The History of Vegetarianism & The Good Life
BROOKSVILLE, MAINE — Food columnist Avery Yale Kamila spoke July 30 to a full house at The Good Life Center about “Vegetarianism & The Good Life.” Kamila discussed her work to unearth 300 years of lost vegetarian history in Maine. Her research reveals that the pursuit of the Good Life has always been integral to Maine vegetarianism.
Kamila said Father Sebastian Rale is the earliest vegetarian she has documented in Maine. She shared an excerpt of a 1722 letter Rale wrote where he reported exclusively eating what we would today call vegan meals. She also discussed how vegetarianism was part of the early 19th century Temperance movement, talked about the significance of the 1834 Sylvester Graham riot in Portland and surveyed Maine native Ellen G. White’s influence on the national vegetarian movement.
Kamila capped her presentation with an overview of Helen and Scott Nearing’s influential vegetarianism. The Nearings moved to Brooksville in 1952 to create their Forest Farm, which is now the nonprofit The Good Life Center. They are the authors of the 1970 vegetarian bestseller "Living the Good Life." Helen was a lifelong vegetarian, which Kamila said is rare, and Scott adopted vegetarianism in 1917. She also said current reporting on the Nearings often omits their vegetarianism, which she said was central to The Good Life.
Kamila’s research into Maine’s vegetarian past is available in the open access Maine Vegetarian History Project website, https://scalar.usc.edu/works/maine-vegetarian-history-project/. Since 2009, Kamila has written a column about vegan and vegetarian food for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and its affiliated newspapers. https://www.pressherald.com/foodanddining/vegan-kitchen/
About the Author:
Avery Yale Kamila
The Good Life Center
372 Harborside Road
Harborside, Maine, 04642
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