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Vegetarianism in WW1

The Family's Involvement

William Wallace - alias Harry Bird

William Wallace - alias Harry Bird

Dorothy was known as 'Mrs Wallace' throughout the First World War

Is a name used by an individual as an alternative to their true name.

In most legal systems, a name assumed for a nonfraudulent purpose is a legal name and usable as the person's true name, which is however preferred or required for various official purposes. The most common example is when a woman assumes her husband's surname without resorting to the formal statutory process

The Indian Review of December 1905 gives us the following delicious bit on the spread of vegetarianism in high society:

Under the attractive and daintily displayed heading of "Living on Fruits and Vegetables," the Daily Mirror gives the portraits of Baron and Baroness Meyer, Lord Charles Beresford, commanding the Mediterranean Fleet, Lady Henry Somerset, Mr. George Bernard Shaw, and the Countess of Essex. Did we feel at liberty to do so, we could considerably add to the list of such names.

The Daily Mirror also tells us that:

"Vegetarianism has become so popular of late among the members of the peerage that no smart dinner is complete without a separate menu of "fad" dishes for the food reformer

The majority of noble vegetarians are known as "Wallaceites" or devotees of the system of food-reform introduced by Mr. Joseph Wallace. Their pet aversion are salt and all kinds of fermented foods. Lady Henry Somerset has been a most ardent follower of the new diet. Her menus include only bread, fruit, and vegetables. She believes that a vegetable diet for the masses would eliminate the drink evil. Lady Paget strongly advocates the use of apples as food. Lord Charles Beresford, fighting-man, says that he has become a convert to vegetarianism, and his youthfullness is attributed to a well regulated diet. Mr. George Bernard Shaw has made himself famous as a vegetarian by his flings at the meat-eating public. He has called meat-foods "scorched corpses" and has said that when he dies he wants all the animals he has not eaten to attend his funeral.

"Other prominent advocates of the vegetarian diet are the Countess of Essex, Lady Windsor, Lady Gwendolen Herbert, Lady Hamilton, Mrs. C. Leigh Hunt Wallace, and the Earl of Buchan."

Mrs Leigh Hunt Wallace was a member of the Vegetarian Federal Union from 1889 - 1911 and a pioneer in the movement she had a Reform ' Bakery' at 465 Battersea Park Road London SW - very near the Birds. Wallace Egg Bread was a speciality.
There were 'Wallaceite' goods on sale and people were urged to buy them if they were seeking a pure, wholesome diet in health or sickness. Beside the bakery products there were many additions including "Stamina" food for infants and invalids. The foods were known as 'P.R' "Physical Regeneration" foods. Perhaps Harry stocked these in his Vauxhall Bridge Road shop?

Five of Harry's children had Wallace as a surname and it was carried onto one grandson.


A Wallace "Physical Regenaration" Breakfast Table

Dainties including fresh fruit preserves, cocoanut or raisin nut cheese and pale roasted coffee without the harmful properties of the ordinary article.....


The Wallaceites dined at the 'Food Reform Restaurant' 4 Furnival Street Holborn. " The largest First Class Vegetarian Restaurant in the City" there was seating for 260. It had large rooms to let for evening meetings where lively debates took place with politicians from the Liberal Party also the Womens Suffrage Movement.
There was a strong Indian connection, Gandhi dining there on frequent ocassions, he wrote in his memoirs:
"On the eve of my departure for home, I invited my vegetarian friends to dinner in the Holborn Restaurant . A vegetarian dinner could be had" . I decided to start a vegetarian club in my locality, Bayswater. I invited Sir Edwin Arnold, who lived there, to be Vice-President. Dr. Oldfield who was Editor of "The Vegetarian" became President. I myself became the Secretary. The club went well for a while, but came to an end in the course of a few months, for I left the locality.
I have philosophical reasons to advocate vegetarianism. I believe that the animals have spirits and souls also.

George Bernard Shaw and Mahatma Gandhi were, without doubt, two of the most outstanding personalities of the 20th century. While Shaw’s genius and wit shone in the dramatic presentation of thought-provoking ideas, Gandhi’s moral principles of truth and non-injury came thrillingly alive in his satyagraha or truthful non-violent aggression against British rule in India

In 1916 Wholly Vegetarian Dishes were promoted for the first time by the Ministry of Food as part of food rationing programme in WW1

"It seems to me, looking at myself, that I am a remarkably superior person, when you compare me with other writers, journalists, and dramatists; and I am perfectly content to put this down to my abstinence from meat. That is the simple and modest ground on which we should base our non-meat diet "
"Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends. - George Bernard Shaw

Gertrude corresponded with GBS and was a great admirer - sadly we have no copies of their

When Mahatma Gandhi came to England, on a lecture tour the organisers asked the Pitman Health Food Company to provide vegetarian food for him. This was when I first heard the word 'Ahimsa' which gave a name to what I had believed since my teens. The word means 'non-hurting', whether it be a person or animal by word, thought or deed. James Henry Cook

The first of Harry and Dorothy's children showing the Wallace name 21.07.1914
A 'Wallace' son born 1918
Another 'Wallace' daughter - the family moved around southern England whilst Dorothy was giving birth to the Wallace children - one daughter remembers living in a railway carriage near Hayling Island

We wonder why Harry left London and gravitated towards Torquay - perhaps it was the influence of Dr George Black who lived there and had written several books including
" Torquay as a Health Resort" and "Manual of Vegetarian Cookery". There were already established Vegetarian guests houses, restaurants and health food stores in the town sympathetic to his cause.

Well to do ladies shopping at Harrods 1909

Well to do ladies shopping at Harrods 1909
The Victorian diet is usually thought of as containing a lot of meat with rich people banqueting on peacocks, quails, swans and whales, and the poor trying to get hold of bacon to go with their potatoes. This makes it quite a surprise to find that the Vegetarian Society was started in 1847. In fact in the 1870s Manchester had more vegetarian restaurants than it does today. Victorians had several reasons for being vegetarian, like vegetarians do today. One reason was religion. Some priests quoted the Bible saying that man should not eat flesh. (Genesis 9.3). They also said that as God was in everything so to kill anything was like killing a little bit of God. People also believed that since meat-eating animals were ferocious, eating no meat would make you calm. People also thought that it was better for your health, and several groups suggested that if people didn't drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, or eat meat they would have the best chance of health
During the first world war many poor people were starving in Digbeth (Birmingham) and daily urns of Nuto Cream soup were sent there from the factory to help feed them. At Christmas the Pitman Health Food Companyt made Vegetarian Christmas puddings in various sizes, and hundreds of small ones were distributed free to the crowds of children who queued out-side the gates of the factory.
Long before Lady Dowding's 'Beauty Without Cruelty' crusade, which started in Tonbridge Wells after the second world war, Pitmans Health Food Store sold non-animal soap and many thousands of pairs of very warm gloves made from synthetic material instead of fur.

The Holborn Restaurant was advertised in this paper

The Holborn Restaurant was advertised in this paper
At Furnivall Street, just off Holborn, a short flight of steps leads one into the spotless front hall of the Food Reform Restaurant. In the office to the right the smiling cashier offers you a small pamphlet of Dietetic Hints or a package of sample menus. At attention are trim waitresses in blue gowns, white caps and aprons.

Plain course dinner for one shilling: Choice of soup or porridge…3 pence; a savory…5 pence; a sweet…3 pence; cheddar cheese or fruit; coffee or lemonade.

Savory is a compound of nuts or vegetables with a sauce, or of two or three vegetables cooked together such as Rice Milanaise, Baked Potatoes, Turnip Tops, or Haricot Fritters, Tomato Sauce and Baked Potatoes.

Fresh vegetables in season, cooked, a specialty: choice of cauliflower, grilled tomatoes, spring cabbage, potatoes in four different ways for 2 pence; boiled parsnips, and a selection of three for 5 pence.

Great attraction of the house is its sixpenny teas. A cup costs 2 pence, a pot 6 pence. A roll is 1 pence and butter is also pence. This restaurant is liberal: offers watercress, scones, preserves, buttered tea cake, ripe fruit.


Reform Food Recipe Book

Reform Food Recipe Book

Pitman Health Food Company Birmingham

Pitman Health Food Company Birmingham
Photo kindly donated by Derek Benton
whose mother worked at the factory

1915 London Telephone Directory

1915 London Telephone Directory

Wallace PR Foods

Wallace PR Foods
One of the first books ever published with explanations of the movement and recipes- 4th edition 1909 - transcript available for downloading in pdf format - please contact us for details

Listed in Mrs. Mill’s Reform Cookery Book were the addresses of vegetarian and health food stores, where the Edwardian vegetarian could shop for Hovis health bread or flour, vegetable meats, Muesli, or other vegetable- or nut-based products. In London, the selection of stores included The Food Reform Restaurant, J.F. Croal, and Mapleton’s Nut Food Company. Vegetarian stores were available in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester–such as the Pitman Stores in Birmingham and Chapman’s Health Foods Depot in Liverpool. Even Scottish vegetarians were able to shop wisely and healthily in such stores as Edinburgh’s Heath Foods Depot, and Glasgow’s The Health Food Supply

Link to main Vegetarian section on the site click