Monday, August 21, 2006

The BBC calls vegetarians "maniacs"...

...or at least they did once in 1928.

Today, another in my continuing - if irregular and occasional - series of serendipitously found historical newspaper articles. (Previous installments can be found here and here.)

This one comes from the Daily Mirror, 11 July 1928 (p. 5) and concerns indignant vegetarians.

Note the intriguing parallels with modern debates about political correctness (back then, it was simply known as "tact") and the tantalising reference to a recently lifted "ban on controversial subjects" on the BBC.

(I presume the "2LO" referred to is a radio station, but if anyone can clarify that for me, I'd be grateful.)

I'm pleased to see the vigorous defence of vegetarianism at such an early date. I must say, though, that while vegetarianism is still going strong, it seems the "fruitarians" have rather faded from the scene since then.

Finally, of the articles so far presented so far, I think this one has the best opening line.



Storm Over "Diet Maniacs" Description by B.B.C.


"Unfortunate" Word in Comment on To-day's Talk

Are vegetarians maniacs?

According to the B.B.C., they are, and a storm of indignation has been aroused among those who don't eat meat for reasons of heath, by this description of them.

In the current issue of the "Radio Times" a talk by Miss E. G. Clarke on "Food Values in Cooking-Food Theorists" from 2LO is announced for four o'clock this afternoon, and in describing the talk the "Radio Times" states that "most of us have known, and suffered from, the diet maniacs-vegetarians, fruitarians, enthusiasts for vegetable marrows and nut cutlets and artificial simulations of meat."

Amazement and indignation in the ranks of vegetarians has followed this sweeping condemnation and those listeners who feel that, according to the B.B.C., they should be inside the walls of an asylum, are awaiting the talk with the greatest interest to see if the charge of "lunacy" is sustained by Miss Clarke.

An official of the B.B.C. admitted to the Daily Mirror yesterday that the word was "perhaps unfortunate."

"So far as I am aware, however, the term will not be used in the talk itself," he said, "although vegetarians may be described as faddists or cranks."

Writing to the Daily Mirror, a correspondent urges that more tact should be exercised by the B.B.C. in describing people who happen to think along different lines from themselves.

"The B.B.C. appear to be taking full advantage of the lifting of the ban on controversial subjects and this latest effort is more insulting than controversial," he writes.

"Publicly to describe as maniacs a body of men and women who have seriously studied the science of dietetics over very many years, and who have come to the conclusion that vegetarianism relieves them of many of the ills which beset the meat-eater, is not only tactless; it reeks of bias and arrogant ignorance."


"Whether vegetarians and fruitarians are right or wrong does not seem to me to matter, but I do know that many doctors and surgeons are now recommending diets for some of their patients which were adopted by these 'maniacs' many years ago.

"If the B.B.C. propose continuing on these lines they are going to precipitate a crisis-or crises.

"Will they extend the use of such terms to other spheres of life, such as religion?

"If so, Buddhists and Mahomedans must be insane because they do not believe what we believe, and all foreigners must be quite mad because their views do not always coincide with ours.

"In conclusion, I would remind the B.B.C. that a favourite hallucination of lunatics is that they are the only sane people in the world, and that the rest are all mad.

"Let that be a warning to 2LO!"

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