I posted this originally at my other blog, BmoreinUtah.com, but since it’s a book review of sorts I thought I’d re-post here.
Anyone that’s been intrigued by our recent mission might want to check out Vegetarianism, by Colin Spencer. It’s a comprehensive history of the non-meat diet.
I really enjoyed his discussion of our early evolution, though the book bogged down as he described every historical religious sect and their dietary quirks. It’s a long, thick book, but it would be worth picking up just to read the introduction, the chapter introductions, and some of the good bits, like about the Renaissance.
I differ with Spencer on certain points, and unless you’ve already read a lot about the nutritional value of vegetables, his calling it the most healthy diet will not be well-enough explained for most stubborn meat eaters.
What I enjoyed most is his very even-handed approach. He notes that vegetarians have always claimed their diet makes them more peaceful and less barbaric, but that the recent example of Hitler has done away with that idea. He also points out when vegetarians (and others) of the past were malnourishing themselves through misunderstandings. Both of these facts made me trust him more as a writer.
The bold personalities that rebelled against society to become vegetarians throughout the ages were great characters, and I understand he’s got a shorter book focusing on them, which might be worth picking up for fun.