Two reviews of Tristram Stuart’s The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times offer deeply contrasting views of the book that only make me want to pick it up more. Laura Miller’s piece in today’s Salon complains the author’s focus on the loony behavior of eminent early vegetarians itself undermines a legitimate philosophy. (One of Francis Bacon’s acolytes, who hung out with mummies, owned a silver mine in Wales where he fed his workers only bread and water).  

Steven Shapin’s review in the January 22 New Yorker is appreciative, outlining some of the motives early veggies had for going meatless. (The Pythagoreans, like the Hindus, believed in the transmigration of the soul after death and felt meat eating risked cannibalism if someone came back as say, a cow.)

Stuart appears to follow a truly radical diet. According to this BBC story he’s been a freegan for nearly ten years. It would be nice if his reviewers were more upfront about which side of the table they eat from.