VegHist Ep 13: The Vegetarians. Abolitionism, colonialism, and Victorian reformers; with Julia Twigg and Bhaskar Chakraborty. In London
In the late nineteenth century, the new vegetarian movement is intertwined with other struggles – including Victorian reformers, the Indian reaction to British colonialism, and most importantly, slavery.
Episode 13: The Vegetarians
After their foundation in 1847 and 1850, the vegetarian societies in Britain and America rose swiftly faced new challenges.
Dr Adam Shprintzen, author of the history of US vegetarianism “Vegetarian Crusade, tells Ian how the American Vegetarian Society poured its energies into an anti-slavery vegetarian settlement in the Wild West. And how its founder, Englishman Henry Clubb, ultimately took a bullet for the union in the Civil War.
Under British rule, Hindu vegetarianism faced a mix of threat and opportunity. In India, Ian meets historians DN Jha, Burton Cleetus, and Bhaskar Chakraborty, who explain how, faced with rule by distant Christians, vegetarianism became more important as a marker of caste and identity.
Ian also sets off on a cycle tour of vegetarian Victorian London, and talks to the first modern academic to study vegetarian history – Dr Julia Twigg.
- Dr Adam Shprintzen, (Marywood University, Scranton PA) (@VegHistory)
- Prof Dwijendra Narayan Jha (Wikipedia)
- Prof Bhaskar Chakraborty (Department of History, University of Calcutta)
- Dr Burton Cleetus (Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
- Dr Vincent Goossaert (Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités), Paris
- Dr Julia Twigg (University of Kent)
- Dr Samantha Calvert (@SamCalvert)
- Mary Gove Nichols
- “On the Education of Women”, in “The Herald of Health” 1881
- “A Woman’s Work in Water Cure and Sanitary Education”, 1874
- Bill of Fare, The “Alpha”, 1889
- The Liberator, announcing the American Vegetarian Society annual meeting, Aug 5 1853
- “Not wanted in Kansas”, Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb 12 1856 p2
- Henry Clubb
- Excerpt from his unfinished history of vegetarianism, printed in the “Hygenic Review”, possibly 1893
- Letter in the “Kansas Herald of Freedom Newspaper”, May 3 1856
- Letter to his wife, from Shprintzen p89
- “The Truth Tester”, 1856, via Cubesville*
- Meat-eating Doggerel
- by poet Narmad, recorded by Mohandas
- Hindu Tract Society, after 1887, from Barua, citing GA Oddie
- Account of a Christian convert by Howard Taylor, in “The Story of the China Inland Mission” by Geraldine Guinness, 1894
- Anna Kingsford
- quoted on why she pursues medicine in Edward Maitland’s “Anna Kingsford, her life, letters, diary, and work” 3rd ed 1913
- “A lecture on food”, 1882, in “Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism”, by Kingsford & Maitland, 1912.
- Mohandas K Gandhi, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927
- Henry Salt’s poem “The Sufficient Reason” in Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review, 1927
- Annie Besant from “Vegetarianism in the Light of Theosophy”, 1912
*I couldn’t track down issues of the Truth Tester published that late, so I do wonder if it’s possible that Richard Cubeville made a mistake over the name of the magazine; but he’s been delving into the Vegetarian Society archives and I haven’t. The 1840s and 1850s yielded a confusing array of vegetarian periodicals with the same few overlapping writers and even overlapping titles (“The Truth Tester, Temperance Advocate, and Healthian Journal” being three journals merged together, for example) which doesn’t make citation easier.
This is the rig I used for the cycle tour around London. If the white object poking out of the basket looks a lot like a cat scratching post, that’s because it is – it’s the only appropriately sized object in the flat with a thread that fitted my microphone mount. Mazzy has multiple scratching posts, so she wasn’t deprived.
From left to right, the microphones are:
- covered by a grey fuzz windshield, the portable audio recorder. This was to pick up ambient noise, and was held in place by string and elastic to hopefully not be shake too much. (This only partially worked: I couldn’t use most tape of me cycling because of the noise).
- a lapel mic, so that you can hear what I say whilst cycling
- an SM58 mic, so that I can talk to others and get better sound quality myself when stationary
The cover picture is a picture of a set of vegetarian magazines from around the world taken from “Fifty Years of Food Reform”.
Featuring Harish Bhimani as Mohandas K Gandhi.
Other parts were played by Chetan Pathak, Matthew Arenson, Ian Russell, Amy Saul, and Orna Klement.
The montage of international vegetarian society foundings also included Jordi Casamitjana, Yuna Sparkle, and Adam Cardilini of VeganSci podcast.
This episode was originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4FM on April 4th. Because I had a hoarse voice at the time, I have re-recorded my narration. This is also a fixed re-post, after it was originally posted with a link to episode 9 (HT Russ Wesp).