A brief history of vegetarianism
by Kyle Kendall
Although it has only been in recent years in the west that we have seen large amounts of people make the decision to live vegetarian and vegan lifestyles there has been groups, communities and individuals around forever.
Right through history there has been vegetarians recorded too and even as far back as the middle ages, Thomas Parr, also known as ‘old Parr’ born in 1483 and died in 1635, you can find him buried in Westminster Abbey and if it isn’t interesting enough that his tombstone says he lived to be 152, he married very late in life and had children after the age of 100! Although this information is very controversial he was interred by the king of England, and modern science will confirm that we are built to live 150 years and optimal nutrition is the only route. “Whether or not Thomas Parr actually lived 152 years will never be proven or dis-proven. We can only acknowledge that he is recorded to have lived that long in one of England’s most prestigious burial places.” – Dr. Doug Ikeler.
The Quaker movement and the nonconformist campaign against drinking alcohol also embraced the vegetarian diet by many of their members in the 19th century.
There were many groups in Britain developing a meat free diet at the turn of the 18th century but up until 1847 the word vegetarian did not exist. The vegetarian society was founded in the year 1847, it was a coming together of a number of vegetarian groups. Vegetarianism was seen by some as an answer or solution to a number of social problems caused by the industrial revolution. During the progression of this diet in the west a group of vegetarians broke away renouncing all animal products. The ethics of consuming dairy products were hotly debated within the vegetarian community as early as 1909. Despite opposition from the prominent vegetarians not even willing to consider adopting a diet free of all animal products, in August 1944 Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson agreed the desirability of organizing a non-dairy vegetarian collective. In 1944 six non-dairy vegetarians along with the organizer Donald Watson met in London and made the decision to form the vegan society. “It was a Sunday, with sunshine, and a blue sky, an auspicious day for the birth of an idealistic new movement.” – Elsie Shrigley.
Not only in the British Isles has the progression of vegetarianism and veganism been so impressive but all over the developed world more and more people are taking up the meat free lifestyle, though some countries more than others.
The Netherlands has more vegetarians than any other western country, based on pro-rata scale of population, and Germany the once sausage and pork lovers now have more vegetarians than the UK.
Here are a few more stats:
In 2002 5% of the world were vegetarians and 29% of that 5% were vegans. (Yahoo answers).
In 2005 estimated 250,000 vegans worldwide. (Yahoo answers).
In 2007 2% of UK said they were vegans. (Wikipedia).
Estimated now in 2011 7-10% of world are vegetarian and 4-5% are vegan. (Yahoo answers).
According to answers.com the number of vegetarians are increasing by 10% every year, and 30% of India are lacto vegetarian because of religious beliefs.
“Historically the idea of abstinence from flesh had always had some currency amongst the educated.” –The vegetarian society.