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History of Vegetarianism - Europe: The Middle Ages to the 18th Century
John Ray (1628-1704)


John Ray

English naturalist. He originated natural botanical classification and the division of flowering plants into monocotyledons and dicolyledons.

Extract from 'Omniverous or Vegetarian' by Professor Luis Vallejo Rodríguez, Spain:

John Ray (1628-1704) was called the father of English Natural History and in his honour a society was founded which carries his name: The Ray Society. According to John Ray: "There is no doubt, that man is not built to be a carnivorous animal". And furthermore he declares:

"What a sweet, pleasing and innocent sight is the spectacle of a table served that way and what a difference to a make up of fuming animal meat, slaughtered and dead! Man in no way has the constitution of a carnivorous being. Hunt and voracity are unnatural to him. Man has neither the sharp pointed teeth or claws to slaughter his prey. On the contrary his hands are made to pick fruits, berries and vegetables and teeth appropriate to chew them."

"Everything we need to feed ourselves and to restore and please us is abundantly provided in the inexhaustible store of Nature. What a sweet, pleasing and innocent sight is a table frugally provided and what a difference from a meal composed of fuming and slaughtered animal meat. In short our orchards offer all the delights imaginable while the slaughter houses and butchers are full of congealed blood and abominable stench."

  • John Ray - from The Ethics of Diet by Howard Williams, 1883