The World’s Greatest Geniuses are Vegetarians!

Via on Feb 1, 2011

Vegetarians are Geniuses! Or are Geniuses Vegetarians? Either Way…


A few weeks ago, I caved and became a vegetarian. There’s only so much I can learn about the horrors of all facets of meat-eating before turning to the other side.

Because of my recent conversion, I was particularly interested to find this list of the world’s most incredible scientists, mathematicians, and inventors, who are all vegetarians:

1. Sir Isaac Newton, “the father of physics.”

2. Leonardo Da Vinci, physicist and artist who made important discoveries in hydraulics, optics, and mechanics.  He was so fervent about vegetarianism, he would buy caged chickens and set them free.

3. Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest mathematicians of the past 1,000 years.

4. Nikola Tesla, helped devise the AC (alternating current) electrical system used to power modern civilization.  He lived on custom-ordered, meat-free meals at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  Regarding the benefits of vegetarianism he wrote:

On general principles the raising of cattle as a means of providing food is objectionable. It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarian habit. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory but a well-demonstrated fact. Many races living almost exclusively on vegetables are of superior physique and strength. There is no doubt that some plant food, such as oatmeal, is more economical than meat, and superior to it in regard to both mechanical and mental performance. Such food, moreover, taxes our digestive organs decidedly less, and in making us more contented and sociable, produces an amount of good difficult to estimate. In view of these facts every effort should be made to stop the wanton, cruel slaughter of animals, which must be destructive to our morals.

5. Thomas Edison, considered one of  the greatest inventors in history.  He wrote:

“[Vegetarianism has a] powerful influence upon the mind and its action, as well as upon the health and vigor of the body. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”

6. Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the 20th century, widely regarded as one of the most ingenious men of all time. On vegetarianism, he said:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

“Our task must be to [widen] our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

And the day he became a vegetarian, he wrote in his diary:

“So I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore.”

7. Edward Witten, viewed by many as Einstein’s successor, best known as the world’s foremost string theorist and mathematician.

8. Brian Greene, Witten’s foremost protégé (he was on The Colbert Report last week).  He refuted Einstein’s theory that space can stretch but not tear, and by age nine, could multiply thirty-digit numbers in his head.  In an interview on science, morality, and vegetarianism for The Supreme Master Ching Hai News, Greene stated:

Q: Why do you think so many of the greatest geniuses have been vegetarian?

G: From my limited experience, vegetarians typically are people who are willing to challenge the usual, accepted order of things. Moreover, they’re often people willing to sacrifice their own pleasures in pursuit of what they believe is right. These same qualities are often what’s needed to make great breakthroughs in the arts and sciences.

Q: Why do you think other scientists are still not vegetarian?

G: I would ask, more generally, why the vast majority of people are not vegetarian. I think the answer is that most people don’t question the practice of eating meat since they always have. Many of these people care about animals and the environment, some deeply. But for some reason—force of habit, cultural norms, resistance to change—there is a fundamental disconnect whereby these feelings don’t translate into changes of behavior.

Q: What inspired you to become a vegetarian?

G: Quite literally, it was a dish—spare ribs—that my mother cooked when I was nine years old. The ribs made the connection between the meat and the animal from which it came direct; I was horrified and declared I’d never eat meat again. And I never have. Going vegan happened later. I visited an animal rescue farm in upstate New York and learned much about the dairy industry which was so disturbing that I could not continue to support it. Within days I gave up all dairy.


9. Alan Calverd, UK physicist who recently made headlines with the following statement about global warming and the vegetarian lifestyle:

“Adopting a vegetarian diet would do more for the environment than burning less oil and gas.”

Bonus:

Brian Greene on the Colbert Report, mentioning his veganism.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Brian Greene
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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42 Responses to “The World’s Greatest Geniuses are Vegetarians!”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis and estelle buel, Red Fox. Red Fox said: The World’s Greatest Geniuses are Vegetarians. http://bit.ly/fS1BKK [...]

  2. mommacrafty says:

    It's worth mentioning that a great many wonderful minds were also full on vegans.

    • Dan Slanger says:

      Good point, Mommacrafty. As the interview shows, Brian Greene is a vegan. Would love to hear what other vegan thinkers are on your short list.

  3. shiva says:

    Good post. Add to the list Mahatma Gandhi whom everybody knows and Viswanathan Anand who is current world chess champion.

  4. Excellent post – thank you. My boyfriend is investigating the benefits of becoming vegetarian and I'll be sure to share this with him. Thank you! :-)

  5. Colin Wiseman says:

    I have tried to cut down the amount I eat, so i started eating in McDonalds…seriously though I, as a meat lover, have to attest to the days I don't have any meat. I do feel less sluggish and I get better sleep. But then on those Sunday's when I have a nice steak, with potatoes n other veg, some gravy, I just feel everything is right with the world.

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    Juliana…is there any information about the "level" of vegetarianism practiced by Einstein, etc. In Europe, was there a "strict" sense of being a vegetarian? Or was there an occasional meat product digested? Often the reality is different than what we may think. Today's almost political moralism surrounding such things was not present in Europe back then. So I would be interested in what vegeterian meant to these folks. Also I would like to know the source of the quotes you have listed. I think if an individual decides to be a vegetarian for their health it is great.

    • Javi says:

      Einstein became vegetarian a long after his most productive years.

      And in the most informed era (when everything can be verified), you can verify that the huge majority of Nobel laureated (in real science, not in peace or economy) are meat consumers, at least in their most productive years.

  7. Malina says:

    Thomas Edison was not the greatest inventor in history. He was Tesla's rival who electrocuted animals in the streets.

    • Laurel Woods says:

      Now now, yes Edison & Tesla were rivals. Edison just had better social skills and was more devious about how he sold his product. He really set us all back a century or so. If we had gone with Tesla's electrical system the power companies, as we now know them, would not exist. Edison was the one who figured out how to exploit all of us and made a lot of money for a lot of people, they didn't call it the Edison Company by mistake. Tesla may have been the TRUE genius, but Edison's genius was his brilliance at marketing. Edison may have been one of the first "Mad Men".

      Just for laughs you might consider looking up the connection between Edison, Ford and Burbank, all Masons and really the three masters of the modern world. Ford developed the assembly line, thus disenfranchising people from the intrinsic satisfaction of work. Edison gave us "cheap" electricity, thus bringing about the dependence of rural areas on electricity generated miles away, and all of us on these infernal devices. Burbank was the fellow who developed lots of hybrid plants, like the Idaho potato and lots of other seeds that only produce one time, thus ensuring the farmer's dependance on the Seed Company, vs. a time when we actually saved seed from crop to crop. Burbank is single handedly responsible for the demise of many varieties of wonderful fruits and vegetables, that may have been lost forever. (That is not the version you get in school, but a little research and !Voila!, the truth.)

      Perhaps you might consider cutting the writer just the wee, tiniest bit of slack and insert your sense of humor, cause that's all the room it needs.
      And to the reader who wants to know were all those women geniuses are . . . considering that we are ONLY NOW testing female Crash Test Dummies in the driver's seat, and the variation in women's vs. men's heart attacks has only recently been documented, I would say we need to start the nomination process immediately to ensure that by the next century women will be included.

      Maybe we should be looking at what the genius's mom's ate, that could be just as interesting and imagine the rampant misunderstandings that could create with people's creative reading abilities blossoming like so much plankton.

      Another tidbit for you genius/vegetarian gawkers, less impotency among vegetarian men. It's true. Maybe because they just take better care of themselves, and they usually smell so much nicer in lots of ways.

      ANYWAY, Juliana, I really like your thinking and want you to know I got here because of "Get Fuzzy". Thanks Darby Conley and thanks Juliana!

  8. BoulderBabe says:

    So are you just going to ignore all the geniuses and influential people from history who were not vegetarian?

  9. mousebell says:

    not sure this is the best spin for vegetarianism. agree with padma's questions for clarity; also, hitler was a vegetarian.

    • itzK says:

      Contrary to myth, Hitler wasn't a vegetarian. Although the Nazis purported to pass an anti-vivisection bill, they did not. In fact, they were required by law to first perform their experiments on animals before carrying them out on humans. Experiments on humans did not replace animal experiments; on the contrary, animal experiments made them possible. John Vyvyan, in The Dark Face of Science, summed it up this way: "The experiments made on prisoners were many and diverse, but they had one thing in common: All were in continuation of or complementary to experiments on animals. In every instance, this antecedent scientific literature is mentioned in the evidence; and at Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps, human and animal experiments were carried out simultaneously as parts of a single programme."

      However, even if this weren't the case, the merits of an idea cannot be determined by the character of its proponents. If Hitler believed in the theory of relativity, does that mean we should not believe in it? What if Gandhi also believed in the theory of relativity—how would we reconcile the two? An idea must be judged on its own merits.

      .

  10. Ozymandias says:

    You forgot to include Lord Byron. (He wasn't a scientist, but poets are more important to society than scientists anyway. :D)

    I do have to point out, though, that this is not a legitimate argument for vegetarianism. This article is what rhetoricians term guilt by association, a logical fallacy whereby an argument is supported or contested by association with something (IE: Hitler was a vegetarian; therefore, vegetarianism is evil). It is a logical fallacy, meaning it is a nonsense argument. (Sorry to point this out; logical fallacies really irritate me. I'm an amateur philosopher [among other things] and one of my siblings is a professor of philosophy. I take these things very seriously.)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing! Really interesting!

    (Also, to clear things up, Edison stole nearly all of his inventions from his brilliant employees, including a young Serbian immigrant named Nikola Tesla…ironic. Sorry again. :D)

    • Juliana says:

      True about Edison. :-( I had forgotten about that when I blogged this.

      Not trying to turn anyone vegetarian with this! Just interesting to see how many well-known scientists, etc., have been veggie. Was supposed to be fun, not philosophical or propagandist for that matter. I think righteous vegetarians, or any fundamentalists, are pretty annoying–one reason I resisted for so long.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Juliana

      • Padma Kadag says:

        With a large Tongue in Cheek, but going with your reasoning….so….Vegeterianism is responsible for the Atomic Bomb and all current Nuclear warheads. Hiroshima…Nagasaki…Chernobyl…the Arms Race…?

        • Juliana says:

          Again, no logic involved. I drew no conclusions. Just pointing out scientists, etc. who were vegetarians.

          • 13thfloorelevators says:

            "Again, no logic involved"

            Clearly.

          • Juliana says:

            Of course there's no logic! It's a list! I'm drawing no conclusions. I'm not saying it's good or bad to be a vegetarian. I'm not saying these people are right or wrong. It's a silly list and it was supposed to be a fun article. What's your beef? (No pun intended.)

    • Shen says:

      hitler knows the health benefits of vegetables. who want to live a long life? He can take advantage of the benefits of vegetables.

      they also want to be strong…

      why did you say poets are more important to society than scientists?

  11. Padmini Purushotam says:

    Great to know these facts which is turning a lot of people into vegetarians and vegans although the vegans need a proper diet to maintain their health – alternate to milk produce.

    Also, pleasre include women who have turned vegetarians too, as I see only one of us and the rest are men!?! It is the women who can influence her family in whatever lifestyle a child takes on in the future.

    The result is not over-night, so in the meantime, a lots has to be done thru various organization to CHECK THE CRUELTY to animals/all living beings that MAN has brought on these mute creatures to HIS greed and selfish ends.

    • Juliana says:

      Good point! Where are the women?

    • Kathryn says:

      As 'alternative to milk products,' I assume you mean 'reliable sources of calcium,' which are no problem on a vegan diet (greens, beans, sesame seeds, or, if one uses them, fortified OJ or non-dairy milks).

  12. Juliana says:

    From http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal:

    #
    Liz Schmitz That explains my understanding of the shoe string theory.
    Tuesday at 7:12pm · LikeUnlike
    #
    Stacy Hay love this!!!!
    Tuesday at 7:20pm · LikeUnlike
    #
    Doritt Yaelle cuz we r smart like that
    Tuesday at 7:28pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    #
    Tom Grasso I wonder what came first, the genius or the vegetarianism?
    Tuesday at 8:54pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    #
    Lisa Shapiro great article! and there are TONS more amazing brilliant folks that are vegan- steve wynn, john mackey,biz stone,leonardo da vinci,russel simmons…i can go on and on. and thankfully the list is growing every day!!
    Wednesday at 1:25am · LikeUnlike · 3 people

  13. Padma Kadag says:

    “Adopting a vegetarian diet would do more for the environment than burning less oil and gas.” This theory has been floating around for sometime now to bolster the environmental economics of not producing meat. Please understand that I have farmed wine grapes organically and in the process of converting a 55 acre vineyard into organic farming. The amount of fossil fuels used for organic vineyards vs a alopathic vineyard is about 1/3 more fossil fuel spent on the organic. Would i rather live next to an organic vineyard than an alopathic? Hard to say…both spray pesticide in the form of elemental copper and sulfur. Tractors run more frequently in an organic vineyard as there is more weed control and more need for topical spraying for plant nutrition. Currently this idea that there would be less of a carbon footprint witha vegeterian world is not proven and only a theory. A theory which I do not think is accurate. I do know that when we arrive at that point when we do actually enact our theories, more often than not, the result is something other than what we expect. No matter how many degrees from MIT have worked it over in the bars and chalk boards

  14. [...] it was clear that this was not the case. However, after informing the cooking staff that I was vegetarian they were more than happy to provide me with meatless dishes, although on a few occasions I was [...]

  15. [...] Did you know that food and farming are the #1 cause of greenhouse gas emissions? I didn’t. When you go to a supermarket or a typical restaurant, each 1 calorie of food relies on 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce it. And behind 1 calorie of beef? A whopping 55 calories of fossil fuel. (Another great reason to become vegetarian.) [...]

  16. Shen says:

    hitler know the health benefits of vegetables. who want to live a long life? He can take advantage of the benefits of vegetables.
    they also want to be strong

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  18. [...] Great geniuses that were vegetarians: Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein (in is last year of his life), Voltair, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Darwin, Buddha, Plato… [...]

  19. [...] should have to suffer in order for a person to feel cool or follow a trend. The birds that are farmed to make these accessories are usually kept in small cages and treated horribly. Even worse: most of [...]

  20. Alan Calverd says:

    Flattered, certainly, but somewhat misquoted.

    My very simple calculation (since confirmed by many others) showed that about 25% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is generated by farm animals breathing.

    Whilst I'm more than happy to be numbered among your Top Ten geniuses, I'm not a vegetarian, nor do I believe that anthropogenic carbon dioxide has any significant effect on climate. But my concluding suggestion was that it would do no harm and probably a lot of good to test the global warming hypothesis by abandoning farmed meat for about 5 years.

    The fact that this suggestion has been supported by numbers of scientists and economists but not implemented by any government shows, to my mind at least, that "anthropogenic global warming" is a massive con trick designed to extract "green" taxes from the rich and allow Chinese and Indian smokestack industries (which are not bound to implement the Kyoto agreement) to dominate manufacturing.

    Face it, world, you've been "had" on a massive scale.

  21. Skip says:

    And then there are evil geniuses, who were also vegans or vegetarians…Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Charles Manson, Hitler…I'm sure the number on that list could equal the more benevolent veggies, but what a person eats may not have as much to do with being a genius as how a person actually thinks.

  22. Krish says:

    The South Indian Brahmin community comprising 3% of Indian population had been vegetarian for ages, and produced some of the most intelligent people on this planet:
    Three of India's Nobel laureates –
    Sir C. V. Raman,
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and
    Venkatraman Ramakrishnan hail from the community..
    The math geniuses – Ramanujan, Madhava (Madhava Leibnitz series),
    for more info:

    Both the Iyer and Iyengar community had produced some of the most genius people on this planet, which only a few people know about them and their wonderful culture:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iyers

  23. dennis says:

    HITLER WAS NOT A VEGETARIAN!!! (why does no one fact check anymore?)
    http://www.naturalnews.com/025163_Hitler_vegetari

  24. Ross says:

    So you can name 9 clever people that didn't eat meat. Here's 9 clever people that do/did: Stephen Hawking, Aristotle, Christopher Hitchens, George Orwell, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, William Gilbert, Charles Darwin and Joseph Priestly. It's a total irrelevance. One could probably carry out the same exercise for homosexuals, or gingers, or Scotsmen, or people who enjoy the music of Lady Gaga. Whilst there may be a link between intelligence and those who support animal rights/welfare (as many of those above did/do), to suggest that the cleverest people are vegetarian is ridiculous.

    • veggie says:

      The simple fact is Einstein and Davinci were likely the two smartest human beings that ever lived on the planet. Why discount that fact that their genius was also coupled with a higher level of understanding that all life is valuable? Thomas Jefferson was also vegetarian.

      And Carl Sagan was an animal activist. Near the end of his life in 1996 Sagan wrote “In my writings, I have tried to show how closely related we are to other animals…and how morally bankrupt it is to slaughter them, say, to manufacture lipstick.”

      Aristotle denies the power of thought to animals, maintaining that they are capable only of sensation and appetite.

  25. veggie says:

    Not sure if there are any believers in climate change but Einstein said that if the human race as a whole does not go vegetarian they will destroy the planet and make it uninhabitable for human life. That is because over 51% of all greenhouse gasses are related to production of meat. It also accounts for 80% of worldwide deforestation, uses vast amounts of water and causes the extinction of 175 species of rainforest animals every year.

  26. Dan Slanger says:

    Hm. JUST watched the video with Colbert after I'd already made the Pythagoras-cult leader comment, which Colbert alludes to. I should have just stayed home.

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