International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A., 1883

Christian Wilhelm Hufeland M.D. 1762-1836
(text from the 1st edition, 1883)

Not entitled to rank among the greater prophets who have had the penetration to recognise the essential barbarism, no less than the unnaturalness, of Kreophagy (disguised, as it is, by the arts of civilisation), this most popular of all German physicians, with the Cornaros and Abernethys, may yet claim considerable merit as having, in some degree, sought to stem the tide of unnatural living, which, under less gross forms indeed than those of the darker ages of dietetics, and partially concealed in the refinements of Art, is more difficult to be resisted by very reason of its disguise. If the renaissance of Pythagorean dietetics had already dawned for the deeper thinkers, the age of science and of reason, as regards the mass of accredited teachers, was yet a long way off; and to all pioneers, even though they failed to clear the way entirely, some measure of gratitude is due.

Christian Wilhelm Hufeland is one of the most prolific of medical writers. Having studied medicine at Jens and at Gottingen he took the degree of doctor in 1783. At Jens he occupied a professorial chair (1793), and came to Berlin five years later, where he was entrusted with the superintendence of the Medical College. Both as a practical physician and as a professor, Hufeland attained a European reputation. The French Academy of Sciences elected him one of its members. His numerous writings have been often reprinted in Germany. Among the most useful are: (1) Popular Dissertations upon Health (Leipsig, 1794); (2) Makrobiotik : oder die Kunst das Menschliche Leben zu Verlängern (Jena, 1796) ; a celebrated work which has been translated into all the languages of Europe (1) ; (3) Good Advice to Mothers upon the Most Important Points of the Physical Education of Children in the First Years (Berlin, 1799) ; (4) History of Health, and Physical Characteristics of our Epoch (Berlin, 1812) (2) ; Of Hufeland's witness to the general superiority of the Naturgemdässe Lebensweisse the following sentences are sufficiently representative:

"The more man follows Nature and obeys her laws the longer he will live. The further he removes from them (je weiter er von ihnen abweicht) the shorter will be his duration of existence . . . Only inartificial, simple nourishment promotes health and long life, while mixed and rich foods but shorten our existence . . . We frequently find a very advanced old age amongst men who from youth upwards have lived, for the most part, upon the vegetable diet, and, perhaps, have never tasted flesh. (3) "


    1. Long Life, or the Art of Prolonging Human Existence
    2. See the Nouvelle Biographie Universelle for complete enumeration of his writings.
    3. Makrobiotik

Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet - index