International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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1847-1981 :

A thesis presented to the London School of Economics, University of London,
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, by Julia Twigg
©AUTUMN 1981 - Thesis Index

The author is now Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at Kent University, England, and has given permission for this previously unpublished thesis to be published on the IVU website. The ownership and copyright remain hers and no part of this thesis may be used elsewhere without her express permission.


[Numerical links are to the author's footnotes, use your back button to return to the same point in the text. Text links are to relevant items on the IVU website, all open in new windows]


Vegetarianism is quintessentially about renewal; the word New has reverberated for a century and a half through the titles of its journals and societies. (1) It has been associated with most of the major reform movements, and with most of the principle Utopias, underpinning attempts to create the New Age, from Owenism to Whiteway to the Aquarian Age.

Vegetarianism attacks the rule of tradition by attacking the most traditional of patterns – those relating to eating - replacing them by new rules determined instead by the application of critical reasoning and conscience to life. This sense of change in life, of a new start, is fundamental to the approach of nature cure. At the psychological level also it can be part of a rejection of the past, as perhaps in some of the therapy-group links noted earlier; for eating patterns are among the earliest learnt and have a particularly intimate connection with one's relationship with one's family, so that a conscious change here can be symbolic of the leaving behind of these problematic influences. Similarly it is part of the explanation of vegetarianism's association with student life, where the adoption of the diet can mark the break with home and be part of the late adolescent exploration of identity.

A vegetarian diet can be part of the daily reiteration of commitment to the values of reform and a freeing of the self from the bonds of accepted tradition. At the explicit level of food, vegetarianism rejects the roast-beef symbolism of traditional conservatism. It marks the end of Old Corruption and the coming of the New Moral Order, and this newness is written into the freshness and rawness of the food.

  1. 46. This newness is the newness of the perennial dawn, not of the avant-garde, or a pursuit of fashion and change.

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