Lentils beyond the veil. Spiritualism, vegetarianism and dietetics

Richardson, Elsa (2021) Lentils beyond the veil. Spiritualism, vegetarianism and dietetics. Aries, 22 (1). pp. 136-154. ISSN 1570-0593 (https://doi.org/10.1163/15700593-02201007)

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On 15 July 1908 The Times advertised a talk on 'personal experiences in spirit-photography and the scientific aspect of spiritualism', due to take place that night at the Eustace Miles Restaurant. Attendees could look forward to not only 'exhibitions of spirit writing', but also to enjoying a 'flesh-free' meal afterwards. This entertainment speaks to confluence of spiritualist belief and vegetarian ideals that was played out elsewhere in societies, private seances and public demonstrations. Beyond a shared commitment to progressive causes, they held in common a belief in the purity of vegetable foods and the corrupting nature of flesh. Mediums were encouraged to avoid meat and disputes over the proper diet for believers raged through the movement's periodicals. This article examines how the language of dietetics and the science of nutrition functioned in the séance, and what this reveals of the tricky negotiation of immateriality and corporality in spiritualist discourse.