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Prof. Francis William Newman
President of the Vegetarian Society, 1873-84

VEGETARIAN PIONEER FRANCIS WILLIAM NEWMAN. Carte-de-visite Photograph, by The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, London. A bust-length, 3/4 profile pose.

English scholar Francis William Newman [1805-97] was the younger brother English theologian Cardinal [John Henry] Newman, and the author of a book about him. In religion, he took a position directly opposite to his brother’s, being eager for a religion including whatever is best in all the historical religions. His book Phases of Faith [1853], the best known of his works, was preceded by The Soul [1849]. His other works include a History of the Hebrew Monarchy [1847].

He had withdrawn from Anglicanism in his youth, and went as an unsectarian missionary to Baghdad in 1830, returning to England in 1833 to become a classical tutor at Bristol College. He was a professor at Manchester, New College in 1840, and, from 1846 to 1869, professor of Latin at University College in London. A pioneering and aggressive vegetarian, he was the controversial president of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain from 1873-84. Based in Manchester, the organization had been founded in 1847.

A frequent and spirited lecturer on the subject, he contended that the views held by vegetarians were supported by an examination of man’s digestive organs, and he denied that men could do more work when subsisting on animal food than they could when depending on nutritious vegetables for sustenance, reminding his audience:

“People sometimes forget that there are vegetables and vegetables. There are vegetables that have not so much nutriment in them; but there are others – all the farinaceous foods such as wheat and barley – which contain a greater amount of nutriment than beef or any other animal meat.” In concluding his lectures, he would bear witness to the beneficial effects which a vegetable diet had produced on his own person, and commend its adoption his hearers.

  • Essays on Diet (plain text 352k) by Prof. Francis William Newman (1805-1897) written 1868-76. Pub.1883