Founder Of Methodism John Wesley

Founder of Methodism: Vegetarian John Wesley On His Vegetarian Diet

Diet and Health: John Wesley
founder of the Methodists.

(In v 6 of his collected writings, Wesley
is recorded as saying that on the
advice of his physician Dr Cheyne he had
become vegetarian.. elsewhere he wrote of the sacred life of creatures and the religious aspects of vegetarian diet.)

The Church, collectively, has been strangely silent on the connection between our diet and health, and our physical and spiritual well being. The only major exceptions to this silence, that we are aware of, have been the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the non-affiliated ministry of George H. Malkmus who founded Hallelujah Acres .

Very early in John Wesley’s ministry, he realized that there was a connection between physical and spiritual health. If the body was sick, then the person’s focus would likely be diverted from God. When he came to America in the mid 1700′s, he continued this teaching and was criticized for it by local clergy and the Anglican Bishop of London. Following is an excerpt from John Wesley’s response to the bishop:

By ‘extraordinary strictnesses and severities,’ I presume your Lordship means the abstaining from wine and animal food; which, it is sure, Christianity does not require. But if you do, I fear your Lordship is not thoroughly informed of the matter of fact. I began to do this about twelve years ago, when I had no thought of ‘annoying parochial ministers,’ or of ‘captivating’ any ‘people’ thereby, unless it were the Chicasaw or Choctaw Indians. But I resumed the use of them both, about two years after, for the sake of some who thought I made it a point of conscience; telling them, ‘I will eat flesh while the world standeth’ rather than ‘make my brother to offend.’ Dr. Cheyne advised me to leave them off again, assuring me, ‘Till you do, you will never be free from fevers.’ And since I have taken his advice, I have been free (blessed be God) from all bodily disorders.1

Both John Wesley and his physician knew that the eating of animals and their by-products (eggs and dairy) was injurious to health. Wesley had first hand knowledge of this, as do we, today, yet most people don’t want to hear about it. Why? Because most people don’t want to change their lifestyle, so they resort to trying to silence the prophets of truth, and for a little while they were successful in doing so with John Wesley. However, when his illnesses returned, he resumed being a strict vegetarian and he regained his health. Unfortunately, Wesley was not forceful enough with passing along these truths about diet and health and, as a result, most of these vegetarian dietary truths have been lost in the teachings of the Methodist and other churches among whom he had influence. It is time we reverse this mistake.

We have an obligation to learn about the connections between animal foods and chronic illnesses, and about a proper vegetarian diet. Likewise, we have an obligation to speak forth to our congregations about these things, for to do otherwise promotes violence to their health, to their spiritual well-being, and to their personal finances. Personally, we never found out about these thing in the church. Our education about diet and health came from our own experience and from people and organizations outside the church.

Poor health can be a tremendous drain on personal finances, and when people worry about these things it has an injurious effect on their physical well-being, so that their health is further deteriorated. Thus, our silence on the advantages of a vegetarian (vegan) diet really does violence to people’s health, finances, and well-being.

Jesus is often referred to as the “Great Physician”. It is interesting to note that God’s original intent was for us and our fellow creatures to eat only plant foods (Genesis 1:29-30). The diet of good health and healing was set in motion from the very beginning for all who would receive it.

We have an obligation to learn and speak out.

1. Letter to the Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London, LONDON, June 11, 1747, in The Letters of John Wesley Edited by John Telford — London: Epworth Press, 1931. Available online: as part of

The intent of this series is to wake up and encourage the Church to greater works of love and compassion (John 14:12). It is not to condemn the Church, in general, or any individual, any more than Jesus condemned the woman caught in adultery. Jesus said to her, “…go your way. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) And this is our message to the Church: Recognize our sins of the past and go forth seeking to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), correcting the sins of the past, for that is the only way we can truly show the world that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, might, and mind, including the whole of creation, which includes our neighbors whom we are to love as ourselves.

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Early Christians


The early Christians were vegetarian almost universally for the first 300 years after Jesus’ death. It was when the flesheater Constantine became emperor that there was pressure against vegetarianism. Constantine became a Christian on his deathbed. The Council Of Nicea in 325 AD which he had appointed was intent on removing vegetarian references from the Gospels,  Epistles and other early Christian writings.

Whether or not Jesus ate fishes is debated, but there is no debate regarding His abstinence from mammal or fish flesh. Mary, his mother, is recounted in many sources including the Gospel Of Mary as a vegetarian from the time she was a little girl.  Paul took the Nazarite vow which included being vegetarian.  Jesus had been an Essene, a fruitarian group in Galilee. Los Orc of Michigan has written that the Greek word for the fish multiplied by Jesus was ‘opsarion’, pickled fish.  Many believe it was not individual fishes suffocated for the occasion, but Jesus’ multiplication of the biochemicals in dead fish.

Better known early Christian vegetarians included  Clement of Alexandria, Origen, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great etc,  Early church writings indicate Matthew, Peter & James were vegetarian. The historian Eusebius reports that the Apostle “Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh.” Clement of Alexandria wrote, “It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals.” 

Many monks and hermits were vegetarian. St Jerome was one.   This was diluted by the Rule of St Benedict in the 700′s.  That rule allowed Benedictines to eat fish and fowl but not mammals.   William of Malmesbury wrote that Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester who died in 1095 was vegetarian.  Saint Genevieve, a patron saint of Paris, was vegetarian. 

From Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur: ” Nacien the hermit gathered worts (vegetables), as he which had tasted none other meat (food) of a great while.”

Later on flesh eating monks began to call vegetarianism “anthropomorphism”.  St Francis of Assisi encountered this with the monks of his monastery.


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Salvation Army


(Editor’s note: General William Booth founder of the Salvation
Army treated alcoholism with vegetarian diet.. and found that this treatment severed the meat-alcohol chemical marriage. His success spread the SA around the world. It is time for the Salvation Army to return to the diet of Jesus and its founders, and thereby to prevent animal agony, human disease, energy waste, environmental desecration.)


These passages are taken from a pamphlet written by General Bramwell Booth, former director General of the Salvation Army, and a son of founder General William Booth.

“Here are some of my reasons for doing so (becoming vegetarian):
1. Because I have myself tried a vegetarian diet with the greatest benefit having been for more than 10 years at l time a strict vegetarian.
2. Because according to the Bible God originally intended the food for humans to be vegetarian. (here he quotes Genesis 1:29 “Behold I have given
you herb yielding seed. To you it shall be for food.”)
3. Because a vegetarian diet is favourable to purity, to chastity,and to
perfect control of the appetites and passions which are often a source of great temptation, especially to the young. (
4. Because a vegetarian diet is favourable to robust health and strength. With very few exceptions, and these only confirmed invalids, I believe the people would be stronger….
5. Because tens of thousands of our poor people (could save money)…
6. Because a vegetarian diet of wheat, oatmeal and other grains, lentils, peas, beans, nuts and similr food is more than ten times as economical  as a flesh diet. Meat contains half its weight in water which has to be paid for as though it were meat. A vegetarian diet, even if we allow cheese, butter and milk will only cost about a quarter as much as a mixed diet of flesh and vegetables.
7. Because a vegetarian diet would stop the enormous waste of all kinds of animal food.
8. Because a vegetarian diet is a great protection against our drinking
(this belief of General Booth has been upheld by modern biochemistry research about the relationship of meat and alcohol)….
9. Because a vegetarian diet is favorable to industry and hard work…
10. Because it is proved that life, health, and happiness are all favoroued by a vegetarian diet.**
11. I favour a vegetarian diet because the digestive organs of humans are not well adapted to the use of flesh….
12. Because it is very difficult.. especially in hot weather and warm
climates to keep flesh food sweet long enough to cool and eat it and
a great deal of meat is eaten after it has begun to decay…
13. Because a great deal of the flesh meat which is supplied for human food is already diseased, and because it is nearly impossible to be sure than any flesh is quite free from the germs of disease. Much
common meat, which is often that of old animals, is well known to be sold to the butchers because the animals are sick, or unhealthy.
And the best meat is nearly always the flesh meat of young animals who are fattened and killed before the germs of many diseases have had time to develop so as to show themselves. So that many animals re killed, which though believed to be healthy, are really diseased.
This is especially the case with calves for veal, young bullocks for beef and with lambs and young pigs.
14. Because I believe that the great increase in consumption and cancer during the last hundred years has been caused by the great increase in the use of animal food, and that a strict vegetarian
diet would greatly help to ward off these most terrible and ‘incurable’ diseases.
15. Because I believe that a flesh diet brings on many very painful diseases, which though not perhaps immediately dangerous to life cause much suffering and loss. I mean such complaints as eczema, constipation, piles, worms, dysentery, severe heaches and the like. A vegetarian would do much to relieve if not cure them.
16 Because of the awful cruelty and terror to which tens of thousands (now billions)of animals killed for human food are subjected in
traveling long distance by ship and rail and road to the slaughterhouses of the world. God disapproves of all cruelty whether to man or beast.
17.Because of the terrible cruelties practised for killing animals in many slaughter houses. The whole busines of killing is cruel.. even when it is done with care, and we know that in the case of millions of creatures it is done with very little care. Ten thousand pigs are
killed for food every hour in Europe alone. (Now Oscar Mayer kills 1100 pigs an hour at their Madison Wisconsin plant.)
18. Because the occupation of slaughtering animals is brutalising to those who are required to do the work. “The highest sentiments of humane
men” says a certain writer, and I agree with him, “revolt at the cruelty, the degrading sights, the distressing cries, the perpetual
bloodshed, and all the attendant horrors which must surround the transit and slaughter of suffering creatures.” *
19. Because a flesh diet is not necessary to hard work. A great part of the work of the world is done by animals which subsist on vegetable food..
namely, horses, mules, camels, oxen, etc.
I believe this matter is well worthy the serious consideration of Christian leaders. It has an important bearing not only on their own
health and happiness but upon their influence among the people, as men and women who are free from the bondage of that selfish gratification which so often afflicts the professed servants of Christ. Let us remember the Apostle’s direction: ‘Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ “
(published by the LVS 53 Marloes Rd. Kensington London UK W8)
(We copied from an old pamphlet.. to have the full text write or webvisit the London Vegetarian Society) See how animals are cruelly

originally reprinted by the London Vegetarian Society
Most Biblical scholars believe Jesus was vegetarian
Bible quotes on vegetarian diet

1. Thou Shalt Not Kill (not asterisked with exceptions)
(kill no animal.. eat no animal)
2. Feed The Hungry (an orchard yields 450 times as much food
per acre as a cruel slaughterhouse)
3. Isaiah: I delight not in your blood sacrifices
4. Genesis 1 29 Behold I have given you herb yielding seed..
to you it shall be for food
5. Daniel 1 Daniel was a vegetarian and his health was better
than that of nonvegetarians
6. Isaiah 65: The lion shall lie down with the lamb.. they shall
not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain for
the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

* British juries for a time would not allow
butchers to sit in judgment of others. It was
felt their jobs brutalized them.
** Now some life insurance companies give discounts
to vegetarians.. based on fewer incidences of
heart disease, cancer, food poisoning, diabetes,
kidney dysfunction, etc.

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Meatless Fridays

For 300 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the vast majority of Christ’s followers were vegetarian or ate no mammal or bird.  This changed with the Council of Nicea in 325 AD appointed by Constatine, a flesheating emperor. After that vegetarianism began to subside.  Vegetarian saints and martyrs were called anthropomorphic if they continued not to eat God’s innocent and murdered animals.  In some churches there was still vegetarianism in Lent.  Lentils gave Lent its name.  In others meatless Fridays were the last vestige of the abstention from mammal and bird flesh of 3 centuries of Christians.

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Vatican Priest


Father Mario Mazzoleni of Vatican Radio on being vegetarian

(After 3 years as a strict vegetarian, Father (Don) Mario Mazzoleni speaks of a desire for meat. Such desires are
related to the trioxypurines in meat which are stronger
than the caffein or dioxypurine in coffee)

I would be a hypocrite if I led the reader to believe that I was strong enough to be perfectly faithful to my Lenten resolution. ..I
hadn’t yet completely resolved my desire for meat – and so the repressed desire
was floating to the surface. It is a fact that the minute I would sit down to meditate, the most succulent meals would pass in front of my mind, full of fragrant roasted chickens and various sausages. What to do? If I was going to ruin all my meditations for a
roast chicken, it would be better to eliminate the problem by facing it head on. And so after 3 years of strict vegetarianism, I decided to get rid of the desire once and for all by satiating myself with a meat dinner. After all, I told myself to quiet my sense of guilt, “It isn’t a crime to eat meat, and I can’t say that because I’m vegetarian I’m better than many people who are carnivorous.” It was almost a traumatic experience. I remembered an analogous experience of Gandhi’s that he recounted in his autobiography. Convinced by a friend that India could be liberated only by the grit
of someone who ate meat, he hid himself on a river bank to consume some barbecued baby goat meat, and the next night he could feel bleating in his chest. Instead of enjoying the coveted snack in peace, the minute this little faithbreaker set his teeth into the cruel repast* (* a reference to Dante’s Inferno.. in which
meat is described as a cruel repast in XXXIII.1) he was himself bitten by remorse and anxiety. I kept seeing the animal alive in front of me, and this inhibited the desire that was so enticing when it was simply mental. I immediately noticed some other effects, physical as well as psychic. My intestines held that food much longer than they kept vegetables,and my sense of smell, made sensitive by several years of vegetarianism,
was able to detect the odor of the cooked animal on my skin. It was a disagreeable sensation. As for my psyche, I noticed that my mind, which during my 3 year “Lent” was no longer seriously agitated by unwanted thoughts, suffered a set back from that carne-vale (meat festival); polluting throughts started to enter again in triumph. It
was a lesson. As always it is experience more than words that has the
greater power of persuasion. The decision to adopt a vegetarian diet
was motivated also by a religious actor. I knew that I was going to a sacred place.

* such desires for meat are related to the stronger than
caffein substance, uric acid, in animal flesh. Caffein
is dioxypurine while uric acid is trioxypurine, 3 oxypurines.
Father Mazzoleni left for God a few years ago

* the article is an excerpt from his book

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Ellen White, Founder of Adventists

Ellen G. White

            Founder of the Seventh Day Adventists
   God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man’s wants required. (1864)

   The diet of animals is vegetables and grains. Must the vegetables be animalized, must they be incorporated into the system of animals, before we get them? Must we obtain our vegetable diet by eating the flesh of dead creatures? God provided fruit in its natural state for our first parents. He gave to Adam charge over the garden, to dress it, and to care for it, saying, “To you it shall be for meat.” One animal was not to destroy another animal for food. – (1896)

   Let our ministers and canvassers step under the banners of strict temperance. Never be ashamed to say, “No thank you; I do not eat meat. I have conscientious scruples against eating the flesh of dead animals. – 1901

   Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. – 1902

   Animals are becoming more diseased and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists. Foods that are healthful and life sustaining are to be prepared, so that men and women will not need to eat meat. – 1902

   Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God’s original purpose in the creation of man. – 1903

   The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals meat-eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard those creatures of God! – 1905

   Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses. – 1905

   It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood. These elements are not so well or so fully supplied by a flesh diet. Had the use of flesh been essential to health and strength, animal food would have been included in the diet appointed man in the beginning. – 1905

   Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and the vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct by eating the food that God provided for our use! – 1905

   The majority of the diseases which the human family have been and still are suffering under, they have created by ignorance of their own organic health, and work perseveringly to tear themselves to pieces, and when broken down and debilitated in body and mind, send for the doctor and drug themselves to
death. – 1866

compiled by Jim Brooks

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