The Lost Society
Scotland now has its own parliament, but from the veggie viewpoint
it lacks something it had a hundred years ago - its own vegetarian society.
by Leah Leneman
The first vegetarian restaurant in Scotland was the 'Garden Restaurant'
at 17 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, started in 1892 by A J Hardy Moffat.
After it opened, Ernest C. Clark (from Manchester, but resident in
Glasgow), Secretary of the Scottish Food Reform Society, suggested
that the time was ripe to establish a society. On November 23 1892 it
was resolved that the name of the new society should be the Scottish
Vegetarian Society. H.S.Bathgate was elected President and served until
1929 (after which he served as Honorary President). John Barclay,
the first Honorary Secretary, was a keen athlete who won a number of
prizes before leaving Scotland for Jamaica. John P.Allen was Secretary
fro 1897 until the 1930s.
In February 1893 the first vegetarian banquet in Scotland was held
at the 'Garden Restaurant', attended by sixty and by this time the city
boasted another vegetarian establishment, the 'Eden Restaurant', which
hosted 'a model vegetarian dinner' in April 1893, attended by over a
Membership numbers were never high: during the first year of the society's
existence it had only nineteen, and as late as 1933 it was still under
300. However, the Society produced its own recipe book and held public
meetings - in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Dunfermline particularly
- often bringing in lecturers and cookery demonstrators from the 'parent
society'. Attendance at these meetings averaged 150. John Allen and
his wife helped to run the Vegetarian Society's summer schools at St
Andrews, Melrose and Crieff. Women were always active in The Scottish
Vegetarian Society, and Mrs A S Hunter, of Bridge of Allan, was said
to have been 'one of the greatest pioneers ofr the health of people
that Scotland has ever produced'.
In 1933 Dugold Semple, already well-known in the movement for his many
books on vegetarianism and 'simple living', became President and the
Society went from strength to strength. It celebrated its fiftieth anniversary
during the war in 1942, at a time when it was 'proven that the health
of the nation depends upon a plentiful supply of natural home-grown
foods, and that the food question goes to the root of most social problems.'
So what became of the Scottish Vegetarian Society? It is believed that
in the early 80s it became the Glasgow branch of The Vegetarian Society
of the United Kingdom, and is now just an Information Centre.