On July 4th our country celebrates its 239th birthday. At times like this many folks become historically minded, so we thought that we celebrate some of the famous vegetarians in American history. Some stereotypes about vegetarians suggest that the vegetarian choice is some new fangled thing that sprung up in the 60’s somewhere, but the truth is that the veg-movement has been with the good old US of A from the every beginning. Here are just two examples of great Americans making a wise and delicious choice.
Founding father Benjamin Franklin leads the list. Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a leading author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment, and in the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, and a carriage odometer. He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university.
Franklin himself explains how he first became a vegetarian. “When about 16 Years of Age, I happen’d to meet with a Book, written by one Tryon, recommending a Vegetable Diet. I determined to go into it.” He seems to have been pleased with the results when he says “My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chided for my singularity, but, with this lighter repast, I made the greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension. Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.”
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus spurred a city-wide boycott. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP’s highest award. In 1999, Time magazine named Rosa Parks one of the 20 most influential people of the 20th century.
Rosa Parks maintained a vegetarian lifestyle until she passed away in 2005. “I have been a vegetarian for a few years. It was not hard at all to not eat meat. [Becoming a vegetarian] was something I wanted to do,” she said. Among her favorite vegetables were broccoli, greens, sweet potatoes and string beans.