So Saturday's was Bastille Day over in France, a day which celebrates the French Revolution. And now one author claims that vegetarianism might have been what led to all that warring in the first place.
In his book titled "The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism", Tristram Stuart offers a different perspective on how the Revolution and vegetarianism might be linked together. He claims that today's modern vegetarian convictions stem from attitudes developed
in 17th and 18th century France.
As proof, Stuart cites a passage from Rosseau's Emile that suggests kids don't really have a taste for meat until their parents force it down their gullets, and that eating meat, therefore, is "unnatural":
When revolutionaries fought in the French Revolution, some of them got bound up in this idea that animals, too, were in need of liberation from oppression and from slavery, and therefore, they built animal rights into their revolutionary ideology.
As fantastically progressive as this all sounds, critics think that Stuart might be getting a little ahead of himself in praising the progressivity of revolutionary thinking. As independent researcher and historical
cookbook author Jim Chevalier points out, Rosseau writes about meat being unnatural, he also writes about serving it to dinner guests.
Salon's Laura Miller also takes issue with certain aspects of Stuart's argument, and states that proponents of 17th and 18th century vegetarianism weren't necessarily advocating a vegetable diet since vegetables weren't really considered that healthy at the time compared to protein.