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The Vegetarian Society is a Britishmarker registered charity established on 30 September 1847 with the aim of promoting understanding and respect for vegetarian lifestyles.

History

The first recorded meeting of the Vegetarian Society was held at Northwood Villa, a vegetarian hospital in Ramsgatemarker, Kentmarker in 1847. Its first full public meeting was held in Manchestermarker the following year. In 1848, the society published the first issue of its magazine The Vegetarian.

The Society claims to be the oldest society in the world promoting vegetarianism, though there are number of older religious organisations in the East which also promote abstinence from meat and prohibit the harm of animals. Before the Society was founded, vegetarians were known as "Pythagoreans". Although is it often claimed that the word "vegetarian" was coined on 30 September 1847 at the first meeting of The Vegetarian Society, the Oxford English Dictionary cites two earlier usages, in 1839 and 1842, though the OED asserts that the widespread use of the term is due to the founding of the Vegetarian Society.

Current work

In the 20th century, the Society's work became geared primarily towards the provision of advice and education to individuals, educational establishments and community groups. The Vegetarian Society also acts as a pressure group with the aim of influencing food producers to remove non-vegetarian ingredients such as gelatine or cheese derived from animal rennet from their products. Manufacturers can apply for their products to be accredited with the Society's trademarked seedling symbol, which has strict criteria [67231], including the use of free range eggs, which other V symbols may not include. They also campaign strongly against the labelling of products containing fish as vegetarian, (particularly by restaurants) and highlighting the hypocrisy of celebrities claiming to be vegetarian while eating fish. The Society also maintains a regularly-updated list of products which are not vegetarian.

Notable members

Notable members of the Vegetarian Society have included Isaac Pitman, Mahatma Gandhi, Jorja Fox, George Bernard Shaw, and Paul, Linda and Stella McCartney.

Other societies

There are numerous other vegetarian societies in various parts of the world, notably in Australia, New Zealandmarker and the United Statesmarker though these are not directly linked to the Vegetarian Society.

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