I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.

 

A. WHITNEY BROWN

Vegetarians

How Vegetarians Got Their Name 


The obvious answer is 'Because they eat vegetables' (although they don’t only eat vegetables: they may eat fruit, nuts, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and so on). However, most Vegetarian Societies, including the British one (which is the oldest in the world) claim the term comes from vegetus, a Latin word meaning 'whole, sound, fresh, or lively', as in homo vegetus - a mentally and physically vigorous person. The Vegetarian Society was formed on 30th September 1847, at a vegetarian hospital called Northwood Villa in Ramsgate. That meeting voted to adopt the word 'vegetarian', which from that time on rapidly eclipsed all other terms for meat-abstainers.
 
Skeptics say that the vegetus version is a back-formation, which first appeared sometime in the late 19th century, perhaps during a split in the movement in 1888. The London group seceded from the original HQ in Manchester and the Manchester faction’s president was a professor of Latin; it appears that he may have created the vegetus story in order to claim ownership of the word for his faction. The two societies did not reunite until 1969.
 
Doctrinal splits occur quite frequently within the vegetarian movement; things like fish and eggs cause recurring problems. Gandhi served on the UK Vegetarian Society executive committee and recalled one split occasioned by an argument over contraception: Dr Thomas Allinson was ejected from the Society because he resisted attempts by the President, A. F. Hills, to make opposition to contraception a part of the vegetarian creed.
 
The Oxford English Dictionary has 'vegetarian' as first noted in 1839 (i.e., well before the supposed 'invention' of the word in 1847), from the journal of a man living in Georgia, USA. We did ask the Vegetarian Society of the UK for a comment on its continued advocacy of the 'vegetus' hypothesis but didn’t receive a reply. It is odd that the Vegetarians Society should support 'vegetus,' because as far back as 1906 its own magazine debunked the claim, according to the website of the International Vegetarian Union.

Alternative words for people who don’t eat meat include Vegetalists, Phytophagists, Pythagoreans, Anti-creophagists and Vegitans. 

John Cage’s composition 0' 0" (1962) is for chopped vegetables and blender.

Vegans


Woodwork teacher Donald Watson (1910-2005), a Yorkshireman, coined the word 'vegan' in 1944, when he founded yet another breakaway group, to campaign for a much stricter form of vegetarianism. He and his fiancée came up with the word during a 'moment of inspiration': the word is 'the beginning and end of vegetarian.' The new society was called the Vegan Society from the start.

The intention was to use 'vegan' only until someone found a better word, but it stuck and today the Vegan Society has nearly 5,000 members and there are an estimated 300,000 vegans in the UK.

Watson wrote: 'The virtue of having a short title is best known to those of us who, as secretaries of vegetarian societies, have to type or write the word vegetarian thousands of times a year!' 

Bees are basically vegetarian wasps.

A vegan couple’s newborn died after they fed it only soy milk and apple juice. They are currently serving life in prison.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1856-1950)

A mind of the caliber of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows.

The Bagheera kiplingi, spider is the world's only known vegetarian spider (2009) - it eats acacia plants.

Lachanophobia is the fear of vegetables.

J. B. MORTON (1893-1979)

Vegetarians have wicked, shifty eyes, and laugh in a cold calculating manner. They pinch little children, steal stamps, drink water, favour beards.

Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967), the first chancellor of West Germany, invented vegetarian sausages.

Despite being the top carnivore across much of the US, black bears are 90% vegetarian.

Famous Vegetarians


Adam and Eve were vegetarians. God forbade Adam to eat sheep, although after the Flood He made a new covenant with Noah and told him that 'Every living thing that moves will be yours to eat'.
 
Huge arguments rage back and forth about whether or not Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. The truth is that he was plagued by chronic flatulence, for which his doctors regularly recommended a vegetarian diet. He stuck to it pretty well, but nevertheless, his favourite food was Bavarian sausage. 

Vegetarian poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) said 'I conjure those who love happiness and truth, to give a fair trial to the vegetable system.'

ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955)

I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience.

There is no such thing as a vegetarian snake. Snakes eat nothing except other animals.