- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Prospect Books; First Edition edition (29 Aug. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1903018587
- ISBN-13: 978-1903018583
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 19 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 596,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Early Vegetarian Recipes (The English Kitchen) Paperback – 29 Aug 2008
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About the Author
Anne O'Connell is a writer and film maker, who also trained in radio production with RTE in Dublin. Currently she is directing and editing documentaries and producing podcasts. She writes about food and travel and this is her first book. She lives in London.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It is a remark frequently made, that if animal food were not eaten, we could not have a sufficient variety for the supply of our tables. To obviate this objection to a vegetable diet has been a leading purpose in the following compilation, from which it will appear that a variety of not less than one hundred perfectly palatable and highly nutritious substances may easily be procured, at an expense much below the price of the limbs of our fellow animals."
George Nicholson (1903), p.1
George Nicholson wrote these words some forty years after the word `vegetarian' came into being and at a time when the idea of living on a vegetable-based diet was still considered strange, given the nation's generally massive preference for meat over vegetables.
Despite such apparent resistance, the nineteenth century had seen the first attempts at organising a vegetarian movement in Britain, with more than one vegetarian society formed during the latter half of the century. The first Society based in Manchester was founded in 1847, creating the word `vegetarian' at the same time and two years later, London vegetarians decided to form their own branch; this became The London Vegetarian Society in 1888. Both Societies had famous supporters with George Bernard Shaw a member in Manchester and Mahatma Gandhi in London.
This growth naturally saw an increase in recipes to feed the trend and by the beginning of the twentieth century; many food writers had to take account of the need for vegetarian recipes. Mrs C. S. Peel who, in 1907 published a series of seven cookery books, was typical, including `Dishes Made Without Meat' in her collection and referring to such food as `maigre'
There is undoubtedly a great and growing liking for `maigre' dishes, not only amongst those people who eat them from religious motives, but amongst the general public, nowadays at most of the smart restaurants vegetable and cereal dishes are a feature of almost every meal, and at private houses, no luncheon and few dinner menus are considered complete unless a vegetable or cereal dish is included.
Mrs C.S. Peel (1907), p.7
Diets without meat were, of course, nothing new, having a long history in many branches of religious and philosophical thought. Neither was Nicholson's book by any means the first vegetarian recipe book. That would appear to be Thomas Tryon's 1691 tract, A Bill of Fare of 75 Noble Dishes of Excellent Food. Tryon was a prolific writer of manuals for better, more humane living, many of them in the domestic sphere and offering advice on household management and healthy eating. A Bill of Fare provides a fascinating insight into the kind of food eaten by British vegetarians of the time. Although that work first occurred in the seventeenth century, the eighteenth is notably short of vegetable-based recipe books. This is despite a growing interest in health and animal welfare issues, and a host of famous voices advocating kindness to animals and abstention from flesh foods, including poet Alexander Pope, physician Dr John Arbuthnot, Methodist leader John Wesley, and philosophers Voltaire, Rousseau and Locke.
Several recipes from Tryon's 1691 tract are included here, although the main focus is on vegetarian recipe books published during the nineteenth century and extending up to 1914, since this was the era in which the industry flourished in response to the growth of a vegetarian movement as a moral or healthy choice. As well as the vegetarian societies, other organisations concerned with animal welfare started in this period, including the League Against Cruel Sports (first known as The Society for the Supression of Vice) in 1802, the RSPCA in 1824 and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection in 1898. The movement's concern with human health and well-being is perhaps best epitomised by the establishment, in 1880, of the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletics Club, another organisation which continues to this day.
Vegetarian restaurants became popular in the same period, especially in big cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, where they offered nutritious food cheaply and in such respectable settings that women could eat in them alone! The vegetarian movement was closely allied to that of social reform, reaching out to industrial workers particularly, since it was felt that the diet offered the best and cheapest nutrition for the poor. This was an element expressed by various people, from the eighteenth-century penal reformer John Howard and the founder of the Salvation Army, Bramwell Booth, to the poet Shelley, and women's rights campaigner Anna Kingsford. The Vegetarian Society's members were keen to spread the message organising talks and tastings of vegetarian foods. The Society's website cites a Mr Broadbent who spoke principally to mothers' meetings and also visited cab shelters. He was concerned to dispel any myths that a vegetarian diet was boring, claiming instead it was `a pleasant and enjoyable corner of God's garden'. He then fed the attendees lentil soup, cooked to the recipe appearing on page 000
These developments in vegetarianism were well covered in the press, with varying degrees of approval. The Times of 31 December 1866 included an item about a vegetarian festival held at Blennerhasset, Cumberland, on Christmas-day, upon the farm of Mr William Lawson, son of Sir Wilfred Lawson, of Brayton. Musicians were requested to take their instruments with them, and it was added that `those who like may bring their own spoons.' About a thousand people attended. The farm buildings were decorated, and in the large rooms singing and dancing and lecturing on phrenology, co-operation, vegetarianism, and physiology went forward at intervals during the day.
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