International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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History of Vegetarian Societies in North America - 1837-1908

See also: The Vegetarian Museum (USA)

Some individual Americans:

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Tomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Johnny Appleseed (1774-1845)

Rev.William Metcalfe (17??-1862)

Sylvester Graham (1795-1851)

William Andrus Alcott (1798-1859)

Bronson Alcott 1799-1888

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Mary Gove Nichols (1810-1884)

Russell Trall 1812-1877

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Ellen G. White (1827-1915)

Henry S. Clubb (1827-1922)

Dr John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943)

Ralph Waldo Trine (1866-1958)


  • 1837 - American Physiological Society. A vegetarian society in all but name, founded by William Alcott and Sylvester Graham. The first secular organisation in the world specifically promoting vegetarianism. For more details of this and much more, see the excellent Vegetarian America - a History, available from amazon,com on the right.

    This was soon followed by other Physiological Societies, one for Ladies and at least one local group. We also have an account from the Centenary Book of the Philadelphia Bible Christian Church, 1917, of their version:
    PHYSIOLOGICAL SOCIETY Bible-Christian Physiological Society 1840-1841-1842
    Annual Reports Dec. 25, 1840 and 1841
    SOCIETY was organized August 16, 1840, and was in existence apparently about two years, being devoted to the giving of lectures and public discussions on the advantages of Vegetarianism. The Officers and Members consisted principally of Bible-Christian Church Members and others in sympathy with or interested in the subject of Vegetarianism.

  • 1850 - American Vegetarian Society

  • 1852 - New York Vegetarian Association

  • 1860-80 - both the above societies had closed by the early 1860s and, for about the next 20 years, we have no references to any Vegetarian Societies in the USA. The British Vegetarian magazines carried many letters from Americans; reports from health establishments, particularly at Battle Creek, Michigan; reports from several religious communes such as the Shakers, and secular communes in Alabama and California. Vegetarianism was still very much alive and kicking in the States, but no societies.

  • 1882 - American Vegetalivorian Society - "According to the Russian journal Novosti, and agent of the American Vegetalivorian Society has arrived in Russia charged with the mission of opening Vegetarian restaurants in various localities in that country." - The Dietetic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger, February 1882, p44.

  • 1884 - Pacific/Californian Food Reform Society - San Francisco

  • 1886 - Vegetarian Society of America - Philadelphia

  • 1889 - Washington D.C Vegetarian Society - "Dr. Pfleging a native of Germany, who has had experience of English life, is starting a Vegetarian Society in this city." - Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), April 1889, p105
    - Chicago Vegetarian Society

  • 1890 - Kansas City Vegetarian Society
    - "A letter from New Orleans. - It is not altogether improbable that, in the course of a year or so, an effort may be made here in New Orleans to organise Vegetarian Society." - the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England) September 1890, p275.[the writer indicated a knowledge of the VSA, but it is not known if the society was ever formed].
    - three Americans contributed papers to the International Vegetarian Congress in London, in Spetember 1890, including the president of the Vegetarian Society of America.

  • 1891 - Vegetarian Society at Battle Creek, Michigan

  • 1893 - 3rd International Vegetarian Congress - at the World's Fair in Chicago, supported by the VSA and the Chicago Society.

  • 1895 - New York VS ; Portland, Oregon VS

  • 1896 - Rev. Henry S. Clubb - brief bio, and photo, of the president of the Vegetarian Society of America.

  • 1897 - report from the Vegetarian Society of America
    - report from the Oregon Vegetarian Society (founded 1891)

  • 1898 - a reference to the 'Vegetarian Society of Philadelphia' though this was almost certainly the Vegetarian Society of America, based in Philadelphia.
    - Boston, U.S.A. - "We learn from the New England Anti-Vivisection Society Monthly that a Vegetarian restaurant will before long, be started in Boston, a number of prominent Bostonians being interested in forming a Vegetarian Society for that purpose."
    - A Visit to America - by the Rev. James Clark, Vice President of the Vegetarian Society (UK)
    - from a talk about Tolstoy at the 1932 IVU Congress: "In 1898, under the Russian régime it that time, and with the direct assistance of Tolstoy, about 8,000 the Doukhobors decided to migrate to Canada, where their numbers have since grown to about 15,000 - all, with but few exceptions, still being vegetarians."

  • 1900 - Annual Meeting of the Vegetarian Federal Union in London: "reports from societies in all parts of the world, including South Australia, India and America, the two latter recording most unprecedented success in those countries."
    - from a later VFU Committee meeting: "Two interesting letters were read, from Mr. Eustace Miles, of America, and Mr. Clubb, the latter nominating Dr. Kress as representative to the V.F.U."
    - referring to the upcoming Internationa Congress in Paris, France: We have already received papers and promises of speeches from . . . America, [a later report mentioned a paper from America but gave no details]

  • 1904 - International Vegetarian Congress 1904, St. Louis, USA organized by the St. Louis Vegetarian Society, and refers to the New York Vegetarian Society

  • History of Vegetarian Societies in North America after 1908

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