A Brief History of the Plant-Based Movement

A Brief History of the Plant-Based Movement

Although the plant-based movement is deemed a more modern crusade, plant-based thinking has been around for centuries, steeped in ancient philosophies and religions. How long ago were populations diving into the concept that there’s more than just meat? Read the below timeline to get a brief history.

570–490 B.C.

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher credited with founding the Pythagorean theorem, promoted the idea of vegetarianism to his followers. He was purported to say, “all animate beings are of the same family.”


Ample evidence suggests that Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci abstained from eating meat or poultry.


The Vegetarian Society is founded in Great Britain. The organization still exists today in Manchester, providing education, resources and cooking classes to individuals, families, healthcare providers, caterers and legislators to influence policy.


American writer Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, a book intended to expose the harsh conditions of immigrant populations. The book became famous, however, due to Sinclair’s shocking investigation of the industrial meatpacking industries, which turned many Americans off meat.


The FDA encourages consumers to adopt Meatless Mondays as a way to conserve meat supplies for the U.S. troops fighting in World War I. Meatless Mondays were resurrected again in the 1940s during World War II and again in 2003 in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


The 1960s counterculture movement breathes new life into vegetarianism. The hippie youths of the Haight-Ashbury era used their eating habits to promote social and environmental justice, laying the groundwork for a plant-based future.


Author Frances Moore Lappé publishes Diet For A Small Planet, which features ample vegetarian recipes and sets the foundation for vegetarianism as a means to environmental and social stewardship and political change.


The vegetarian restaurant Moosewood is founded in Ithaca, New York, where it became a bastion of plant-based eating. By producing 13 cookbooks, Moosewood plays a leading role in promoting the idea that vegetarian meals can be delicious, creative and craveable.


Journalist Michael Pollan writes The Omnivore’s Dilemma, inciting millions to understand the state of modern American food culture. The book also sparks a movement to fix our fractured food system.


Beyoncé reveals on Good Morning America that she is a fan of the vegan diet, specifically, The 22 Day Revolution created by celebrity trainer Marco Borges. Plant-based popularity ensues.


The Plant-Based Foods Association is founded. The organization aims to promote plant-based foods through education, public relations and supporting policies that level the playing field for plant-based products.

Author Credit: Jenna Blumenfeld

Art Credit: Katie Eberts and New Hope Network

This post (or portions of this post) was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.

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