The Bloodless Revolution

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The Bloodless Revolution

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.

6 Responses to “The Bloodless Revolution”

  1. Jeff

    As a vegetarian and a history geek I thank you! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. Seems like the only histories I have found are more about the movement itself. (Which has its place)
    This sounds more interesting though, as if it takes a look at where the ideas came from and how they got here.

    Ok, so interesting may be a relative term. :P

    Thanks!

  2. Sarah

    Yay! This book was actually recommended to me by a coworker (I work for a library). I just started reading it and it seems pretty interesting. I’ll try to post a more thorough comment when I’m finished with the book.
    Cheers!

  3. brad

    the book remakes the claim that hitler was a vegetarian for ideological reasons, and promoted the lifestyle throughout the regime.

  4. Ryan

    That’s interesting, Brad. I’ll have to take a close look at that since I thought it was pretty well accepted much of those claims were bunk.

  5. Jeff

    Ugh. The Hitler thing again? I don’t understand how or why that sticks. The evidence is plain as can be that he wasn’t vegetarian. There was propaganda that he was, but that’s all it was, propaganda to make Hitler look ascetic and clean-living.

    I hate that I’ll be going into this book with a bad taste in my mouth.

  6. Danna Boggio

    You mean that the statement about Hitler being a vegetarian is not true? It serves me right to believe stuff that I have not researched myself.

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