January is the time of year when many of us take stock of our habits and resolve to do better. Topping the list – as mentioned in my previous post – are health and fitness habits.

If you’re looking for some inspiration to make healthy change this year, look no further than The Salvation Army’s founders William and Catherine Booth and their family.

William Booth was born in 1829 and with his wife Catherine founded what would become The Salvation Army in the late 1850s. The Booths came from the Methodist tradition and – like many from their denomination – followed the vegetarian practices of John Wesley even though doing so was difficult in Victorian England.

Catherine was partial to vegetarianism and is credited with encouraging her husband to adopt the lifestyle too.

In fact, William Booth responded to a news reporter inquiry in 1909 that he believed his vegetable-based diet was key to helping him maintain his rigorous travel and speaking schedule into his 80s.

The Booth’s children were also active in the ministry of The Salvation Army and carried on the family’s commitment to vegetarianism. Especially Bramwell Booth who succeeded his father as General of The Salvation Army.

In 1890 Bramwell was asked to explain his beliefs in the merits of vegetarianism. Here’s a link to the full document, but I’ve excerpted some of his thoughts below.

:: Because a vegetable-based diet is more economical to a flesh-based diet and thus more affordable for people living in poverty.
:: Because the rise in diseases like cancer seems to coincide with the increase in the consumption of meat.
:: Because “God disapproves of all cruelty – whether to man or beast.”
:: Because a flesh-based diet is not necessary to hard work.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Author’s note: though I don’t call myself a vegetarian, I don’t eat “food with feet” but will occasionally eat wild-caught fish.


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