the doctrine that there is a radical divinity in human constitutions beyond what I have acknowledged.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-84  [animal foods make you stupid]


pg. 84:


There can be no doubt, then, that animal food is unfavorable to the intellectual powers...the senses, the memory, the understanding, and the imagination, have been observed to improve by a vegetable diet.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-88  [inflammatory rhetoric: meat eaters should be cannibals]


pp. 88-89:


It has been said, that the great fondness that men have for animal food is proof enough that nature intended them to eat it; as if men were not fond of wine, ardent spirits, and other things, which cut short their days;... But those who think that a simple declaration of their liking a thing is a sufficient apology for the use of it, I would beg to consider whether it is not an argument that proves a great deal too much. A savage has been seen to gnaw a bone of a human body with just as much relish as we suck a bone of mutton. Forster  [*] says, “In the province of Matto-grosso, in Brazil, a woman told his Excellency, Chevalier Pinto, who was then governor, that human flesh was extremely palatable, especially if taken from a young person. And during the last dearth in Germany, a shepherd killed first a young person, to satisfy the cravings of hunger with his flesh, and afterward several more, in order to please his luxurious palate." Man's flesh, then, is as good as the flesh of the ox or the hog; and the assertion of [Jonathan] Swift, on which he has grounded his "Modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country," is not only groundless, viz., " that a young healthy child, well nursed, is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled." [Note: Swift’s proposal was a satire.] Some animals devour their own offspring; and if we do not the same, it is not because their flesh would be disgustful to the palate.


[* Forster is presumably a reference to an edition of: Enquiries Made in the Course of a Voyage Round the World by John Reinold Forster, published in 1778.]


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-89  [mixed feelings re: consumption of dairy, eggs]


pp. 89: 

My reason for objecting to every species of matter to be used as food, except the direct produce of the earth, is founded—as may be seen in my last publication—on the broad ground that no other matter is suited to the organs of man, as indicated by his structure. This applies then with the same force to eggs, milk, cheese, and fish, as to flesh meat.


pp. 92-93:


Of all the other substances which enter largely into human diet, the milk of herbivorous animals is, probably, that which approaches most nearly in salubrity to pure vegetable matter. Being secreted almost immediately after taking in food (as nurses constantly experience), it partakes the most of the properties of the food. Accordingly, we find that milk is impregnated with a saccharine [sweet] substance, and that it is susceptible of the vinous and acetous fermentations. Hence milk is in part vegetable food; and as such, is used by all pastoral nations, and serves in a measure as a substitute for it. The British aborigines of our own island were in this condition, living, as Caesar has informed us, upon milk and flesh.


pg. 93:


...Why then should we fancy that we may yield to any caprice or fancy with regard to our food; and that any substance whatever, which the juices of the stomach can dissolve, is equally wholesome; or that, because the milk of a cow affords the best possible nourishment to a calf, it is therefore the substance of all others the best suited to a child?


pg. 94:


For milk, besides its saccharine and fermentable principles, contains a coagulable matter, the curd or cheese, which is more perfectly animalized, and which is very nearly allied to the albuminous matter of animal bodies. Hence the operation of milk upon the system is in part the same as that of animal food, though it is less powerful in degree.


...It affords sufficient ground for thinking that milk ought to be excluded, as much as possible, from the diet of persons to whom a strict adherence to regimen is necessary.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-94  [milk – environmental issues]


pg. 94: 


Milk eating and flesh eating are but branches of a common system, and they must stand or fall together. If there were no demand for the flesh of the animal, the milk would not even be produced. The zeal question, taken in the widest extent, is, whether the agricultural system ought not wholly to supersede the pastoral system, as in countries increasing in population it is constantly doing in some degree. Nature herself, that is to say, the productive power of the soil, has confined the possibility of maintaining the domestic animals within such strait limits, that an abundant population cannot be supplied, from its own soil,* with a daily moderate portion either of flesh or of milk; much less can it feed them upon these substances.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-95a  [religious naturalism]


pg. 95:


Can, indeed, any notion be so irrational, so monstrous, as to suppose that a Creator has formed myriads of human beings, perfect in strength and intellect, and at the same time has made it impossible for them to provide what is necessary to the preservation of animal life? We may safely conclude then, that what is not necessary cannot be natural; it is easy to go one step further, and say, what is not natural cannot be useful.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-95b  [raw vs. cooked]


pg. 95:


I shall in this place introduce a few words on the question of how far artificial preparation of all our vegetable food is necessary or useful. That many sorts are really improved by cookery admits of no question; but it may be doubted whether by indiscriminately macerating every thing as we do, we do not often injure the substance we operate upon, instead of improving it.


pg. 95-96: 


But further, there is every reason to believe, particularly from the observations of the navigators in the Pacific Ocean, that those races of men who admit into their nutriment a large proportion of fruit, and recent vegetable matter, unchanged by culinary art, have a form of body, the largest, of the most perfect proportion, and the greatest beauty, that they have the greatest strength and activity, and probably that they enjoy the best health.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-96  [controversy over fruit]


pg. 96: 


The same fact may still prompt us further to inquire, whether there is any just foundation for the prejudices which are very prevalent against the use of fruit, as if there were something in it pernicious or dangerous, and to examine from whence these prejudices have arisen.


This notion of fruit being unwholesome has descended to us, even from the days of Galen. He has said, that “All fruits are of a bad composition, and useful only to persons who have been exposed to great heat, or harassed by a long journey."


[Warning: racist content in following paragraph]

But this same Galen has soon after acknowledged that fruits afford a perfect nourishment; in proof of which he observed, that the persons who are set over the vineyards, and who live for a couple of months upon nothing but figs and grapes (with the addition, perhaps, of a little bread) become fat. Dr. Cleghorn says that this observation of Galen is annually confirmed at Minorca, it being remarkable that the persons appointed for the same purpose there commonly continue in good health, though in that season tertians [fever/malaria] usually rage with the greatest violence. Similar observations have been made upon negroes in the West Indies, who live on the recently expressed juice of the sugar cane; and Sir George Staunton says, " As in the West Indies, so in China, the people employed in the fields during this season" (the time of pressing the sugar canes) "are observed to get fat and sleek; and many of the Chinese slaves and idle persons are frequently missing about the time that the canes become ripe, hiding themselves, and living altogether in the plantations.


pg. 97: 


The prejudices then entertained against fruit and recent unchanged vegetable matter cannot be founded in any just observations, proving that they are truly insalubrious, and unfit for human nutriment. Yet it cannot be doubted that matter of this kind excites, in many, great inconvenience and uneasiness. There are those to whom a raw apple is an object of terror almost as great as a pistol shot. Numbers of people cannot bear a morsel of fruit. Dean [Jonathan] Swift, in several of his letters, complains that he could not eat a bit of fruit without suffering, and declares how much he envied persons whom he saw munching peaches, while he durst not touch a morsel. Wood, the miller of Billericay, who set up for a sort of a doctor, warned people strongly against the use of fruit, guided, no doubt, by a similar feeling of uneasiness.


But we see children glut themselves, almost to bursting, with fruits, and suffering nothing from them but a little temporary uneasiness from distention. We see, as I have said, tribes of people principally supported by them. And from the great pleasure which children and young persons, whose stomachs are the most healthy, receive from them, it seems probable that fruit, and the produce of trees in general, instead of being unwholesome, is the sort of matter the most suited to the organs of man. Such was the opinion of the great naturalist Linnaeus. “This species of food," he says, " is that which is most suitable to man; which is evinced by the series of quadrupeds, analogy, wild men, apes, the structure of the mouth, of the stomach, and the hands."


We have, indeed, annual accounts of persons killing themselves by eating nuts or cherries; but such relations probably come from persons who are little capable of determining the causes of death or disease. Upon a sudden seizure, particularly of fatal illness, the last thing eaten commonly bears the blame. There may be found in the Philosophical Transactions a grave account, by one of the most eminent members of the Royal Society, of a boy killed by eating apple dumpling. I have never trembled on this account when I have had a good plateful of apple pudding before me.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-98  [superiority of raw/unprocessed foods; vitamin C content]


pg. 98:


But this fact seems perfectly established. On this point a physician of the first authority on such subjects has these observations:


"It is certain that the medical effects of the native sweet juices are, in other respects, very different from what they are in their refined state; for manna [secretion of the manna ash tree], wort [medicinal herb], and the native juice of the sugar cane are purgative, whereas sugar itself is not at all so. This affords a presumption that they may be also different in their antiscorbutic quality [prevents scurvy/vitamin C deficiency]; and there is reason to think, from experience, that the more natural the state in which any vegetable is, the greater is its antiscorbutic quality. Vegetables in the form of salads are more powerful than when prepared by fire; and I know for certain, that the rob of lemons and oranges is not to be compared to the fresh fruit.


pg. 98-99: 


These facts are enough to show that there is an essential difference between fresh vegetable matter and the same matter changed by cookery; and they make it in a manner certain, that in the latter suite it is less congenial to the human frame. If, therefore, in this state it creates uneasiness in the stomach, it must proceed, not from any noxious quality of the vegetable, but from some vice of the stomach itself. And it illustrates most forcibly how much we may be deceived, by inferring any thing concerning the good and ill qualities of a substance from its primary operation on a morbid body; how little, having depraved our stomachs by the stimulation of an artificial system of diet, we can confide in the feelings conveyed.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-101  [superiority of raw foods]


pg. 101:


It appears to be the general opinion that almost all vegetable matter, if not previously submitted to the action of heat, is absolutely indigestible and noxious. But the fact is that almost all our common garden vegetables may be used without any such preparation; and it is highly probable that in this natural condition they would be more nutritive, more strengthening, and certainly far more antiscorbutic than when they have been changed by the fire.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-102  [nature of disease; effects of animal foods]


pp. 102-103:


In ascribing the diseases of mankind to their situation and habits of life, I have commonly said that these are to be considered not as their immediate, but as their remote and antecedent causes; a distinction which it is necessary carefully to attend to. For it is obvious that no habit whatever, whether it regard food or drink, or situation, can possibly have been received and adopted by any society of men without its being apparently salubrious to the great majority of the society.


pg. 104:


The effects, therefore, of animal food and other noxious matter, of inducing and accelerating fatal disease, are not immediate but ultimate effects. The immediate effect is to engender a diseased habit or state of constitution, not enough to impede the ordinary occupations of life, but in many to render life itself a long-continued sickness, and to make the great mass of society morbidly susceptible of many passing impressions, which would have no injurious influence upon healthy systems.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-117  [arrogant, condescending view of many native peoples]


pp. 117-118:


A notion has been very prevalent, even among philosophical writers, that the food should vary with the climate. They observe that between the tropics the natives live principally upon fruits, seeds, and roots. Though animal food is not avoided, except among some particular classes, yet men are in these climates exceedingly sparing of its use. In the temperate climates the more general habit is to use a mixture of animal and vegetable food, which is held to be in these regions the most wholesome. In the high northern latitudes animals are produced in plenty, but vegetable productions, fit for the food of man, are scanty; and in these countries, therefore, men are confined principally to animal food. They go even so far as to say, that nature herself in these regions dictates the use of the flesh of animals, for that men must of necessity use this sort of food, or perish from hunger. If this plea be well founded it must be allowed to be unanswerable.


The above is certainly a faithful account of the present habits of mankind in general; but it appears to be the result rather of an imperfect state of civilization, than springing either from wisdom or necessity. In the tropical climates animals are, or might be produced more abundantly than in the polar regions, the earth being more fertile. But men attach themselves more to agriculture, as in these countries the ill consequences of using much animal food are more evident, and therefore universally known and acknowledged. In the temperate climates the existing population could not he supported by pasturage alone, and therefore the body of the people of necessity used a mixed diet, wholly ignorant, for the most part, of its effects upon the body. In the high northern latitudes agriculture is hardly known, and a scanty population is supported by fishing, the chase, or pasturage, with a scanty supply of vegetable productions. But they live so, not because it is most suitable to their situations, but from their ignorance of more useful arts.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-120a  [animal-human comparison, humans debased]


pg. 120:


On the place which man holds in the scale of animated beings, all naturalists are agreed. There are those, indeed, who deem it a sort of degradation to the human species to class mankind with monkeys, apes, and baboons, and to show the analogy of his structure with that of the orang-outang. But misplaced pride and an ignorant misapprehension cannot alter the nature of things. Our very language acknowledges the reality of the analogy between the races; monkey can mean nothing but mannikin, or little man. In insisting on this analogy we limit ourselves to physical facts which are undeniable. But granting it to be perfectly correct, it does not follow that man in consequence approaches more nearly to the nature of the monkey than he does to that of the otter, except in the single circumstance of the choice of food. The monkey is not in any respect superior to the otter, or the fox, or the beaver, or any other animal. In his nobler part, his rational soul, man is distinguished from the whole tribe of animals by a boundary which cannot be passed. It is only when man divests himself of his reason, and debases himself by brutal habits, that he renounces his just rank among created beings, and sinks himself below the level of the beasts.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-120b  [comparative anatomy]


pp. 120-121, footnotes:


I have argued at some length in my “Reports on Cancer," that man is in his structure herbivorous. This appears to me to be a question of extreme importance, and I have therefore thought it might be useful to give on this subject the sentiments of a writer who has made comparative anatomy a peculiar object of his study. The following quotation is from the article “Man," in Dr. Rees's Encyclopedia [reference to The Great English Cyclopaedia], written by Mr. Lawrence, assistant-surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. “The present seems a very proper place for considering a question that is frequently agitated on this subject, whether man approaches most nearly to the carnivorous or herbivorous animals in his structure? We naturally expect to find in the figure and construction of the teeth a relation to the kind of food which an animal subsists on. The carnivorous have very long and pointed cuspidati or canine teeth, which are employed as weapons of offence and defence, and are very serviceable in seizing and lacerating their prey; these are three or four times as long as the other teeth in some animals, as the lion, tiger, etc., and constitute very formidable weapons. The grinding teeth have their bases elevated into pointed prominences, and those of the lower shut within those of the upper jaw. In the herbivorous animals these terrible canine teeth are not found, and the grinders have broad surfaces opposed in a vertical line to each other in the two jaws; enamel is generally intermixed with the bone of the tooth in the latter, and thus produces ridges on the grinding surface, by which their operation on the food is increased; in the former it is confined altogether to the surface. For further details on this subject see Mammalia. The articulation of the lower jaw differs very remarkably in the two kinds of animals: in the carnivorous it can only move forward and backward; in the herbivorous it has, moreover, motion from side to side. Thus, we observe in the flesh eaters, teeth calculated only for tearing, and subservient in part, at least, to the procuring of food as well as to purposes of defence, and an articulation of the lower jaw that precludes all lateral motion; in those which live on vegetables the form of the teeth and nature of the joint are calculated for the lateral or grinding motion; the former swallow the food in masses, while in the latter it undergoes considerable comminution before it is swallowed. The teeth of man have not the slightest resemblance to those of the carnivorous animals, except that their enamel is confined to the external surface; he possesses, indeed, teeth called canine, but they do not exceed the level of the others, and are obviously unsuited to the purposes which the corresponding teeth execute in carnivorous animals. These organs, in short, very closely resemble the teeth of monkeys, except that the canine are much longer and stronger in the latter animals. In the freedom of lateral motion, the lower jaw of the human subject resembles that of herbivorous animals. In the form of the stomach again, and, indeed, in the structure of the whole alimentary canal, man comes much nearer to the monkey than to any other animal. The length and divisions of the intestinal tube are very different, according to the kind of food employed. In the proper carnivorous animals, the canal is very short, and the large intestine is cylindrical; in the herbivora, the former is very long, and there is either a complicated stomach or a very large cecum and a sacculated colon. In comparing the length of the intestines to that of the body in man, and in other animals, a difficulty arises on account of the legs, which are included in the former and left out in the latter; hence the comparative length of the intestinal tube is stated at less than it ought to be in man. If allowance be made for this circumstance, man will be placed on nearly the same line with the monkey race, and will be removed to a considerable distance from the proper carnivora. Soemmerring states, that the intestinal canal of man varies from three to eight times the length of the body. (De Corp. Hum. Tab. t. 6, p. 200.)


pp. 120-122, regular text, not a footnote:


Many, indeed, assert that Man has a structure between that of the herbivorous and carnivorous tribes [of animals]. Those who argue thus, acknowledge that we ought to be guided by his form and structure, in considering the species of food he ought to use.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-123  [humans are naked apes; no tools, fruit diet, no liquids to drink]


pg. 123:


As man is devoid of all natural clothing, we must suppose him placed in the tropical regions; here the air is always of a genial warmth; the fertility of the earth is abundant; and it is confined to no particular season; and the shade of the trees would protect him from the oppression of a vertical sun. The same trees which shelter, would yield the principal part of his sustenance. Thus the fruit of trees would appear to be the most natural species of diet. Rousseau says it is the most abundant; as he has convinced himself from having compared the produce of two pieces of land of equal area and quality, the one sown with wheat, and the other planted with chestnut trees.*


But man would not confine himself to fruits, or the produce of trees; he is formed equally for climbing, and for walking on the ground; his eye may be directed with equal ease to objects above him, and on the earth. His arm has a corresponding latitude of motion.


Man must have been fed previous to the invention of any art, even the simple one of making a bow and arrows. He could not then have lived by prey, since all the animals excel him in swiftness. There is no antipathy between man and other animals, which indicates that nature has intended them for acts of mutual hostility. Numerous observations of travelers and voyagers have proved, that in uninhabited islands, or in countries where animals are not disturbed or hunted, they betray no fear of men: the birds will suffer themselves to be taken by the hand; the foxes will approach him like a dog. These are no feeble indications, that nature intended him to live in peace with the other tribes of animals.


pp. 123-124:


Least of all would instinct prompt him to use the dead body of an animal for food. The sight of it would rather excite horror, compassion, and aversion. In a warm climate, putrefaction succeeding immediately to dissolution, dead flesh must speedily diffuse an offensive odor, and occasion insuperable loathing and disgust.


pg. 124:


Living wholly upon vegetables without culinary preparation, our man of nature could never experience thirst. Even intense heat does not appear to excite thirst, unless it be upon bodies injured by a depraved and unnatural diet. He would have no call therefore to the use of liquids, further than as they are contained in the juices of the fruits and esculent plants which he would eat. Drinking would be needless; it is an action which does not appear suited to the natural organization of man after the infant state.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-124  [raw food diet yields high degree of physical perfection]


pg. 124:


Finally, it is highly probable that man under these circumstances, considered as a mere animal, would arrive at a high degree of physical perfection; that he would have a body duly formed, and a robust frame; great vigor, great activity, and uninterrupted health. I cannot think, however, that this state is comparable to the benefits of civilization; such an opinion is an extravagance which can be maintained only from the love of paradox and singularity. This fancied state of nature excludes the very notion of morality, and admits not of intellectual improvement, principles which form the most proud distinction of the human race.


Though this picture is in a good measure the creature of the imagination, there having been found no tribes of men who depend for their subsistence solely upon their physical powers, yet solitary examples have not been unfrequent in which individuals have really subsisted by no other means. Such are the wild men, the homines sylvestres of Linnaeus, who have been found in the forests, even in Europe. In intellect these did not appear to be superior to the animals, their associates; which must have resulted from having been secluded from all converse with their species. But they were in perfect health, and possessed incredible activity. They could have used nothing but fresh vegetable food; this was the sort of food of which they were the fondest; the want of it seems to have been the principal object of their regret, and the motive for attempting to return to their accustomed mode of life, as they constantly did.


Lambe (1815), excerpt L-125  [negative,  condescending view of pre-industrial tribes]


pg. 125:


The qualities of the savage are the direct result of situation and mode of life. If the proper nature of man is to be improvable without limit, by the force of intellect, the condition of the savage, so far from being natural, is that which recedes the farthest from the state of nature.


Excerpts from History of the Philadelphia-Bible Christian Church



Bible-Christian Church Maintenance Committee 1922. History of the Philadelphia-Bible Christian Church for the First Century of its Existence, from 1817 to 1917. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Company.


Excerpt BC-v: [biblical authority for the church doctrine of vegetarianism]


pp. v-vi:




" And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." —Gen. 1 Chap. 29 vs.


“But the flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof shall ye not eat."—Gen. 9 Chap. 4 vs.


“Be not among winebibbers, and riotous eaters of flesh."—Prov. 23 Chap. 20 vs.


“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man."— Isaiah 66 Chap. 3 vs.


“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine."




“And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, it is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them—This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat."—Exodus 16 Chap. 15 vs.


“Thou shalt not kill."—Exodus 22 Chap. 13 vs. Deuteronomy 5 Chap. 17 vs.


“And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague."—Numbers 11 Chap. 33 vs.




“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth."—Psalm 104, 14 vs.


“And the cow and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox."—Isaiah 11 Chap. 7 vs.


“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."—Isaiah 11 Chap. 9 vs.


“Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock ?"—1 Cor. 9 Chap. 7 vs.


“Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."—1 Cor. 8 Chap. 13 vs.


Excerpts from Cuvier (1849),

an updated republication



Cuvier, Georges, 1849 updated republication. The animal kingdom, arranged after its organization, forming a natural history of animals, and an introduction to comparative anatomy. By the late Baron Georges Cuvier, Translated and adapted to the present state of science. The Mammalia, birds, and reptiles, by Edward Blyth. The fishes and Radiata, by Robert Mudie. The molluscous animals, by George Johnston, M.D. The articulated animals, by J. O. Westwood, F.L.S. A new edition, with additions by W. B. Carpenter and J. O. Westwood, F.L.S. London:W.S. Orr and co.


Cuvier (1849) excerpt C-46  [fruits, roots are the natural foods for humans]


pg. 46: 


The natural food of Man, judging from his structure, appears to consist principally of the fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables. His hands afford every facility for gathering them; his short and but moderately strong jaws on the one hand, and his canines being equal only in length to the other teeth, together with his tuberculated molars on the other, would scarcely permit him either to masticate herbage, or to devour flesh, were these condiments not previously prepared by cooking. Once, however, possessed of fire, and those arts by which he is aided in seizing animals or killing them at a distance, every living being was rendered subservient to his nourishment, thereby giving him the means of an indefinite multiplication of his species.



Cuvier (1849) excerpt C-55  [orangutan is closest primate relative]


pg. 55: 


The Ouraho-octang* (Simia tatyna, Lin.)


Of all animals, this is reputed to bear the nearest resemblance to Man in the form of its head, the magnitude of its forehead, and volume of brain; but the exaggerated descriptions of some authors respecting this similarity arise partly from the circumstance of only young individuals having been observed, as there is every reason to believe that, with age, the muzzle becomes much more prominent [a fact now ascertained] The body is covered with coarse red hair, the face is bluish, and the hinder thumbs very short compared with the toes.


Cuvier (1849) excerpt C-56  [chimpanzees]


pg. 56:

In the other Ourangs, the arms descend only to the knees. They have no forehead, and their cranium retreats immediately from the crest of the eyebrow. The name of Chimpanzee might be exclusively applied to them.


Sim. troglodylei, Lin. [Troglodytei niger of others].—Covered with black or brown hair, scanty in front; [a white marking on the rump]. If the reports of travelers can be relied on, this animal must equal or be superior in size to Man. [The skeleton of an adult female in London is considerably smaller.] It inhabits Guinea and Congo, lives in troops, constructs huts of branches, arms itself with clubs and stones, and thus repulses Man and Elephants; ... Naturalists have generally confounded it with the Ourang-ontang. In domestication it is very docile, and readily learns to walk, sit, and eat like a man. [It is much more a ground animal than the Ourangs, and runs on its lower extremities without difficulty, holding up the arms. Is of a lively and active disposition. The facial angle of the adult about thirty-five degrees. By the general consent of living naturalists, the Chimpanzee is placed next to Man in the system, preceding the Ourangs, which it exceeds in general approximation to the human form.]


Excerpts from Plutarch,

from an 1878 publication



Plutarch 1878 republication. Plutarch’s Morals; 5 Volumes. Translated from the Greek by several hands. Corrected and revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co


Plutarch aka Plutarchos (Greek: Πλούταρχος) aka Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (Μέστριος Πλούταρχος) was a noted Greek historian and philosopher. He lived from (approximate dates) 46 – 120 AD, and was a Roman citizen. Select excerpts from Plutarch’s Morals are provided below. The excerpts will have an 1878 date when cited here, as that is the date of republication. The actual date of writing is unknown, but is approximately 2000 years ago.


Some of Plutarch’s writings were (and still are) considered classics. Study of the classic literature, including Plutarch, was a standard part of higher education in the early 1800’s.


Plutarch, vol. 5, excerpt P-1 [comparative anatomy; no tools]





5. Well then, we understand that that sort of men are used to say, that in eating of flesh they follow the conduct and direction of Nature. But that it is not natural to mankind to feed on flesh, we first of all demonstrate from the very shape and figure of the body. For a human body no ways resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, no such strength of stomach or heat of digestion, as can be sufficient to convert or alter such heavy and fleshy fare. But even from hence, that is, from the smoothness of the tongue, and the slowness of the stomach to digest, Nature seems to disclaim all pretence to fleshy victuals. But if you will contend that yourself was born to an inclination to such food as you have now a mind to eat, do you then yourself kill what you would eat. But do it yourself, without the help of a chopping-knife, mallet, or axe, — as wolves, bears, and lions do, who kill and eat at once. Rend an ox with thy teeth, worry a hog with thy mouth, tear a lamb or a hare in pieces, and fall on and eat it alive as they do. But if thou hadst rather stay until what thou eatest is become dead, and if thou art loath to force a soul out of its body, why then dost thou against Nature eat an animate thing? Nay, there is nobody that is willing to eat even a lifeless and a dead thing as it is; but they boil it, and roast it, and alter it by fire and medicines, as it were, changing and quenching the slaughtered gore with thousands of sweet sauces, that the palate being thereby deceived may admit of such uncouth fare. It was indeed a witty expression of a Lacedaemonian [Spartan], who, having purchased a small fish in a certain inn, delivered it to his landlord to be dressed; and as he demanded cheese, and vinegar, and oil to make sauce, he replied, if I had had those, I would not have bought the fish. But we are grown so wanton in our bloody luxury, that we have bestowed upon flesh the name of meat (ψον), and then require another seasoning (ψον), to this same flesh, mixing oil, wine, honey, pickle, and vinegar, with Syrian and Arabian spices, as though we really meant to embalm it after its disease. Indeed when things are dissolved and made thus tender and soft, and are as it were turned into a sort of a carrionly corruption, it must needs be a great difficulty for concoction to master them, and when it hath mastered them, they must needs cause grievous oppressions and qualmy indigestions.


Plutarch, vol. 5, excerpt P-2  [meat eating dulls the mind]


6. Moreover, these same flesh-eatings not only are preternatural to men’s bodies, but also by clogging and cloying them, they render their very minds and intellects gross. For it is well known to most, that wine and much flesh-eating make the body indeed strong and lusty, but the mind weak and feeble.


Plutarch, vol. 5, excerpt P-3  [Plutarch not a vegetarian]




For the stomach itself is not guilty of bloodshed, but is involuntarily polluted by our intemperance. But if this may not be, and we are ashamed by reason of custom to live unblamably, let us at least sin with discretion. Let us eat flesh; but let it be for hunger and not for wantonness. Let us kill an animal; but let us do it with sorrow and pity, and not abusing and tormenting it, as many nowadays are used to do, while some run red-hot spits through the bodies of swine, that by the tincture of the quenched iron the blood may be to that degree mortified, that it may sweeten and soften the flesh in its circulation...



Appendix 3:

References and source details,

with URLs for free full text access to select sources


The URLs below worked (for IP addresses in the U.S.) at the time this page was written. They will not be maintained or updated; if they stop working/don’t work from your IP address, do a web search for alternative sources.



Bible-Christian Church Maintenance Committee 1922. History of the Philadelphia-Bible Christian Church for the First Century of its Existence, from 1817 to 1917. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Company. URL:


Billings, Tom 1999. Comparative Anatomy and Physiology Brought Up to Date, on the website Beyond Vegetarianism. URL:


Billings, Thomas 2010. What is Humanity’s Ancestral (Natural) Diet? on the website Beyond Vegetarianism. URL:


Christian, Eugene & Christian, Mollie Griswold 1904. Uncooked foods & how to use them: a treatise on how to get the highest form of animal energy from food, with recipes for preparation, healthful combinations and menus. New York: The Health-Culture Company. URL:


Cuvier, Georges, 1849 updated republication. The animal kingdom, arranged after its organization, forming a natural history of animals, and an introduction to comparative anatomy. By the late Baron Georges Cuvier, Translated and adapted to the present state of science. The Mammalia, birds, and reptiles, by Edward Blyth. The fishes and Radiata, by Robert Mudie. The molluscous animals, by George Johnston, M.D. The articulated animals, by J. O. Westwood, F.L.S. A new edition, with additions by W. B. Carpenter and J. O. Westwood, F.L.S. London:W.S. Orr and co. URL:


Davis, Brenda; Melina, Vesanto; Berry, Rynn 2009. Becoming Raw, The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets. Summertown, Tennessee: Book Publishing Company.


Forward, Charles Walter, 1898. Fifty years of food reform: a history of the vegetarian movement in England. From its inception in 1847, down to the close of 1897: with incidental references to vegetarian work in America and Germany. London: The Ideal Publishing Union, Ltd.; Manchester: The Vegetarian Society. Full text at Google Books, URL:


Grumett, David & Muers, Rachel 2010. Theology on the Menu; Asceticism, Meat, and Christian Diet. New York: Routledge.


Iacobbo, Karen & Iacobbo, Michael 2004. Vegetarian America. Westport, Connecticut: Prageger Publishers.


Kennedy, Gordon, 1998. Children of the Sun. Nivaria Press.


Lahmann, Heinrich 1898. Natural hygiene, or Healthy blood. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Lim. URL:


Lambe, William 1815. Originally published under the title: Additional Reports on the Effects of a Peculiar Regimen in Cases of Cancer, Scrofula, Consumption, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases; republished in 1850 under the title: Water and Vegetable Diet in Consumption, Scrofula, Cancer, Asthma, and other Chronic Diseases. Republication includes a forward by Joel Shew. New York: Fowler and Wells. URL: Note that pp. 74-75 are missing from the Google Books plain text copy; you can read a low quality text scan of those pages in the copy at:


Mills, Milton R. 2009 (estimated date). The Comparative Anatomy Of Eating. URL:


Newton, John Frank 1811. The return to nature, or, A defence of the vegetable regimen; with some account of an experiment made during the last three or four years in the author's family. London, England; printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies. Accessed at Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Now available online; URL:


Plutarch, 1878 version. Plutarch’s Morals; 5 Volumes. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. URLs:


Shelley, Percy Bysshe 1813, as republished in 1884; with a preface by Henry Stephens Salt, William Edward Armytage Axon. A vindication of natural diet, Issue 4. London, England: F. Pitman; Manchester, England: John Heywood; and offices of the Vegetarian Society. URL:


The material is also available in Shelley’s Queen Mab with notes, 1831 reprint. URL:


Srinivasulu M. 2005. Concept of Ama in Ayurveda. Varanasi : Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.


Stoddard, Richard Henry 1877. Anecdote Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company. URL:


--Thomas E. (Tom) Billings

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