Vegetarian Scholars & Inventors
     31-40 of 50 Famous Vegetarians

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31. Thomas Alva Edison     32. Albert Einstein     33. Jane Goodall, PhD     34. Sylvester Graham
35. Brian Greene, PhD     36. Henry J. Heimlich, MD     37. Steve Jobs     38. John Harvey Kellogg, MD
39. Peter Singer, BPhil     40. Paul Wenner

Thomas Alva Edison31. Thomas Alva Edison
(Born Feb. 11, 1847; Died Oct. 18, 1931)

US inventor and entrepreneur; inventions include the modern incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera; named on 1,093 US patents

"During the recent illness, from mastoiditis, of Mr. Thos. Alva Edison, the famous inventor ceased using meat and went for a thorough course of vegetarianism. Mr. Edison was so pleased with the change of diet that, now he has regained his normal health, he continues to renounce meat in all its forms."

"Mr. Edison a Vegetarian," Vegetarian Times, June 1908, available at the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) website (accessed Dec. 6, 2011)

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."

Thomas Alva Edison, quoted by Michael J. Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott in Innovate like Edison: the Success System of America's Greatest Inventor, 2007

"In early July 1988, the word went out on the streets of Orange [NJ] that the Edison lab would pay 25 cents for every stray dog delivered to its door. Neighborhood boys led the roundup, and the lab soon had more than enough subjects for [Edison employee] Brown's experiments...

...Edison wasn't squeamish about zapping animals with electricity. Brown's dog experiments might have reminded Edison of the Rat Paralyser he had built twenty years earlier to rid the telegraph office of rodents...

The planned execution of Topsy [an elephant kept at Coney Island's Luna Park Zoo] promised an even more stunning visual spectacle, one that Edison couldn't resist. Topsy's killing was a splendid opportunity to capture powerful images that would not only astonish viewers but also remind them of the killing power of alternating current [AC power, rival technology to Edison's DC (direct current)]. On the day of Topsy's execution, Edison's cameraman was given a front-row view of the proceedings. The resulting minute and a half of film, Electrocuting an Elephant, would prove to be one of Edison's longest and most arresting motion pictures to date."

Tom McNichol, AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War, 2006

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Albert Einstein32. Albert Einstein
(Born Mar. 14, 1879; Died Apr. 18, 1955)

German-US physicist; author of the special and general theories of relativity; Nobel prize recipient

"Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet[*], I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."

Albert Einstein (*December 27, 1930, prior to adopting a vegetarian diet), quoted on the International Vegetarian Union website (accessed Dec. 7, 2011)

"When you buy a piece of land to plant your cabbage and apples, you first have to drain it; that will kill all forms of animal and plant life that exist in that water. Later you would have to kill all the worms and caterpillars etc. that would eat your plants. If you must avoid all this killing on moral grounds, you will in the end have to kill yourself, all for the sake of leaving alive those creatures who have no such conception of higher moral principles."

Albert Einstein, quoted posthumously in Vegetarisches Universum, Dec. 1957, cited by Alice Calaprice in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, 2011

"So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore."

Albert Einstein (1954), quoted in Science, Worldviews and Education: from the Journal Science & Education, 2009

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Jane Goodall33. Jane Goodall, PhD (formerly known as Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall)
(Born Apr. 3, 1934)

British ethologist, primatologist and anthropologist; United Nations Messenger of Peace; Dame of the British Empire

"The first thing you learn when having lunch with the famous primatologist Jane Goodall, 66, is that she doesn't really eat. A strict vegetarian, Goodall ordered a plate of vegetables, then took most of them back to her hotel room so she wouldn't have to waste money on food that evening. The second thing you learn is she can't get used to waste, period. When I pushed my vegetables away, she asked whether she could take them, too. No problem."

"The Bushmeat Crisis,", Nov. 13, 2000

"In the early 1970s, I learned about the horrors of intensive animal production... This happened suddenly as a result of reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. I had never heard of a factory farm before and as I turned the pages I became increasingly incredulous, horrified and angry...

I can still remember how I felt when I closed Singer's book. I thought about the delicious pork chops that I loved, the heavenly smell of frying bacon in the morning. And all the roast chicken, casseroled chicken, fried chicken, and chicken soup that I had enjoyed during my life... When I saw meat on my plate, from that moment on, I should think of pain-fear-death. How horrible.

And so it was clear. I would eat no more meat. For another year or so I continued to eat fish...

The good news is that vegetarian - and vegan - food is not only good for the environment, the welfare of animals, and human health, but it is also delicious when properly cooked...

...[T]he mass production of meat on intensive farms is taking its toll not only, as we have seen, on the well-being of the animal victims, but also on human health. And it is wreaking havoc on the environment whether the animals are factory-farmed or grazed."

Jane Goodall, Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, 2005

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Sylvester Graham34. Sylvester Graham
(Born July 5, 1794; Died Sep. 11, 1851)

Inventor of the graham cracker; Presbyterian minister

"The first vegetarian society was formed in 1847 in England. Three years later, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, co-founded the American Vegetarian Society. Graham was a Presbyterian minister and his followers, called Grahamites, obeyed his instructions for a virtuous life: vegetarianism, temperance, abstinence, and frequent bathing."

Claire Suddath, "A Brief History of Veganism,", Oct. 30, 2008

"Flesh-meats average about thirty-five per cent of nutritious matter, while rice, wheat, and several kinds of pulse (such as lentils, peas, and beans) afford from eighty to ninety-five per cent; potatoes afford twenty-five per cent of nutritious matter. So that one pound of rice contains more nutritious matter than two pounds and a half of flesh-meat; three pounds of whole meal bread contain more than six pounds of flesh, and three pounds of potatoes more than two pounds of flesh."

Sylvester Graham, quoted by Howard Williams in The Ethics of Diet: a Catena of Authorities Deprecatory of the Practice of Flesh-Eating, 1883

Image source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Brian Greene35. Brian Greene, PhD
(Born Feb. 9, 1963)

US theoretical physicist specializing in superstring theory; Rhodes Scholar; author and Pulitzer Prize finalist; television writer and host

"Q: Why do you think so many of the greatest geniuses have been vegetarian?

B[rian Greene]: From my limited experience, vegetarians typically are people who are willing to challenge the usual, accepted order of things. Moreover, they’re often people willing to sacrifice their own pleasures in pursuit of what they believe is right. These same qualities are often what’s needed to make great breakthroughs in the arts and sciences.

Q: Why do you think other scientists are still not vegetarian?

B: I would ask, more generally, why the vast majority of people are not vegetarian. I think the answer is that most people don’t question the practice of eating meat since they always have. Many of these people care about animals and the environment, some deeply. But for some reason—force of habit, cultural norms, resistance to change—there is a fundamental disconnect whereby these feelings don’t translate into changes of behavior.

Q: What inspired you to become a vegetarian?

B: Quite literally, it was a dish—spare ribs—that my mother cooked when I was nine years old. The ribs made the connection between the meat and the animal from which it came direct; I was horrified and declared I’d never eat meat again. And I never have. Going vegan happened later. I visited an animal rescue farm in upstate New York and learned much about the dairy industry which was so disturbing that I could not continue to support it. Within days I gave up all dairy."

Interview with Brian Greene, Supreme Master Ching Hai News website (accessed Dec. 7, 2011)

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Henry J. Heimlich36. Henry J. Heimlich, MD
(Born Feb. 3, 1920)

US surgeon, author, and teacher; co-inventor of the "Heimlich maneuver"

"...[The] Heimlich maneuver surpassed back blows to become the most highly acclaimed response to choking. This simple technique—in which the rescuer places a fist just below a choking victim’s rib cage and above the navel, then quickly thrusts inward and upward to clear the victim’s airway—has saved at least 35,000 American choking victims and innumerable others around the world...[*]

Besides helping others, Heimlich now has a personal mission to improve his own health. Last spring, at the suggestion of his wife, Jane (the author of several books on alternative medicine), he attended a session at Dr. John McDougall’s vegan health program in Deer Park, Calif. After five days at the McDougall Program, Heimlich became a confirmed vegan—no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.

After seeing his blood sugar and cholesterol levels drop and his endurance improve, Heimlich has become as convinced of the health value of a vegan diet as he is about his famous maneuver."

Debra Blake Weisenthal, "A Lifesaver,” Vegetarian Times, Oct. 1992

[*Editor's note: The American Red Cross began recommending the "Heimlich maneuver" as the first course of action for choking victims in 1986, but downgraded the technique in 2006, promoting "back blows" as the preferred first response. The Red Cross has also warned that using Heimlich's technique for drowing victims may be dangerous.]

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Steve Jobs37. Steve Jobs
(Born Feb. 24, 1955; Died Oct. 5, 2011)

Cofounder of Apple Computer, Inc.; inventor, named on 323 US patents; former owner of Pixar Animation Studios; founder of NeXT Corporation; National Medal of Technology recipient (1985)

"[A] book that deeply influenced Jobs during his freshman year was Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé, which extolled the personal and planetary benefits of vegetarianism. 'That's when I swore off meat pretty much for good,' he recalled. But the book also reinforced his tendency to embrace extreme diets, which included purges, fasts, or eating only one or two foods, such as carrots or apples, for weeks on end.

Jobs and [his friend Daniel] Kottke became serious vegetarians during their freshman year. 'Steve got into it even more than I did,' said Kottke. 'He was living off Roman Meal cereal.'... There is a story about Steve turning orange from eating so many carrots, and there is some truth to that.' Friends remember him having, at times, a sunset-like orange hue.

Jobs's dietary habits became even more obsessive when he read Mucusless Diet Healing System by Arnold Ehret, an early twentieth-century German-born nutrition fanatic. He believed in eating nothing but fruit and starchless vegetables, which he said prevented the body from forming harmful mucus, and he advocated cleansing the body regularly through prolonged fasts. That meant the end of even Roman Meal cereal—or any bread, grains, or milk. Jobs began warning friends of the mucus dangers lurking in their bagels. 'I got into it in my typical nutso way,' he said. At one point he and Kottke went for an entire week eating only apples, and then Jobs began to try even purer fasts. He started with two-day fasts, and eventually tried to stretch them to a week or more, breaking them carefully with large amounts of water and leafy vegetables. 'After a week you start to feel fantastic,' he said. 'You get a ton of vitality from not having to digest all this food. I was in great shape. I felt I could get up and walk to San Francisco [from Reed College in Portland, OR] whenever I wanted.'"

Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, 2011

"In 2003... a CT scan and other tests found a cancerous tumor in [Jobs'] pancreas. Doctors urged him to have an operation to remove the tumor, but Mr. Jobs put it off and instead tried a vegan diet, juices, herbs, acupuncture and other alternative remedies.

Nine months later, the tumor had grown. Only then did he agree to surgery, during which his doctors found that the cancer had spread to his liver..."

Denise Grady, "A Tumor Is No Clearer in Hindsight,", Nov. 11, 2011

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
John Harvey Kellogg38. John Harvey Kellogg, MD
(Born Feb. 26, 1852; Died Dec. 14, 1943)

US physician and health-food pioneer; co-developer of Kellogg's Corn Flakes

"Vegetarian animals are longer lived, have greater endurance, greater freedom from disease and greater intelligence than the flesh-eating class, and the same is true of human beings...

...[M]eat, on the average, requires two or three times as long for digestion as do fruits and farinaceous [starchy] foodstuffs such as apples, rice, etc... Boiled rice digests in one hour; roast pork requires five and a half hours.

...Horsley, the famous English brain surgeon, showed experimentally that the extractives of meat are a paralyzing poison to the brain. After trephining [removing a circular piece of bone from the skull] a monkey and locating a motor area on the surface of the brain, he applied gentle electric stimulation. The result was the vigorous contraction of the muscles of the limbs controlled by the particular nerve cells under experiment. He then applied a few drops of bouillon. Instantly, the action of the muscles ceased. No amount of stimulation produced the slightest movement. The brain cells were paralyzed. Meat is not a true stimulant. It renders the brain and nerves sluggish. After hearty meat eating, mental dullness is often very pronounced. The meat eater is not only irritable, but stupid and sullen..."

John Harvey Kellogg, MD, The Natural Diet of Man, 1923

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Peter Singer39. Peter Singer, BPhil
(Born July 6, 1946)

Australian bioethicist, utilitarian philosopher, author, and founding figure in the animal rights movement; Humanist Laureate

"...[To practice one's principles] I suppose you try to live in such a way that you're having the least harmful impact on others, that is, on other people, on other sentient beings, animals, and on the planet and, where possible, you go beyond that and you actually try and make things better, you actually try and help others who need it.

...[F]or example, I am a vegetarian. ...I try and avoid animal products, 'cause I think the animal industry, factory farming in particular, is an enormous source of unnecessary pain and suffering to animals, plus is not great for the planet either..."

Interview with Peter Singer (transcript), Talking Heads, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Television, May 28, 2007

"...Vegetarianism is, for me, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Whether we ought to be vegetarians depends on a lot of facts about the situation in which we find ourselves.

Some writers find this strange. They think of vegetarians as moral absolutists, who will stick to their belief in the immorality of eating meat no matter what. Thus Cora Diamond writes: ' curious feature of the Peter Singer sort of argument... is that your Peter Singer vegetarian should be perfectly happy to eat the unfortunate lamb that has just been hit by a car.' Why is this curious? It is only curious on the assumption that vegetarians must think it always wrong to eat meat. No doubt some vegetarians are moral absolutists, just as there are absolute pacifists, absolute antiabortionists and absolutist truth-tellers who would never tell a lie. I reject all these forms of moral absolutism...

When we apply utilitarianism to the issue of how we should treat animals, one vital point stands out immediately. Utilitarianism, in its classical form, aims at minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure. Many nonhuman animals can experience pain and pleasure... Therefore they are morally significant entities. They have moral standing. In this respect they are like humans and unlike rocks."

Peter Singer, "Utilitarianism and Vegetarianism," Philosophy and Public Affairs, Summer 1980

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Paul Wenner40. Paul Wenner
(Born May 6, 1947)

Inventor of the Gardenburger meatless patty and founder of Wholesome & Hearty Foods Company; health food book author

"As a teenager in the 1960s, Wenner became aware of his eating habits and how they affected his health and well-being... He began to dream of opening his own restaurant. In 1981, he realized that dream, establishing The Gardenhouse, a vegetarian restaurant, in Gresham, Oregon. The Gardenhouse opened to great reviews.

Wenner was faced with a common challenge among restaurateurs: how to use up the leftovers. One day he experimented with a mixture of leftover vegetables and rice pilaf. He added a few ingredients and made the mixture into a loaf, which he served as an item he called the 'Garden Loaf Sandwich.' He then thought he would try slicing up the mixture and serving it on a hamburger bun — this he called the Gardenburger.

To his surprise, the Gardenburger became a huge hit, soon accounting for nearly half his customers’ lunch orders...

Gardenburger went public in 1992, and within a year it had become one of the fastest growing publicly traded companies in America. Wenner, who lives in Portland, Oregon, has added vegetarian meatballs, wings, cutlets and riblets to Gardenburger’s product line and wrote a vegetarian cookbook called 'Garden Cuisine.'"

"Inventor of the Week: Gardenburger,", Nov. 2004

"Paul Wenner is now running a vegetarian restaurant in Hawaii. He wrote a book Garden Cuisine, part autobiography, part how to start a business, part how to achieve a healthy body, part how to prevent cruelty to animals, and part how to protect our environment."

Paul Zane Pilzer, MBA, "The Wellness Revolution Hall of Fame: Paul Wenner," The Wellness Revolution (book) website (accessed Dec. 8, 2011)

Photo source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)
Pythagoras of SamosPythagoras of Samos
(Born circa 570 BC; Died circa 490 BC)

Falsely identified as vegetarian

Greek philosopher and mathematician; founder of the Pythagorean brotherhood

"Pythagoras... is usually presented to us as the father of Western philosophical vegetarianism and as an ethical vegetarian who derived his animal ethics from the kinship between humans and animals via the transmigration of souls. To kill an animal would potentially be tantamount to killing a human relative. Yet there are inadequate grounds for such a presentation, although there are persuasive hints of aspects of it. Not only are there marked discrepancies in the early sources – for example Apollonius said Pythagoras bit a snake to death, whereas others have presented him as treating all animals with respect – but, in fact, we also know almost nothing of the life, practices, and doctrines of Pythagoras, and this despite the tremendous amount of scholarly speculation about these matters...

...Aristoxenus (fourth century BC) reports that Pythagoras ate suckling pig and tender young kids but abstained from ox and sheep... The Byzantine patriarch Photius also claimed that Pythagoras and his followers ate sacrificial flesh on occasion. Athenauus mocked the Pythagorean Epicharides for eating dog flesh. Plutarch said the Pythagoreans abstained from mullet but implied that they ate other flesh. Porphyry tells us, 'fish he ate rarely,' but then the cold-blooded fish may not have been recognized as animal in the same manner as other beings were animal. Nonetheless, Plutarch tells us Pythagoras did not eat fish because he thought of them as akin to humans... Thus, with such a host of inconsistencies, we cannot be sure whether Pythagoras declined all flesh and, if he did, whether on the grounds of purity of soul alone or whether the supposed doctrine contained at least the elements of a respect for animals in and for themselves."

Rod Preece, PhD, Sins of the Flesh: a History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought, 2008

"The word [vegetarian]... did not come into popular use until the first 'Vegetarian society' was formed in 1847 [The Vegetarian Society in Kent, England]. Until that point, it was always 'the natural diet,' 'the vegetable regimen,' or 'the Pythagorean diet.'"

William Stroup, PhD, "Meat, Ethics, and the Case of John Wesley," in Orthodoxy and Heresy in Eighteenth Century Society: Essays from the DeBartolo Conference, Eds. Regina Hewitt and Pat Rogers, 2002

Image source: (accessed Jan. 10, 2012)

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