Vegetarian and veganism may look trendy now, but it’s hardly a new fad. There have been many examples of vegetarians throughout history. In fact, some of the most brilliant thinkers going decades and even centuries back stuck to a strict, no meat diet. It might surprise you to learn how many vegetarian historical figures there are.
Many of the ancient philosophers were vegetarian. Pythagoras is credited as the first philosopher in the West to create a lasting vegetarian legacy. Plato and Socrates asserted that the ideal city was a vegetarian city. He believed that meat was a luxury, and it leads to decadence and war.
Leonardo da Vinci, artist and renaissance man, was thought to be a vegetarian because of his love of animals, and his hatred of their suffering. Because of this, some of his biographers have suggested that he kept a strict vegetarian diet
This great Indian thought leader was raised a Vaishnava Hindu, a practice that includes vegetarianism. Though he sometimes drifted away from his family’s teachings, he reaffirmed his commitment to vegetarianism while studying law in England.
Kafka was a great writer, who became a vegetarian for health and ethical reasons. He had little faith in conventional doctors, and preferred to take his health into his own hands with a raw food diet. He also protested vivisection.
Tolstoy was dedicated to nonviolence, which became clear in his writing. As an extension of his non-violent philosophies, Tolstoy stayed away from meat products and animal products. He didn’t like the treatment of animals and believed eating them was immoral. This lead to his friendship with Gandhi
Mary Shelley started the sci-fi genre with the classic Frankenstein. And like many Romantic artists, she followed a meatless diet that paid respect to the beauty of nature. She is quoted as claiming nuts, fruits and berries are sufficient for nourishment.
Einstein was a supporter of vegetarian ideals for a long time, before becoming a vegetarian shortly before his death. In letters to friends, he talked about eating meat guiltily, and believing that it was healthier for humans to eat a plant-based diet. Einstein shows that anyone can make the switch at any time.
Rosa Parks may not have expected that she would change history. But she was a staunch civil rights activist, as well as being a vegetarian for most of her life.
Coretta Scott King was the wife of Martin Luther King, and a staunch defender of non-violence and civil rights, as well as animal rights. As an extension of these non-violent beliefs, Scott King, and her son Dexter is vegetarian.
If you aren't impressed by any one else on this list, Nikola Tesla is sure to surprise you. Not only was this brainiac responsible for the creation of hundreds of electrical devices, he also spoke out against animal cruelty. "Every effort should be made to stop the wanton, cruelty slaughter of animals, which must be destructive to our morals."