The Quote Garden

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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Vegetarianism


I have no doubt the reader is fond of roast-beef and plumb pudding. Now I detest them... No lamb bleeds for me. No stately ox is slain that I may feast. Old mother earth supplies my slender appetites. The deep, deep spring, clear as crystal — the innocent vegetables — ethereal food. Thus I am light as air. I am keenly susceptible to every moral and natural beauty, which few enthusiastic beef-eaters are. ~Theodore S. Fay, "The Great Principle," 1832

I could not eat the flesh of bird or fish or meat of any kind; whatever had to be slain I could not eat, so I gathered wild fruit and nuts and corn... and lived on these. ~Ouina (Cora L. V. Scott Richmond), 1882

Concerning flesh-meat, we should educate the people to let it alone. Its use is contrary to the best development of the physical, mental, and moral powers. ~Ellen Gould White, "The Preparation of Healthful Foods," 1900

This is thy brother, this poor silver fish,
      Close to the surface, dying in his dish;
      Thy flesh, thy beating heart, thy very life;
      All this, I say, art thou, against my wish...
Thou art the same with all the little earth,
      A little part; and sympathy of birth
      Shall tell thee, and thine openness of soul,
      What fear is death and what a life is worth.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899)

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them. ~Samuel Butler

Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into a giant oak. Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay. ~Bernard Shaw

One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;" and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones, walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plough along in spite of every obstacle. ~Henry David Thoreau

When I taught at Cornell, I had vegan students who appeared to be living off of French fries and beer. Vegan, perhaps, but not terribly health-promoting. That’s why I prefer the term whole food plant-based nutrition. In general, the dividing line between health-promoting and disease-promoting foods may be less plant- versus animal-sourced foods, and more whole plant foods versus most everything else. ~Michael Greger, M.D.,

Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, nothing so surely unmortars a society; nothing, we might plausibly argue, will so harden and degrade the minds of those that practise it. And yet we ourselves make much of the same appearance in the eyes of the Buddhist and the vegetarian. We consume the carcases of creatures of like appetites, passions, and organs with ourselves; we feed on babes, though not our own; and the slaughter-house resounds daily with screams of pain and fear. We distinguish, indeed; but the unwillingness of many nations to eat the dog, an animal with whom we live on terms of the next intimacy, shows how precariously the distinction is grounded. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I have assisted besides, by the ear, at the act of butchery itself; the victim's cries of pain I think I could have borne, but the execution was mismanaged, and his expression of terror was contagious; that small heart moved to the same tune with ours. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Being a meat eater is really expensive, even if you don't count the cost of chemo. (@Veganism)

My situation is a solemn one. Life is offered to me on condition of eating beefsteaks. But death is better than cannibalism. My will contains directions for my funeral, which will be followed not by mourning coaches, but by oxen, sheep, flocks of poultry, and a small traveling aquarium of live fish, all wearing white scarfs in honor of the man who perished rather than eat his fellow creatures. It will be, with the exception of Noah's ark, the most remarkable thing of the kind seen. ~Bernard Shaw

Thou little god within the brook
      That dwellest, friend of man,
I oft have heard the simple prayer
      Thou tellest unto Pan:
That he who comes with rod and line
      And robs thy life to-day,
May yet by the great god be taught
      To come some other way.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899)

FORK, n.  An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth. ~Ambrose Bierce

For the most part, we carnivores do not eat other carnivores. We prefer to eat our vegetarian friends. ~Robert Brault,

Unfortunately, a vegetarian or vegan diet is not necessarily free of ethical concerns for the welfare of insects either. Many insects share our taste for the leaves, roots, vegetables and fruits of the plants that we consume. As a result, several million metric tons of pesticides are deployed every year worldwide to streamline the production of cheap food for maximum profit. These pesticides poison and kill countless insects (and many other animals), often by slow processes lasting several days. ~Lars Chittka, "Do Insects Feel Joy and Pain?," Scientific American, 2023,

Bees in particular face additional stress from commercial pollination operations. Mass production of almonds, raspberries, blueberries, apples, tomatoes, melons, avocados and many other kinds of produce is dependent on honeybees or bumblebees being commercially mass-reared, bred, farmed and shipped to distant locations to pollinate the crops... The "colony collapse disorder" that you may have heard about in the media is not just the result of some well-known pathogens but also of honeybees being literally stressed to death by ruthless beekeeping practices. ~Lars Chittka, "Do Insects Feel Joy and Pain?," Scientific American, 2023,

Nothing spoils lunch any quicker than a rogue meatball rampaging through your spaghetti. ~Jim Davis, Garfield (comic strip), 1986  [Note: Context is NOT vegetarianism. —tg]

Vegetarians taste better. ~Author unknown

Fruits, vegetables,
lean meats, and fish they enjoy
(although some prefer tofu
or milk made from soy.)
~Tish Rabe, Oh, the Things You Can Do that are Good for You!, 2001

What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish? ~Internet meme

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers? ~Author unknown

If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner? ~As seen on a shirt at

Millions of [the indigenous peoples of India] have lived to an advanced age, without having tasted of any thing that ever possessed life, and been wholly free from a chain of maladies, which have scourged every civilized nation on the globe... ~"Food," The Medical Adviser, and Guide to Health and Long Life, edited by Alex. Burnett, M.D., 1824 July 24th

As to the pamphlet which he enclosed, proving vegetarianism to be an enfeebling and ultimately fatal practice, I confute it by the simple statement that I — Corno di Bassetto — have been a vegetarian these ten years. Pamphlet or no pamphlet, a mind the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows. ~Bernard Shaw

What can you expect from people who eat corpses and drink spirits? ~Bernard Shaw

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses. ~Bernard Shaw

If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat? ~Author unknown

Algernon:  You can't possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. It's absurd. I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that... ~Oscar Wilde

The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter, consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox, would afford ten times the sustenance, undepraving indeed, and incapable of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth. The most fertile districts of the habitable globe are now actually cultivated by men for animals, at a delay and waste of ailment absolutely incapable of calculation. ~William Andrus Alcott (1798–1859), Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages, 1838

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
      Christmas dinner's dark and blue
      When you stop and try to see it
      From the turkey's point of view.
Sunday dinner isn't sunny
      Easter feasts are just bad luck
      When you see it from the viewpoint
      Of a chicken or a duck.
Oh how I once loved tuna salad
      Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
      Till I stopped and looked at dinner
      From the dinner's point of view.
~Shel Silverstein, "Point of View," Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1974

      The Master permits harm to no living creatures, not even to plants. Zoroastro tells me that from an early age he has abjured meat, and says that the time shall come when all men such as he will be content with a vegetable diet, and will think on the murder of animals as now they think on the murder of men.
      To‑day we passed by a butcher's shop, and he pointed to the dead carcases of calves and oxen and pigs, and said with disgust: "Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs." And then added sorrowfully: "We live by the death of others. We are burial-places."
      ~Dmitri Merejkowski, The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci (1902), "Book VI: The Diary of Giovanni Boltraffio—1494–1495," authorised translation from the Russian by Herbert Trench
      [But, then Cesare showed him Messer Leonardo's concealed sketch-books with drawings of "colossal bombards, explosive balls, many-barrelled guns, and such like engines of war, executed with no less delicacy than he lavished on the divine countenances of his Madonnas," and says "Here is your holy man who eats no flesh, who lifts a worm from the path lest a boot should tread on it!... to‑day a devil, tomorrow a saint.... And he does it all with a light heart, with a mystic seductive grace." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

To kill for mere sport is a very different matter: it lies outside the realm of struggle for existence. Too often there is not even the justification of fair play.... He has the advantage of long-range weapons. There is no combat.... The guns discharge.... There is a shout of victory. Surely, man is the king of beasts! ~Liberty Hyde Bailey, "The New Hunting," Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

Miss Minnie McFinney, of Butte,
Fed always, and only, on frutte.
      Said she: "Let the coarse
      Eat of beef and of horse,
I'm a peach, and that's all there is tutte."
~Anonymous, c. early 1900s

      As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole... I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight, and was strongly tempted to seize and devour him raw; not that I was hungry then, except for that wildness which he represented. Once or twice, however, while I lived at the pond, I found myself ranging the woods, like a half-starved hound, with a strange abandonment, seeking some kind of venison which I might devour, and no morsel could have been too savage for me... I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both...
      The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness; and, besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth... I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind...
      It may be vain to ask why the imagination will not be reconciled to flesh and fat. I am satisfied that it is not. Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a miserable way... and he will be regarded as a benefactor of his race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet. Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other... ~Henry David Thoreau

The time will come when we shall wonder that men could slay animals for food. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life, translated by Archibald J. Wolfe, 1919

For ten years the cow has fed thee and thy children, the sheep has warmed thee with its wool. What is their reward? To have their throats cut and to be devoured. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life, translated by Archibald J. Wolfe, 1919

The happiness which man derives from feelings of compassion and mercy towards animals will make up a hundredfold for the pleasure lost through abstinence from the chase and from the use of the flesh of animals. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life, translated by Archibald J. Wolfe, 1919

The trinity of curse: drunkenness, meat eating, and smoking. ~Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life, translated by Archibald J. Wolfe, 1919

Eating things that grow in soil is good for the soul. ~Terri Guillemets

I really must give up animal food. We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing we do... If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, its protest against cruelty is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us — in fact, any one who does not join in is dubbed a crank. ~Rabindranath Tagore, 1894

There's no such thing as soy milk. It's soy juice. ~Lewis Black

I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit. ~William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, c.1599  [I, 3, Sir Andrew Aguecheek]

S is a Socialist rude
Who subsists on leguminous food,
Which he shyly explains
So enlarges his brains
Even Shakespeare beside Him is crude.
~Oliver Herford, A Little Book of Bores, 1906

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? ~Plutarch

I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience. ~Albert Einstein, 1953

Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in every thing, and carnivorous in nothing; he has neither claws wherewith to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living fibre... It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation, that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion; and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

      I asked a veteran USDA inspector who worked at a modern, high-speed plant in Texas if he ever saw violations of the HSA or had any difficulty enforcing it.
      "Like torching off an animal's leg?" he asked. "A steer was running up the alleyway and got his leg between the boards and he couldn't get it out. They didn't want to lose any time killing cattle, and he was blocking their path, so they just used a blow torch to burn his leg off while he was alive."
      "Any other types of violations?" I asked.
      "Cattle dragged and choked, stuff like that. Knocking 'em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they're stunned they come back to life, and they're up there agonizing. They're supposed to be restunned but sometimes they aren't and they'll go through the skinning process alive. I saw that myself, a bunch of times. I've found them alive clear over to the rump stand." ~Gail A. Eisnitz, "Little Miss Piggy Dragged to Market," Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, 1997

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed...
licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
~Alexander Pope, Essay on Man

To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. ~Mahatma Gandhi

As companies try to cater to Americans’ interest in lighter eating, the term “plant-based” is replacing “vegan” and “vegetarian” on some foods. The worry is that the v-words might have unappetizing or polarizing associations... Since “vegan” is used to convey what’s not in a product, it can be associated with deprivation, says Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Food Association, an industry group founded in 2016. “Plant-based,” she says, has a more positive connotation because it explains what is in a food. “I think there’s room in the market for both terms,” says Simon, who notes that some companies still proudly use “vegan.” ~Candice Choi, “There’s no meat, eggs or dairy — but don’t call them vegan,” Associated Press,, 2018

Vegans plant goodwill. ~Terri Guillemets, "Pangæa garden," 1995

I eat everything that nature voluntarily gives: fruits, vegetables, and the products of plants. But I ask you to spare me what animals are forced to surrender:  meat, milk, and cheese. ~Author unknown

Vegetarian contains both the words 'give' and 'get.'  ~J. L. W. Brooks

I've got health by garden,
a life of meaning and light
~Terri Guillemets, "Health by garden," 2019, blackout poetry created from Alice Walker, The Temple of My Familiar, 1989, page 179

I am well aware that this is awkward reading for vegetarians; but vegetarians are, as a rule, not noted for their ferocity... ~N. E. Yorke-Davies, "Living to Eat and Eating to Live," 1891

Would you kill your pet dog or cat to eat it? How about an animal you're not emotionally attached to? Is the thought of slaughtering a cow or chicken or pig with your own hands too much to handle? Instead, would hiring a hit-man to do the job give you enough distance from the emotional discomfort? What animal did you put a contract out on for your supper last night? Did you at least make sure that none went to waste and take a moment to be grateful for its unwilling sacrifice? ~Name withheld per author request, 1993

If you're not vegan, you're not vegetarian. ~Terri Guillemets, "Trying," 1995

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published 1998 Mar 18
revised 2021 Aug 23
last saved 2023 Sep 10