VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility; with Tristram Stuart and Anita Guerrini; at the Ahmedabad Panjrapole

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) or read transcript



Production Notes

This is really where the story breaks open in the west and a “Pythagorean” diet re-enters the popular consciousness for the first time since antiquity. Frustratingly, I had to leave out a lot, such as how Thomas Tryon follows the mystic Jakob Boehme (quite a lot of early vegetarians are mystics) .

In particular, George Cheyne has a very specific theory of how the nervous system works, based on the physical laws of Newton. But I can’t go into detail on all the theories that have fallen and risen as “natural history” stumbles towards a useful understanding of the body.

The monument to Roger Crab is still in St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, London, though unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate it. As I live near there, it would be nice to pay our vegan predecessor some respects.

The broadcast of this episode was on 6 Dec 2016. The podcast release was severely delayed. Rather than date this page with the broadcast date (as usual) I’m dating it to the January broadcast slot that was superseded by Resonance FM’s holiday schedules. Content (whether books, journal articles, or programmes) tends to be identified by its publication year, and so I thought it particularly important that that stays accurate.


The theme music is by Robb Masters.

The period music was Greensleeves performed by Paul Arden-Taylor and Carol Holt (PD); slow reels (dances) “Long Acre” and “Kerry Fling” performed by the “Peak Fiddler”; Papalin’s performance on recorders of Henry Purcell’s Sonata in D Major (CC-BY) to again evoke turn-of-the-century London, and Telemann’s performance of Händel’s recorder Sonata.

With the voices of Jeremy Hancock, Ian Russell, and Brian Roberts.

Nimi Hirani gave me enormous help and assistance in Ahmedabad, and in India in general.

The cover picture (by me) is some of the books in the readings: “Acetaria” (Evelyn) , “The English Hermit” (Crab), a pamphlet attacking Crab, and “Guide to Health, Long Life and Happiness” by George Cheyne.


Guerrini, Anita. 1999. “A Diet for a Sensitive Soul: Vegetarianism in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Eighteenth-Century Life 23 (2): 34–42.
Ariel Hessayon. 2004. “Crab, Roger (c. 1616-1680), Hermit.” In . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lodrick, Deryck O. 1981. Sacred Cows, Sacred Places: Origins and Survivals of Animal Homes in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Larue, Renan. 2009. “Les bienfaits controversés du régime maigre le Traité des dispenses du carême de Philippe Hecquet et sa réception (1709-1714).” Dix-huitième siècle, no. 41 (September): 409–30.
Hill, Christopher. 1972. The World Turned Upside down; Radical Ideas during the English Revolution. New York: Viking Press.
Hill, Christopher. 1964. Puritanism and Revolution: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th Century. New York: Schocken Books.
Stuart, Tristram. 2007. The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

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About Ian

London. Formerly known as New Media. Vegan since 1992.

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