I know there has been vegetarians all over the world throughout history. When did the modern "Western" movement start and who began it? I've been reading about anti-vivisection in the 1870s and I'm wondering if that is where it started or if it was only in the 70s in the US.

1 Answer 1


One of the earliest modern western vegetarians was Thomas Tryon (1634-1703). He wrote many books which were popular at the time.

More widespread vegetarianism didn't begin till the 19th century though. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) was a well known advocate. Vegetarianism was connected with the Christian temperence movement. It led to the creation of the Vegetarian Society in 1847 by Joseph Brotherton MP and James Simpson. This society is still in existence today.

The American Vegetarian Society (modelled after the British version) was founded in 1850 by William Metcalfe, William Alcott, Russell Trall and Sylvester Graham in New York City, as a similar religious based movement spread there.

  • The famous writer Leo Tolstoy was also avid proponent of vegetarianism. See veg.ca/1998/09/07/… Feb 3, 2017 at 0:15
  • I had no idea that the western vegetarian movement had religious bases.
    – ecc
    Feb 3, 2017 at 8:50

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