Albert Einstein went down in history as one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. The German physicist and the Nobel Prize winner was certainly ahead of his time, but did that reflect on his diet and led to him embracing veganism?
No, Albert Einstein wasn’t vegan, but he made an attempt to follow a vegetarian diet during his final years. Famous scientist supported vegetarianism on moral grounds, but ultimately decided to eliminate meat from his diet due to his digestive problems.
Stick around if you want to learn more about Einstein’s decision to ditch meat and lead a healthier life.
Moral Approach to Vegetarianism
Albert Einstein didn’t reduce his meat intake until much later in life, but he supported veganism long before it happened. In 1930, he wrote a letter to Hermann Huth that was shared by vegetarian periodicals in Germany, expressing his support for the cause.
“Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind,” wrote the Nobel Prize winner.
Einstein, however, also mentioned that “outward circumstances” stopped him from observing a strictly vegetarian diet. The theoretical physicist still believed that the love of living creatures is “the finest and best trait of mankind”. Refusing to consume meat could’ve been his way of showing that love in practice, but historians agree this wasn’t the main reason why he changed his dietary regimen during the last year of his life.
Einstein’s Health Troubles
Albert Einstein’s life was plagued with health issues, and An Einstein Encyclopedia notes he battled several digestive system disorders, ranging from a liver ailment, stomach ulcer, and gallbladder inflammation, to jaundice and acute intestinal pains. They were the reason why doctors often suggested he should cut meat from his diet, but it took a long time for the famous scientist to actually follow their advice.
In a letter to Hans Muehsam from 1954, sent out about a year before his death, Einstein confirmed he embraced a vegetarian diet by writing “I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way. It almost seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore.”
Einstein eventually changed his diet due to health problems he was facing, but this issue always morally concerned him. In a letter to Max Kariel from 1953, he admitted always eating animal flesh “with a somewhat guilty conscience.” He eventually passed away after suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955, and his letters are the last piece of evidence that he was, indeed, a vegetarian.
Einstein’s Legacy as Vegetarian
There are still many misconceptions about Albert Einstein’s vegetarian diet circling around, and there’s a lot of things we’ll never know since he’s not around to tell the tale. Even Wikipedia cites the father of modern physics as a disputed vegetarian, because there’s not enough relevant evidence proving he was committed to the cause.
Many of Einstein’s popular quotes about vegetarianism that made the rounds online are also unconfirmed. He’s famously quoted saying “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” The International Vegetarian Union reported that this quote is either unverified or a really bad translation of one of his quotes in German.
Many people also used Albert Einstein as an example that people who follow a plant-based diet are smarter, because he’s remembered as one of the most intelligent people of all time. Certain studies have found evidence that vegetarians tend to have higher IQ than meat-eaters, but Albert Einstein still can’t be used as a poster child of supposed vegan intelligence. After all, he only stopped eating meat long after coming up with all of his most brilliant ideas.