38 episodes

In 2016-7, Ian McDonald tells one epic tale - the backstory to today's vegetarian and vegan movements. From the Ganges plain to the hills of New England, from the iron age to the present day, voices challenge the idea that other animals exist soley for humans. Discover philosopher kings, rebel poets, and forgotten heroes in this radio history of vegetarianism.
Stories from vegan perspectives. Great radio that just happens to be vegan. This is The Vegan Option.

The Vegan Option including Vegetarianism: The Story So Far Ian McDonald

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 34 Ratings

In 2016-7, Ian McDonald tells one epic tale - the backstory to today's vegetarian and vegan movements. From the Ganges plain to the hills of New England, from the iron age to the present day, voices challenge the idea that other animals exist soley for humans. Discover philosopher kings, rebel poets, and forgotten heroes in this radio history of vegetarianism.
Stories from vegan perspectives. Great radio that just happens to be vegan. This is The Vegan Option.

    Spillover Diseases: Covid-19 & Zoonoses, with Jonna Mazet and Aysha Akhtar

    Spillover Diseases: Covid-19 & Zoonoses, with Jonna Mazet and Aysha Akhtar

    How does animal exploitation increase the emergence of new diseases? With the world fighting a vicious new pandemic, Ian asks a front-line physician, an epidemiologist, a public health expert and activists about how new diseases spill over from other animals, and how factory farming and the wildlife trade raise our vulnerability. Play or download (42MB MP3 30min) (via iTunes) Contributors: Dr Aysha Akhtar (@DrAyshaAkhtar) Dr Laura-Jane Smith (King’s College Hospital) (@DrLauraJane) Prof Jonna Mazet (University of California Davis)(@JonnaMazet) Peter Kemple Hardy (World Animal Protection) Zoonoses and Vegan Activism You’ve probably heard animal activists linking the Covid-19 pandemic to human treatment of animals well before you listened to my show – part of the reason for doing this show was to give people the information to talk about the link without drifting into hyperbole. For example, “Earthling” Ed Winters famously got a roasting in the UK’s tabloid press for a viral Facebook post in which he blamed half a dozen new diseases on meat-eating. From what I’ve learnt doing the show, it was his categorical certainty that’s wrong rather than his general point (and, arguably, tone). I thought his later video on the subject was more nuanced. Has it Been Three Years?… more

    VegHist Ep 15: Liberation. Veganism, hippies, and the animal rights movement

    VegHist Ep 15: Liberation. Veganism, hippies, and the animal rights movement

    How has western vegetarianism risen, within living memory, from fringe to mainstream choice? And how has veganism gone from nowhere to everywhere? Episode 15: Liberation This final episode recounts the growth of veganism, vegetarianism, and the modern animal advocacy movement. Ian treads in the footsteps of the handful of pioneers who set up the vegan movement in the 1940s, and meets a life vegan born in 1951. He investigates the sixties counterculture that combined the philosophy of ethics, activism, and new ways of living and working, visiting one of Britain’s first vegetarian wholefood co-operatives. And as vegetarian and vegan movements increasingly link up around the world, he looks at developments in China and India. In New Delhi, he meets the vegan politician who is also the most prominent animal advocate in the world’s largest democracy. Play or download (70MB MP3 49min) (via iTunes) or read transcript. Contributors: Dr Samantha Calvert (@SamCalvert) Edwin Cluer, Wimbledon Prof Julia Twigg (University of Kent, Canterbury) Reg Taylor, founder of the precursor of Suma Wholefoods David Jarvis, Les, George, and others, Arjuna Wholefoods Cambridge Dr Vincent Goossaert (Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités), Paris Dr James Staples (University of Brunel, London) Maneka Gandhi (Parliament of India) (People… more

    VegHist Ep 14: Diet Reform. Consumerism, Lebensreform, and Gandhi

    VegHist Ep 14: Diet Reform. Consumerism, Lebensreform, and Gandhi

    In the nineteenth century, in America and Germany, new forms of vegetarianism emerge – from the individualistic consumer vegetarianism of America, to the back-to-nature European “life reform” movement. Episode 14: Diet Reform As animal agriculture industrialises and meat consumption rises, the ways that food reformers respond are familiar to people today – the plant-based meat, the celebrity athletes, and the reformers who worship nature, sunshine, and fresh air. Ian goes to the shops to discover just how many vegetarian staples he owes to pioneers like John Harvey Kellogg. In Sabarmati, northwest India, he visits the Ashram of Mahatma Mohandas K Gandhi. Play or download (62MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes) or read transcript Contributors: Dr Adam Shprintzen, (Marywood University, Scranton PA) (@VegHistory) Dr Julia Twigg (University of Kent) Megha Todi (on Instagram) (Sabarmati Ashram Archives) Ramachandra Guha (ramachandraguha.in) (@Ram_Guha) (on Wikipedia) Vegetarian area at the Chicago World’s Fair Advertisement for Kellog’s “Sanitarium” Eden makes jams and fruit juices. An Edener begs socialist vegetarian intellectual Magnus Schwantje not to send books that would get them into trouble with the Nazis At Sabarmati Ashram Gandhi would read and spin here, in Sabarmati Readings Ellen White, vision, from “A Brief History of Seventh-Day Adventists”,… more

    VegHist Ep 13: The Vegetarians. Abolitionism, colonialism, and Victorian reformers; with Julia Twigg and Bhaskar Chakraborty. In London

    VegHist Ep 13: The Vegetarians. Abolitionism, colonialism, and Victorian reformers; with Julia Twigg and Bhaskar Chakraborty. In London

    In the late nineteenth century, the new vegetarian movement is intertwined with other struggles – including Victorian reformers, the Indian reaction to British colonialism, and most importantly, slavery. Episode 13: The Vegetarians After their foundation in 1847 and 1850, the vegetarian societies in Britain and America rose swiftly faced new challenges. Dr Adam Shprintzen, author of the history of US vegetarianism “Vegetarian Crusade, tells Ian how the American Vegetarian Society poured its energies into an anti-slavery vegetarian settlement in the Wild West. And how its founder, Englishman Henry Clubb, ultimately took a bullet for the union in the Civil War. Under British rule, Hindu vegetarianism faced a mix of threat and opportunity. In India, Ian meets historians DN Jha, Burton Cleetus, and Bhaskar Chakraborty, who explain how, faced with rule by distant Christians, vegetarianism became more important as a marker of caste and identity. Ian also sets off on a cycle tour of vegetarian Victorian London, and talks to the first modern academic to study vegetarian history – Dr Julia Twigg. Play or download (58MB MP3 41min) (via iTunes) or read transcript Illustration of the Central Vegetarian restaurant, where Mohandas discovered the London Vegetarians. Vegetarian meal, The Holborn Restaurant Contributors:… more

    VegHist Ep 12: Radicals & Romantics. Bible Christians, Grahamites, and Transcendentalists

    VegHist Ep 12: Radicals & Romantics. Bible Christians, Grahamites, and Transcendentalists

    In the 1800s, overlapping circles of utopians, mystics, and romantics in both Europe and America develop arguments against meat until “vegetarianism” finally becomes a real movement. Episode 12: Radicals & Romantics In the aftermath of the American and French revolutions, the sects and philosophies that embrace a “vegetable diet” multiply – from ecstatic cult to puritan crusades, to utopian community to public-spirited congregation. No longer are they isolated groups – they connect with each other in books, magazines, and letters. Until a single word catches on – “vegetarianism”. In the United States of America, Ian discovers the the vegetarian sword and shoes of a 1790s “free love” vegetarian sect in a local Massachusetts museum, and visits the failed vegan commune where Louisa May “Little Women” Alcott lived as a child. And in Salford, NW England, he walks in the footsteps of a nineteenth century vegetarian church, with local historian Derek Antrobus and the vegetarian history specialist Dr Samantha Calvert. It’s a story that also takes in the French bohemian “cult of the bearded men”, the man who invented the modern idea of Robin Hood, the woman who invented Frankenstein and his creature, Sylvester Graham, and, finally, the creation of modern… more

    VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility

    VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility

    When printing lets ordinary people access a world of ideas, including Indian vegetarianism, some European radicals and diet gurus begin to oppose meat-eating. Episode 10: Revolution In England, the 1600s are a century of revolution. The artisans and yeomanry are picking up books – and the New Model Army is picking up pikes and muskets to turn the world upside down. Ian meets Dr Ariel Hessayon, a lecturer in the radicals of the English Civil War at a Thameside pub that was there during the 1600s, to discover tabloid scares and firebrand sermons about people who ate only bread, and water and fruit. In Ahmedabad, India, he visits the kind of animal hospital that astounded European travellers. And he hears from author Tristram Stuart about the impact stories of India had on Europeans, and how they shook Christendom’s moral certainty. Dr Anita Guerrini researches the first vegetarian diet gurus, whose books about food and medicine interpreted the intellectuals of the Republic of Letters for everyone else. And she tells Ian about the secret religion of Sir Isaac Newton. Play or download (62MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes) or read transcript Contributors: Sherwin Everett and Giraben Shah (Jivdaya Charitable Trust, within Panjrapole… more

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
34 Ratings

34 Ratings

Nate-M-Seattle ,

Fascinating Series. Highly enjoyed!

It figures that just when I find this pod, it has long seen it’s last days. I really loved the stories and format. The journalistic/documentary styling is well crafted. I still listen to repeats, particularly the history-of timeline.

Someone other than Joey ,

Fascinating and well done

Please keep it coming!

Larkpench ,

Outstanding research.

It is easy to think of vegetarianism as a 20th Century trend, or more precisely, something particularly rooted in the Aquarian Age and later. In this podcast, Mr. McDonald winds his way through the long history of abstention from animal products, the motivations of early vegetarians, interviewing many interesting people on the way.

This is quite produced and well-written and well-worth anyone's time, whether you are a vegetarian (or vegan) or not.

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