If history’s your thing and you’re vegetarian, there’s a new book on the shelves that may be worth your time to check out: The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times by Tristram Stuart.
When the book’s press agent (a vegetarian, it should be noted) sent this along, I got really excited about it. It’s got to be the most comprehensive and thorough book on the subject of the history of vegetarianism. But here’s the thing: there’s no chance I’m going to get a chance to read and review this book with the attention it deserves anytime before Rasine goes off to college.
At over 450 pages of content, it’s a dense book, to say the least. The bibliography is insane. The references are impeccably noted. It’s an impressive book and (from what I can tell so far), a well-written one, to boot. Here’s a brief rundown of what you can expect:
How Western Christianity and Eastern philosophy merged to spawn a political movement that had the prohibition of meat at its core
The Bloodless Revolution is a pioneering history of puritanical revolutionaries, European Hinduphiles, and visionary scientists who embraced radical ideas from the East and conspired to overthrow Western society’s voracious hunger for meat. At the heart of this compelling history are the stories of John Zephaniah Holwell, survivor of the Black Hole of Calcutta, and John Stewart and John Oswald, who traveled to India in the eighteenth century, converted to the animal-friendly tenets of Hinduism, and returned to Europe to spread the word. Leading figures of the Enlightenment–among them Rousseau, Voltaire, and Benjamin Franklin–gave intellectual backing to the vegetarians, sowing the seeds for everything from Victorian soup kitchens to contemporary animal rights and environmentalism.
Since there won’t be a proper review here for The Bloodless Revolution before 2024, I encourage you to check the book out if history’s your thing. It may well become one of those books that we’ll be referring to 15, 20 years from now.