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Extracts from some journals 1842-48 - the earliest known uses of the word 'vegetarian'
Compiled by John Davis, IVU Manager and Historian, with help from members of the ivu-history email group

The records below are *all* the early uses we have been able find of the word 'vegetarian' in print, starting in 1842 - and it is very clear that all the earliest are related to Alcott House. There were, of course, many people elsewhere following variations of the 'vegetable diet', but none of them used the V word in any printed material before 1847. Google Books have almost 2,000 volumes using of the complete phrase 'vegetable diet' between 1842-46, compared with just 8 below using 'vegetarian' [see Appendix 1] - all of which can be linked to Alcott House.
[note: the Oxford English Dictionary cites an example of 'vegetarian' from 1839, but this needs further validating - see Appendix 2. If it is genuine then it also appears to link back to Alcott House. For early terms in other languages see Appenidx 3]

The drawing below is from the rear dust jacket of "Search for a New Eden", (link to limited preview on Google Books) by J.E.M. Latham (highly recommended as a full account of everything to do with Alcott House, any otherwise unattributed comments on this page are from this book).

Alcott House was a school on the north side of Ham Common, ten miles south-west of London, midway between Kingston and Richmond. It was opened in July 1838 by James Pierrepont Greaves (1777-1842) who had spent time in Switzerland with the radical educator Pestalozzi (1746-1827). He later read two works about/by Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), of Boston, USA, who had also been studying Pestalozzi's methods The books that Greaves read were 'Record of a School' (link to Google Books) -by Elizabeth Peabody 1835, about Alcott's school; and the first volume of 'Conversations with Children on the Gospels' (link to Google Books) 1836. Greaves was sufficiently impressed to open a correspondence with Alcott in September 1837, and to name his school for him the following year [ The law and method in spirit-culture: an interpretation of A. Bronson Alcott by Charles Lane, 1843, includes the full text of the letter from Greaves to Alcott - link to Google Books ]. Greaves had adopted the 'vegetable diet' in 1817, and Alcott in 1835, the school used it from the outset.

In 1841 the school was re-invented as 'A Concordium, or Industry Harmony College' though the building remained 'Alcott House'. Also in 1841 they began printing and publishing their own pamphlets, which now seem to be lost, but we have the relevant extracts, with the earliest known use of 'vegetarian', from their first journal which began in December 1841:

The Healthian
Vol.1, No.5, April 1842

[The Editor's answer to Barbara's Letter, pp. 31 and 32]
p.34: ... To tell a man, who is in the stocks for a given fault, that he cannot be so confined for such an offence, is ridiculous enough; but not more so than to tell a healthy vegetarian that his diet is very uncongenial with the wants of his nature, and contrary to reason.
p.35: ... At any rate there is generally with vegetarians, and especially fruit eaters, a calmness and even sweetness of temper, and we believe also a clearness of reason, that are highly desirable for humanity, and for health. We esteem this fact of the triple fermentation of vegetables of high importance, and one that, though caught at immediately by the advocacy of the old regime, is of great and irresistible weight in the vegetarian advocacy.

  • The Healthian - April and part of May 1842 (PDF 2.5mb, courtesy of Bill Shurtleff and University of California at Berkeley) The consolidated annual volume was published by W. Strange, London, for Alcott House, they printed the individual issues themselves.

This shows that the word 'vegetarian' was already familiar, at least to readers of the Alcott House journal.

The photo below, and the images of Greaves and Alcott, are from 'Bronson Alcott at Alcott House, England, and Fruitlands, New England (1842-1844) (link to by F. Sanborn 1908

On June 7, 1842, Bronson Alcott arrived from America to stay at Alcott House for the next four months - unfortunately Greaves had died three months earlier, so they never met. When he left at the end of September he took two members of the community, Charles Lane and Henry Gardiner Wright, with him to found a short-lived community near Harvard, MA - Fruitlands. He was joined there by his family, including his 10-year-old daughter, Louisa May.

In the excellent Pedlar's Progress The Life Of Bronson Alcott (link to by Odell Shepard, Boston, 1937, we have, p.336: "It should be clear, then, that Alcott at Alcott House found himself in a maelstrom of reform. When he arrived there he might well have been in some doubt, whether he was a reformer at all, but by the time he came to leave he might have doubted whether he was anything else." - this suggests that the reform of inventing a new word, like 'vegetarian' might have come from those at Alcott House, rather than Alcott himself.

A brief account of the First Concordium, or Harmonious Industrial College - published at the Concordium, 1843 (PDF 419k courtesy of Maynard Clark and Harvard University). This does not use the word 'vegetarian' but makes very clear that the diet is totally plant food. It also goes further objecting to 'cultivating the breed of animals for amusement or use', and excessive consumption of anything - what we now call ethical veganism.

'Letters and extracts from the ms. writings of James Pierrepont Greaves' 1843 (link to 'no preview' on google books) - published by the Concordium. Might be of interest when we get a copy.

When Bronson Alcott visited Alcott House in 1842, one of the people clearly recorded as being present was Dr. William Lambe, back in 1815 he was the author of Water and Vegetable Diet (link to 1850 New York reprint, with later notes, on Google Books) he said on pp.90/91: "My reason for objecting to every species of matter to be used as food, except the direct produce of the earth, is founded as may be seen in my last publication on the broad ground that no other matter is suited to the organs of man, as indicated by his structure. This applies then with the same force to eggs, milk, cheese, and fish, as to flesh meat." Lambe had been part of the Godwin / Shelley / Newton group in London and Bracknell - described by one historian as a 'prototype vegetarian society'.

The Healthian was published and printed irregularly at Alcott House from Dec.1841 to April 1843. It was then replaced by the more regular New Age from May 1843 initially weekly until that summer, then monthly to Dec. 1844.

New Age; Concordium Gazette and Temperance Advocate
Volume 1, 1843/4

No.4 Vol 1.: Saturday May 27, 1843
To the Editor of the New Age. Sir,—Much admiring the principles propounded in the numbers of the Healthian, of which I presume your new Journal, the Concordium Gazette, is a continuation, I am wishful to come to some practical conclusion concerning that department inculcating vegetable diet. Quite convinced of the correctness of the principle in every variety of view, I am yet at a loss for substitutes for animal food - for tea, coffee, butter, eggs, milk,&c., necessarily precluded by the principles of abstinence from all animal or "cooked" food. The experience of those practically acquainted with this subject, would be of essential service to novices in these matters, who find nothing so perplexing or so difficult as the change of their daily habits in these respects. Hoping these few lines may elicit this information, I remain, Sir, yours,
Enquirer. Liverpool, May 9, 1843.

No.5 Vol 1.: Saturday June 3, 1843
VEGETABLE FOOD. In reply to " Enquirer" respecting the natural food for man, we submit the following list of cooked and uncooked articles of a simply and wholesome nature, which are prepared and used without infringing in any manner upon the freedom and life of the animal race: Oatmeal, Barley, Rice, Sago, Tapioca, Peas, Arrow-root, Macaroni, Vermicelli, Kidney-beans, Broad-beans, Green-peas, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Artichokes, Potatoes, Onions, Beet, Parsnips, Carrots, Turnips, Vegetable-marrow, Vegetable-soups, Pea-soup, Sago puddings, Sago and apple puddings baked, Rice and apple puddings baked, Barley and apple puddings baked, Barley and raisins boiled, Rice and raisins boiled, Rice and onions boiled, Peas boiled, Rice and meal boiled. Plum puddings, Fruit puddings, Currant-dumplings, Fruit pies, Vegetable pies, Bread, Biscuits, Lettuce, Mustard and cress, Radishes, Cucumbers, Melons, Apples, Pears, Dates, Raisins, Figs, and a vast variety of delicious and nutricious fruits too numerous to mention. For pie-crusts, use mashed potatoes, or yeast, instead of butter or lard.

The above exchange shows very clearly that their idea of a 'vegetable diet' was 100% plant food.

Saturday July 1, 1843 p.64 [in a letter from Gloucester]: "Like yourselves, I am an epicure, a vegetarian."

Vol 1. No.10 October 1843 p.111 (now monthly instead of the previous weekly)
[.. preamble ..]
Declaration of Members.—I hereby declare that I will abstain from animal food, and promote, by word and example, the objects of the Society for the Promotion of Humanity and Abstinence from Animal Food.
[.. more rules followed ..]

A note in the December 1843 issue states that this Society was formally launched at Alcott House on October 15, but then we have no further record of it. However the wording is significant - whilst it did not use the word 'vegetarian', it was clearly promoting abstention from *all* animal food, not merely 'animal flesh' which appeared a few years later.

In Odell Shepard's 'Life of Bronson Alcott' (see above) we can also clearly see from many references in the book, that Bronson became what we would now call a strict ethical vegan, strongly concerned with animals issues - unlike his his cousin Dr. William Alcott, Sylvester Graham, and others in America who were solely concerned with health matters, and included the use of eggs/dairy etc.

December 1843 p.143: The Philanthropist Howard : A Hydropath. And Vegetarian. [refers to John Howard, prison reformer]
June 1844 p.237: "To our vegetarian friends it may be interesting to hear the remarks on the insalubrity of the chief settlement at Hong Kong,..."

Whilst the word 'vegetarian' appears in all the above, there are continuing references to the 'vegetable diet' and 'vegetable food' - suggesting a vegetarian was a person who followed a vegetable diet - and that was entirely plant food. This is made even clearer in the following extract:

Life and letters of George Jacob Holyoake
Volume 1 Ed. Joseph McCabe; Watt & co., 1908

It was from this Spartan home [Alcott House] that an offer of teaching employment came to him [Holyoake] in 1843. It ran :

"Probably you have heard of a very small community now associating together at Alcott House, Ham Common, Surrey, under the name of Concordium : a sort of industrial college, at this present time, having a printer and printing press, tailors, shoemakers, bakers, gardeners, and other labourers: both sexes associating kindly together as one family, and though not manifesting any great doings as yet, are to be highly commended for their sincere and resolute opposition (in practical habits) to the principles, practices, and manners of the Old Immoral World - reprobating war, slavery, and intemperance, and gluttony, and bigotry, not only in profession by wordy declamation, but by discontinuing and discouraging all habits that tend and lead to the above horrors. The Concordists at Alcott House wish to form a school there, and are desirous to meet with a competent educator, previous to agreeing to receive any more children into the establishment, there being four now there. The diet is exclusively limited to bread-stuffs and farinaceous food and fruits, fresh and dried, of every sort that can be obtained, and all kinds of vegetables, and water is the only drink supplied. Neither milk, butter, cheese, eggs, nor any species of flesh meat, nor animal food : neither tea, coffee, nor any of those artificial stimulants do the Concordists partake of, or supply to others. There are married couples, and parents and children now in the Concordium. The working members receive no wages, but are supplied with lodging, food, clothing, washing, baths, firing, candles, and whatever is needful, for their giving their services to the Concordium. About eight hours daily is the usual average for them to work : eight for sleep : and eight for bathing, recreation, meals, and improvement."

Holyoake had by this time mastered the coyness of the cigar, had vainly tried to rise to the level of vegetarianism, and was fond of tea and other "horrors" of the Old Immoral World.

Holyoake did not take up the appointment and was later critical, though not hostile, see below.

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Vol.II, No.21, Saturday November 18, 1843. London.

p.337 - Reviews: Flowers and Fruits; or Poetry, Philosophy, and Science. By James Elmslie Duncan. [Other sources, below, show that Duncan was a poet for the Concordium, Alcott House, and by 1848 became its secretary.]

.... He is an advocate for vegetable diet. For this he stands up manfully, and as the best interests of society, if he is right, are connected with the adoption of his views on the subject, it may be well to let him speak for himself. After rather an elaborate description of " The breathing, moving wonder—man," he tells us—

"The thousands who have adopted the vegetable and water diet find themselves the better in health for having so done; we are, therefore, warranted in supposing their longevity will be the greater for it. And the greater portion of those celebrated for their extraordinary age have all been, more or less, more than usually temperate and simple in their diet, have approached, more or less, more than usual, in fact, to the vegetarian diet. Thousands of cases in point might be brought forward, but let the following suffice:—Jenkins and Parr were both exceedingly temperate and simple in their diet, they were almost strict vegetarians and 'teetotalers.' And it is well known that it was the opinion of the medical men of the times, from & post-mortem examination of his body, that the latter would have lived much longer than he really did, had he not been absolutely killed by having his own wonted simple diet changed for that of the Court of King Charles II. [continues at some length, referring to 'vegetable diet' etc., but with no further use of 'vegetarian'.]

The Board of Health & Longevity, or Hydropathy for the People
London, 1845
by W. Horsell, V.D.M., I.O.R

p.62: 'vegetarian Bramins';
p.98: '... He is a vegetarian. General T. Sheldon of the United States, also a vegetarian..."
pp.250-252: references in the index to vegetarians: Daniel (Biblical), Dr. (Benjamin) Franklin; Dr. Knight; Gen. Sheldon

In 'Search for a New Eden' (see above) J.E.M. Latham says: "In December 1841 the first hydropathic establishment in Britain had been set up in Alcott House by a German, C. von Schlemmer, who had worked at Graefenberg with Priessnitz, originator of the treatment."

We have nothing by William Horsell before 1845. He signs the Preface from 'Union Chapel, Hayes, Middlesex', which is not far from Ham Common so was very likely a visitor, but makes no direct mention of it in this book. He certainly knew them well by 1847 - In 1846/7 he became director/manager of the newly opened Hydropathic Hospital in Ramsgate, Kent, and by then had also become a editor of the journal which succeeded the New Age. See more below.

The Reporter; or, Phonography adapted to verbatim reporting
By Isaac Pitman, London 1846 (Pitman was the inventor of shorthand)

p.10: This List contains the most useful words and phrases in the English language, amounting to 5,800, which are all that ordinarily occur on general subjects.
p.41: 208. Veterinary surgeon, void, avoid, evade, viewed, vowed, avidity, evident, evidence, vegetable, vegetarian, vacation, avocation, viva voce, vice versa,

Isaac Pitman (later Sir Isaac, 1813-1897) had adopted the vegetable diet himself in the 1830s. He knew James Pierrepont Greaves from before Alcott House School opened and was an occasional visitor there, his 'Pitman Shorthand' was added to the curriculum. His inclusion of 'vegetarian' in his list at this early stage suggests he was keen to promote it. There are earlier books by Pitman, but none include the word 'vegetarian'. He later became a Vice-President of the Vegetarian Society.

The Truth seeker in literature, philosophy, and religion
Volume 2, London, 1846

p.99: By the way, the stolid critics who elevate the Bible into an inspired Culinary Composition, and convert the comparisons and conceptions of the Jewish Sages into the absolute truth of God, have here quite as good an argument against vegetarian diet, as for vinous drink! The Jewish mind represented Wisdom as 'killing her beasts': therefore, the butchering system must be absolutely best!! What says John Smith to this?
[John Smith, 1798-1888, was the author of 'Fruits and Farinacea, the proper food of man' (link to 1845, which has many references to eggs/dairy - but did not use the word 'vegetarian' (he added it to later editions, after 1849), so the London editors of the above journal must have heard it elsewhere. Smith was in Malton, Yorkshire, in the north of England. In 1860 he published a cookbook which was titled 'Vegetarian Cookery', but in 1866, the same book with the same publisher changed to Vegetable Cookery (links to, both included a large section headed 'Animal Foods' ie : eggs/dairy products - but the later one made no mention at all of the word 'vegetarian']

The Reasoner: and 'Herald of progress'
Vol.1 London, June 1846; Edited by G. J. Holyoake

p.23 (from a long article on Shelley) It is somewhat diverting to observe the strange premises seized on by various enthusiasts in support of their eccentric views. The Nairs were Shelley's models of virtue or civilization; Wild Peter was Rousseau's ' pure Child of Nature;' and Lord Monboado's was a true vegetarian. Shelley too, by the by, was a vegetable theorist, but we are disposed to let his soups and jellies alone; our prejudice in favour of roast meat is very stubborn after reading all he has written.

George Jacob Holyoake was closely involved with Alcott House in 1843, but had begun to have significant differences with them by 1844.

There are a couple of other books on Google Books which appear to be from 1846, and using the word 'vegetarian' - but where they only have a 'snippet view' there is no way of checking whether the publication date is correct - and often they are not.

The Truth Tester and the Hydropathic Hospital

In August 1846, William Horsell took over editing The Truth Tester (previously just a temperance journal) and combined it with a revived version of The Healthian, the original Alcott House journal, and The Temperance Advocate which had been part of Alcott House's second journal the New Age (all this now published by Houlston and Stoneman London, the publishers of Horsell's 1845 book) - and now with the combined titele: "The Truth-Tester; Temperance Advocate and Healthian Journal". We have the two volumes from August 1846 through to June1848, after which Horsell replaced it with The Vegetarian Advocate. Alcott House continued to make frequent use of it for their various announcements, and the journal continued to advocate the Alcott House views on diet.

The Hydropathic Hospital at Northwood Villa, Ramsgate, Kent, opened during the winter of 1846/7, with William Horsell as the director/manager - which implies that the food there would have been 'vegan', though we currently have no direct confirmation of that.

In early 1847 there is mention in the Truth Tester of Joseph Brotherton, Member of Parliament for Salford, near Manchester. Brotherton was a member of the Bible Christian Church in Salford, which was founded in 1809 and demanded 'abstinence from the flesh of animals' from its followers. In a later issue James Simpson, a very wealthy industrialist, also of the Salford BCC is mentioned. There is then a reprint of an address given to the BCC two years earlier in 1845 - which did not use the V word. All of this suggests that contact between the London and Salford groups had been rather limited before 1847 - the eventual probable link being Joseph Brotherton who, as MP, would have spent much of his time in London.

We have not been able to find any use of the word 'vegetarian' coming from anywhere other than London before 1847.

For some extracts from the 1846/7 issues, giving all the above, and more uses of the word 'Vegetarian' see: The Truth Tester (MS Word .doc file) and The Truth Tester 1846-48 - a vegan journal (blog)

The Metropolitan Magazine
Vol. XLVIII, January to April, 1847, published by Saunders & Otley, London

(the title page has '1846' - crossed out and changed to 1847 which is consistent with the indexes)
April 1847, pp.403-412:


"A vegetable diet affords the same support as animal food, with the important advantage of preventing plethora."—Dr. Reece's Medical Guide.

" Now I do entreat, Walter," said my mother, as I was taking my departure for a gay sojourn in London,—" I do beg and entreat, that you will not leave town without paying a visit to your Aunt Primitive. She does not live exactly in the metropolis, to be sure: she is still at her pretty little retirement, Evergreen Lodge. Only do make a point of calling upon her, my dear boy."

" Oh, yes! to dine upon cold cabbages and water-gruel," was my jocose reply. " I dare say, indeed."

" Nay, nay," chimed in my father, " you may find yourself mistaken there, Wal. Mrs. Primitive's hospitality has never been questioned, I believe : and though, from choice, she has for many years been a vegetarian, she does not insist upon her visitors following her example."

[a long story follows over ten pages with many uses of the word 'vegetarian']

Howitt's journal of literature and popular progress
Volume 1
, London, June 12, 1847  By William Howitt, Mary Botham Howitt

p.336: Co-operative Excursion.—On Whit-Monday [late May] a number of the members and friends of the Co-operative League, being desirous of connecting rational enjoyment with the spread of their principles, determined to spend the day together, in a rural excursion to the vegetarian establishment, Alcott House, Ham Common, there to commune together on the advantages of cooperation. Those who were able, started early in the morning, and the remainder of the friends continued to arrive during the day. A vegetable dinner, consisting of several kinds of pies, puddings, and fruits, was provided by the proprietors of Alcott House, for such as chose to partake of it, at a trifling cost, and was the subject of considerable amusement; others of the friends whose fleshly appetites could not brook so simple an entert ninment, formed pic-nic parties, or betook themselves to neighbouring places of accommodation.

In early 1847, the Truth Tester, edited by William Horsell, now at the Hydropathic Hospital in Ramsgate, Kent, carried a letter from a reader in Hampshire proposing the creation of a Vegetarian Society. This was followed up by Wm. Oldham, manager of the Concordium, Alcott House, who arranged the first meeting at Alcott House on Thursday July 8, 1847.

The meeting was adjourned to September 30 at Ramsgate, where Joseph Brotherton M.P. was invited to take the chair, and The Vegetarian Society was founded. The first President was James Simpson of the Salford Bible Christian Church (BCC); Secretary Wm. Horsell, Ramsgate; Treasurer Wm. Oldham, Alcott House. Full details of all the above at

The original meaning of 'a vegetarian' at Alcott House was someone following an entirely plant food diet. However the new Vegetarian Society reduced that to : "The objects of the Society are, to induce habits of abstinence from the flesh of animals as food." - which left a lot of things that were not 'flesh', such as eggs/dairy.

The move to ovo-lacto came from the BCC which had no connection with Alcott House until early 1847 - the two probably had very limited contact before that - and the BCC had not been using the word 'vegetarian'. However, with Alcott House struggling, the BCC  took a primary role in the new society, and had the heavyweight political and financial clout to get their version formalised.

As far back as 1829, Mr. Brotherton's wife, Martha, published the first known cookbook for the 'vegetable diet' : 'Vegetable cookery: with an introduction recommending abstinence from animal food & intoxicating liquors' - yet another 'no preview' on google books, but we do have the complete introduction included in Random recollections of the Lords and Commons, Volume 1 (link to google books) By James Grant, 1838. Whilst arguing the benefits of a 'vegetable diet', and against 'animal food' she states: "The gout is also said to be caused, in some degree, by the eating of flesh-meat, and instances are on record of its being cured by a milk diet." We make no defence of that claim, merely noting that she appears to have classed milk as a vegetable.

But this was not merely a reluctant pragmatic acceptance of eggs/dairy, if we go back further to 1818, we have: Facts authentic, in science and religion: designed to illustrate a new tr. of the Bible (link to Google Books) by Rev. William Cowherd, founder of the BCC - published posthumously by Joseph Brotherton who became Pastor after Cowherd's death in 1816. This has no less than 100 references to eggs, milk and honey, all of them positive, and promoting their use with Biblical references such as the promised land "flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8).

See also: extracts from The Truth Tester; Temperance Advocate and Healthian Journal 1847-8 (MS Word .doc file)

The Reasoner
Vol. 74. Wednesday, October 27, 1847, London. Edited by G. J. Holyoake,

p.96: My remarks were merely meant to satirise the foible so prevalent among our vegetarian friends, of complacently imagining that the imbibing of peculiar food endows them with unusual purity and intellectuality.

George Jacob Holyoake was closely involved with Alcott House in 1843, but had begun to have significant differences with them by 1844.

Google Books lists another 'no preview' with a long title: "A few recipes of vegetarian diet: with suggestions for the formation of a dietary, from which the flesh of animals is excluded : accompanied by scientific facts, showing that vegetable food is more nutritive, and more digestible than the flesh of animals." Whittaker & Co., 1847 - the 'flesh of animals' suggests that this was a very early Vegetarian Society publication. It appears to be the same one referenced as 1848 in the 1850 article from 'The British and foreign medico-chirurgical review' below - with large quantities of eggs/dairy in many recipes.

The use of the word 'vegetarian' now expanded as a general adjective for almost anything, as this satirical item shows:

Punch magazine, London , 1848, Vol XIV, p.182


When we noticed, a week or two ago, a banquet of vegetables, we were not aware that a great Vegetarian Movement was going on, with a vegetarian press, a vegetarian society, a vegetarian boarding-house, a vegetarian school, two or three vegetarian hotels, a vegetarian Life Insurance Office, vegetarian letter-paper, vegetarian pens, vegetarian wafers, and vegetarian envelopes.

The Vegetarian Advocate has replied to our article on the late vegetarian banquet, and we must confess that, notwithstanding the very cholera-inducing diet on which the members of the sect exist, the answer is by no means of a choleric character. The Vegetarian Advocate has a delicious vegetable leader, with two or three columns of provincial intelligence, showing the spread of vegetarian principles. There are vegetarian missionaries going about the country inculcating the doctrine of peas and potatoes; and there is a talk of a vegetarian dining-room, where there is to be nothing to eat but potatoes, plain and mashed, with puddings and pies in all their tempting variety.

We understand a prize is to be given for the quickest demolition of the largest quantity of turnips; and a silver medal will be awarded to the vegetarian who will dispose of one hundred heads of celery with the utmost celerity. We sincerely hope the puddings will not get into the heads of our vegetarian friends, and render them pudding-headed; but they are evidently in earnest; and, if we are disposed to laugh at them for their excessive indulgence in rice, we suspect that, Ilisum teneatis, amid, will be the only reply they will make to us.

We also now find our first example of the word 'vegetarian' being used in the USA:

Holden's Dollar Magazine, New York, July 1848, Vol.II, No.1

p.260: a satirical poem about '...the transcendental "Vegetarian" Alcott' (other satirical comments on later pages)

p.763: The vegetable eaters, who, a few years since, made so much noise amongst us, being stirred up by Dr. Graham, have lately sprouted up in great numbers in England. They are there called Vegetarians, and they have become so numerous that they have a representative in Parliament, and have recently been having vegerable banquets all over England ; and we should not be astonished if, by and by, we hear talk of the roast potatoes, instead of the roast beef of old England. [the entire section of Punch, above, is then quoted, minus the cartoon, followed by another brief satirical comment.]

In 1848 William Horsell renamed the journal yet again - now called The Vegetarian Advocate [link to 'no preview' on Google Books - the Vegetarian Society UK has a complete copy] and published from 1848-50. For the first 2 or 3 years the Vegetarian Society was run from London by its Secretary, William Horsell, who had left Ramsgate and seems to have set up as a publisher in London.

However, there must have been some conflicts as James Simpson, in Salford, started The Vegetarian Messenger in 1849 [link to 'no preview' on Google Books - the Vegetarian Society UK has all issues 1849-1959], which became the official journal of the Society. He then moved the entire Society to Salford, and it has remained in the Manchester area ever since (see )

Alcott House had closed in 1848 - and without the long-term support of the BCC, and James Simpson in particular, it is doubtful whether the Vegetarian Society would have survived beyond 1850. However, it is unfortunate that Alcott House was then largely written out of the history of the Society.

Meanwhile, some members of the Bible Christian Church had emigrated to Philadelphia in 1817, led by William Metcalfe. He recruited Sylvester Graham and Dr. William Alcott (Bronson's cousin, but Bronson was not directly involved in this) and in 1850 they founded the American Vegetarian Society in New York. Not suprisingly, they used the same definition of 'vegetarian' as the BCC led Society in Great Britain "abstinence from the flesh of animals as food". The AVS ran for ten years, folding around 1860. Both branches of the BCC closed around 1920.

The problematic legacy of combining the pure plant-food diet of Alcott House, with the eggs/dairy of the BCC, was soon picked up by those opposed to vegetarianism, and is still with us today. This is from 1850, three years after the launch of the Vegetarian Society::

The British and foreign medico-chirurgical review or quarterly journal of practical medicine and surgery
Vol. VI, July-October 1850, London (this article from the July issue)

p.76: What is "Vegetarianism?" The answer will vary, according as it describes the principles or the practice of Vegetarians ; for between the two there is a most extraordinary discrepancy. Look at this picture, and look at that:

"The principle of Vegetarianism, like any element of food, is plain and simple; —that man, as a physical, intellectual, and moral being, desiring the development of all his faculties to their fullest extent, can best accomplish his desire by living according to his original constitution or nature, which requires that he should subsist on the direct productions of the vegetable kingdom, and totally abstain from the flesh and blood of the Animal creation."
" An individual who subsists upon the products of the vegetable kingdom, and abstains entirely from the flesh of animals, is considered a Vegetarian; and is eligible as a member of the Vegetarian Society." (The Vegetarian Messenger, p. 2.)
[continues at some length]

[quoted from: Recipes of Vegetarian Diet; with Suggestions for the Formation of a Dietary, from which the Flesh of Animals is excluded.London, 1848. 12mo, pp. 40.]

Principal Dishes.
5. Omelet. Ingredients;—5 Eggs; 2 oz. Onion; 2 oz. Bread-crumbs; teaspoonful of Sage. To be fried in Butter.
6. Rice Fritters. Ingredients;—6oz.of Rice and 5 Eggs. To be fried in Butter.
7. Baked Bread Omelet. Ingredients; —6 oz. of Stale Bread; 5 Eggs; 1/2oz. of Parsley; 1/4oz. of Lemon Thyme. To be baked in a well-buttered dish.
8. Onion and Sage Fritters. Ingredients ;—5 oz. of Onion ; teaspoonful of powdered Sage ; 4 Eggs ; and 4 oz. of Stale Bread. To be fried in Butter.
9. Baked Rice Omelet. Ingredients; —6 oz. of Rice; 6 Eggs; and 1/2oz. of Parsley. To be baked in a well-buttered dish.
10. Bread and Parsley Fritters. Ingredients ;—6 oz. of Stale Bread; 4 Eggs; and 1/2oz. of Parsley. To be fried in Butter.
[continues at some length]

Thus, then, we see that the "Vegetarian" professes not merely the negative principle of total abstinence from the flesh and blood of the Animal creation ; but also the positive doctrine that the nature of Man requires that he should subsist on the direct productions of the Vegetable kingdom, namely, Fruits, Farinacea, and other substances which it furnishes in a state fit for human food. Nothing, we should have thought, can be more simple and intelligible than these assertions. Now let us examine how far the disciples of the Vegetarian system act up to their profession of faith.
But it is not merely the presence, but the predominance of eggs, that strikes us as strangely inconsistent with the Vegetarian professions.

[...comparison of quantities of meat and eggs/dairy consumed in meat or 'vegetarian' diets...]

...we find that the so called vegetarian positively consumes, according to his own diet-scale, as much animal food as the avowed flesh eater.
.... the following passage of the Preface to the Recipes of Vegetarian Diet: "The recipes are adapted, principally, for the use of Vegetarians making use of milk, butter and eggs; but, since there are many who do not allow these to enter into the composition of their food, it is intended, shortly, to issue a second part, containing such recipes as will supply a Dietary suited to those entering upon Vegetarianism in this last acceptation of the term."

These last are evidently the only true Vegetarians.

[... more about eggs/dairy ...]

... it is not true Vegetarianism, being nothing else than the substitution of one form of Animal food for another.

The entire article (link to google books) ran for 22 pages, and was reprinted in other journals.

36 years later the confusion continued. Anna Kingsford MD, writing in the Preface to her 'Dreams and Dreams Stories' (text file 471k) of 1886, stated: "For the past fifteen years I have been an abstainer from flesh-meats. Not a vegetarian, because during the whole of that period I have used such animal produce as butter, cheese, eggs, and milk."