1834 Graham riot exposes vegetarian enthusiasm, start of health food & women’s rights concerns in Maine

Avery Yale Kamila shared the following with The Vegetarian
Resource Group:

Dear Friends,

My latest history column,
published in the Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald, explores
the events surrounding the little-known riot that occurred in Portland, Maine
in the summer of 1834, when celebrity vegetarian lecturer Sylvester Graham
attempted to speak to a group of mothers. A mob of “almost crazy” men attacked
the church where he was speaking. “Brickbars were hurled through the windows,
shouts went up outside and the woman shrieked inside the church,” according to
a 19th century newspaper report. 

This revealing event appears in
no Maine history books, yet scholars in other fields have explored its causes
and implications. In researching the 1834 riot, I discovered reams of
historical news reports about Graham’s visits to Portland and Brunswick that
summer that expose the beginnings of Maine’s health food market, reveal women’s
rights concerns, and showcase the widespread local enthusiasm for vegetarian

The column is posted online


-Avery Yale Kamila

For other interesting historical events related to vegetarianism, see