Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Religion of Health

New York City & Chicago
1904-1911



In the early twentieth century, there was a growing awareness that exercise and diet played an important role in good health. The physical fitness movement was then aligned with vegetarianism which was reemerging in the United States. The menu below comes from the first annual banquet of the Brooklyn Physical Culture Society in 1904. In addition to showing the connection between vegetarianism and the new cult of physical fitness, it also includes a list of toasts, including one to “The Religion of Health” given by Bernarr Macfadden.  An early advocate of vigorous exercise, vegetarian diets, and fasting, Macfadden promoted his ideas in Physical Culture, a popular magazine that became the cornerstone of his publishing business empire.1 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Laurel

New York City, 
1903-04



The Laurel was one of only a few vegetarian restaurants in New York at the turn of the last century. Technically, it was a lacto-ovo vegetarian restaurant in that it served dairy products and egg dishes. A menu from 1903 offers a wide selection of dishes, along with health tips, nutritional advice, and quotes from the Bible and the poet Oliver Goldsmith. This à la carte menu, and a banquet menu from the following year, mark the reemergence of vegetarianism in the United States after a hiatus of fifty years.