The World’s Greatest Geniuses are Vegetarians!

Via elephant journal
on Feb 1, 2011
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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.”


Brian Greene on the Colbert Report, mentioning his veganism.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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58 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. […]

  2. mommacrafty says:

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

  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.

  7. Malina says:

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

  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.

  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)

  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.

  12. Juliana says:


    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. Mr Snodgrass says:

    Um, I understand Hitler was vegetarian, too. Just sayin'…..

  15. […] 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 […]

  16. […] 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.) […]

  17. 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



  19. […] 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… […]

  20. […] 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 […]

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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:

  24. dennis says:

    HITLER WAS NOT A VEGETARIAN!!! (why does no one fact check anymore?)

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. ugr says:

    "Humans – who enslave, castrate, experiment on and fillet other animals – have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and 'animals' is essential if we are to bend them to our will, wear them, eat them – without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us."
    ~Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors"

  28. Alberto Einstein says:

    Edison stole his vegetarianism from Tesla

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