How The Vegan Diet Began With A Religious Cult

9 min read

In modernity, the vegan movement is everywhere. It’s pervasive, unrelenting. People dress in cow onsies and lie motionless by the milk aisle. Others stand in a silent huddle to block hungry lunchers from getting their double cheeseburger. 

But it’s not just a protest movement. Vegan meats sit dangerously close to the ones they imitate, waiting for their chance to pounce on an absent-minded shopper who doesn’t double-check the labels.

Where did this all come from? Experts are adamant that our ancestors were very much vegan, had a fleeting love affair with meat, and came back to the light that birthed them. Which is an absolutely fair take, as long as we’re happy to accept our 6 million year old ancestors as human, and the subsequent 3-4 million year stint in hyper carnivory as fleeting.

Vegans Of History

paranthropus vegan

We did have vegan cousins roaming the African savannah as recently as 900,000 years ago. Not the chimps, who aren’t vegan to begin with, but the Paranthropus Robustus. 

They had humongous, powerful jaws, designed to chew through salads that humans had no chance of digesting without first putting them through cattle converters.

Unfortunately, the garden of Eden branch fell prey to evolution, as well as saber toothed cats, leopards, crocodiles, and hyenas. As a result, the Paranthropus line was bullied out of existence, while their meat-inclined cousins carried on the torch of the breakaway hominis.

The Paranthropus made a sorry tale for vegans, but they weren’t remotely human. Just distant relatives. Veganism, as we know it, didn’t really come about till the 19th century. Numerous societies took up grain-based diets after the cataclysmic first agricultural revolution. But they still ate meat. 

Sects of Hindus practised non-cruelty to animals as far back as the 8th century BC, but that’s not where the cult we know and love came from. Western veganism is distinct from the eastern factions, despite the similarities.

Veganism, the one that birthed the movement of justice warriors spilling milk over supermarket floors, began with an American cultist receiving a vision about the dangers of masturbation.

The Prophetess With A Brain Injury

(Ellen G. White)

ellen white vegan founder

That the vegan diet was the solution to masturbation may seem like a reach, but that’s exactly how it went down. Ellen G.White was one of the co-founders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, just another breakaway faction screaming at everyone that judgement day was banging down the door. 

This woman was something of a prophet, receiving warnings from God that masturbation was the driver of moral ruin and death. 

As for what was causing so many people to engage in self sabotage, you’re getting no prizes for guessing. In her words:

‘Meat creates a feverish condition in the system, and inflames animal passions’.

Let’s quickly dig through the prophecy of 1863. Regardless of what you feel about the merits of the No Fap movement, we can conclusively say that masturbating doesn’t cause diabetes, epilepsy, blindness, and death. 

The idea that meat increases the incidences of masturbation, is more plausible, since a low-fat vegan diet is proven to slash libido. Whether that’s a bad thing, is entirely subjective, although it has to be said that low libido doesn’t exactly flow with the prime evolutionary directives of survive, thrive and procreate.

Still, there are situations where lower libido can be suitable, such as preventing overpopulation. So maybe God had a point.

Ellen G. White at some point recognised that there was more to meat than masturbation, and began blaming it for directly transmitting disease, not least of which was cancer. So to sum up, meat was sensual, and insidious in equal measure. 

Despite the many vices, she continued eating meat until 1894, taking just the 31 years to follow her own grand vision. Fortunately, doomsday was kind enough not to jump the gun.

While Ellen G. White did drum up plenty of cult followers and inspired them with her visions, it’s worth wondering what would have been if the prophetess hadn’t been knocked unconscious by a stone at the tenderage of nine. 

A missile which rendered her a vegetable for three weeks, and had potentially led to the visions in the form of temporal lobe epileptic seizures. As well as heavily influencing her humourless, hypermoral writings.

But who among us hasn’t misled millions of people with prophetic visions stemming from a brain injury. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Celibacy By Cornflakes

(John Harvey Kellogg)

john kellogg vegan diet

In any case, there’s much more to the vegan cult origin story than Ellen G. White. She may have breathed it into existence, but it was a bespectacled man a white suit who gave it the wings to become the pervasive force that it is today.

John Harvey Kellogg came into the picture as a little boy in an enthusiastic family of Seventh Day Adventists. He was sharp enough to attract the attention of the prophetess, who then took him under a wing as a protege. 

John Kellogg grew into a highly intelligent, highly skilled physician with understandably strong views on the morality of masturbation.

In fact, he proceeded to endure his 40 year marriage without ever consummating it. And if we go as far as to assume he never took the liberty of releasing his tensions, then he will have to go down as a saint of the No Fap community.

According to No Fap, restraining from masturbation increases testosterone, creates mental clarity, and increases the likelihood of sleeping with beautiful women. Now while Mr. Kellogg might not have succeeded in the latter, he certainly was prolific. 

Every single one of us can claim to have been touched by this man. Besides creating household items like electric blankets, granola, peanut butter and yoghurt enemas, Mr Kellogg went down in history as the inventor of cornflakes. Which, with a proud Ellen. G White at his shoulder, he created with the goal of slashing libido by taking all the joy out of food. 

John Kellogg might have made breakfast much simpler for busy households who didn’t have the time to sit down and wait for the oats to boil. But ultimately, he shouldn’t go down as a net positive contributor to humankind. For one, cornflakes are terrible for you, and he should have just invented the airfryer instead. 

As a second, he also pioneered circumcision and female genital mutilation for kids who didn’t subscribe to his views on masturbation. Finally, he began creating meat substitutes out of nutrient bereft soy, which has gone on a magical journey to gift us the fake meats we have stealing space on the supermarket aisles today. 

Mr Kellogg, on the whole, was an extremely influential man who thrust the SDA teachings into the public limelight. But he was also a terrible human being, who besides the atrocities already laid out, also was a champion of eugenics, the whole master race concept that led to the holocaust.

From The Fringe To Global Diet Policy

(Lenna Cooper)

lenna cooper vegan diet

Finally, we have the woman who brought the vegan ideology into the nutrition guidelines that are still reflected today. Lenna Frances Cooper was the protege of our favourite Mr. Kellogg, and became the chief dietician at the SDA homebase, Battlecreek Sanitarium. 

She then fatefully co-founded the American Dietetics Association (ADA) in 1917, currently the largest organisation of nutrition professionals. A position from which the SDA could wield considerable influence over global dietary curriculum. 

Coupled with her authorship in Nutrition in Health and Disease, which was used for over 30 years in dietetics programmes across the world, and the vegan agenda made the ambitious jump from epileptic visions to global diet policy.

Wrapping Up

vegan cult

Ellen G. White and company may have come and gone, but the SDA and their doctrines remain at large, not least because of the ADA and the SDA-created Loma Linda University, which consistently publishes papers giving the thumbs up to the Garden of Eden diet. 

Research that is objectively biased, but still offered up as more proof the vegetables are great and meat is bad.

The SDA further owns 171 hospitals/sanitariums world-wide, 48 in the US and 28 in Florida alone, with a further 329 clinics serving over 17 million patients. It’s the second biggest education system place in the world, only the Catholic Church sits in front of it.

Even soy milk owes itself to the SDA cult, since it was one of their missionaries, Dr Harry Miller, who developed it in Asia before bringing the formula back to the states. This guy went on record saying that science should be used to prove, not disprove, divine inspiration. Which, in a nutshell, has been the MO of the SDA since their epileptic beginnings.

So to sum up, this is the birth of veganism.

– It came from a doomsday cult that kept getting doomsday wrong

– Created by a woman with visions induced by a serious brain injury

– Who pinpointed masturbation as the driver of disease, and meat as the force behind it

– Publicised by a celibate doctor who also practiced serious child abuse

– Promoted by his protege who co-founded the largest group of nutritional professionals.

– Which then became a dominant part of the conveyor belt of pro-vegan research and guidelines

– All with no apparent conflict of interest


The modern day ethical vegan has a few more strings to his or her bow, each of which are equally brittle, but it’s always worth remembering just where it originally stemmed from. A strange view of hyper-morality that sought to criminalise one of the best markers of a healthy body. An active libido.

If you’d like to read more about the wonderful vegan approach to winning at life, check out the next article.

14 Vegan Myths

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