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John Elliotson—friend of Dickens, champion of mesmerism and vegetarianism

Dr John Elliotson (1791 - 1868 ), though attacked in his own time for his unconventional practices, would have thrived today as a go-to TV doctor on all things to do with alternative medicine. He was conventional enough as a medical student, but then went on to study phrenology, and afterwards introduced his friend Dickens to mesmerism, on which he became an acknowledged expert. Thackeray dedicated Pendennis to him and based his character Dr Goodenough in his last novel, The Adventures of Philip, on Elliotson. He was a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Physicians and the Royal Society, and was one of the first doctors to advocate the use of the stethoscope. Wilkie Collins called him ‘one of the greatest English physiologists’.  He was also, though the biographical sources don’t mention it, a firm fan of vegetarianism, which in mid Victorian England was still frowned on. In this undated letter, which was found in a collection of autographed material, Elliotson recommends to an unknown correspondent that his brother continue with his non-meat diet:

'He need not take fish--milk & all sorts of vegetable productions, offer dishes without end. Tell him to read the account of the meeting of the Vegetarian Society in the Daily News of this morning. I know members who eat no meat (excluding fish also) & drink neither wine … & are in the finest health. I would not wish him to eat fish if it disquiets him –but tell them one thousand good dishes (are) made from milk & vegetable matter…Bread & milk, custards, use arrowroot, sago, tapioca pudding, sweet omelettes, fruits of all kinds, in all ways.'

Despite being censured by many members of the medical community—and in particular Thomas Wakley, editor of The Lancet-- for his interest in mesmerism Elliotson persisted in championing the subject and even edited a magazine, The Zoist, which promoted the topic. He also founded a mesmeric hospital. [RR]

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Healthy Clothes, Healthy Food

Found - in Benjamin Lust's Return to nature! The true natural method of healing and living and the true salvation of the soul (Naturopath, N.Y. 1904) this advertisement for healthy food and healthy clothes. It was reprinted in Children of the Sun (Nivaria Press, Ojai, 1998) with a cover from a Fidus illustration. Benedict Lust and his  fellow Naturopaths were advocates of healthy food (especially raw food) and healthy , porous 'reform' clothes, precursors to 'Aertex.'  The book advertised their health underwear as being 'made of the best Maco with Chinagrass ribs …the cheapest and most practical for adherents of the Just, Kneipp and other Natural Healing Methods. The Rippenkrepp Health-Underwear holds a great deal of air, offers the best protection for colds, does not lose its porosity, does not shrink in the wash, only the linen-threads come in contact with the skin, at the same time being much more durable than the real linen.' The full page advert reads:

AMERICAN DEPOT— NATUROPATHIC HEALTH STORE 
for Jungborn Articles and Supplies. 

To meet the manifold wants and numerous desires of the public, I opened a "NATUROPATHIC HEALTH STORE" for "Jungborn Articles and Supplies.  I shall endeavor to attend promptly to the wishes of my customers, and ask for confidence and support at such enterprise. My principle is to sell only HIGH GRADE ARTICLES of finest quality and at reasonable terms. These articles are especially recommended for the new, true and natural method of living by ADOLF JUST, Ilsenburg at the Hartz Mts., Germany.

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River and Joaquin Phoenix – young vegans

Found - a vegan book from 1987 Pregnancy Children and the Vegan Diet by Michael Klaper ( Gentle World inc., Florida.) An interesting slightly out dated book but still of great interest because of the vegan children on the cover - the late teenage heart-throb River Phoenix, his sisters Liberty and Summer Phoenix, and his brother Leaf who changed his name to Joaquin Phoenix (same row, right) and is thankfully still with us.

The jolly gap toothed kid at bottom left is Ocean Robbins, son of John Robbins of the Baskin Robbins dynasty and author of the groundbreaking Diet for a new America. The story of the Phoenix family is told at River Phoenix's Wikipedia entry.

The parents were hippies of the 1970s, ex Children of God, who had become vegans at a commune in South America. When they finally got as far as Los Angeles top child star agent Iris Burton spotted River, Joaquin and their sisters Summer and Rain singing for spare change in Westwood, and was so charmed by the family that she soon represented the four siblings. At jot we are keen on recipes - here is one from this excellent work:

TOFU EGGLESS SALAD

2 12 oz cakes of tofu
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon oil
2 small onions, diced
2 celery stalks diced
Half teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

In a medium size bowl, mash the tofu add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate to keep cold. Delicious with salad or as a sandwich. Serves 4.