The Vegetarian Society is a British registered charity established on 30 September 1847 to "support, represent and increase the number of vegetarians in the UK."[1]


In the 19th century a number of groups in Britain actively promoted and followed meat-free diets. Key groups involved in the formation of the Vegetarian Society were members of the Bible Christian Church, supporters of the Concordium, and readers of the Truth-Tester journal.[2]

Bible Christian ChurchEdit

The Bible Christian Church was founded in 1809 in Salford by Reverend William Cowherd after a split from the Swedenborgians. One distinctive feature of the Bible Christians was a belief in a meat-free diet, or ovo-lacto vegetarianism, as a form of temperance.[3][4]

Concordium (Alcott House)Edit

The Concordium was a boarding school near London on Ham Common, Richmond, Surrey, which opened in 1838. Pupils at the school followed a diet completely free of animal products, known today as a vegan diet. The Concordium was also called Alcott House, in honor of American education and food reform advocate Amos Bronson Alcott.[2]

Truth-Tester and Physiological Conference, 1847Edit

The Truth-Tester was a journal which published material supporting the temperance movement. In 1846 the editorship was taken over by William Horsell, operator of the Northwood Villa Hydropathic Institute in Ramsgate, Kent. Horsell gradually steered the Truth-Tester towards promotion of the 'Vegetable Diet'. In early 1847 a letter to the Truth-Tester proposed formation of a Vegetarian Society. In response to this letter, William Oldham held what he called a "physiological conference" July 1847 at Alcott House. Up to 130 attended, including Bible Christian James Simpson, who presented a speech. The conference passed a number of resolutions, including a resolution to reconvene at the end of September.[2]

Ramsgate Conference, 1847Edit

On September 30, 1847 the meeting which had been planned at the Physiological Conference took place at Northwood Villa Hydropathic Institute in Ramgate.[5] Joseph Brotherton, Member of Parliament for Salford, and a Bible Christian chaired. Bible Christian James Simpson was elected president of the society, Concordist William Oldham elected treasurer, and Truth-Tester editor William Horsell elected secretary.[6] The name 'Vegetarian Society' was chosen for the new organization by a unanimous vote.[5]

After RamsgateEdit

The Vegetarian Society's first full public meeting was held in Manchester the following year. In 1853 the Society already had 889 members. In 1897 its membership was about 5,000.[7]

Current workEdit

In the 20th century, the Society's work became geared primarily towards the provision of advice and education to individuals, educational establishments and community groups. The Vegetarian Society also acts as a pressure group with the aim of influencing food producers to remove non-vegetarian ingredients such as gelatine or cheese produced using animal rennet from their products. Manufacturers can apply for their products to be accredited with the Society's trademarked seedling symbol, which has strict criteria,[8] including the use of free range eggs, which other V symbols may not include. They also campaign strongly against the labelling of products containing fish as vegetarian, (particularly by restaurants) and negatively highlighting celebrities who claim to be vegetarian but eat fish. The Society also maintains a regularly updated list of products which are not vegetarian.

Notable membersEdit

Notable members of the Vegetarian Society have included Peter Cushing, Isaac Pitman, Jorja Fox, George Bernard Shaw, Keith Lorraine, and Paul, Linda. Stella McCartney and Mahatma Gandhi

Other societiesEdit

There are numerous other vegetarian societies in various parts of the world, notably in Australia, New Zealand and the United States though these are not directly linked to the Vegetarian Society.


  1. Vegetarian Society. The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited. 27 July 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Template:Cite web
  3. Twigg, Julia. (1981). THE VEGETARIAN MOVEMENT IN ENGLAND, 1847-1981 : A STUDY IN THE STRUCTURE OF ITS IDEOLOGY. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. 5.0 5.1 'History of the Vegetarian Society - early history.' Vegetarian Society. The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited. 27 July 2011.
  6. Spencer, Colin. Vegetarianism: A History. Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000. p. 238-246.
  7. Keith Thomas (1984) Man and the natural world changing attitudes in England 1500-1800, p. 297.

External links Edit

Bibliography Edit

  • James Gregory, Of Victorians and vegetarians: the vegetarian movement in nineteenth-century Britain. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84511-379-7


ru:Вегетарианское общество

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