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Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Tanya Sitton

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Know Your Roots, Be the Change: Vegetarian History Project Launches!

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'History' magnifying glass

The Vegan Option’s Ian McDonald just launched a Kickstarter project to fund his most ambitious project yet: The Story So Far: Vegetarianism — A Radio History. I had a chance to interview Ian recently, and am now completely excited about this brand-new radio project! It offers a something the veg movement has never before had: a complete, accessible, and cohesive picture of our historical roots.

Yes, please!

Knowledge is Power

The vegetarian movement boasts a colorful and inspiring history, through the ages — from Pythagorean vegetarian cults to Victorian vegetarian churches to Bahraini bandits known as ‘greengrocers’ for their vegetarian ways, the story of our movement unfolds across eons.

Do you know those stories? Would you like to?!

BBC radio guy, biochemist, vegan podcaster, and history enthusiast Ian McDonald wants to create a comprehensive world history of vegetarian philosophy and culture, bringing listeners the complete story of the vegetarian movement from the dawn of recorded history right up to the present day.

The Rich History of Nonviolence

I’m not a history buff by nature; but I’m a huge fan of both vegetarianism and knowledge. So I jumped at the chance to visit with vegan radio mastermind Ian McDonald about this remarkable project, for the Progressive Kitch podcast.

In Ian’s own words:

My big project for this year is a history of vegetarianism, really to tell the whole story — from antiquity to the present — of how this idea of opposing putting animals on the table has gone from cults and philosophers in the ancient world right through the heretics of the middle ages, and up into the present.

I think it’s an incredible story, and the only way to do it justice is a full blown radio series…

How did Ian catch the history bug?

I had a revelatory experience about history; because that’s not my background, my background originally is science — I have a Ph.d in biochemistry. And though I had an interest, it didn’t glue together until I read [The History of the World, by J.M. Roberts] — which is a great fat paperback of about a thousand pages, from the evolution of humanity right up until the present.

And it just linked everything together wonderfully; I had a moment of going, ‘This is where I’m FROM!’ … And you know, I think I only got that because it told the whole story, and gave me a complete picture.

Provided the newly-launched Kickstarter project generates necessary funding, Ian plans a BBC-quality top-notch radio project that will stand the test of time.

I try to take people to the authentic experience, and to the experts… I’m hoping that it’s going to be one of those series that people look back on for decades… it’s just an incredible story!

But ‘high quality’ doesn’t mean a body of work that’s dry and academic — far from it!

…what I want to do is to do a popular history, that is really brought to life by interviewing the experts, by interviewing the authentic voices, by bringing them to life in dramatic readings. And this means that it’s something that gets the knowledge out there, that people can go, ‘Well I’d like to know where the movement comes from, and I’ve heard this is good, and so I’ll just download this and listen to it while I’m doing the washing-up.’

Because 15 minutes, it’s an easy commitment to make: it’s accessible, it’ll be popular, it’ll be interesting, it’ll be well produced. And [it will] get the story out there, and help cohere this community and this movement.

Excerpts don’t really do this interview justice… If you’ve got half an hour and some ear-buds, have a listen!

Since the project is so ambitious in scope, with the goal a well-produced body of work that can stand the test of time, it’s going to be expensive to create. Expected costs run about £3,100 (around $5100) for voice talent, production costs, travel, and a dedicated website, as well as supplemental content like video or interactive timelines as resources allow. To bring this grand vision to life, Ian’s Kickstarter project runs through February 17.

BUT!  Once crowd-funded and recorded, the world history of vegetarianism will be available as a series of free 15-minute audio downloads — within easy reach of anyone interested, for years and years to come. What a beautiful idea!

Be part of something amazing: support this important project.

Help Ian make history!

Image credit: photo via Shutterstock.

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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .



  • MelissaS

    I absolutely love this! I think if the general public had a broader sense of vegetarianism, we would be more inclined to feel a connection. I cannot wait to hear the history.

    • http://www.progressivekitch.com Tanya Sitton

      I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m encouraging everyone who likes it to share it, on social networks & such — that’s what makes a successful Kickstarter project, and I REALLY hope this gets funded! :)

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