John Wesley, Founder of Methodism, Promoted a Vegetarian Diet

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12 Responses

  1. Ian McDonald says:

    What’s your source for:
    “Thanks be to God, since the time I gave up flesh meals and wine I have been delivered from all physical ills.”

    It’s quoted quite widely, but never with a source. It’s not part of the letter to the Bishop of London, at least in the compiled letters.

    • Jennie Richards says:

      Hi Ian, the source for John Wesley’s quote is the: UNITY HANDBOOK, Volume XX, #6, June 1904, printed in Kansas City, MO. It’s on page 328, under the chapter heading: The Higher Economics of Diet. John Wesley did write it to the bishop of London in 1747. Thanks for your inquiry.

  2. Ian McDonald says:

    Thanks for answering so promptly!. Do you know where I might be able to look at that? It’s not in WorldCat, the British Library, or Google Books.

    The version of that letter to the Bishop of London that got into the compilation of letters of Welsey’s life is here:

    It says pretty much the same thing, but not as pithily. So I wonder if the message might have been paraphrased by accident during its journey.

    Am I right in thinking that “Unity Handbook” is a periodical of the city’s Unitarian temple?

  3. Ian McDonald says:

    Thanks! I think the problem was that I was searching for “Unity Handbook”. Unfortunately, your link doesn’t show me the quote, perhaps because I’m in the UK and Google Books isn’t as generous.

  4. Ian McDonald says:

    I’ve found it via the Unity Tracts site: You can download the podcasts from

    • Jennie Richards says:

      Thanks Ian for sharing your wonderful podcast series found at, called Vegetarianism: The Story So Far, as well as your website The Vegan Option Radio Show and Blog. I will be sure to listen to your well-researched podcasts about the fascinating history of Vegetarianism, and read your many other resources available and share them with others. Best wishes.

  5. Katie Russell says:

    I only just discovered that John Wesley was an advocate of plant-based eating; and I’m delighted! I’m a Christian and a vegan, and to me those things are entwined, but I’m aware that I’m in a minority. Most of my Christian friends are meat-eaters, and most of my vegan friends are agnostics! I do feel a little lonely at times, in terms of my world view.

    To discover that one of my historical heroes was a vegan long before his time, is wonderful news indeed!

    • Jennie Richards says:

      Thanks Katie for sharing your thoughts. Veganism is about living a life of non-violence to animals, and living a life of compassion and respect for all animals. All faiths can practice veganism by living a life of compassion, love, respect and animal liberation for all animals, everyday. When we are not vegans, we practice domination, exploitation, oppression, slavery and human supremacy over animals, and it’s truly a moral issue that each person must decide if that is how they want to live. Religious or not religious – it has to do with “care” and perpetuating goodness and non-violence over oppression, exploitation, domination and slavery of animals. Animals are not “packages of meat” and that is how the religion of consumerism sees it, as simply a “material item” to buy and consume.

    • Ian McDonald says:

      Jennie, you might find this guy – Andrew Linzey – of interest. He’s a vegetarian Christian theologian, and has written a bunch of books on the subject. A great many of the early vegetarians and vegans were motivated by Christian religion, although some of them were a distance from the orthodoxy.

      I’d obviously recommend my radio series, but Episode 3 is the one that deals with early Christianity, and the lost vegetarian Christianities, as well as the orthodox Christianities that spend much of the year on a vegan diet for ascetic reasons. (Though sadly the path Christianity did take, largely because it set itself against a rival religion with a vegan leadership, was in squarely the other direction).

      In the early twentieth century, the biggest vegetarian group in the UK was the “Order of the Golden Age” (= Eden), who filled the Albert Hall (London’s main concert hall) with their events, and put posters on public transport long before modern groups did.

      • Jennie Richards says:

        Hi Ian, thanks for sharing your excellent and in-depth knowledge and research on the history of vegetarianism on your radio show / blog site, The Vegan Option; and for your referral of Dr. Andrew Linzey, he’s quite a prolific author and expert on theology and animals and animal rights, for those who want to check out his work and many books. Cheers!

  6. Katie Russell says:

    Hi Jennie, yes I agree 100%, and compassion, and a belief in peace and non-violence is the reason I became a vegan. To me it fits in perfectly with my Christian theology, as love, kindness and peace are fundamental teachings of Christ. I’m often dismayed by how so few Christians see it that way, which is why it was a joy to discover that John Wesley was a plant-based eater. I’m hoping the church will see the light soon, and that the tide will turn…

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