American Vegetarianism Has a Religious Past | Smart News | Smithsonian

By Danny Lewis | August 20, 2015

Thank the creators of corn flakes and graham crackers for veggie burgers and not-dogs

(Chuck Berman/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Vegetarian meat substitutes weren’t always as easy to find in restaurants and supermarkets as they are today. But here’s a fun fact you might not know: the religious men who invented the graham cracker and corn flakes also popularized veggie burgers in the United States, Ernie Smith writes for Atlas Obscura.

Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg are often considered the founding fathers of vegetarianism in the United States and while their diets were partly driven by a desire for good health, it wasn’t necessarily out of respect for animals that they left meat off the menu. Rather, Graham and Kellogg were concerned that rich, meaty diets were making people sex-crazed and destroying their moral fiber.

In the 1830’s, Sylvester Graham became one of America’s first diet gurus. An evangelical minister from Massachusetts, Graham believed that people’s health and morals were being eroded by sexual desire brought on by fatty, flavorful, meat-based meals. To fight what he saw as the decaying morals of American society, Graham devised a diet of appropriately bland food to get to the core of the problem, Adee Braun writes for The Atlantic. The core of his diet? The eponymous cracker, which Graham designed as a meat substitute for his followers, the Grahamites. The original Graham cracker was nothing like the sweet, cinnamon-flavored component of the modern ‘smore, but instead was made from the blandest whole wheat flour he could find.

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Source: American Vegetarianism Has a Religious Past | Smart News | Smithsonian

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