At the age of sixteen, Benjamin Franklin, the first dreamer of the American Dream, turned vegetarian after he had read one of Thomas Tyron’s books, probably his masterwork The Way to Health that was first published in 1683. Tyron, an English vegetarian, moralist, and author of many self-help books and pamphlets, had convinced Franklin of the many benefits of a “vegetable diet,” and so the latter, according to his autobiography, made himself familiar with the preparation of vegetarian dishes. In going vegetarian, Franklin was not primarily motivated by health issues. Rather, he found that doing without meat would help him save half of the wages he earned as an apprentice in his brother’s print shop. “This was an additional fund…

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Hunger strikes are a political device. Since the early 20th century, they have frequently provoked debate on the individual’s right to self-determination and the limits of the state’s duty to protect the well-being of its citizens and ensure their survival. When we read present day news reports on hunger strikes, the suffering body is in the focus of camera lenses and at the center of our imaginations. Unsurprisingly, questions on normative body ideals, fitness, and food seem to be rather absent. But in the Progressive Era (~ 1890s-1920s), they arguably played a vital, maybe even a formative role in establishing hunger strikes as a form of protest. Back then, British and American activists for women’s suffrage not only drew public…

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