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Irish radio covers VegHist

Hear Luke Clancy interviewing Ian about “Vegetarianism: The Story So Far” on Lyric FM (the Irish national broadcaster’s cultural station). They talk about the course of vegetarian history, Ian’s motivations for the series, and visit the corner of central London where organised veganism began.

VegHist Ep 11: Enlightenment. Colonial India, Voltaire, Rousseau, and the French Revolution; with Partha Chatterjee, Christophe Martin, and Renan Larue; at the Black Hole of Calcutta, and Musée Rousseau Montmerency

18th century painting of a Hindu temple amongst Banyan trees

The philosophers of Paris discuss reports of Indian vegetarianism, question the morality of eating animals, and inspire radicals who preach vegetarianism from the barricades of the French revolution.

Episode 11: Enlightenment

Ian traces a winding path of vegetarian inspiration from the personal diary of an Indian vegetarian working for the French, to the darkest corner of British imperial propaganda, to the Enlightenment’s favourite Paris café, to a rural retreat that inspired a social revolution, and to the squares where citizens plotted a real one.

Play or download (61MB MP3 43min) (via iTunes)
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VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility; with Tristram Stuart and Anita Guerrini; at the Ahmedabad Panjrapole

Various eighteenth century books including an illustrated title page of "The English Hermit" and a discourse on "Sallets" (Salads)

When printing lets ordinary people access a world of ideas, including Indian vegetarianism, some European radicals and diet gurus begin to oppose meat-eating.

Episode 10: Revolution

In England, the 1600s are a century of revolution. The artisans and yeomanry are picking up books – and the New Model Army is picking up pikes and muskets to turn the world upside down.

Ian meets Dr Ariel Hessayon, a lecturer in the radicals of the English Civil War at a Thameside pub that was there during the 1600s, to discover tabloid scares and firebrand sermons about people who ate only bread, and water and fruit.

In Ahmedabad, India, he visits the kind of animal hospital that astounded European travellers. And he hears from author Tristram Stuart about the impact stories of India had on Europeans, and how they shook Christendom’s moral certainty.

Dr Anita Guerrini researches the first vegetarian diet gurus, whose books about food and medicine interpreted the intellectuals of the Republic of Letters for everyone else. And she tells Ian about the secret religion of Sir Isaac Newton.

Play or download (62MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes)
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VegHist Ep 9: Renaissance. Descartes, Montaigne, Gassendi, and the “sparing diet”; with Jean-Charles Darmon, Deepak Kumar, and Justin Begley; in Paris, France

Many animals mix peacefully in a verdant landscape (painting)

Ancient philosophers inspire Renaissance thinkers to challenge the old hierarchy of man over beast. 

Episode 9: Renaissance

Old medieval certainties are cracking under the combined assault of new sciences and rediscovered classics. It’s an age when “natural philosophers” combine scientific discovery with philosophical treatises, and when their Republic of Letters transcends political boundaries in the name of free thought.

It’s the age of Descartes, whose mechanical philosophy dismisses animals as “automatons”. But rivals like Gassendi suggest that animals have more in common with humans than he thinks. Ian traces the trail from Paris to the Mughal Court and back to the medical schools of the Enlightenment. He discovers the forgotten story of how Christian mythology, early anatomy, classical thinkers, and Indian medicine came together in respected medical schools that taught students to prescribe a vegetable diet.

Play or download (61MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes)
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VegHist Ep 8: Contacts. Indian Sufism, Bhakti, Akbar, Portuguese Christianity, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism; with Sanjukta Gupta; in Agra, Delhi, and London

An east Indian Jagannath image of Krishna and the words "Go veggie!" and "Krishna" are painted on the side of a cart.

When conquerors who profess Islam or Christianity rule over Indian vegetarians, the conversations about food ethics go both ways.

Episode 8: Contacts

Ian discovers the ecstatic dancing and singing shared by Sufis and Hindus – including westerners singing Hare Krishna in London’s main shopping street.  In Delhi, he finds out about the inquisition that started with European antisemitism and ended with Indians being forced to eat beef.

And in the royal city of Agra, he visits a shrine built to commemorate a conversation about religion and vegetarianism between a Jain saint and the Mughal emperor Akbar. He uncovers the fascinating story of this heretic emperor who advocated vegetarianism.

At the halfway point of this 15-part history of vegetarianism, the traditions of East and West come together. From hereon, it’s all one story.

Play or download (52MB MP3 37min) (via iTunes)
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Our Hen House interviews Ian

Our Hen House has produced a show about “changing the world for animals” every week for the last seven years. In episode 350, Dr Mariann Sullivan talks to Ian about Vegetarianism: The Story So Far.

Mariann kindly describes the series as –

… so fascinating, and educational, and inspiring, seriously, this is going to knock your socks off!

VegHist Ep 7: Heresies. On Chinese Buddhists, Cathars, Bogomils, Islam, and Manichaeans; with Vincent Gooseart, John Arnold, Jason BeDuhn, and Ven. Chueh Yun; at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, in London

Woman in saffron robe stands before three Buddhas

In the Middle Ages, three very different monastic orders spread from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, surrounding themselves with lay believers and challenging the norm of meat-eating.

Episode 7: Heresies

A string of religious groups across medieval Eurasia shared one common belief: that this world was a terrible place; and to escape its cycle of rebirth and redeath you needed to be ordained into a pure life, abstaining from violence. They all have some level of abstention from flesh, up to and including a vegan diet. But they all face suspicion.

Discover why the “good men” of the Cathars and Bogomils eschewed sinful flesh, why the men and women of the Manichaean Elect followed a vegan diet, and how the monks and nuns of Buddhism were shamed by their layfolk. And how a vegetarian culture spread throughout east Asia.

Ian joins a Chinese Buddhist congregation in London for its full moon service. He discovers how Buddhism not only spread across China, but made vegetarianism part of Chinese culture. He discovers a war against pescetarian heretics in Europe, the medieval Chinese horror stories that encouraged kindness to animals, and visits his local Tofu maker.

Play or download (67MB MP3 48min) (via iTunes)
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Know Your Roots

The earliest known object to mention vegetarianism was both discovered and lost during the twentieth century. It remains missing, presumed destroyed.

On what would be the 106th birthday of the society’s founder Donald Watson, I blog for The Vegan Society about the importance of remembering where we come from. And making sure that our own recent history is preserved.

VegHist Ep 6: Hinduism. On Indian Vegetarianism, Vaishnavism, Satvik, and Mahayana Buddhism; with Sanjukta Gupta, Deepak Anand, and Ranjan Garavu; at Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Bhubaneswar and Nalanda Mahavihara

A smiling man, wrapped in saffron cloth, sits cross-legged on a carved stone platform

In the first millennium CE, Indian vegetarianism advances from an ascetic fringe to a mainstream high-status lifestyle.

Episode 6: Hinduism

How did vegetarianism permeate Indian society? Ian tracks the changes in India’s religious life during the first millennium, following the vegetarian strands of the tapestry that we now call Hinduism.

Ian travels to a temple to Vishnu in eastern India to understand the importance of vegetarianism to his worshippers. He talks to theologians and historians in Oxford and Delhi about the factors that caused the change. He uncovers heated arguments about vegetarianism and animal advocacy in the leaves of India’s sacred texts. And he explores the medieval Buddhist monastic university of Nalanda, in the company of a lecturer from its modern namesake.

Play or download (42MB MP3) (via iTunes)
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