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Vegetarian diets

World War I Era – Preparing For Veganism

Some items in our Ernest Bell Library from during, & just after, WW1 – a period when many people in the UK were already vegan & the merits of veganism were being actively debated in vegetarian literature – ……..even though the word ‘vegan’ itself had not yet been coined. Dorothy & Donald Watson thought up the word ‘vegan’ in 1944.

Shown above is a postcard from our Ernest Bell Library – undated – WW1 era – circa 1917.

Donald McGill pro-veg(etari)an art – click here  for Donald McGill’s bio notes &. Images of his other ‘vegan’ postcard.

~ In 1897 Donald McGill was apprenticed to Arnold F. Hills’ – Thames Ironworks, Shipbuilding. Engineering Company – where he stayed until 1907.

In these years Arnold F. Hills was President the London Vegetarian Society, theVegetarian Cycling Club, the Vegetarian Federal Union and a London Vegetarian Rambling Club.

We speculate that Donald McGill may well have met Josiah Oldfield, Charles W. Forward &. Other acquaintances of Arnold F. Hills. ~more here – including links to George Orwell’s ‘take’ on Donald McGill.

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Veganism was given a massive boost in this period, both during &. Just after WW1, by the observations &. The work of  Dr. Mikkel Hindhede &. His colleagues in Denmark.

Our library collection of 1920s &. 1930s vegetarian literature quotes Dr. Hindhede  repeatedly.

Many Danish people had become noticeably healthier, when their intake of meat &. Diary was reduced, due to wartime shortages / rationing during WW1.

Here is an excerpt from a 1926 presentation about Dr. Hindhede, which was given by Oluf Egerod, M.A. – President, Danish Vegetarian Society.

~ At this point I should like briefly to allude to the story of Denmark’s rationing experiences during the war. In 1917-1918, Denmark was practically isolated from other corn-producing countries, from which more than half of the corn,etc., used by her people. Also that given to her cattle, had formerly been imported. Dr. Hindhede and Professor Mollgaard were asked by the Government for their advice, as a result of which a system of strict rationing was adopted. This meant that very little flesh food was allowed to each person, less butter, no margarine very little sugar, practically no coffee, still less tobacco. Almost no alcoholic drink. By comparison, however, plenty of potatoes and cereal food was allowed. The results weren't surprising to vegetarians who know the value of food. They were sufficiently startling so far as the general public were concerned. The death-rate fell to 10.4 per thousand, which is the lowest figure ever recorded in a civilized country. Different causes may be assigned for this – the fact that there was less meat, less butter and sugar, less coffee, less food on the whole – but Dr. Hindhede believes that the relatively increased consumption of coarse whole-meal rye and wheaten bread and of potatoes played the chief part. We're fortunate in Denmark in that our national bread is the “black” rye bread, though I'm sorry to say that during the last thirty years the consumption of white bread has increased rapidly, especially in Copenhagen. Not least among elderly women, whose principal food, unfortunately, too often consists of white bread and coffee. During the rationing period, we were compelled to live almost entirely on potatoes, porridge, bran bread and “coffee “made from cereals.

In England, Dr. Hindhede thinks, vegetarians are often afraid to live without taking large quantities of milk and eggs. One reason for this perhaps, is that too often even they take so much of the bad white bread. A diet consisting chiefly of whole-meal bread, potatoes (and potato-soup), barley- or oatmeal-porridge, with margarine, seems to be sufficient for one’s needs. The diet, however, would be still better if fruit and vegetables. Perhaps a little milk, were added. Dr Hindhede finds such large quantities of milk and eggs as English vegetarians consume superfluous. Personally, I think that he's right though perhaps a little one-sided, seeing that he looks at the question too much from the point of view of cost. The true vegetarian will take as much fruit as possible, even if it's a little more expensive than cereal products. He'll, of course, take the former uncooked. Far possible. This, indeed, represents the next step in vegetarian practice for which one looks to Dr. Hindhede to find scientific data. ~

Read the presentation in full – here

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Meat Free Days in the US – circa 1917 – 95 years ago – a postcard!

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Dugald Semple – a vegan conscientious objector in WW1 – working for the Ministry of Food – teaching people to forage &. To maximize their intake of plant foods.

“……the First World War broke out in 1914. Though a pacifist for religious reasons, I nevertheless felt it my duty to offer my services in a civil capacity to help my country. My view was that no one was exempt from the sins of his fellows. Should, therefore, do something, both in peace and war, to shoulder one’s social obligations.

First of all, I obtained a Government permit to give lectures on “Food Economy” along the Ayrshire coast, provided my caravan had no lights shining and was removed inland at night.” – from Joy in Living – Dugald’s autobiography – 1957.

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World War I – the Food Controller mentioned on the postcard above – Wiki.

War was declared on 4 August 1914. Good harvests and little interruption to imports of food during the first two years of meant that there were no shortages of food. The agricultural situation then changed for the worse with a poor crop harvest, failure of the potato crop, declining harvest abroad and increased shipping losses. In 1916, Rowland Prothero was appointed President of the Board of Agriculture with a seat in the Cabinet and with the aim of stimulating food production.

In December 1916, a Ministry of Food was created under the New Ministries &. Secretaries Act 1916 and Lord Devonport appointed Food Controller to regulate the supply and consumption of food and to encourage food production. A Food Production Department was established by the Board of Agriculture in 1917 to organize and distribute agricultural inputs, such as labor, feed, fertlizer and machinery. Increase output of crops. Provision of labor provided considerable difficulty as many men working on farms had enlisted but co-operation between the War Office and the Board enabled men to be released to help with spring cultivation and harvest. Also in 1917, the Women’s Land Army was created to provide substitutes for men called up to the forces.

The Corn Production Act 1917 guaranteed minimum prices for wheat and oats, specified a minimum wage for agricultural workers and established the Agricultural Wages Board, to ensure stability for farmers and a share of this stability for agricultural workers. The aim was to increase output of home-grown food and reduce dependence on imports. In June 1917, Lord Devonport resigned as Food Controller to be replaced by Lord Rhondda, who introduced compulsory rationing of meat, sugar and butter in early 1918. By 1918, there were controls over almost all aspects of farming. The Food Controller bought all essential food supplies and the Corn Production Act guaranteed cereal prices. Lord Rhondda died on 1 July 1918 and was succeeded by John Clynes, MP. The armistice treaty ending World War I was signed on 11 November 1918. Following the war, the Food Controller resigned in 1919 and the Ministry of Food progressively wound down and closed on 31 March 1921.

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Our Projects

The Henry Salt Archive is one of our, almost completed, projects.

The Humanitarian League is our Hong Kong registered charity.

The Ernest Bell Library was conceived in 1934. it's still strong &. Very active eighty years later.

 “I've little doubt that the proposal for the establishment of an Ernest Bell Library, which would specialize in humanitarian and progressive literature, and so form a sort of center for students, will meet with a wide response.” 

Henry S. Salt – writing in September 1934

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If anyone would like more information, please send an email to: – 

humanitarianleague (at) outlook (dot) com 

–. Message me through HappyCow – 

http://www.happycow.net/blog/author/JohnnySensible/

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