A Vegan Booklet of 1655 – ……don’t think about ‘almost five o’clock’!


Roger Crab (born approx. 1621 – died September 11, 1680).

Roger is the

very first


‘vegan’ / pure plant eater

that we so far have come across in our research.

Roger Crab was a very bizarre Englishman.

He was living a very ‘alternative’ & ‘vegan’ lifestyle more than 350 years ago.

Roger had fought in the Parliamentary Army in the English Civil War (which ran from 1642 to 1651) before becoming a haberdasher (either with a shop that sells men’s clothes – or shop that sells small items such as needles and thread that are used to make clothes) in Chesham, England.

He later became a hermit and worked as a herbal doctor. (1)

He is best known for this delightfully eccentric & wonderfully titled booklet.


It details Roger’s lifestyle.

He had fully ‘dropped out’ of the rat race.

The first page lists his ‘vegan’ diet:

His constant food is Roots and Hearbs, as Cabbage, Turneps, Carrets, Dock-leaves, and Grasse; also Bread and Bran, without Butter or Cheese.

The Ernest Bell Library has a copy of an 1843 reprint of the 1655 booklet.


The woodcut print  of Roger Crab in this edition has been badly cropped.

We were recently fortunate to obtain a much better reproduction of the print (the image at the top of this post) from a badly damaged copy of the book: –

Portraits, memoirs, and characters of remarkable persons, from the reign of Edward the Third, to the Revolution : collected from the most authentic accounts extant 

by James Caulfield. (3)

A new edition, completing the twelfth class of Granger’s Biographical history of England, with many additional rare portraits.

London : Printed for S. Kirby …, 1813.

A copy which a bookdealer was breaking up.

In the print Roger is pictured in his garden, wearing his sackcloth frockcoat without a belt or sash, knee-length breeches, shoes and a shirt. He wears a wide brimmed hat. His cottage (a mean cottage of his own building) is behind him, you can only see a part of the roof and a small whisp of smoke.

We plan to reprint the booklet & the woodcut, as soon as sufficient funds are available.

Contact us for any additional information – humanitarianleague(at)outlook(dot)com

More about The Ernest Bell Library – http://www.happycow.net/blog/remembering-vegetarian-pioneers-henry-s-salt-ernest-bell/

For more about Roger Crab see the links in (4) – below.


(1) Wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Crab

(2) Other versions of – 1 Corinthians 8:13 – http://pbible.com/versions/46-1co-008-013.html

(3) Caulfield, James, 1764-1826. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Caulfield

(4) More on Roger Crab –

An excellent article by John Davis on Roger Crab & much more. Medieval Mindsets – ‘Vegans’ In The Middle Ages – http://www.vegsource.com/john-davis/medieval-mindsets-vegans-in-the-middle-ages.html

Roger Crab’s grave – http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=72925278


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About John Edmundson

Working to promote vegan businesses since 1978. Henry S. Salt Archive - researcher & fundraiser. The Humanitarian League - researcher & fundraiser. The Ernest Bell Library - archive manager. Collecting & republishing historical material of vegetarianism and other humanitarian movements. Running the 'Hum-an-imal Badge Co.'.
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