Navigation bar--use text links at bottom of page.

England, 1875: A Vegan, a Fruitarian, and Opposition to Animal Experimentation

by Thomas E. Billings

Plain text below from Newman (1875) is out-of-copyright in the U.K. and U.S.
Copyright 2011: All other text on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Credit Beyond Vegetarianism,, when sharing this page.
Creative Commons License





A search on Google Books for prior uses of the exact phrase “Beyond Vegetarianism” - the name of this web site - yielded an article by Francis William Newman, published in at least one magazine in England in 1875 that discusses:


  1. An individual following what we now call a vegan diet. (The word vegan did not exist in 1875; the term was first used in 1944 - see Vegan Society U.K. (2010) for background.)
  2. An individual following a fruitarian diet.
  3. Concerns about the ethics of dairy products.
  4. Animal rights (implicit) and criticism of using animals in sports and for scientific experimentation.


Relevant excerpts from the article are provided below. For the most part, the text below is as-published, with only minor edits to correct punctuation and a few explanatory notes inserted, designated by square brackets [  ]. Some of the language is dated, and some of the technical claims made below are now known to be incorrect. The material is presented here for historical purposes only.


Source citation:


Article title: Vegetarianism

Author: Francis William Newman

Periodical:  Fraser's magazine, edited by Thomas Carlyle, volume 11

Date: February 1875

Pages: 156-172

Imprint: London; Longmans, Green, and Co.


See appendix for additional details, alternate sources, and URLs for free access to full text.


Text from Newman (1875, pp. 157-158):

[A vegan, a fruitarian, and concerns re: dairy products]


“With such complexity in the questions concerned, there is evidently room for great variety in the details of vegetarian practice. We might expect, what indeed we find, a few vegetarians rigid in the extreme. The late Mr. George Dornbusch, of Threadneedle Street, went even beyond vegetarianism. He not only abstained from all the received animal foods—from everything that had had animal life, and from eggs, milk and its products, but from every form of vegetable grease or oil, from the chief vegetable spices, such as pepper and ginger, and emphatically from salt. The present writer, in a long conversation with him, entirely failed of discovering, beyond the argument that salt is a mineral, any other ground for these abstinences than that they agreed best with him. He took only two meals in the day, and could boast of unbroken health in very continuous business. On one remarkable occasion he was assailed in the street by an escaped lunatic, who stabbed him in twenty-three places. He went into the first chemist's shop [pharmacy or drug store, in U.S. English], and got his wounds bound up. Loss of blood caused him much weakness, forcing him to be absent from business for a fortnight [2 weeks]; but he wanted no medical advice, nor any drugs: every wound healed easily, and he -was soon perfectly recovered. Finally, through too much trust in the strength of his constitution, he exposed himself unwisely to cold when already suffering from bronchitis, and the hot bath [possibly hydrotherapy, popular at the time] did not save him from being carried off in the midst of vigorous life. Another gentleman informed me, that without knowing that there was a Vegetarian Society in England, or being acquainted with anyone who followed their tenet, he once lived for three years on fruits only, and is convinced that at no time in his life was he so strong; but he gave it up from the inconveniences of the practice. A few vegetarians (only a small fraction of those known) abstain from milk and eggs as severely as from beast, bird, and fish; some, from the desire to carry a principle through so completely as to avoid all cavil [unnecessary criticism]; others, from the consideration that so long as there is a demand for milk, male calves and oxen will be killed for the table, and probably the cows also before they pass middle age.”


Text from Newman (1875, pp. 162-163):

[Concerns re: use of dairy and eggs in vegetarian diets]


“It is generally imagined, that in vegetarian cookery great quantities of milk and eggs are necessarily used. This is a gross mistake; and some vegetarians do not use these articles at all. Still, it is unfortunate, that when they are not entirely renounced it is always open to opponents to assert that they are inordinately used; and this often is asserted very broadly, though without any attempt at proof—proof and disproof being alike difficult. The assertion springs out of two erroneous assumptions, (i) that there is in every vegetarian a craving after the nitrogenous element supplied by the lean of meat, by milk and by eggs; (2) that the supply cannot be obtained from purely vegetarian food. The second error ought not to be made in the present state of science. For more than twenty years it has been notorious, and conceded beyond controversy, that the gluten of wheaten brown bread and of barley is chemically identical with albumen [same as albumin: protein present in blood plasma, eggs]; that is to say, with the substance of flesh meat; also that beans, peas, and lentils are richer in nitrogen than is lean beef itself. The purest vegetarian does not need to suffer from any deficiency of nitrogenous food, and vegetarians in general steadily deny that they have any craving for such food. Indeed, it has been in more recent years ascertained that the nitrogenous or flesh-forming element is of immensely less importance than the heat-giving element, for the latter is that which gives vital force. If a man works very hard, he somewhat wears away the muscular tissues, on which account he needs a little more of albumen ; but the exhaustion of vital force is by far the graver drain upon him, and even when we work least, there must be large expenditure of the latter kind. Starchy and oily substances supply heat and force; and these substances abound in the vegetable world. If any vegetarians are extravagant in milk and eggs, it is not from any craving of their stomachs, but from excess of zeal or ignorance in their cooks. In every house of moderate wealth the cook likes to make her dishes highly palatable, and will probably be lavish in the use of these popular delicacies, unless steadily checked by the mistress. To the present writer, ever since he has adopted vegetarian practice, it has been matter of conscience not to increase his use of eggs and milk—of milk especially; because to make a run on it, involves all the same evils as to make a run on butchers' meat. In fact, if any one can reconcile himself to the use of oil in cookery, there is no difficulty whatever; otherwise there is probably a necessary increase in the use of butter in preparing vegetables when other animal fats are refused. Different vegetable oils have, no doubt, different flavours, and a little more experience will teach us how, by a slight addition of vegetable acid or of some savoury herb, any taste of an oil offensive to an individual may be corrected. Skim-milk, buttermilk, and cheese retain the nitrogenous element; hence, added to potatoes or bread, they make very complete human food. In buying up the country butter, the towns do not rob the rustics quite so cruelly as when they take the milk itself; still it is very inexpedient and essentially unfair. If vegetarians are to hold up a noble and profitable example to others, they must not only jealously restrict their own consumption of milk and its products, but ever be aiming to lessen it.”


Text from Newman (1875, pg. 171):

[Implicit animal rights and opposition to use of animals in sports and for scientific experimentation]


“I may now briefly touch on the Third great topic of this argument —our right over the lives of animals. A new religion on this very point is rising on the world of Europe, and not a day too early. In the last thirty years a most sensible and very significant change may have been noticed among ourselves by all who are not young, in the rapidly increasing disgust, or even horror, at all mangling of animals for sport. A recent burst of indignation against it seemed to pervade our literary and our middle classes, and was so echoed in the press as sensibly to be felt in high quarters. Nearly all this cruelty of sport Vegetarians now trace to the bare fact, that we feed on animals: for we are full a century past the time when educated Englishmen could enjoy a fight between two fierce beasts, or between a man and a bull. We now reserve our cruelties almost entirely for the gentle birds and beasts, which we think nice to eat; and, the moment we resolve to eat them, no mangling of them in trial of our skill or of a new weapon seems to touch our heart as cruel. And, strange to say, when the common conscience cries out in indignation against men who, in the gratification of scientific curiosity, inflict exquisite torture on animals as sensitive as ourselves, the men of science fling back the stone, and declare that all the tortures they have inflicted from the time of Galen [Greek physician and scholar, born AD 129, physician to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius] is less than a single week perpetrates in the London shambles! A calf, killed in the style which, from time immemorial, has been orthodox with the English people, is said to suffer as much as a man suffers from death by crucifixion—though why the two forms of death should be compared, is not in itself clear.”





Full text of the source article is available, free to all at the URL listed in the Appendix. Readers are encouraged to read the full text, as the original article addresses other topics that may be of interest.



Appendix A: source details


Additional information on main source article:


Fraser's magazine is the new title/new series of the magazine issued as Fraser's magazine for town and country in the period 1830-1869. Full text of the source article is freely available via Google books at the URL:


Alternate sources:


The same article (or a version/excerpt thereof) was also published in 1875 in The Garden: an illustrated weekly journal of gardening in all its branches. At the time this is written (June 2010), full text is not available on Google Books for this citation. See:


The source article was republished in the 1883 book, Essays on Diet, by Francis William Newman, full text of which is also available on Google Books:


Note: the URLs above work as of June 2010. However, they will not be maintained/updated. If they do not work for you, do an Advanced Search on Google Books for the exact phrase “beyond vegetarianism” in the period 1830-1900, to find all references:


Appendix B: context of the date, 1875


A careful reading of the excerpts suggests that some of the material refers to events before 1875. For clarity and precision, the title phrase: “England, 1875” refers to the date of publication, not the date when the events discussed in the article occurred.


Additional references:


Vegan Society (U.K.) 2010, web page: History, URL:



--Thomas E. (Tom) Billings

Before writing to Beyond Veg contributors, please be aware of our
email policy regarding the types of email we can and cannot respond to.

Back to Waking Up from the Fruitarian Dreamtime

   Beyond Veg home   |   Feedback   |   Links