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Title: A Vindication of Natural Diet.
Author: Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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     "Our simple life wants little, and true taste
     Hires not the pale drudge Luxury to waste
     The scene it would adorn, and therefore still
     Nature, with all her children, haunts the hill."




Shelley's "Vindication of Natural Diet" was first written as part of the
notes to "Queen Mab," which was privately issued in 1813. Later in the
same year the "Vindication" was separately published as a pamphlet, and
it is from this later publication that the present reprint is made. The
original pamphlet is now exceedingly scarce, but it is said to have been
reprinted in 1835, as an appendix to an American medical work, the
"Manual on Health," by Dr. Turnbull, of New York. Two copies only are
known to have been preserved of this excessively rare pamphlet, though
possibly others may be hidden in unfrequented libraries and out of the
way country houses. One copy is in the British Museum, and the other is
in the possession of Mr. H. Buxton Forman, who has reprinted it in his
great edition of Shelley, where it forms the opening part of the second
volume of the "Prose Works."

The main object of Shelley's pamphlet was to show that a vegetable diet
is the most _natural_, and therefore the best for mankind. It is not an
appeal to humanitarian sentiment, but an argument based on individual
experience, concerning the intimate connection of health and morality
with food. It has no claim to originality in the arguments adduced; its
materials being avowedly drawn from the works of Dr. Lambe and Mr.
Newton, of whom an account may be read in Mr. Howard Williams' "Catena,"
but the style is Shelley's own, and the pamphlet is in many ways one of
the most interesting and characteristic of his prose works. Perhaps its
most remarkable feature is to be found in the very pertinent remarks as
to the bearing of Vegetarianism on those questions of economy and social
reform, which are now forcing themselves more and more on the attention
of the English people.[1]

At the time of writing his "Vindication of Natural Diet," Shelley had
himself, for some months past, adopted a Vegetarian diet, chiefly, no
doubt, through his intimacy with the Newton family. There seems no
reason to doubt that he continued to practise Vegetarianism during the
rest of his stay in England, that is from 1813 to the spring of 1818.
Leigh Hunt's account of his life at Marlow, in 1817, is as
follows:--"This was the round of his daily life. He was up early,
breakfasted sparingly, wrote this 'Revolt of Islam' all the morning;
went out in his boat, or in the woods, with some Greek author or the
Bible in his hands; came home to a dinner of vegetables (for he took
neither meat nor wine); visited, if necessary, the sick and fatherless,
whom others gave Bibles to and no help; wrote or studied again, or read
to his wife and friends the whole evening; took a crust of bread or a
glass of whey for his supper, and went early to bed."

In 1818, he left England for Italy, and during his last four years, the
most dreamy and speculative period of his life, he seems to have been
less strict in his observance of Vegetarian practice. It is not true
however, as has sometimes been asserted, that Shelley lost faith in the
principles of Vegetarianism; for his change in diet was owing partly to
his well-known carelessness about his food, which became more marked at
this time, and partly to a desire to avoid giving trouble to the other
members of his household, which, as we see from a line in his letter to
Maria Gisborne, written in 1820, "Though we eat little flesh and drink
no wine" was not entirely a Vegetarian one. Yet, even at this period of
his life, he himself was practically, if not systematically, a
Vegetarian, for all his biographers agree in informing us that bread was
literally his "staff of life." We cannot doubt that if he had lived in
the present time he would have taken a leading part in the movement
towards Food Reform. As it is, he has left us an invaluable legacy in
his "Vindication of Natural Diet," perhaps the most powerful and
eloquent plea ever put forward in favour of the Vegetarian cause.

He found in this the presage of his ideal future. To his enthusiastic
faith in the transforming effect of the Vegetarian principle, we owe
some of the finest passages in his poetry. In the close of the eighth
canto of "Queen Mab," we have a picture of a time when man no more

     Slays the lamb that looks him in the face.

It is the same ideal of bloodless innocence as that of Israel's
prophet-poet, who declares that in the Holy Mountain they shall not hurt
nor destroy. Never did sage or singer, prophet or priest, or poet, see a
brighter vision of the future than that which is imaged in the
description of a glorified earth, from which cruelty, bloodshed, and
tyranny, have been banished.

     "My brethren, we are free! The fruits are glowing
     Beneath the stars, and the night-winds are flowing
     O'er the ripe corn. The birds and beasts are dreaming.
       Never again may blood of bird or beast
       Stain with its venomous stream a human feast,

     To the pure skies in accusation steaming;
       Avenging poisons shall have ceased
         To feed disease and fear and madness;
           The dwellers of the earth and air
         Shall throng around our steps in gladness,
           Seeking their food or refuge there.
     Our toil from thought all glorious forms shall cull,
     To make this earth, our home, more beautiful;
     And Science, and her sister Poesy,
     Shall clothe in light the fields and cities of the free!"

            *       *       *       *       *

     Over the plain the throngs were scattered then
       In groups around the fires, which from the sea
     Even to the gorge of the first mountain-glen
       Blazed wide and far. The banquet of the free
       Was spread beneath many a dark cypress-tree;
     Beneath whose spires which swayed in the red flame
       Reclining as they ate, of liberty,
     And hope, and justice, and Laone's name,
     Earth's children did a woof of happy converse frame.

     Their feast was such as Earth, the general mother,
       Pours from her fairest bosom, when she smiles
     In the embrace of Autumn. To each other
       As when some parent fondly reconciles
       Her warring children, she their wrath beguiles
     With her own sustenance; they relenting weep:--
       Such was this festival, which, from their isles
     And continents and winds and oceans deep,
     All shapes might throng to share that fly or walk or creep.

That this was no mere poetic sentiment is proved by this pamphlet, which
is an earnest vindication of Vegetarianism.

H. S. S.
W. E. A. A.





[Greek: Iapetionidê, pantôn peri mêdea eidôs,
Chaireis pur klepsas, kai emas phrenas êperopeusas;
Soit' autô mega pêma kai andrasin essomenoisi.
Toisd'egô anti puros dôsô kakon, ô ken apantes
Terpôntai kata thumon, eon kakon amphagapôntes.]

[Greek: ÊSIÔD.] Op. et Dies. 1, 54.





I hold that the depravity of the physical and moral nature of man
originated in his unnatural habits of life. The origin of man, like that
of the universe of which he is a part, is enveloped in impenetrable
mystery. His generations either had a beginning, or they had not. The
weight of evidence in favour of each of these suppositions seems
tolerably equal; and it is perfectly unimportant to the present argument
which is assumed. The language spoken, however, by the mythology of
nearly all religions seems to prove, that at some distant period man
forsook the path of nature, and sacrificed the purity and happiness of
his being to unnatural appetites. The date of this event seems to have
also been that of some great change in the climates of the earth, with
which it has an obvious correspondence. The allegory of Adam and Eve
eating of the tree of evil, and entailing upon their posterity the wrath
of God, and the loss of everlasting life, admits of no other explanation
than the disease and crime that have flowed from unnatural diet. Milton
was so well aware of this, that he makes Raphael thus exhibit to Adam
the consequence of his disobedience:--

                     ... Immediately a place
     Before his eyes appeared: sad, noisome, dark:
     A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laid
     Numbers of all diseased: all maladies
     Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
     Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
     Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs;
     Intestine stone and ulcer, cholic pangs,
     Dæmoniac frenzy, moping melancholy,
     And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
     Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,
     Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.

And how many thousands more might not be added to this frightful

The story of Prometheus is one likewise which, although universally
admitted to be allegorical, has never been satisfactorily explained.
Prometheus stole fire from heaven, and was chained for this crime to
Mount Caucasus, where a vulture continually devoured his liver, that
grew to meet its hunger. Hesiod says, that, before the time of
Prometheus, mankind were exempt from suffering; that they enjoyed a
vigorous youth, and that death, when at length it came, approached like
sleep, and gently closed their eyes. Again, so general was this opinion,
that Horace, a poet of the Augustan age, writes:--

     Audax omnia perpeti,
     Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas,
     Audax Iapeti genus
     Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit,
     Post ignem æthereâ domo
     Subductum, macies et nova febrium
     Terris incubuit cohors
     Semotique prius tarda necessitas
     Lethi corripuit gradum.

How plain a language is spoken by all this. Prometheus (who represents
the human race) effected some great change in the condition of his
nature, and applied fire to culinary purposes; thus inventing an
expedient for screening from his disgust the horrors of the shambles.
From this moment his vitals were devoured by the vulture of disease. It
consumed his being in every shape of its loathsome and infinite variety,
inducing the soul-quelling sinkings of premature and violent death. All
vice arose from the ruin of healthful innocence. Tyranny, superstition,
commerce, and inequality, were then first known, when reason vainly
attempted to guide the wanderings of exacerbated passion. I conclude
this part of the subject with an extract from Mr. Newton's Defence of
Vegetable Regimen, from whom I have borrowed this interpretation of the
fable of Prometheus.

"Making allowance for such transposition of the events of the allegory
as time might produce after the important truths were forgotten, which
this portion of the ancient mythology was intended to transmit, the
drift of the fable seems to be this: Man at his creation was endowed
with the gift of perpetual youth; that is, he was not formed to be a
sickly suffering creature as we now see him, but to enjoy health, and to
sink by slow degrees into the bosom of his parent earth without disease
or pain. Prometheus first taught the use of animal food (primus bovem
occidit Prometheus)[2] and of fire, with which to render it more
digestible and pleasing to the taste. Jupiter, and the rest of the gods,
foreseeing the consequences of these inventions, were amused or
irritated at the short-sighted devices of the newly-formed creature, and
left him to experience the sad effects of them. Thirst, the necessary
concomitant of a flesh diet," (perhaps of all diet vitiated by culinary
preparation) "ensued; water was resorted to, and man forfeited the
inestimable gift of health which he had received from heaven; he became
diseased, the partaker of a precarious existence and no longer descended
slowly to his grave."[3]

     But just disease to luxury succeeds,
     And every death its own avenger breeds;
     The fury passions from that blood began,
     And turned on man a fiercer savage--Man.

Man and the animals whom he has infected with his society, or depraved
by his dominion, are alone diseased. The wild hog, the mouflon, the
bison, and the wolf are perfectly exempt from malady, and invariably die
either from external violence or natural old age. But the domestic hog,
the sheep, the cow, and the dog are subject to an incredible variety of
distempers; and, like the corrupters of their nature, have physicians
who thrive upon their miseries. The supereminence of man is like
Satan's, a supereminence of pain; and the majority of his species,
doomed to penury, disease, and crime, have reason to curse the untoward
event that, by enabling him to communicate his sensations, raised him
above the level of his fellow animals. But the steps that have been
taken are irrevocable. The whole of human science is comprised in one
question--How can the advantages of intellect and civilisation be
reconciled with the liberty and pure pleasures of natural life? How can
we take the benefits and reject the evils of the system which is now
interwoven with all the fibres of our being? I believe that abstinence
from animal food and spirituous liquors would in a great measure
capacitate us for the solution of this important question.

Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in
everything, and carnivorous in nothing: he has neither claws wherewith
to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living
fibre. A mandarin of the first class, with nails two inches long, would
probably find them alone inefficient to hold even a hare. After every
subterfuge of gluttony, the bull must be degraded into the ox, and the
ram into the wether, by an unnatural and inhuman operation, that the
flaccid fibre may offer a fainter resistance to rebellious nature. It is
only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that
it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the
sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable
loathing and disgust. Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a
decisive experiment on its fitness, and, as Plutarch recommends, tear a
living lamb with his teeth, and plunging his head into its vitals, slake
his thirst with the steaming blood; when fresh from the deed of horror,
let him revert to the irresistible instincts of nature that would rise
in judgment against it, and say, Nature formed me for such work as this.
Then, and then only, would he be consistent.

Man resembles no carnivorous animal. There is no exception, except man
be one, to the rule of herbivorous animals having cellulated colons.

The orang-outang perfectly resembles man both in the order and number of
his teeth. The orang-outang is the most anthropomorphous of the ape
tribe, all of which are strictly frugivorous. There is no other species
of animals in which this analogy exists.[4] In many frugivorous animals,
the canine teeth are more pointed and distinct than those of man. The
resemblance also of the human stomach to that of the orang-outang is
greater than to that of any other animal.

The intestines are also identical with those of herbivorous animals,
which present a large surface for absorption, and have ample and
cellulated colons. The cæcum also, though short, is larger than that of
carnivorous animals; and even here the orang-outang retains its
accustomed similarity.

The structure of the human frame then is that of one fitted to a pure
vegetable diet, in every essential particular. It is true that the
reluctance to abstain from animal food, in those who have been long
accustomed to its stimulus, is so great in some persons of weak minds,
as to be scarcely overcome; but this is far from bringing any argument
in its favour. A lamb which was fed for some time on flesh by a ship's
crew, refused its natural diet at the end of the voyage. There are
numerous instances of horses, sheep, oxen, and even wood-pigeons, having
been taught to live upon flesh, until they have loathed their natural
aliment. Young children evidently prefer pastry, oranges, apples, and
other fruit, to the flesh of animals, until, by the gradual depravation
of the digestive organs, the free use of vegetables has, for a time,
produced serious inconveniences; _for a time_, I say, since there never
was an instance wherein a change from spirituous liquors and animal food
to vegetables and pure water, has failed ultimately to invigorate the
body, by rendering its juices bland and consentaneous, and to restore to
the mind that cheerfulness and elasticity, which not one in fifty
possesses on the present system. A love of strong liquors is also with
difficulty taught to infants. Almost every one remembers the wry faces
the first glass of port produced. Unsophisticated instinct is
invariably unerring; but to decide on the fitness of animal food, from
the perverted appetites which its constrained adoption produce, is to
make the criminal a judge in his own cause; it is even worse, it is
appealing to the infatuated drunkard in a question of the salubrity of

What is the cause of morbid action in the animal system? Not the air we
breathe, for our fellow denizens of nature breathe the same uninjured;
not the water we drink, if remote from the pollutions of man and his
inventions, for the animals drink it too; not the earth we tread upon;
not the unobscured sight of glorious nature, in the wood, the field, or
the expanse of sky and ocean; nothing that we are or do in common with
the undiseased inhabitants of the forest. Something then wherein we
differ from them; our habit of altering our food by fire, so that our
appetite is no longer a just criterion for the fitness of its
gratification. Except in children there remains no traces of that
instinct which determines, in all other animals, what aliment is natural
or otherwise; and so perfectly obliterated are they in the reasoning
adults of our species, that it has become necessary to urge
considerations, drawn from comparative anatomy, to prove that we are
naturally frugivorous.

Crime is madness. Madness is disease. Whenever the cause of disease
shall be discovered, the root, from which all vice and misery have so
long overshadowed the globe, will lie bare to the axe. All the exertions
of man, from that moment, may be considered as tending to the clear
profit of his species. No sane mind in a sane body resolves upon a real
crime. It is a man of violent passions, bloodshot eyes, and swollen
veins, that alone can grasp the knife of murder. The system of a simple
diet promises no Utopian advantages. It is no mere reform of
legislation, whilst the furious passions and evil propensities of the
human heart, in which it had its origin, are still unassuaged. It
strikes at the root of all evil, and is an experiment which may be tried
with success, not alone by nations, but by small societies, families,
and even individuals.

In no cases has a return to vegetable diet produced the slightest
injury: in most it has been attended with changes undeniably beneficial.
Should ever a physician be born with the genius of Locke, I am persuaded
that he might trace all bodily and mental derangements to our unnatural
habits, as clearly as that philosopher has traced all knowledge to
sensation. What prolific sources of disease are not those mineral and
vegetable poisons that have been introduced for its extirpation? How
many thousands have become murderers and robbers, bigots and domestic
tyrants, dissolute and abandoned adventurers, from the use of fermented
liquors; who had they slaked their thirst only at the mountain stream,
would have lived but to diffuse the happiness of their own unperverted
feelings. How many groundless opinions and absurd institutions have not
received a general sanction from the sottishness and intemperance of
individuals? Who will assert that, had the populace of Paris drank at
the pure source of the Seine, and satisfied their hunger at the
ever-furnished table of vegetable nature that they would have lent their
brutal suffrage to the proscription-list of Robespierre? Could a set of
men, whose passions were not perverted by unnatural stimuli, look with
coolness on an _auto da fè_? Is it to be believed that a being of gentle
feelings, rising from his meal of roots, would take delight in sports of

Was Nero a man of temperate life? Could you read calm health in his
cheek, flushed with ungovernable propensities of hatred for the human
race? Did Muley Ismael's pulse beat evenly, was his skin transparent,
did his eyes beam with healthfulness, and its invariable concomitants,
cheerfulness and benignity? Though history has decided none of these
questions, a child could not hesitate to answer in the negative. Surely
the bile-suffused cheek of Buonaparte, his wrinkled brow, and yellow
eye, the ceaseless inquietude of his nervous system, speak no less
plainly the character of his unresting ambition than his murders and his
victories. It is impossible had Bonaparte descended from a race of
vegetable feeders, that he could have either the inclination or the
power to ascend the throne of the Bourbons. The desire of tyranny could
scarcely be excited in the individual; the power to tyrannise would
certainly not be delegated by a society neither frenzied by inebriation,
nor rendered impotent or irrational by disease. Pregnant, indeed, with
inexhaustible calamity is the renunciation of instinct, as it concerns
our physical nature; arithmetic cannot enumerate, nor reason perhaps
suspect, the multitudinous sources of disease in civilised life. Even
common water, that apparently innoxious _pabulum_, when corrupted by the
filth of populous cities, is a deadly and insidious destroyer.[5] Who
can wonder that all the inducements held out by God himself in the Bible
to virtue should have been vainer than a nurse's tale; and that those
dogmas, apparently favourable to the intolerant and angry passions,
should have alone been deemed essential; whilst Christians are in the
daily practice of all those habits which have infected with disease and
crime, not only the reprobate sons, but these favoured children of the
common Father's love. Omnipotence itself could not save them from the
consequences of this original and universal sin.

There is no disease, bodily or mental, which adoption of vegetable diet
and pure water has not infallibly mitigated, wherever the experiment has
been fairly tried. Debility is gradually converted into strength,
disease into healthfulness: madness, in all its hideous variety, from
the ravings of the fettered maniac, to the unaccountable irrationalities
of ill-temper, that make a hell of domestic life, into a calm and
considerable evenness of temper, that alone might offer a certain pledge
of the future moral reformation of society. On a natural system of diet,
old age would be our last and our only malady: the term of our existence
would be protracted; we should enjoy life, and no longer preclude others
from the enjoyment of it; all sensational delights would be infinitely
more exquisite and perfect; the very sense of being would then be a
continued pleasure, such as we now feel it in some few and favoured
moments of our youth. By all that is sacred in our hopes for the human
race, I conjure those who love happiness and truth, to give a fair trial
to the vegetable system. Reasoning is surely superfluous on a subject
whose merits an experience of six months would set for ever at rest. But
it is only among the enlightened and benevolent that so great a
sacrifice of appetite and prejudice can be expected, even though its
ultimate excellence should not admit of dispute.

It is found easier, by the short-sighted victims of disease, to
palliate their torments by medicine, than to prevent them by regimen.
The vulgar of all ranks are invariably sensual and indocile; yet I
cannot but feel myself persuaded, that when the benefits of vegetable
diet are mathematically proved; when it is as clear, that those who live
naturally are exempt from premature death, as that nine is not one, the
most sottish of mankind will feel a preference towards a long and
tranquil, contrasted with a short and painful life. On the average, out
of sixty persons, four die in three years. In April, 1814, a statement
will be given that sixty persons, all having lived more than three years
on vegetables and pure water, are then _in perfect health_. More than
two years have now elapsed; _not one of them has died_; no such example
will be found in any sixty persons taken at random. Seventeen persons of
all ages (the families of Dr. Lambe and Mr. Newton) have lived for seven
years on this diet without a death, and almost without the slightest
illness. Surely, when we consider that some of these were infants, and
one a martyr to asthma, now nearly subdued, we may challenge any
seventeen persons taken at random in this city to exhibit a parallel
case. Those who may have been excited to question the rectitude of
established habits of diet, by these loose remarks, should consult Mr.
Newton's luminous and eloquent essay.[6] It is from that book, and from
the conversation of its excellent and enlightened author, that I have
derived the materials which I here present to the public.

When these proofs come fairly before the world, and are clearly seen by
all who understand arithmetic, it is scarcely possible that abstinence
from aliments demonstrably pernicious should not become universal.

In proportion to the number of proselytes, so will be the weight of
evidence; and when a thousand persons can be produced, living on
vegetables and distilled water, who have to dread no disease but old
age, the world will be compelled to regard animal flesh and fermented
liquors as slow but certain poison. The change which would be produced
by simpler habits on political economy is sufficiently remarkable. The
monopolising eater of animal flesh would no longer destroy his
constitution by devouring an acre at a meal, and many loaves of bread
would cease to contribute to gout, madness, and apoplexy, in the shape
of a pint of porter or a dram of gin, when appeasing the long-protracted
famine of the hard-working peasant's hungry babes. The quantity of
nutritious vegetable matter consumed in fattening the carcase of an ox,
would afford ten times the sustenance, undepraving indeed, and incapable
of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the

The most fertile districts of the habitable globe are now actually
cultivated by men for animals, at a delay and waste of aliment
absolutely incapable of calculation. It is only the wealthy that can, to
any great degree, even now, indulge the unnatural craving for dead
flesh, and they pay for the greater licence of the privilege, by
subjection to supernumerary diseases. Again, the spirit of the nation
that should take the lead in this great reform would insensibly become
agricultural: commerce, with all its vice, selfishness, and corruption,
would gradually decline; more natural habits would produce gentler
manners, and the excessive complication of political relations would be
so far simplified that every individual might feel and understand why he
loved his country, and took a personal interest in its welfare. How
would England, for example, depend on the caprices of foreign rulers, if
she contained within herself all the necessaries, and despised whatever
they possessed of the luxuries of life? How could they starve her into
compliance with their views? Of what consequence would it be that they
refused to take her woollen manufactures, when large and fertile tracts
of the island ceased to be allotted to the waste of pasturage? On a
natural system of diet, we should require no spices from India; no wines
from Portugal, Spain, France, or Madeira; none of those multitudinous
articles of luxury, for which every corner of the globe is rifled, and
which are the causes of so much individual rivalship, such calamitous
and sanguinary national disputes.

In the history of modern times, the avarice of commercial monopoly, no
less than the ambition of weak and wicked chiefs, seems to have fomented
the universal discord, to have added stubbornness to the mistakes of
cabinets, and indocility to the infatuation of the people. Let it ever
be remembered, that it is the direct influence of commerce to make the
interval between the richest and the poorest man wider and more
unconquerable. Let it be remembered that it is a foe to every thing of
real worth and excellence in the human character. The odious and
disgusting aristocracy of wealth, is built upon the ruins of all that is
good in chivalry or republicanism; and luxury is the forerunner of a
barbarism scarce capable of cure. Is it impossible to realize a state of
society, where all the energies of man shall be directed to the
production of his solid happiness?

Certainly, if this advantage (the object of all political speculation)
be in any degree attainable, it is attainable only by a community which
holds out no factitious incentives to the avarice and ambition of the
few, and which is internally organized for the liberty, security, and
comfort of the many. None must be entrusted with power (and money is the
completest species of power) who do not stand pledged to use it
exclusively for the general benefit. But the use of animal flesh and
fermented liquors, directly militates with this equality of the rights
of man. The peasant cannot gratify these fashionable cravings without
leaving his family to starve. Without disease and war, those sweeping
curtailers of population, pasturage would include a waste too great to
be afforded. The labour requisite to support a family is far lighter[7]
than is usually supposed. The peasantry work, not only for themselves,
but for the aristocracy, the army, and the manufacturers.

The advantage of a reform in diet is obviously greater than that of any
other. It strikes at the root of the evil. To remedy the abuses of
legislation, before we annihilate the propensities by which they are
produced, is to suppose, that by taking away the effect, the cause will
cease to operate. But the efficacy of this system depends entirely on
the proselytism of individuals, and grounds its merits, as a benefit to
the community, upon the total change of the dietetic habits in its
members. It proceeds securely from a number of particular cases to one
that is universal, and has this advantage over the contrary mode, that
one error does not invalidate all that has gone before.

Let not too much, however, be expected from this system. The healthiest
among us is not exempt from hereditary disease. The most symmetrical,
athletic, and long-lived, is a being inexpressibly inferior to what he
would have been, had not the unnatural habits of his ancestors
accumulated for him a certain portion of malady and deformity. In the
most perfect specimen of civilized man something is still found wanting
by the physiological critic. Can a return to nature, then,
instantaneously eradicate predispositions that have been slowly taking
root in the silence of innumerable ages? Indubitably not. All that I
contend for is, that from the moment of the relinquishing all unnatural
habits, no new disease is generated; and that the predisposition to
hereditary maladies gradually perishes for want of its accustomed
supply. In cases of consumption, cancer, gout, asthma, and scrofula,
such is the invariable tendency of a diet of vegetables and pure water.

Those who may be induced by these remarks to give the vegetable system a
fair trial, should, in the first place, date the commencement of their
practice from the moment of their conviction. All depends upon the
breaking through a pernicious habit resolutely and at once. Dr.
Trotter[8] asserts that no drunkard was ever reformed by gradually
relinquishing his dram. Animal flesh, in its effects on the human
stomach, is analogous to a dram. It is similar in the kind, though
differing in the degree, of its operation. The proselyte to a pure diet
must be warned to expect a temporary diminution of muscular strength.
The subtraction of a powerful stimulus will suffice to account for this
event. But it is only temporary, and is succeeded by an equable
capability for exertion far surpassing his former various and
fluctuating strength. Above all, he will acquire an easiness of
breathing, by which the same exertion is performed with a remarkable
exemption from that painful and difficult panting now felt by almost
every one after hastily climbing an ordinary mountain. He will be
equally capable of bodily exertion or mental application after as before
his simple meal. He will feel none of the narcotic effects of ordinary
diet. Irritability, the direct consequence of exhausting stimuli, would
yield to the power of natural and tranquil impulses. He will no longer
pine under the lethargy of _ennui_, that unconquerable weariness of
life, more dreaded than death itself. He will escape the epidemic
madness that broods over its own injurious notions of the Deity, and
"realizes the hell that priests and beldams feign." Every man forms, as
it were, his god from his own character; to the divinity of one of
simple habits, no offering would be more acceptable than the happiness
of his creatures. He would be incapable of hating or persecuting others
for the love of God. He will find, moreover, a system of simple diet to
be a system of perfect epicurism. He will no longer be incessantly
occupied in blunting and destroying those organs from which he expects
his gratification.

The pleasures of taste to be derived from a dinner of potatoes, beans,
peas, turnips, lettuces, with a dessert of apples, gooseberries,
strawberries, currants, raspberries, and in winter, oranges, apples,
and pears, is far greater than is supposed. Those who wait until they
can eat this plain fare with the sauce of appetite will scarcely join
with the hypocritical sensualist at a lord mayor's feast, who declaims
against the pleasures of the table. Solomon kept a thousand concubines,
and owned in despair that all was vanity. The man whose happiness is
constituted by the society of one amiable woman would find some
difficulty in sympathising with the disappointment of this venerable

I address myself not only to the young enthusiast, the ardent devotee of
truth and virtue, the pure and passionate moralist, yet unvitiated by
the contagion of the world. He will embrace a pure system, from its
abstract truth, its beauty, its simplicity and its promise of
wide-extended benefit; unless custom has turned poison into food, he
will hate the brutal pleasures of the chase by instinct; it will be a
contemplation full of horror and disappointment to his mind, that beings
capable of the gentlest and most admirable sympathies, should take
delight in the death-pangs and last convulsions of dying animals. The
elderly man whose youth has been poisoned by intemperance, or who has
lived with apparent moderation, and is afflicted with a variety of
painful maladies, would find his account in a beneficial change,
produced without the risk of poisonous medicines.[9]The mother, to whom
the perpetual restlessness of disease, and unaccountable deaths
incident to her children, are the causes of incurable unhappiness, would
on this diet experience the satisfaction of beholding their perpetual
health and natural playfulness.

The most valuable lives are daily destroyed by diseases, that it is
dangerous to palliate and impossible to cure by medicine. How much
longer will man continue to pimp for the gluttony of death, his most
insidious, implacable, and eternal foe? The proselyte to a simple and
natural diet, who desires health, must from the moment of his conversion
attend to these rules--




[1] Shelley's pamphlet appeared in 1813. The Vegetarian Society was not
founded until 1847. Information as to this Society, with list of its
publications, can be had free on application to the Secretary, 75,
Princess Street, Manchester.

[2] "Plin. Nat Hist.," Lib. vii, Soc. 57.

[3] "Return to Nature." Cadell, 1811.

[4] Cuvier, Leçons d'Anat. Comp. tom. iii., pages 169, 373, 448, 465,
and 480. Rees's Cyclopædia, article Man.

[5] See Dr. Lambe's "Report on Cancer."

[6] Return to Nature, or Defence of Vegetable Regimen. Cadell, 1811.

[7] It has come under the author's experience that some of the workmen
on an embankment in North Wales who, in consequence of the inability of
the proprietor to pay them, seldom received their wages, have supported
large families by cultivating small spots of sterile ground by
moonlight. In the notes to Pratt's Poem, "Bread for the Poor," is an
account of an industrious labourer, who by working in a small garden,
before and after his day's task, attained to an enviable state of

[8] See Trotter on "The Nervous Temperament."

[9] See Mr. Newton's book. His children are the most beautiful and
healthy creatures it is possible to conceive; the girls are perfect
models for a sculptor; their dispositions are also the most gentle and
conciliating; the judicious treatment which they experience in other
points, may be a correlative cause of this. In the first five years of
their life, of 18,000 children that are born, 7,500 die of various
diseases; and how many more of those that survive are rendered miserable
by maladies not immediately mortal? The quality and quantity of a
woman's milk are materially injured by the use of dead flesh. In an
island, near Iceland, where no vegetables are to be got, the children
invariably die of tetanus, before they are three weeks old, and the
population is supplied from the mainland.--_Sir G. Mackenzie's History
of Iceland._ See also _Emile_, chap, i., p. 53, 55, 56.


Persons on vegetable diet have been remarkable for longevity. The first
Christians practised abstinence from animal flesh, on a principle of
self mortification. Other instances are, Old Parr 152; Mary Patten 136;
A Shepherd in Hungary 126; Patrick O'Neale 113; Joseph Elkins 103;
Elizabeth de Val 101; Aurungzebe 100; St. Anthony 105; James, the Hermit
104; Arsenius 120; St. Epiphanius 115; Simeon 112; and Rombald 120.

Mr. Newton's mode of reasoning on longevity is ingenious and conclusive.
"Old Parr, healthy as the wild animals, attained to the age of 152
years. All men might be as healthy as the wild animals. Therefore all
men might attain to the age of 152 years." The conclusion is
sufficiently modest. Old Parr cannot be supposed to have escaped the
inheritance of disease, amassed by the unnatural habits of his
ancestors. The term of human life may be expected to be infinitely
greater, taking into the consideration all the circumstances that must
have contributed to abridge even that of Parr.

It may be here remarked, that the author and his wife have lived on
vegetables for eight months. The improvements of health and temper here
stated, is the result of his own experience.




348 pp., 8vo.


"I consider it a very valuable work."--COLONEL J. M. EARLE.

"THE CATENA is good and useful."--FRANCES E. HOGGAN, M.D.

"'The Ethics of Diet' much pleases me."--T. K. CHEYNE, M.A.

Price Five Shillings; Post free from the Office of the Vegetarian
Society, 75, Princess Street, Manchester.

Collected Lectures and Papers on Vegetarian Diet.







Doctor of Medicine of the Faculty of Paris.

London: Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co., 1, Paternoster Square; or
from the Vegetarian Society, 75, Princess Street, Manchester.


Price 6d. 64pp., 8vo. Post free, 7d.


Edited by R. BAILEY WALKER, F.S.S.


Mushrooms and Toadstools. By H. S. S.
A Hunting of the Deer. By E. Dudley Warner.
A Christmas Ghost. By E. Grenville Waller.
The Ribblesdale Papers--Nos. I.-IV. By "Dora."
Rubies from Ruskin.
The Ministry of Food. By R. Bailey Walker.
The Abbot's Reply. By W. E. A. Axon.
Almonds and Raisins. By E. J. Baillie.
The Torquoise Ring. A Story by Mrs. Anna Kingsford, M.D.
Kalendar and Notes for 1884.
Fruits in Season for each Month, &c., &c.

75, Princess Street, Manchester.




By R. T. TRALL, M.D.

First English Edition, with Chapters on Bread, Pies, Puddings, Soups,
Sauces, Vegetables, Fruits, &c. Also with Appendix on

Hygienic Bread-Making, Fruit Preserving, &c.




By "Domestica."

Fourth Edition. Revised. Price Sixpence. Cloth, One Shilling.





By "Head Gardener."

Manchester: Offices of the Vegetarian Society, 75, Princess Street.



The Society's Publications for 1886 will be at least twelve of the
following fourteen:--

     1. Shelley's _Adonais_: an Elegy on the Death of John Keats. Pisa,
     4to, 1821. A Facsimile Reprint on hand-made Paper, edited, with a
     Bibliographical Introduction, by Thomas J. Wise. (_Second Edition,
     Revised._) 10s.


     2. Shelley's Review of Hogg's novel, "Memoirs of Prince Alexy
     Haimatoff." Now first reprinted from _The Critical Review_, Dec.
     1814, on hand-made Paper, with an Extract from Prof. Dowden's
     article, "Some Early Writings of Shelley" (_Contemp. Rev._, Sept.
     1884). Edited, with an Introductory Note, by Thos. J. Wise.
     (_Second Edition, Revised._) 2s. 6d.


     3. Shelley's _Alastor_, or The Spirit of Solitude; and other Poems.
     London, fcap. 8vo., 1816. A Facsimile Reprint on hand-made Paper,
     with a new Preface by Bertram Dobell. (_Second Edition, Revised._)


     4. _A Shelley Bibliography_, or "The Shelley Library." Part I.
     First Editions and their Reproductions. By H. Buxton Forman.


     5. Shelley's _Vindication of Natural Diet_. London, 12mo, 1813. A
     Reprint, 1882, with a Prefatory Note by H. S. Salt and W. E. A.
     Axon. Presented by Mr. Axon. (_Second Edition._)


     6. _A Memoir of Shelley_, with a fresh Preface, by William Michael
     Rossetti; a Portrait of Shelley; and an engraving of his Tomb.


     7. Shelley's _Cenci_, (for the Society's performance in May), with
     a prologue by Dr. John Todhunter, and an Introduction and Notes by
     Harry Buxton Forman and Alfred Forman; and a Portrait of Beatrice
     Cenci. 2s. 6d.


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