Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism

by Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz, Editor


Americans consume nearly three quarters of a pound of meat per day, the highest consumption rate in the world. U.S. livestock industries are responsible for an estimated 55 percent of erosion and sediment, 37 percent of pesticide use, 50 percent of antibiotic use, and about 33 percent of nitrogen and phosphorus release into freshwater resources. Food for thought, indeed.

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Cover image for Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism

September 2010


Pages 290
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Culture

Intended for students, general readers, vegetarians, and vegans, as well as those interested in animal welfare and liberation, this A–Z encyclopedia explores the historical and cultural significance of vegetarianism in the United States and beyond.

Vegetarianism in the United States did not start in the 1960s—it has a much longer, complex history going back to the early 1800s. Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism examines that history through the lens of culture, focusing on what vegetarianism has had to say to and about Americans.

This A–Z encyclopedia brings together the work of a number of scholars from diverse fields, including history, sociology, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, nutrition, American studies, religious studies, women's and gender history, and the history of medicine. Approximately 100 essay entries cover cultural and historical aspects of vegetarianism, primarily but not exclusively in relation to the United States, shedding light on the practice's roots in ancient cultures and challenging popular myths and misconceptions related to both vegetarianism and veganism. With discussions on everything from activist movements to cookbooks, the encyclopedia offers a unique, wide-ranging exploration that will appeal to students, practitioners, and anyone else who wants to know more.


  • A–Z entries on cultural and historical aspects of vegetarianism in the United States and beyond
  • Brief sidebars with excerpts from primary documents, quotations, and more
  • A chronology of vegetarianism in the United States, including relevant international developments
  • Photographs of famous vegetarians
  • A selected bibliography of relevant books, scholarly articles, and websites


  • Compiles and explains the most important ideas, people, and groups associated with vegetarianism, from its earliest development in ancient societies through its current popularity in the United States, in one convenient volume
  • Offers a unique focus on the cultural meanings and practices of vegetarianism with particular attention to its influence on popular culture in the United States
  • Exposes the myths and misconceptions that have riddled both popular and scholarly understandings of vegetarianism and its development in the United States, despite the explosion of works on food and food practices since the mid-1980s
Author Info

Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz is an independent historian whose research focuses on the social and cultural significance of diet, health, and food practices. She is completing a book on vegetarianism in the United States from 1817 to 1918.



"A good introduction to vegetarianism, appropriate for school and public library collections."Booklist

"This modest, single-volume encyclopedia is the first to be published regarding vegetarianism and culture. . . . unique in terms of subject matter . . . touches on an area of burgeoning interest . . ."Library Journal

"Useful one-volume encyclopedia. . . . A very good index and bibliography complement the text. . . . Recommended."Choice

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