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Bloodless Revolution released in the US

Filed under: Books Food History

Tristam Stuart’s The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times (a book I’ve previously expressed interest in) is now available in the US. There’s an extensive review by Steven Shapin in the New Yorker which makes for a very good read.

While certainly a good writer and scholar, Stuart is not a vegetarian himself, as related in this Guardian column, where he uses deer overpopulation as an excuse to shoot and eat one. As far as I’m concerned, if you think anyone needs to be killed to stop overpopulation, you should seriously consider starting with yourself, at least as a rhetorical exercise.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    I’d like to bring attention to the fact that the ideology of a person does not, in fact, affect the arguments such a person posits. To attack Stuart for not being a vegetarian is falling into an ad hominem fallacy, which is, sadly, a common one. Perhaps one should learn rhetoric and logic before we begin to administrate rhetorical exercises.

    Additionally, it may be worth pointing out that many of the people who have ideologically buttressed the vegan/vegetarian views that exist today were not vegan or even vegetarian. Furthermore, perhaps we should not take into consideration what authors like Bentham said, as I guess it would be better if they would have killed themselves because they held utilitarian argument (like that of Stuart). Perhaps everyone who does not agree with our views should kill themselves—rhetorically that is. Now, that would be an exercise.

  2. Comment by


    on #

    I’d like to respectfully disagree with some of the points in the previous comment. The review did not engage in ad hominum attacks, and the charge that it did, along with the condescending instructions on learning logic, is over the top.

    I find that on the whole, in modern writing on vegetarian–and especially vegan–advocacy, those who live it, who embrace the philosophy enough to make substantial lifestyle changes, have the most powerful arguments–often buttressed by personal experience–and make the most persuasive case, perhaps because the words spring not just from the mind but from the heart. A vegan would almost certainly not make the lame overpopulation excuse for killing deer – how many times that one been thoroughly refuted in vegan circles?

    I agree that in the past, there were many non-vegetarian writers who put forth effective and sincere arguments for vegetarianism. But standards change. I admire Thomas Jefferson’s writings on freedom, such as the Declaration of Independence. But I wouldn’t care much for a book written today arguing for abolition by an author who engages in a little bit of slavery. And it would be relevant and not ad hominum to point out that fact in a review of the book.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    though he ain’t veg of any sort, Gawker editors deem him “vegan hot”…

  4. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Wow, thanks Gary! You said everything I wanted to say, and much more nicely.