Vegetarianism and Veganism: readings, videos, podcasts, syllabi

Mark Solovey Discussion

Dear All,

I've created a new introductory course for undergraduates at the University of Toronto called Vegetarianism: Ethics, Health, and the Environment. I'm a U.S. historian and historian of science, which will influence what I plan to cover/include to some extent.  But I'm also eager to move beyond, even far beyond my comfort zone to make this course rich and exciting for my students (and for me!).  

The weekly topics include:


human health (individual, workers, communities, and public health)

animal welfare and rights

environmental issues

gender and culture

race and culture

religion and culture

Canada, Toronto, and the Univeristy of Toronto

commerce and organized opposition

high-performance athletics 

Does anybody teach or know of another university course - anywhere in the world - on vegetarianism (or veganism) and society?

If so, I'd love to see a syllabus.

I'd also greatly appreciated suggestions for readings, videos, and/or podcasts about any of the topics listed above.




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Hi Mark--thanks for posting! Have you talked to Adam Shprintzen at Marywood University? I'd be surprised if he hasn't taught classes on vegetarianism/veganism.

Good luck with the course!


What a great question as we're all gearing back up for the fall semester. I went through my files and found the following smattering of suggestions:

Ken Albala sketches "the emergence of physiological theories that first made a vegetarian diet ‘good to think’ rather than an intentional and normally religiously motivated form of self-mortification" in "The First Scientific Defense of a Vegetarian Diet," a short lecture from 2009.

For early 20th-century primaries, I think of Russell Chittenden's work on protein minimums,

"The Vegetarian Song," which I have uploaded as a Resource: 


G.T. Wrench, The Wheel of Health: A Study of a Very Healthy People (London: C. W. Daniel Co., 1938) for a "comparative global" perspective.

For late 20th-century primaries, there is (among many others) William Harris, The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism (1995).

As for secondary discussions of vegetarianism in my country of study (Germany), see

Hans Jürgen Teuteberg, "Variations in Meat Consumption in Germany," Ethnologia Scandinavica (Lund 1971): 131-141. 

Elisabeth Meyer-Renschhausen and Albert Wirz, "Dietetics, Health Reform and Social Order: Vegetarianism as a Moral Physiology. The Example of Maximilian Bircher-Benner (1867-1939)," Medical History vol. 43 (1999): 323-341.

Corrina Treitel's 2017 book from Cambridge University Press, Eating Nature in Modern Germany: Food, Agriculture and Environment, c.1870 to 2000, does an excellent job combining a cultural look at vegetarianism in Germany with the politics of agriculture.

Finally, I know that there are posts on H-Nutrition that touch on the topic if you search "vegetarian" or "meat."

Thanks for asking, and I hope you will share your syllabus and/or insights from teaching the course with us!

Thanks for the suggestion, Andrew.

I actually contacted Adam recently. But he has never taught such a course.

The only one I've been able to find so far is a course on vegan studies taught by Prof. Renan Larue at UC-Santa Barbara, which was billed as the first such course in the U.S. when it was offered for the first time in 2016.

It seems that there is a serious dearth of university-level courses about vegetarianism and/or veganism.

If anybody has any other leads, please send them along.



Thanks so much, Kristen, for these suggestions and also simply for your enthusiasm for my new course, which I find exciting but also daunting. Supportive words from colleagues, including and perhaps esp. those I've never met, is most welcome. I will follow up on the leads you provide.

If anybody else has additional suggestions, please send them along.

On a related note, yesterday evening here in Toronto I attended and very much enjoyed what's billed as the first ever traveling vegan film festival. Some basic info. about it can be found here:…

Cheers, Mark