Before the vegan/plantbase population growth of today, there were prominent historical figures all over the world. Although difficult to compress a short list, today we will just list five historical vegetarians.
Donald Watson coined the term vegan in 1944 when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, therefore the years prior, the term vegetarian was commonly used.
Born on the island of Samos, Greece in 569 BC. His father, Mnesarchus, was a gem merchant. Pythagoras left Samos for Egypt in about 535 B.C. to study with the priests in the temples. Pythagoras of Samos was a famous Greek mathematician and philosopher. He is known best for the proof of the important Pythagorean Theorem, which is about right angle triangles.
Quote: “As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Born April 15, 1452, Anchiano, near Vinci, Republic of Florence [Italy]—died May 2, 1519, Cloux [now Clos-Lucé], France), Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the .
His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that he epitomized the term “Renaissance man.” Today he remains best known for his art, including two paintings that remain among the world’s most famous and admired, Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Art, da Vinci believed, was indisputably connected with science and nature.
Quote: “Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Born: August 30, 1797, Somers Town, London, United Kingdom. She was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husband’s works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations.
Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826) and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837).
Quote: “I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.”
Born: October 2nd 1869, in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India, which was then part of the British Empire. Gandhi’s father, Karamchand Gandhi, served as a chief minister in Porbandar and other states in western India
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is known as Mahatma meaning ‘Great Soul’. He was an astute political campaigner who fought for Indian independence from British rule and for the rights of the Indian poor. His example of non-violent protest is still revered throughout the world today.
Quote: “To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man…. It is my constant prayer that there may be born on earth some great spirit, man or woman, fired with divine pity, who will deliver us from this heinous sin, save the lives of the innocent creatures, and purify the temple. How is it that Bengal with all its knowledge, intelligence, sacrifice, and emotion tolerates this slaughter?”
Born: March 14, 1879, Ulm, Germany
He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”, a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory. In addition to his work on relativity, the physicist laid the scientific foundations for paper towels, lasers, and more common products. Albert Einstein is justly famous for devising his theory of relativity, which revolutionized our understanding of space, time, gravity, and the universe.
Quote: “I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience,” and soon after became a vegetarian. “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
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