The photograph below shows Gandhi seated at the front to our right, but
it is the subject of some confusion. Gandhiserve.org states that it is the Committee of the London
Vegetarian Society (LVS) in 1890, they also state that Gandhi joined
the Society, and joined the Committee, on September 19, 1890.
The Vegetarian Society's May Meetings,
held at Portsmouth, in 1891.
Back row (l-r): Rev. James Clark, E. Dolby Shelton, W. Chudley, William Harrison, Peter Foxcroft.
Middle row (l-r): Miss May Yates, G. Cosens Prior, Mrs. William Harrison and Mrs. Peter Foxcroft.
Front row (l-r): T.T. Mozumdar, Josiah Oldfield, Mohandas K. Gandhi
(From: The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review of September 1936.)
Gandhi stated in The Vegetarian (interview published June 20,
1891) that "I may be said to have known the L.V.S." from the
International Vegetarian Congress,
held in London, 11-13 September 1890. He also said that he had been reading
The Vegetarian (London) for "a year and a half" (ie
late 1889) and the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester) for some time
It is possible that he was co-opted onto the LVS Committee on Sept 19,
but the LVS AGM was on January 9, 1891, and it is possible that he was
elected to the Committee on that date (precise details seem to have been
lost). The only reference in The Vegetarian to a photograph including
Gandhi was after the meetings in Portsmouth on May 6, 1891 (it was not
reproduced in the newspaper but a detailed account of it being taken -
outdoors - was given). That report stated that the picture included two
Indians, the other beng Gandhi's friend Mr. Mozumdar. The others are probably the delegates and speakers from
the conference, not the full LVS Committee (if it was the LVS Committee then
Mr. Arnold Hills would have been centre stage).
In February 1891 Gandhi started writing articles for The Vegetarian,
a weekly newspaper published independently of LVS but in close connection
with it (this is also more consistent with his having joined the Committee
in January rather than the previous September). The articles below are
reproduced from The Vegetarian, courtesy of the library of the
Vegetarian Society UK (publication dates are in italics after each
Photo from The Vegetarian, June 13, 1891.
No indication was given of when it was taken, but probably when
he was called to the bar a week earlier, age 21
- (Leo Tolstoi - including his views
on non-violence and passive resistance - December 21, 1889 - published
around the time that Gandhi says he started reading The Vegetarian .
articles by or about Gandhi:
- Indian Vegetarians - part I, February
- Indian Vegetarians - part II, February
- Indian Vegetarians - part III, February
- Indian Vegetarians - part IV, February
- Indian Vegetarians - part V, March 7,
- Editorial comment about Gandhi - March
- Indian Shepherds - part VI, March 14,
- Some Indian Festivals - Divali - March
- Some Indian Festivals - Holi - April
- Extracts of reports from the Portsmouth Meetings
on May 5/6 - May 9 and 16, 1891
- The Foods of India - text of his talk at
Portsmouth, May 6, 1891 - published June 1891 in the Vegetarian Messenger
- Editorial comment about Gandhi leaving England,
and report of the farewell dinner - June 13, 1891
- Our Workers - (an extensive interview with
Gandhi, part 1) - June 13, 1891
- Mr. Gandhi's Narrative (concluded) - June
- On my way home again to India - April
- On my way home again to India (concluded)
- April 16, 1892
- English Misrule in India - July 29, 1893
- To Indians in England (from South Africa)
- April 28, 1894
- A Band of Vegetarian Missionaries, and their
work in South Africa - May 18, 1895 (mostly about the Trappist
monastery, and showing very clearly where Gandhi got his ideas for the
later Ashram 'Tolstoy Farm')
- Vegetarianism in Natal - December 21,
- Vegetarianism - copy of a letter to the Editor
of the Natal Mercury - March 28, 1896
- Facts for Emigrants to South Africa -
April 25, 1903
From other sources:
- Moral Basis of Vegetarianism
- - from the 1957 IVU Congress souvenir book (same as below
but different pictures)
- The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism
- Speech delivered by Gandhi at a Social Meeting organised by the London
Vegetarian Society, 20 November 1931 (the photo right, shows Gandhi
seated next to Mr. Henry Salt - one of those in the Portsmouth photo
above - at this meeting)
I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under
any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live.
I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the
lower animal world - if we are superior to it. - Mahatma Gandhi, his
Mission and Message
I hold today the same opinion as I held then. To my mind, the life of
a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling
to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that,
the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by
man from the cruelty of man. - An Autobiography, the Story of My Experiments
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the
way its animals are treated.
Vivisection is the blackest of all the black crimes that a man is at present
committing against God and his fair creation. It ill becomes us to invoke
in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in
turn will not practise elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.
- This quote is from 'The Extended Circle, a dictionary of humane thought' published in 1985 by Jon Wynne-Tyson (reproduced with permission) - he gives the source as ' The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism' but we cannot find it in the 1931 talk of that title, but apparently hat title was also used for a book published in the 60's, which collects Gandhi's different writings on vegetarianism - we do not have that and would like to hear from anyone who does as it may give the original context. If anyone can verify this, or any other quotes, quote please contact IVU.
We also have an alternative version of this quote as:
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated.
- but no source for that either...
However.... way back in 1883 Howard Williams published 'The Ethics of Diet - a Catena' a collection of articles by ethical writers. Williams was a friend of Gandhi at the London Vegetarian Society, and Gandhi clearly states in his autobiography that he read the book in the early 1890s. In the section on Schopenhauer, p.287, Williams quotes Dr. David Strauss (Die Alte und die Neue Glaube) "The manner in which a nation, in the aggregate, treats the other species, is one chief measure of its real civilisation." - so wherever Gandhi might have used his variation of the quote, he did not entirely originate it.
I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings
called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with
such things as crawl upon earth. - quoted in Words of Gandhi
I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries
stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence. - unknown
"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with
good." - unknown origin