Nobel Prize winner 1921
The latest indications we have suggest that Einstein was vegetarian only
for the last year or so of his life, though he appears to have supported
the idea for many years before practising it himself.
"So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but
am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not
born to be a carnivore."
This was from a letter written to Hans Muehsam, and dated March 30, 1954,
which was about 1 year before Einstein died. This indicates he adopted
a vegetarian diet at the end of his life. Previously, on August3, 1953
Einstein had written the following in a letter to Max Kariel, suggesting
that he was still eating meat at that time:
"I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience."
- Einstein Archive 60-058
The above quotes are from: The Expanded Quotable Einstein, collected
and edited by Alice Calaprice. The book flap of Ms. Calaprice's book says:
"Alice Calaprice is a Senior Editor at Princeton University Press,
where she has specialized in the sciences and worked with the Einstein
Papers for over twenty years."
The following quote originated from Ms. Joan Gilbert (USA) who provided
it to Jon Wynne-Tyson (UK) for his book, THE EXTENDED CIRCLE, published
It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical
effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the
lot of mankind. - Letter to 'Vegetarian Watch-Tower', 27 December
David Hurwitz, who contributed the quotes at the top of this page, has
added the following:
Alice Calaprice, has released the latest edition of her collected and
edited quotes by Albert Einstein entitled, "The New Quotable Einstein."
Now there is a solid source for the quote, complete with a document
number in the Einstein Archive.
"Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from
observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to
the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism
for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner
of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would
most beneficially influence the lot of mankind." Translation
of letter to Hermann Huth, December 27, 1930. Einstein Archive 46-756
biography of Einstein says that he was still living in Germany in 1930,
only emigrating to the USA in 1932. It also says that he suffered a health
breakdown in the late 1920s which would be consistent with giving some
thought to his diet, but we have no indications that he actually became
vegetarian himself at this time.
Between 1882 and 1935 the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund (German Vegetarian
Federation) published Vegetarische Warte. The picture on the right
is the cover of the December 15, 1898 issue. An English/German dictionary
translates 'Warte' as: observation point, viewpoint, control room
- it seems likely that this is the 'Vegetarian Watch-Tower' (a slightly
odd translation but quite possible).
The date of the letter and that given to the magazine are identical - December
27, which could suggest that the attribution to a magazine was mistaken
as it would have appeared some time later than the letter. It seems likely
that the magazine printed the date of the letter and that got confused,
with the date of the later magazine.
Hildegund Scholvien, of the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands (re-formed in
1945), has most of the old issues of the Vegetarische Warte. She
sent the following comments:
I tried to find that Einstein quotation in the "Vegetarische Warte",
issue 12, Dez. 1930, but I could not find it. However I do not have
the original magazine, only copies of the articles. The pages are complete,
365-392, only the cover is missing. Maybe the quotation, due to its
importance, was on the front cover.
At that time the president of the Vegetarier-Bund Dr. Gustav Schläger
und Mr. Friedrich Schulenburg were editors of the "Vegetarische
Warte". Mr. Hermann Huth was vice-president of the society.
However: Dr. Schläger was ill and died at the end of November
1930. Therefore it might be possible that Hermann Huth (as vice president)
was the editor of this special issue.
In December 1930 a new board of the Vegetarier-Bund was elected, and
Dr. Bruno Wolff was elected president and editor, Mr. Hermann Huth vice
Unfortunately I don't have issue no. 1 of 1931, so I can't check, whether
the quotation could be in that issue.
These quotes give some insight into other aspects of Einstein's thinking:
"What is the meaning of human life, or, for that matter, of the
life of any creature? To know an answer to this question means to be
religious. You ask: Does it make any sense, then, to pose this question?
I answer: The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures
as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life."
- Mein Weltbild, Amsterdam: Querido Verlag, 1934.
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe',
a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts
and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for
us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few
persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this
prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this
completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part
of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. - New York
Post, 28 November 1972
The following quotes are completely unverified, information about the
sources of any of them would also be useful:
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival
of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
(this looks like a bad translation from German of the one above, we can find no other source for it...)
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions
which differ from that of their social environment. "
"It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil
spirit of man."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worth living!"