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The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A.

above: the front cover of the 1st edition reprint, c.1897.

below: buy the modern reprint
, with a foreword by Carol J. Adams:


for more extracts with the addition of 20th century philosophers see:


The original history of vegetarianism.

First appeared, from 1878, as a series of articles in The Dieteic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger, the monthly journal of The Vegetarian Society.

First published in book format in 1883: London: F. Pitman, 20, Paternoster Row : John Heywood, 11, Paternoster Buildings. Manchester: John Heywood, Deansgate and Ridgefield.

Some time after 1887 the 1st edition was reprinted and an an appendix added.

1892 - Russian version with a Foreword by Tolstoy - his essay 'The First Step", see below.

Expanded and revised edition 1896, retitled: The Ethics of Diet, A Biographical History of the Literature of Human Dietetics, From the Earliest Period to the Present Day - this absorbed the appendix into the main body, added more people and removed a couple.

Abridged edition 1907. Modern reprint 1995 - see right.

There is no complete scan available, so the full text is being added here as a compilation of the two earlier editions, with some sections separated and rearranged in the correct chronological order (some were printed out of sequence in the original):

    Preface - from the first edition, 1883
    The First Step - by Leo Tolstoy, originally written as the preface to the Russian edition of 1892.

  1. Hesiod Eighth Century B.C. (with into on Orphic Communities) - Works and Days quoted [extra section in appendix of 1st edition]
  2. Sakya Muni/Siddartha/Buddha 590-510 (?) B.C. [added to 1896 edition - section in appendix of 1st edition]
  3. Pythagoras 570-470 B.C. (in Hierokles, Diogenes, Iamblichus, Porphyry and Cocchi) noticed and quoted. [extra section in appendix of 1st edition]
  4. Empedokles Circa 450, B C. [added to 1896 edition]
  5. Plato 428-347 B.C. Republic ii; Laws, quoted
  6. Asoka, Emperor of India 250 B.C. [added to 1896 edition]
  7. Ovid - Pubius Ovidius Naso 43 B.C. - 18 A.D. Metamorphoses, xv; Fasti, iv, quoted [extra section in appendix of 1st edition]
  8. Lucius Annaeus Seneca Died 65 A.D. Epistoloe ad Lucilium; De Clementia; De Vita Beata; De Ira; Questiones Naturales, quoted
  9. Apollonius of Tyana c.3 B.C. - c.97 A.D. Life by Philostratus, quoted and referred to
  10. C. Rufus Musonius (1st Century A.D.) in Anthologion of Stobæus, quoted by Professor Mayor [from appendix in 1st edition]
  11. Plutarch 40-120 A.D. (?) Essay on Flesh-Eating; Symposiacs; Parallel Lives quoted
  12. Tertullian - Quintus Septimus Florus Tertillianus 160-240 (?) A.D. De Jejuniis Adversus Psychicos, quoted
  13. The Early Christian Church
  14. Clement of Alexandria - Titus Flavius Clemens Died 220 (?) A.D. Pœdagogus or Instructor, Stromata or Miscellanies, quoted
  15. Porphyry - Porphyrius 233-306 (?) A.D. (includes comments on Plotinus and the Essenes) On Abstinence; Life of Pythagoras, quoted
  16. Emperor Julianus 331-363 A.D. Misopogon (Beard Hater) noticed
  17. St. John Chrysostom 347-407 A.D. Homilies, Golden Book, quoted
  18. Christian and Western Literature 5th Century to 16th Century

    [separated as part 2 in 2nd edition:]
  19. Luigi di Cornaro 1465-1566 Trattato della Vita Sobria, Amorevole Esprtazione, &c.; Lettera a Barbaro, quoted and referred to
  20. Sir Thomas More 1480-1535 Utopia quoted

  21. Philip Stubbes (pub. 1583)
  22. Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592 Essais quoted
  23. Thomas Moffet M.D. 1553-1604 [from appendix in 1st edition] Health's Improvement quoted
  24. Leonard Lessio 1554-1623 [from appendix in 1st edition] Hygiasticon quoted
  25. Francis Bacon 1561-1626
  26. Pierre Gassendi 1592-1655 Letter to Van Helmont, Ethics, quoted

  27. John Milton 1608-1674 Paradise Lost, v., xi; Latin Poem addressed to Diodati quoted
  28. John Evelyn 1620-1706 Acetaria: On Sallets, quoted
  29. Abraham Cowley 1620-1667 [from appendix in 1st edition] The Garden quoted
  30. John Ray 1627-1705 [dropped from 1896 edition] Historia Plantarum quoted
  31. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet 1627-1704
  32. Thomas Tryon 1634-1703 [from appendix in 1st edition] The Way to Health and Long Life; A treatise on Cleanliness in Meats and Drinks; The Way to Make all People Rich; England's Grandeur; Dialogue between an East-India Brachman and a French Gentleman, &c.
  33. Philippe Hecquet M.D. 1661-1737 [from appendix in 1st edition] De L'Indécence aux Hommes d'Accoucher les Femmes, &c.; Traité des Dispenses du Carême; La Médicine, La Chirugie at la Pharmacie des Pauvres; La Brigandage de la Médicine, &c., referred to an quoted
  34. Bernard de Mandeville M.D. 1670-1733 Fable of the Bees quoted
  35. George Cheyne M.D. 1671-1743 Essay on the Gout; Of Health and a Long Life; English Malady: or, a treatise of Nervous Diseases of all kinds; Essay on Regimen; Natural Method of Curing the Diseases of the Body, and the Disorders of the Mind. Depending on the Body, referred to and quoted.
  36. John Gay 1688-1732 [dropped from 1896 edition] Fables - Pythagoras and the Countryman; The Court of Death; The Shepherd's Dog and the Boy; The Wild Boar and the Ram; The Philosopher and the Pheasant quoted.
  37. Alexander Pope 1688-1744 Pastorals; Essay on Man; The Guardian, quoted
  38. 'Pope's intimate friends' - Dr. John Arbuthnot 1667-1735 Essay Concening Aliments referred to; Dean Jonathan Swift 1667-1745 Gullivers Travels.
  39. Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield 1694-1773 [from appendix of 1st edition] The World, CXC., quoted
  40. François Marie Arouet de Voltaire 1694-1778 Essai sur leas Mœurs et L'Esprit des Nations; Dictionnaire Philosophique (Art. Viande); Princesse de Babylone; Lettres d'Amabed à Shatasid; Dialogue du Chapon et de la Poularde, quoted & referred to
  41. Antonio Cocchi M.D. 1695-1758 Del Vitto Pithagorico Per Uso Della Medicina, quoted

  42. James Thomson 1700-1748 The Seasons quoted
  43. Soame Jenyns 1704-1787 [from appendix in 1st edition] quoted
  44. David Hartley M.D. 1705-1757 Observations on Man, quoted
  45. George Louis Le Clerc de Buffon 1707-1788 Histoire Naturelle, quoted & referred to
  46. Karl von Linné 1707-1778 Amœnitates Academicœ, quoted
  47. Albrecht von Haller M.D. 1708-1777 quoted
  48. Jean Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778 De l'inégalité Parmi les Homme; Emile; Julie: ou la Nouvelle Héloise; Confessions; referred to and quoted
  49. John Hawkesworth 1715-1773 Edition of Swifts Works, Adventurer, quoted and referred to
  50. 'Practical witnesses to this period' - late 18th century - Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790 Autobiography, referred to; John Howard 1726-1790 Life of, referred to; Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772 referred to; John Wesley 1703-1791 referred to.
  51. Adam Smith 1723-1790 The Wealth of Nations, quoted
  52. Oliver Goldsmith 1728-1774 [added to 1896 edition]
  53. John Oswald 1730-1793 The Cry of Nature, quoted
  54. William Cowper 1731-1800 The Task, quoted
  55. Jean Baptiste Pressavin b.1734 [from appendix in 1st edition] L'Art de Prolonger la Vie et de Conserver la Santé, quoted
  56. Bernardin St. Pierre 1737-1814 Paul et Virginie, Etudes de la Nature, quoted
  57. Edward Gibbon 1737-1794 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, xxvi, quoted and referred to
  58. William Paley 1743-1805 Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy quoted
  59. Jeremy Bentham 1749-1832 [from appendix in 1st edition] quoted
  60. Sir John Sinclair 1754-1835 [from appendix in 1st edition] The Code of Health and Longevity, quoted
  61. Johann Friedrich Schiller 1759-1805 [from appendix in 1st edition] Das Eleusische Fest; Alpenjäger, quoted
  62. George Nicholson 1760-1825 On the Conduct of Man to Inferior Animals ; The Primeval Diet of Man, quoted
  63. Joseph Ritson 1761-1830 Abstinence from Animal Food : a Moral Duty, quoted
  64. Christian Wilhelm Hufeland M.D. 1762-1836
  65. John Abernethy M.D. 1763-1831 - Surgical Observations on Tumors, quoted
  66. William Cowherd 1763-1816 noticed
  67. William Lambe M.D. 1765-1847 Additional Reports on Regimen, referred to and quoted
  68. Sir Richard Phillips 1767-1840 Golden Rules of Social Philosophy; Medical Journal (July 27, 1811); Dictionary of the Arts of Life and Civilisation, quoted and referred to
  69. John Frank Newton 1770-1825 The Return to Nature quoted and referred to
  70. Jean Antoine Gleïzès 1773-1843 Thalysie : ou la Nouvelle Existence : Les Nuits Elysienne, &c. quoted
  71. William Metcalfe M.D. 1788-1862 Essay on Abstinence from the Flesh of Animals; Moral Reformer; American Vegetarian and Health Journal, &c, noticed
  72. Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860 Fundament des Moral (Le Fondement de la Morale); Parrerga and Paralvpomena quoted and referred to.
  73. George Gordon, Lord Byron 1788-1824 [from appendix in 1st edition] Life, Letters, and Journals, by Moore, and Poems
  74. Thomas Forster M.D. 1789-1860 Philozoa &c, quoted
  75. Alphonse de Lamartine 1790-1869 Mémoires; La Chute d'un Ange, quoted
  76. Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822 Queen Mab and Note; The Revolt of Islam, quoted
  77. Sylvester Graham M.D. 1794-1851 The Science of Human Life, referred to and quoted
  78. Jules Michelet 1797-1874 La Bible de l'Humanité; La femme; L'Oiseau, quoted

  79. Georg Friedrich Daumer 1800-1875 Anthropologismus und Kriticismus; Enthullungen über Kaspar Hauser, referred to and quoted
  80. Justus von Liebig 1803-1873 Chemische Briefe, referred to and quoted
  81. Gustav Von Struve 1805-1870 Mandaras' Wanderungen; Das Seelenleben; Die Pflanzenkost, quoted
  82. Other Propagators in Germany
  83. Richard Wagner 1813-1882 [added in 1896 edition]
  84. Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 [added in 1896 edition]
  85. Anna Kingsford 1846-1888 [added in 1896 edition]

From M. K. Gandhi : An Autobiography or The story of my experiments with truth:

[Part I. Chap. 15, refers to 1890 in London] My faith in vegetarianism grew on me from day to day. Salt's book whetted my appetite for dietetic studies. I went in for all books available on vegetarianism and read them. One of these, Howard Williams' The Ethics of Diet, was a 'biographical history of the literature of humane dietetics from the earliest period to the present day'. It tried to make out, that all philosophers and prophets from Pythagoras and Jesus down to those of the present age were vegetarians. [Gandhi wrote this 35 years later, in 1925, and his memory was a little confused, as Williams does not of course try to make any such claim, and makes no specific mention of Jesus at all. Gandhi accurately quotes the subtitle of the 2nd edition, but this was not published until 1896, so not the one he was reading in 1890! ]

[Part I. Chap. 19] I once went to Ventnor [on the Isle of Wight] with Sjt. Mazmudar. We stayed there with a vegetarian family. Mr. Howard [Williams], the author of The Ethics of Diet, was also staying at the same wateringplace. We [had] met him, and [had] he invited us to speak at a meeting for the promotion of vegetarianism. [This refers to May 1891 when Gandhi was a very nervous speaker at a national vegetarian conference in Portsmouth, he would have gone across to the Isle of Wight afterwards.]