Vegetarians Who Have Changed the World

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Free cowsSome of the most intelligent, inspirational, and respected people have one very important thing in common: They chose to go vegetarian and save the lives of 100 animals every year. And many of them also chose to share with the world their thoughts about their decision not to eat animals, which has left us with some thought-provoking quotations that are still relevant today.

Benjamin Franklin was an inventor and politician who helped draft the American Declaration of Independence. A vegetarian from the age of 16, Franklin lived to be 84 years old (which was very impressive for the time) and wrote an anti-slavery treaty shortly before passing away. He made his feelings about nonhuman animals very clear with such strong statements as “flesh eating is unprovoked murder.”

Physicist and Nobel Prize–winner Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity, and his influence is such that his very name has now become globally linked with the word “genius.” Perhaps the most famous scientist of all time, Einstein went vegetarian later in life, but he commented that he had “always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience.” Einstein was a forward thinker in many ways and knew, just as we do today, that vegetarianism helps the environment, human health, and animals, stating that “nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Leo Tolstoy became one of the most acclaimed novelists of all time following the publication of his most famous work, War and Peace. He also became known as a great thinker and a moral reformer, with strong views on nonviolent, passive resistance to persecution. His quotations—such as “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields”—suggest that he disliked speciesism as much as other forms of unjust persecution and firmly believed in vegetarianism.

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most famous vegetarians ever to have lived and spent his life fighting against discrimination and abuse of both human and nonhuman animals. His inspirational nonviolent protests against injustices led the Indian independence movement and inspired other great reformers, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in their own fights for social reform. Gandhi is also responsible for one of the most famous animal rights quotations to date, with the wise statement that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

The term “vegetarian” did not even exist when many of these influential people lived, but their statements make it clear that they followed the same moral path that many of us choose today. If they were able to eat vegetarian then, is there really any excuse for humans to eat other animals today, when so many cruelty-free options exist?

Posted by Claire Fryer