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We wish it to be distinctly understood at starting, that the present work is purely a cookery-book, written on the principles generally adopted by vegetarians; and as, until quite recently, there seemed to be in the minds of many some doubt as to the definition of vegetarianism, we will quote the following explanation from the head of the report of the London Vegetarian Society:—“The aims of the London Vegetarian Society are to advocate the total disuse of the flesh of animals (fish, flesh, and fowl) as food, and to promote a more extensive use of pulse, grains, fruits, nuts, and other products of the vegetable kingdom, thus propagating a principle tending essentially to true civilisation, to universal humaneness, and to the increase of happiness generally.”
We have no intention of writing a treatise on vegetarianism, but we consider a few words of explanation necessary. Years back many persons were under the impression that by vegetarianism was meant simply an abstention from flesh-meat, but that fish was allowed. Such, however, is not the case, according to the rules of most of the Vegetarian Societies of the day. On the other hand, strictly speaking, real vegetarians would not be allowed the use of eggs and milk; but it appears that many use these, though there are a considerable number of persons who abstain. There is no doubt that the vegetable kingdom, without either milk or eggs, contains every requisite for the support of the human body. In speaking on this subject, Sir Henry Thompson observes:—“The vegetable kingdom comprehends the cereals, legumes, roots, starches, sugar, herbs, and fruits. Persons who style themselves vegetarians often consume milk, eggs, butter, and lard, which are choice foods from the animal kingdom. There are other persons, of course, who are strictly vegetarian eaters, and such alone have any right to the title of vegetarians.”
In the following pages will be found ample recipes for the benefit of parties who take either view. In questions of this kind there will always be found conflicting views. We have no wish or desire to give opinions, but consider it will be more advisable, and probably render the book far more useful, if we confine ourselves as much as possible to facts.
The origin of vegetarianism is as old as the history of the world itself, and probably from time immemorial there have been sects which have practised vegetarianism, either as a religious duty, or under the belief that they would render the body more capable of performing religious duties. In the year 1098, or two years prior to the date of Henry I., there was a strictly vegetarian society formed in connection with the Christian Church, which lived entirely on herbs and roots, and the society has lasted to the present day. Again, there have been many sects who, not so strict, have allowed themselves the use of fish.