January 1, 1810
William Metcalfe adopted a meat-free diet in 1810
At the heart of the Bible Christian Church were three guiding principles: temperance, pacifi sm, and a meatless diet.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Cowherd’s church grew, primarily drawing members of Manchester’s working class with the promise of salvation for their souls and free vegetable soup for their stomachs. The church’s activities attracted the attention of William Metcalfe, a fellow former Swedenborgian. Metcalfe had already adopted a meat-free diet in 1810, viewing it as the most natural of human states. Many of Metcalfe’s friends and colleagues disagreed, urging him to give up what they referred to as his “foolish notions of a vegetable diet,” fearing for his strength and general well-being. To the contrary, Metcalfe pointed out; the eff ects of a meatfree diet had quickly led to an increase in weight and strength. Things were looking up considerably. With his health intact, Metcalfe even married; something he felt was highly unlikely just a few years earlier.