People have been arguing for vegetarianism for a very long time. The history of animal advocacy stretches back to iron age Greece and India, where voices emerge from prehistory challenging the idea that other animals exist solely for humans.
The site is being rebuilt, so some of these links will be broken until the rebuilding is finished.
This 15-part series tells the whole story, from antiquity to the present, spanning the world. There are dozens of experts, visits, and dramatic readings. I’ve examined a royal inscription from an Indian king with one of the few people who can read it; and seen vegan shoes made in post-revolutionary America.
Listen on this site, via Apple Podcast, or your podcast app or website of choice – see the “Get Free Shows” box.
The episodes are:
- Ahimsa – Jains and other śramaṇas of iron age India (transcript)
- The Middle Path – visiting the birthplace of Buddhism (transcript)
- Pythagoreans – on the Cults of Orpheus and Pythagoras in Ancient Greece, at the British Museum (transcript)
- Ashoka – India’s animal advocate Buddhist king (transcript)
- Flesh and Spirit – on the ascetics of the near east, their strict vegetable diets, and their varied spiritual ideas (transcript)
- Hinduism – how vegetarianism becomes a major part of medieval India (transcript)
- Heresies – abstemious religions struggle against Christian persecution, but Buddhism & other vegetarian faiths spread throughout East Asia (transcript)
- Contacts – when Islam and Christianity venture into India, not only does it force local vegetarian traditions to adapt, but some of the monotheists adopt vegetarianism (transcript)
- Renaissance – venturing to Paris as its thinkers rediscover the vegetarianism of antiquity, and recoil in horror from Descartes’ denial of animal feelings (transcript)
- Revolution – on the English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility (transcript)
- Enlightenment – on Colonial India, Voltaire, Rousseau, and the vegetarian radicals of the French Revolution (transcript)
- Radicals & Romantics – at the sites of vegetarian communities in England & the USA, we discover how various groups cohered into a vegetarian movement (transcript)
- The Vegetarians – on Slavery Abolitionism, colonialism in India, and Victorian reformers (transcript)
- Diet Reform – on consumerism, “back to nature”, and Gandhi (transcript)
- Liberation – on veganism, hippies, and the animal rights movement (transcript)
Read more about the story so far at:
- These books about vegetarian history, which I found really interesting and informative whilst putting together the series.
- The International Vegetarian Union, which archives many historic documents and some PhD theses thanks to tireless work by John Davis.
- John Edmundson archives modern vegetarian history at the Ernest Bell Library and Henry Salt Archive. He blogs at Happy Cow and shares finds on FB.
- Wikipedia: History of Vegetarianism
The expenses for this project were raised by generous people around the world via a Kickstarter campaign. Backers are gratefully listed alongside the production team on the credits page. The series was also broadcast on London’s radio art station Resonance FM. The timeline uses pictures CC-BY-SA Ankur P CC-BY JuJu939 CC-BY-SA Doris Antony and CC-BY-SA Andrew Davidson.