By Avery Yale Kamila | May 13, 2015
Vegetarianism can sometimes seem like a 1970s fad that mushroomed alongside organic food. However, meatless eating stretches back through recorded history to ancient Greece and India, waxing and waning in popularity over the ages with the rise and fall of religious and philosophical ideas.
We Mainers can claim our own share of its history, most prominently in the life of Ellen Gould White.
“It is impossible to talk about vegetarianism in the 21st century without mentioning Seventh-day Adventists and Ellen G. White,” said White expert Theodore Levterov, who directs the Ellen G. White archive at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., a Seventh-day Adventist institution White helped found.
Born to Robert and Eunice Harmon in 1827 in a home on Route 114 in Gorham, White went on to found a major religion and become an influential early American advocate of vegetarianism.
“During her lifetime she was very well known,” said historian William David Barry with the Maine Historical Society. “And she’s certainly one of the most important health advocates from Maine.”
When she was a few years old, White moved with her family to the corner of Spruce and Clark streets in Portland’s West End.
Levterov says she likely attended the former Brackett Street School, now home to the Fresh Approach market. Her formal schooling ended at age 9, when an older girl threw a stone that struck her in the head, knocking her unconscious. The incident left her in a stupor for three weeks and disfigured her face. Slowly White began to recover but she was debilitated and ultimately forced to leave school.
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