Early Times of Vegetarianism
The term "vegetarian" was coined by the British Vegetarian Society in the mid-1800's. (The Latin root of the word refers to
the source of life.) However, vegetarianism itself dates back to a time before recorded history. Many anthropologists
believe that most early humans ate mainly plant foods, being more like gatherers than hunters. This view is supported by
the fact that the human digestive system resembles that of other plant-eaters rather than that of meat-eaters. The early
"human as plant-eater" view is also supported by the fact that humans on meat-based diets contract recieve major health
problems such as heart disease and cancer much more frequently than people eating vegetarian diets.
The Greek mathematician Pythagoras was a vegetarian, and vegetarians were often called Pythagoreans until a different
word was created.
The Start of Vegetarianism in the U.S.A.
Vegetarianism was not very common in the U.S. until 1971, when Frances Moore Lappé's bestseller Diet for a Small Planet
Lappé dropped out of graduate school at U.C. Berkeley to do personal research on world hunger issues. Lappé was startled
to discover that it takes 14 times as much grain to feed an animal than what you get out of it in meat -- an enormous waste
of resources. At the tender age of 26, Lappé then wrote Diet for a Small Planet to encourage people to eat meatless meals
and stop wasting the world's food.