The Vegetarian Society

With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, the decision to make a New Year’s resolution inches closer and The Vegetarian Society want you to try a vegetarian diet.

The most common of all New Year’s resolutions concerns making commitments to improve diet or health, and vegetarianism and veganism is an increasingly popular route towards achieving this goal.

A survey conducted by YouGov found that 41% of people with a resolution for New Year’s choose to improve their diet, with 47% choosing to improve their fitness.

Currently, around 14% of adults (7.2 million) in the UK are following a meat-free diet according to, but The Vegetarian Society are looking to increase these numbers.

But did you know that vegetarianism had its UK roots in Salford? With Reverend William Cowherd demanding his congregation eat a meat free diet in 1847.

Ironically, it began in Beefsteak Chapel over 200 years ago. Cowherd believed that God inhabited every animal, therefore it was a sin to eat meat. His followers, aptly named Cowherdites, went on to form the Vegetarian Society.

The Vegetarian Society quotes him saying: “If God had meant us to eat meat, then it would have come to us in edible form as is the ripened fruit.”

After Cowherd’s death in 1816, Joseph Brotherton became the Beefsteak Chapel’s minister and continued Cowherd’s mission. Along with other Cowherdites, Brotherton helped form the Vegetarian Society in 1847.

There were more vegetarian restaurants in Victorian Manchester than there are today.

The Vegetarian Society now, still based in Salford, helps to educate people on vegetarian diets and the benefits.

Chief Executive, Richard McIlwain said: “You can eat a fantastically varied diet that’s healthier, that now tastes great, has great texture, and doesn’t involve any kind of animal slaughter. Simply because you like the way your steak tastes, that’s not a good enough reason for me.

“On the grounds of animal welfare, on the grounds of climate, on the grounds of health, it’s utterly compelling, I think, why you should start switching meat out of your diets and adopting greater plant-based substitutes.”

Listen to more of Richard’s Interview here:


One of the biggest concerns people have about vegetarian nutrition is where vegetarians get nutrients that typically come from meat and fish.

In most cases these nutrients are naturally included in balanced vegetarian and vegan diets. It can however be useful to be aware of good nutritional sources.

This next year, will you be giving the veggie diet a go?

One Comment

  1. Great article, thank you. As a veggie living in Salford I support this diet. However, please note that vegetarianism did not start in Salford. It may to be true to say that it was introduced to Salford by Rev Cowherd, but a vegetarian diet has been around for centuries in countries like India, amongst Hindus, for example. It would be good, given the growing multicultural demographic of Salford, that this is recognised.

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