Mincing vegetarians rather than words

Vegetarianism – the wanton ingestion of nothing but non-meat – sometimes produces or provokes antipathy, hostility and disgust. Researchers have struggled to understand why. In 1945, as the second world war was ending, US Army Major Hyman S Barahal, chief of the psychiatry section of Mason general hospital in Brentwood, New York, issued a report called The Cruel Vegetarian. Major Barahal began by explaining the word “vegetarianism” for anyone who might be ignorant or confused: “It consists essentially in the exclusion of flesh, fowl and fish from the dietary.”

Major Barahal drew upon his own experience at having met, and endured the presence of, several vegetarians….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.