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SALE! Save 40% on UNC Press print books during our American History Sale with discount code 01DAH40. See details.

The Vegetarian Crusade

The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817-1921

By Adam D. Shprintzen

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2652-9
    Published: August 2015
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-0892-1
    Published: October 2013

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Awards & distinctions

A 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Vegetarianism has been practiced in the United States since the country's founding, yet the early years of the movement have been woefully misunderstood and understudied. Through the Civil War, the vegetarian movement focused on social and political reform, but by the late nineteenth century, the movement became a path for personal strength and success in a newly individualistic, consumption-driven economy. This development led to greater expansion and acceptance of vegetarianism in mainstream society. So argues Adam D. Shprintzen in his lively history of early American vegetarianism and social reform. From Bible Christians to Grahamites, the American Vegetarian Society to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Shprintzen explores the diverse proponents of reform-motivated vegetarianism and explains how each of these groups used diet as a response to changing social and political conditions.

By examining the advocates of vegetarianism, including institutions, organizations, activists, and publications, Shprintzen explores how an idea grew into a nationwide community united not only by diet but also by broader goals of social reform.

About the Author

Adam D. Shprintzen is an assistant professor of history at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
For more information about Adam D. Shprintzen, visit the Author Page.


"This unique, readable history of the vegetarian movement in America reveals its deep roots . . . [and] will make fascinating reading for proponents of a healthy lifestyle and students of Americana alike."--ForeWord Reviews

"This well-researched and accessible work is recommended for readers of U.S. social history and for vegetarians interested in knowing that the roots of their movement go deeper than the publication of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation and the founding of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Fans of culinary history books . . . will also find much to love here."--Library Journal

“Shprintzen’s original and probing book offers many ideas for researchers and writers to explore.”--History News Network

“History comes back to life in [The Vegetarian Crusade].”--Chicago Reader

“An excellent overview of the US vegetarian movement. . . [with] lucid, lively prose . . . . Highly recommended. All academic, general, and professional food history collections.”--Choice

“In this lively study Adam D. Shprintzen sidesteps the anecdotal and partisan viewpoints of the popular literature on vegetarian eating to write a focused history of the vegetarian movement in the United States between 1817 and 1921. . . . The Vegetarian Crusade brings to life a riveting collection of notable figures in the meatless subculture.”--Journal of American History

Multimedia & Links

Visit the author's website at

Follow the author on Twitter @VegHistory.

Listen: Shprintzen talks to Liz Covart for the Ben Franklin's World podcast. (8/25/2015, running time 48:09)

Read: In a guest blog post, Shprintzen shows that current NFL athletes sticking to vegan diets are part of a long history of vegetarianism in athletics. Read //'; insert_a11y_toolbar += '

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