- Pythagoras, the “Father of Vegetarianism” is said to be the first to advocate a meatless diet, but also would not eat beans.
- Socrates, Plato, Virgil, other great thinkers also followed meatless diets.
- The term “vegetarianism” is coined in the 19th century.
- Vegetarianism is practiced by the Bible Christians group, founded by Rev. William Cowherd in England
- A literal reading of the Bible led them to follow a meatless diet as described in the book of Genesis (1:28-29).
- Sylvester Graham, member, toured the country and advocated a meatless diet, whole wheat flour (“graham flour” is named for him), and the avoidance of refined white bread, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Bible Christians in England found the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain.
- Bible Christians in America found the American Vegetarian Society.
- The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is founded by Ellen White, based upon the idea that physical health affects religious life. They advocate a meatless diet and 40% of Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarian today.
- John Harvey Kellogg, Seventh-Day Adventist, develops breakfast cereal, the first peanut butter, soymilk, and nuttose (meat alternative made from peanuts and flour).
- Regiment of “Biologic Living” included meatless diet, avoidance of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and strong spices.
- The discovery of vitamins leads to the advent of government food guides, heavy in meat and dairy recommendations.
- 1943 Gallup poll shows 2% of Americans vegetarian
- 1944: The term “vegan” is coined coined and the Vegan Society of Great Britain is formed.
- Vegetarianism becomes more than a diet and transitions into a “lifestyle movement.”
- The vegetarian movement is influenced by Michio Kushi, a Macrobiotic teacher, and Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian political leader who advocated social change through non-violence.
- Seminal texts for vegetarians are published, including Diet For a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
- Veganism: an outgrowth of classical vegetarianism, begins to become a movement that uses no animal products of any kind.
1980’s through today
- Plant-based diets continue to be popularized due to the health benefits and possibility of reversing disease.
- As of 2014, 3.2 percent of U.S. adults follow a vegetarian-based diet. 0.5 percent, of those are vegans. Additionally, 10 percent of U.S. adults, say they follow a plant-based diet.