Peer-reviewed articles Meat and the City in the Late Russian Empire Dietary Reform and Vegetarian Activism in Odessa, 1890s–1910s

Unlike British or American vegetarian movements which arose during the 19th century, organized vegetarianism did not emerge in the Russian empire until the turn of the century. By the 1910s, a network of vegetarian circles flourished across the empire. Odessa presents a fascinating case study for examining dietary reform and vegetarianism. Using diverse sources, the article explores the evolution and implementation of grassroot vegetarian activism in the city of Odessa by focusing on its institutionalization and infrastructure, as well as on ideas, practices and activists. It scrutinizes the motives that guided actions, unfolds alliances and challenges that arose, and how these played out in practice, and identifies popularization strategies for vegetarian ideas, and forms of vegetarian consumption. The study sheds light on an unknown page of the history of Odessa and the Black Sea Region, as well as enriching existing knowledge of the histories of imperial and European borderlands.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds BW 2020:2-3, pp 4-24
Published on on October 5, 2020

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Unlike British or American vegetarian movements which arose during the 19th century, organized vegetarianism did not emerge in the Russian empire until the turn of the century. By the 1910s, a network of vegetarian circles flourished across the empire. Odessa presents a fascinating case study for examining dietary reform and vegetarianism. Using diverse sources, the article explores the evolution and implementation of grassroot vegetarian activism in the city of Odessa by focusing on its institutionalization and infrastructure, as well as on ideas, practices and activists. It scrutinizes the motives that guided actions, unfolds alliances and challenges that arose, and how these played out in practice, and identifies popularization strategies for vegetarian ideas, and forms of vegetarian consumption. The study sheds light on an unknown page of the history of Odessa and the Black Sea Region, as well as enriching existing knowledge of the histories of imperial and European borderlands.

Keywords Dietary reform, vegetarianism, vegetarian society, Odessa, voluntary associations, Jews, Russian empire, Black Sea, Vasilii Zuev, Aleksandr Iasinovskii.

… Our canteen, now the only one — in future a whole chain of people’s, workers’ and pupils’ canteens — is called to become the most reliable instrument in the practical implantation and propagation of vegetarianism; equally, in the immediate future, our ideological library, publishing organ, lectures, readings etc. will, by means of the live and printed word, strive to achieve the purposes and goals of our Society.

The epigraph to this article highlights a distinctive trend of activism that the city of Odessa was a part of, and that blossomed across Europe.

During the 19th century, vegetarianism developed into a movement with organizational character in different parts of Europe: a global project of a reforming way of life. As in Britain and German-speaking Europe, vegetarian activism in the Russian empire was also an aspect of broader reformist environments, which addressed the issues of hygiene and dietary reforms, rational dress, natural cures, animal welfare, temperance and anti-vivisection, and called for a return to “natural ways of living.” However, unlike the Anglo-American vegetarian movement and those in Central Europe, which arose earlier in the 19th century, organized vegetarianism did not emerge in the Russian empire until the turn of the century. By the 1910s, vegetarian enthusiasts had mobilized themselves into vegetarian societies and developed an infrastructure in the imperial cities of Saint Petersburg, Warsaw, Kiev, Moscow, Minsk, Odessa, Poltava, Ekaterinoslav, Saratov etc. Vegetarian activists primarily propagated a lacto-vegetarian diet with a ban on alcohol and smoking. However, the ideas of abstention from all animal-based products and a raw food diet were also part of the debate on dietary reform.

The aim of this study is to explore the evolution and implementation of grassroot vegetarian activism in the city of Odessa by focusing on its institutionalization and infrastructure, as well as ideas, practices and activists. How did collective action emerge and become institutionalized? What was its makeup? What alliances and challenges arose, and how did these play out in practice? What were the ideas, motivations, and actions behind it and what individuals engaged in it? What were the strategies to legitimize and popularize vegetarian ideas?

Previous research, sources and methodology of the study

The history of dietary reform activism in Eastern Europe and former territories of the Russian empire in its local, regional and transnational dimensions has not received enough attention, in contrast to other contexts. This may be partly explained by the politics of knowledge production, as well as ideologies and legacies of the Soviet era, when vegetarianism, according to Ronald LeBlanc’s observations, was demonized under Stalin as “a pernicious and ‘antiscientific’ doctrine promulgated by ideologues of the exploitative classes in the capitalist West,” and partly by the dispersal of potential sources across former empires. The historiography of vegetarianism in the Russian empire comprises Peter Brang’s study, and Darra Goldstein’s and Ronald D. LeBlanc’s contributions, as well as a handful of short articles. Due to the scope and focus of their inquiries, they acknowledged the emergence of the chain of vegetarian societies and canteens across the empire without looking at what lay behind the developments, such as the evolution, mobilization and institutionalization of activism.

The sources for this study comprise the reports of the Odessa Vegetarian Society, its charters, Russian imperial vegetarian periodicals — The Vegetarian Review (Vegetarianskoe obozrenie) and The Vegetarian Herald (Vegetarianskii vestnik), the local press — The Odessa News (Odesskie novosti) and The Odessa Sheet (Odesskii listok), as well as materials from the collections of the State Archives of Odesa Region: Collection 2: The Chancellery of Odessa City Governor (Kantseliariia Odesskogo gradonachal’nika); 39: The Odessa City Rabbinate (Odesskii gorodskoi ravvinat); 2147: The Odessa City Medical Institute named after N.I. Pirogov (Odesskii gorodskoi meditsinskii institut im.
N. I. Pirogova
). The reports of the Odessa Vegetarian Society are an informative source, encompassing the protocols and reports of the society’s different commissions, reports of its board, financial reports, lists of members, bookkeeping and other economic materials. It is important to note that most sources utilized for this study were produced by activists or the society itself. Vegetarian periodicals openly proclaimed their ideological function in the popularization of a meatless diet,and should therefore be read critically. The reports of the Odessa Vegetarian Society and the archival materials are used here for scholarly purposes for the first time. One should bear in mind that public life and the press in the Russian empire at that time were under surveillance.

To explore how collective action emerges and develops in an urban milieu, my thinking, to the extent sources allow, is inspired by Alberto Melucci’s collective identity, and Ron Eyerman and Andrew Jamison’s cognitive praxis. The result of the process of constructing an action system is collective identity, which inter alia involves formulating cognitive frameworks concerning goals, means and the environment of action, and activating relationships among actors. A cognitive praxis, the core of collective action, includes: a new “cosmology”/ “utopian mission”, technique (specific concerns and practical activity), the mode of organization for the production and dissemination of ideas (interpersonal contacts, education, media), and the proliferation of intellectuals’ roles necessary to implement ideas in a given context.

By virtue of microhistorical and bottom-up approaches and an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, the study brings to the surface new agents, ideas and practices, as well as shedding light on unknown pages of the history of Odessa and the Black Sea Region and enriching existing knowledge of the histories of imperial and European borderlands.

In the wake of life-reform “in the German style”

“Life-reform” (Lebensreform), the designation coined by contemporaries, was a complex of issue-oriented reform movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in German-speaking Europe whose common goal was lifestyle reform, particularly in the areas of nutrition, clothing, housing and healthcare, propagating a back-to-nature lifestyle. In the 1890s, the reform associations — temperance, sport, anti-vaccination, personal hygiene, nudism, natural healing, vegetarianism, anti-vivisection etc. — began to merge into a network that shared members, objectives and, sometimes, resources. At its peak in 1913—1914, the life-reform network may have counted as many as four million people in its ranks. The infrastructure of natural healing sanatoriums, open-air baths, and spas that arose in Europe at the turn of the century became very popular.

Odessa was an early bird in the empire in following this trend. In late July 1898, Semen Rabinovich, a physician, together with Aleksandr Iasinovskii, Doctor of Medicine, petitioned the Inspector of Odessa Medical Department concerning the adoption of the Charter of Hydropathic Sanatorium (vodolechebnitsa), which they intended to run. The Odessa City Governor and the Minister of Internal Affairs were surprisingly positive about the initiative and quick to react. As early as September 1898, the ministry approved the charter of a sanatorium with 10 permanent beds, with only some minor changes and suggestions. The hydropathic sanatorium was to be maintained at the founders’ expense. In July 1899, the Odessa Medical Department inspector reported to the Odessa City governor about the proper functioning of the sanatorium on Kanatnaia 27. It became popular. Neither Semen Rabinovich’s nor Aleksandr Iasinovskii’s personal files were discovered in Odesa archive. However, given the fact of Iasinovskii’s education and connections to German-speaking Europe, he could have been inspired by lebensreform, bringing some of its forms and ideas to Odessa.

In the shadow of “the Sun of International Vegetarian World”

In this section I showcase Aleksandr Iasinovskii, the ideological guru of the Odessa vegetarians, and his legacy.

Born in 1864 in a well-off Jewish family in Odessa, Iasinovskii studied at the University of Vienna, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation in medicine under the title “The Artery Suture” (Die Arteriennaht).

He took his final examination at the University of Dorpat and received the title of Doctor of Medicine. Prof. Theodor Billroth, Iasinovskii’s teacher in Vienna, invited him to stay on at the university. However, he did not continue with surgery, supposedly because he could not stand the smell of a burnt body during cauterization. A promising surgeon with career prospects at the University of Vienna, Iasinovskii returned to Odessa in 1890, where he began his medical practice. From 1906, he started working on the scientific aspects of vegetarianism. Apart from running a hydropathic sanatorium, he worked for some time as a doctor at Odessa city hospital and Odessa Jewish almshouse. Iasinovskii was devoted to the Jewish community of Odessa, Jewish culture and literature, as Iosif Perper, a co-founder of the Vegetarian Review, observed. According to Perper, Iasinovskii used to hand out his articles and brochures on vegetarianism free of charge, for propaganda purposes. Alongside his medical practice, he wrote about the treatment of scarlet fever, anemia, Carl von Voit’s formula etc., as well as authoring a brochure, “About a slaughter-free diet” (O bezuboinom pitanii). In 1909, this brochure was translated into Yiddish and printed. The translation, titled “Down with meat and meaty” (Doloi miaso i miasnoe), was made under close supervision of the author. Aiming to propagate vegetarianism, the author priced the book cheaply at only 5 kopecks. In 1909, in the second issue of the Vegetarian Review, Samuil Perper hailed this book, as there was a lack of literature on vegetarianism in Yiddish:

Among my fellow tribesmen (edinoplenniki), vegetarianism is spreading with an incredible speed: there is not a single vegetarian society in the world that does not include Jews. Some of these societies consist entirely of Jews, such as Kishinev Vegetarian Society, Jaffa Vegetarian Club, etc.

Both brochures sold out, however. Iasinovskii donated all the income from the brochure “Down with meat and meaty” to charities. As the Vegetarian Review reported, the income from the Russian brochure “About a slaughter-free diet” was donated partly to benefit needy children, and partly to the Kiev Vegetarian Society, of which he was an honorary member. Iasinovskii attempted to reach a wider public through local media. In his posthumous feuilleton article “Meat ghost” (Miasnoi prizrak) also published in the Odessa Sheet in January 1913, he used emotionally loaded language to argue for plant-based food and invited readers to join the Odessa Vegetarian Society. Rhetoric on the growing population, decreasing pasture lands, and rising meat prices are hyperbolized and instrumentalized to claim the inevitability of the disappearance of meat and all animals from the planet in future.

His sudden death on 10 January 1913, at the age of 48, was a great loss for vegetarian activists and the medical world of Odessa. According to the Odessa Rabbinate’s note, the cause of death was heart paralysis. Part of the first issue of the 1914 Vegetarian Review was devoted to his memory. Beside commemorative articles by colleagues, the article by one Ivan Shiptenko, where the author recounted his path to vegetarianism and his experience of Iasinovskii, catch the eye. In 1908, when Ivan Shiptenko lived in a village in Kherson county, an issue of the Odessa News fell into his hands accidentally, in his own words, where he read excerpts from Iasinovskii’s speech at the first meeting of Odessa’s vegetarian enthusiasts. This made a great impression on Shiptenko, and he became Iasinovskii’s follower. In 1909, Shiptenko continued, he moved from his home Kherson county to artel “Krinitsa” in the Caucasus. As a member of the artel’s board, Shiptenko occasionally had the task of approving menus. These however, as Shiptenko pointed out, included meat dishes made of veal, pork, chicken and other fowl. Shiptenko recalled:

[…] Since this was in a contradiction to my beliefs and conscience, I often protested the compiled menu and crossed out everything undesirable. On the part of meat-eaters, this caused ridicule, grumbling and displeasure.

Shiptenko contacted Iasinovskii for advice and guidance, and received the following letter from him:

Gr. Iv. [citizen Ivan]! […] The next time I go to the Caucasus, I will certainly visit you. You should in no way be involved in killing of animals, either directly or indirectly. No one has the right to impose such a job on you, as this is an anomaly and disgrace. We have already achieved a prominent evolution. […] Now, by forcing you to kill animals, you are required to step back, return to a barbaric state. […] If the members of the colony want to flog someone, let them do the flogging themselves; if they want to eat slaughtered foods, let them do the killing themselves; if they want to eat a hare, let them go hunting for it. What do you, vegetarians, have to do with it? On the contrary, you must counteract such abominations in every way and convince your comrades to fall in behind you. The question seems to be clear. I will send you brochures at the same time. In my brochures you find material for the struggle. Do not simply repeat the old mistake; do not rely on religion, ethics, aesthetics, etc. You won’t catch anyone. Strike with facts from the field of anatomy, physiology, chemistry and pathology. Success is then ensured. Be healthy, all the best.
Yours, A.A. Iasinovskii.

In August 1910, Shiptenko was in Odessa to visit the agricultural exhibition and thank Iasinovskii personally for the support provided. Shiptenko, as he wrote himself, was charmed by Iasinovskii’s simplicity in interaction, as he invited him to listen to singing in a synagogue. He also asked Shiptenko to visit him in a hydropathic sanatorium and promised to come to the Caucasus.

Aleksandr Iasinovskii advocated a meatless diet on rational or scientific grounds for reasons of health and hygiene. As a man of science, he contributed to what were considered as medical justifications for a meatless diet. He propagated complete abstention from slaughtered products, reasoned about the nutritional value of dairy and considered eggs a redundant component in a diet. In his article in memory of Aleksandr Iasinovskii, Iosif Perper described him as follows: “He deeply appreciated the ethical side of vegetarianism, but as a doctor, he always started with the hygienic justifications of vegetarianism, moving on to the moral motives.” According to the Odessa Vegetarian Society’s 1912 report, “the majority of Odessa vegetarians are followers of doctor A. A. Iasinovskii”, who was one of founders of the Odessa Vegetarian Society. At the general meeting of the members of the society on March 31, 1913, Vasilii Zuev, chairman of the society, suggested that they “immortalize the memory of Doctor A. A. Iasinovskii, as an ideological preacher and promoter of vegetarianism” and name the Odessa Vegetarian Society after him. Ieguda Gershanskii’s suggestion of hanging Iasinovskii’s portrait in the premises of the Odessa vegetarian canteen was also approved by the general meeting of the society. Unlike the Kiev and Moscow Vegetarian Societies’ canteens where portraits of Leo Tolstoy hung, the Odessa Vegetarian Society’s canteen was decorated with the portrait of Aleksandr Iasinovskii. Moreover, in March 1915, the Council of the Odessa Vegetarian Society petitioned the Odessa City Governor to name the society’s canteen after him; Governor Sosnovskii granted this in May 1915.

All these steps were crucial and symbolic for the collective identity building and identity manifestation of the Odessa vegetarians, and their ideological grounds. Aleksandr Iasinovskii was made an ideological mastermind of Odessa vegetarian activism. As Aleksandr Voeikov, once chairman of the board of Saint Petersburg Vegetarian Society, noted in 1909: “Our Russian vegetarianism consists of two currents: the one independent, of a strictly ethical kind, the Tolstoy stream, and the other, hygienic, predominantly German one.” The rifts and differences between the two directions, as Ronald LeBlanc points out, intensified in the 1910s. The core Odessa vegetarians identified themselves with vegetarianism derived from rational or scientific considerations of the time and advocated by Aleksandr Iasinovskii, rather than that based on moral and humanitarian convictions and associated with Leo Tolstoy.

The Odessa Vegetarian Society: Foundation and organization

Below, we take a closer look at the institutionalization of vegetarian activism in the city. Vegetarian society, as we see, turned into a mobilizing platform for dietary reform promotion.

The idea of founding a vegetarian society in Odessa most probably originated with the same Aleksandr Iasinovskii. Under his initiative in 1908, a constituent assembly of people sympathizing with the idea of vegetarianism was organized. The draft of the Charter of the Odessa Vegetarian Society was submitted to the Odessa City Governor Ivan Tolmachev for approval, which, however, did not occur at that time. In the words of Iosif Perper, the local authorities “found some paragraphs of the charter wrong” to prevent legalization of the society in Odessa at that time. The sources of the study don’t hint at the reasons why the Charter, which was a copy of the Saint Petersburg Vegetarian Society’s and other five vegetarian societies’ charters legalized in the Russian empire by that time, was not approved in 1908. It could have been a matter of Tolmachev’s personal preferences. Given the tense political situation and surveillance in the region and, according to Katherine Sorrels, because officials attributed subversive, conspiratorial intent to movements across the Jewish political spectrum, the Jewish background of the petitioner Iasinovskii might have caused concerns, to say the least. Incidentally, the Chişinău Vegetarian Society, dominated by Jews, was legalized in 1908 and banned the same year. After all, as Kenneth B. Moss reminds us, there was growing Jewish involvement in the radical and socialist movements that flourished across the empire and beyond by this time. However, in April 1912, Viktor Doks, Aleksander Iasinovskii, and Vasilii Zuev petitioned the new city governor Ivan Sosnovskii concerning the same matter. On May 26, 1912, the Charter was finally approved and enacted, and the society was legalized.

The charter of the Saint Petersburg Vegetarian Society served as a basis for the charters of other vegetarian societies across the empire, and the Odessa Society was no exception. The societies’ legal framework and principles of functioning were similar all over the empire. The charter defined the society’s structure and management, the rights and obligations of its members, the competences of a general meeting and a board, the bodies running the society etc. A vegetarian society’s board was elected annually by a general meeting. According to the first paragraph of the charter, the Odessa Vegetarian Society, like other societies of the Russian empire, had three aims. First, it promoted a slaughter-free diet (bezuboinoe pitanie) based on fruit, vegetables, cereals, bread and other plant-based products, instead of consuming the meat of killed animals (meat, fowl and fish). Secondly, it aimed at spreading information about dietary reform via publications, lectures, articles in newspapers and journals, “pointing out the benefits of a vegetarian diet in physical, mental and moral respects.” Finally, the society aimed at facilitating closer communication between people interested in vegetarianism.

The society consisted of what were called full members, competitive members and honorary members. Full members might be people practicing vegetarianism and excluding from their diet all kinds of meat, fowl and fish, but also abstaining from alcohol and tobacco. Competitive members might be people sympathizing with vegetarianism and promoting it, but not necessarily practicing a meatless diet themselves. Honorary members were either sympathizers of vegetarianism or its promoters, who provided services to the society and vegetarianism in general or donated not less than 100 rubles to the society. Each type of membership was defined by certain rights and obligations, and only full members enjoyed voting rights. Actual and competitive members were obliged to pay a single entry-fee on admission to the society, the sum being annually defined by a general meeting. General meetings were composed of full and honorary members. Honorary members were free of any payments, whereas full and competitive members were obliged to make the following payments: a one-off payment not less than 1 ruble when joining the society, and annual payments of 3 rubles.

The society had the right to acquire and alienate movable and immovable property, to make all kind of deals and contracts, to open reading rooms, libraries, book warehouses, clubs and canteens with the authorities’ permission. Furthermore, the society’s funds were made up of single entry-fees, compulsory annual membership fees, donations, interest from existing funds, and income from the above-mentioned enterprises. To gain more funds, the society could arrange public lectures, performances and other activities.

So, in early June 1912, the Odessa Vegetarian Society was finally opened and started its work. This was certainly an event of public interest, not omitted by the Odessa Sheet. Media coverage of the Odessa Vegetarian Society’s activities was comprehensive both in the local Odessa press and in the Vegetarian Review. It may have been possible thanks to Osip Inber, litterateur, chief editor of Heinrich Graetz’s multivolume of the history of Jews, and editorial board member of the Odessa News during 1912—1914. He was also a full member of the Odessa Vegetarian Society during its existence in 1912—1918. Thorough reporting about Odessa vegetarians, in line with the reports of the Odessa Society and Odessa local press coverage, used to appear in “Around the world” (Po miru) of the Vegetarian Review, the column compiled by “Old Vegetarian” (a pseudonym that most probably belonged to Aleksandr Zankovskii) and Samuil Perper.

The Odessa Sheet described the first meeting of the Odessa Vegetarian Society, that took place at the hall of the City Credit Society, as crowded and lively. The audience was diverse, officials, some workers, and local public figures with the intelligentsia being prevalent. The meeting was opened and chaired by Viktor Doks. Several speeches were delivered on vegetarianism, and its philosophical aspects, with an appeal to convert to slaughter-free food (bezuboinaia pishcha). Ieguda Gershanskii and Vasilii Zuev also promoted conversion to a meatless diet. The Odessa Sheet reported that each speech received applause and “it was clear that most people who came to this meeting were sincere supporters of vegetarianism.”

We now take a closer look at the structure of the society itself. The Odessa Society was run through its board that comprised 5 full members, elected annually by and from among the full members. During 1912, the chairman of the Odessa Society was Vasilii Zuev, Aleksandr Iasinovskii was vice chairman, Ieguda Gershanskii secretary, Samuil Fridman treasurer, and Ivan Spafaris board member. Viktor Doks was elected an honorary member of the society. It is important to present the leadership of the society, as they were the architects of its collective action. Vasilii Zuev, the chairman of the society’s board during its existence, was a city engineer. He appears never to have written anything on vegetarianism as such; however, he authored a book on bathhouses, their construction and historical development. Viktor Doks, a nobleman and English by origin, occupied important positions in the city of Odessa. He was a member of Odessa City Council, as well as an honorary judge of the city during 1900—1915. Ieguda Gershanskii, secretary of the board, was of Jewish origin, born in March 1875 in Odessa. Having graduated from the Medical Faculty of Imperator University of St. Vladimir in Kiev in 1895, he became a dentist. Starting from 1906 and up to at least until 1920 he worked as a dentist for the southern-western railway. During 1920—1924, Gershanskii studied at the Medical Faculty of the Odessa State Medical Institute.

During 1912, the Odessa Society’s 21 board meetings took place at Zuev’s apartment. Four general meetings of all members took place in the premises of the Odessa City Credit Society. The first and second general meetings took place on June 7 and 11, 1912, where the society’s board, candidates to membership of the board, and members of the audit commission and its candidates were elected.
A special commission was also appointed for organization of the public canteen, a primary step in the promotion of dietary reform in Odessa. During the third general meeting on August 9, the decision was taken to open “an exemplary vegetarian canteen” with the budget of 4,750 rubles, as well as to start a subscription to shares of 10 rubles among the society’s members. Refunding of contributions was to be conducted from the first available funds of the society. The society’s board started looking for suitable premises for the canteen. The last general meeting of that year in November took several important decisions. It accepted the draft of the annual estimate, worked out by the Board, for the arrangement and maintenance of the vegetarian canteen (8,915 rubles). It was decided to open the canteen with minimum assets of 2,300 rubles. In order to get this sum of money, the board was to take out a loan of 1,000 rubles at a local bank. It was also instructed to take out a loan of 500 rubles at city shops for canteen equipment. To increase the society’s funds, each member of the board donated 100 rubles, while members of the society donated between 10—50 rubles. In addition, a donation of 200 rubles for the organization of the canteen was received from Count Mikhail Tolstoy. Apart from loans taken in bank and shops, the society’s revenues comprised entry fees, membership fees, and donations. 34 members of the Odessa Vegetarian Society became creditors of the society’s activities.

The society’s board for 1913 was as follows: chairman Vasilii Zuev, deputy chairman Mikhail Dmitriev, and the board members — secretary Grigorii Rublev, treasurer Samuil Fridman, and member Aleksandr Van der Shkruf. In 1913, the meetings of the board took place in the premises of the society’s first vegetarian canteen, situated in the International Restaurant at the Paris Hotel on Deribasovskaia Street 7. Vegetarian literature was also sold at the canteen. Both Mikhail Tolstoy and Viktor Doks were honorary members of the society in 1913. According to the board, the decrease in membership numbers by the end of the 1913 was due to non-payment of the membership fee, which was a common problem for many associations across the empire.

By 1914, the current charter of the Odessa Vegetarian Society became obsolete. In November 1914, a draft charter, worked out by Sergei Poves, was approved by a general meeting of the society after several discussions, and submitted to the authorities for approval. After ratification, the charter came into force in 1915. The new charter extended the society’s purposes to include “subsidization” to encourage the dissemination of ideas of vegetarianism. Beside libraries, book warehouses and clubs, the charter enabled the society to open hospitals, orphanages, bakeries, laundries, schools, kindergartens, and summer colonies. A new category, lifetime members, who donated not less than 50 rubles, was introduced. Management of the society’s affairs, as well as powers, competences and obligations of its governing bodies, a general meeting and a board, were modified and specified. The structure and elections of the board were altered (6 members instead of 5 and elected for 2 years). However, board members, according to the paragraph 38, continued to perform their duties free of charge. To assist the board in running the society and its enterprises, the new charter legalized new commissions to be elected by a general meeting. The society’s office work and accounting became bureaucratized and was supposed to be conducted in Russian. Questions directly related to the activities of society were defined by the charter and only those that were brought to the attention of the local police chief and the members of the meeting in advance were to be discussed at a general meeting of the society, as paragraph 29 stipulated. The revision of the charter was welcomed in vegetarian circles of the empire, not to mention the delight of Odessa activists and of Sergei Poves personally:

With the implementation of the newly approved charter, the widest horizons and very attractive prospects of societal development (v otnoshenii obshchestvennogo stroitel’stva) open in front of our society. The harmonious combination of reasonable and mindful economic activity, on the one hand, and spiritual educational work, on the other hand, should serve as the main and the best factor for implantation, development and the most widespread propagation of the ideas, purposes and goals of our society.

Apart from the establishment of Economic and Cultural Educational Commissions within the society in 1914, the position of housekeeper  (ekonomka) at the canteen and new accounting methods were introduced.

In 1915—1918, Viktor Doks, Vasilii Zuev, and Mikhail Tolstoy were honorary members of the society. In those years, the board of the Odessa Society was headed by Vasilii Zuev, while Sergei Poves was the deputy chairman. In 1915—1916, Jews dominated the society’s board, composing more than half of it. In 1917—1918, five out of six board members were Jews. Likewise, during 1915—1918, Jews dominated among members and candidates of Economic, Revision and Cultural Educational Commissions of the society, as the lists of these commissions show. In 1915—1917, a Revision Commission was headed by Karl Fishbein, the Economic Commission was headed by Sergei Poves, Iakov Brodskii was his deputy, and Vasilii Zuev headed the Cultural Educational Commission. In 1916 “permanent doctors of the society,” with no mention of whether they exercised any function, were Dora Barskaia-Rashkovich, and Fanni Traub-Katsnel’son, joined in 1917 by Klara Veinberg, and in 1918 by Leonid Marakhovskii.

The lists of the society’s members contain surnames and initials, and only rarely the professions and addresses of its members. In view of the widespread use of gender-neutral surnames on the lists, any judgements as to the gender of the members are hardly feasible. The word madam (gospozha) is inconsistently attached to females, complicating any statistical estimations. Considering all this, I would still dare to estimate that by the end of 1914, out of 132 full members, 11 were women, and out of 17 competitive members, 5 were women.  By the end of 1916, out of 144 full members, 10 were women, and out of 35 competitive members, 7 were women. Elena Podunenko was a full member of the Society in 1912 and a member of the commission for organization of the society’s canteen. Among 14 members of this commission in 1912, 3 were females if one is to believe the consistency of usage of word madam with respect to women with gender-neutral surnames. Men dominated among the members and also among the candidates to the society’s board. An exception was Adel’ Reiman. She was on the candidate list to the board members in 1913 and 1916. She was also a member of the board in 1915, as well as she was enlisted into the members and candidates of the Economic Commission in 1915. The members’ lists presumably encompass couples or relatives under the same surname or registered at the same address. Interestingly, Lev Aleksandrovich Iasinovskii, probably a brother of Aleksandr Iasinovskii, was a full member of the society during 1913—1918. In 1915, he was on the candidate list to the society’s board and Cultural Educational Commission. In 1916, he was on the candidate list to the society’s board and became its secretary. During 1917—1918, he was a board member and also secretary.  A D. A. Iasinovskaia, possibly another relative to Aleksandr Iasinovskii, was a competitive member of the society in 1913, 1915 and 1916.

Despite fluctuations in the Odessa Vegetarian Society’s membership, its number was high, if not the highest, compared to other societies of the empire. In the Saint Petersburg Vegetarian Society, on January 1, 1914, there were 51 members (3 honorary, 45 full and 3 competitive members); on January 1, 1915, the number was 80 (4 honorary, 65 full and 11 competitive members). It is reasonable to suggest that both the social and ethnic composition of Odessa grassroot activists was quite diverse, with a prevalence of middle-class people and intelligentsia, and with a sizable proportion of Jews.

With the foundation and consolidation of the Odessa Vegetarian Society, an important platform for the promotion of dietary reform was established. Interested individuals and sympathizers were mobilized, and material resources were accumulated. Vasilii Zuev, the society’s seemingly unchangeable chairman, enjoyed wide authority and trust among the members, which contributed to the stability of the organization. Due to extending its agenda and growing ambitions, the structure of the society became complex with time. As the Vegetarian Herald noted, innovations and modifications legitimized by the new charter of 1914 had de facto brought the Odessa Vegetarian Society closer to a trade-industrial type of association, with a division of its funds into primary, spare and reverse.

“Practical hotbeds” of activism or vegetarian public catering in Odessa

Various places in the city offered vegetarian meals as main dishes or sidelines. Vegetarians brought novelty to urban refreshment in Odessa. There were private vegetarian cafeterias run by private entrepreneurs for purely commercial purposes. My focus, however, is directed towards vegetarian canteens organized and run by the Odessa Vegetarian Society, as well as their role in collective action.

The first public vegetarian canteen, 1912–1913

By the end of 1911, there were five vegetarian eateries in Odessa, according to the Vegetarian Review. By the time the vegetarian canteen of the Odessa Vegetarian Society opened in May 1913, at least three private vegetarian eating places had been functioning in Odessa for a while. The first private vegetarian eatery was opened in January 1904 by Elena Podunenko. On January 15, 1914, the occasion of the ten-year anniversary of the first vegetarian canteen, the Odessa News reported that the leaders of the Odessa Vegetarian Society together with Zuev, some physicians and vegetarian enthusiasts, honored and celebrated Podunenko, “a pioneer in the practical implantation of vegetarianism in Odessa” who “had been promoting the interests of public nutrition (obshchestvennoe pitanie).” The celebration took place in the premises of the canteen on Sobornaia Street.

Now I turn to the process of establishment of the society’s first vegetarian canteen, the visible sign of vegetarian collective action in the urban space of Odessa. How was the organization of the canteen set up?

The establishment of the canteen was seen by the leaders as a prime step in the promotion of dietary reform in the city. It was decided to open the canteen with capital from a bank loan, members’ shares, donations and loans from the society’s members. A vegetarian library, culinary school and club were also to be set up in connection to the canteen. According to the board, the fulfilment of all tasks depended on availability of premises for a canteen. However, it was not easy to find premises suitable for a canteen that would meet requirements as to centrality of location and number of rooms. In November 1912, a renowned vegetarian activist, Jenny Schulz, offered her services in starting up a canteen as soon as premises were found. Aiming at getting acquainted with the Moscow Vegetarian Society’s experience in starting up and managing a vegetarian canteen, the board and the Commission for Organization of a Public Canteen invited Il’ia Aleksandrovich, the secretary of the Moscow Vegetarian Society, to Odessa. In December 1912, the members of the commission went to Kiev to get acquainted with the running of the Kiev Vegetarian Society canteen. Grigorii Rublev composed a detailed report about the visit to the Kiev vegetarian canteen, its organizational, personnel and economic aspects, as well as the visit to the Vegetarian Review’s editorial office.

More than 35 apartments were inspected before suitable premises were finally found by May 1, 1913. The preparations for opening of the canteen were hastily begun.

The opening of the canteen in the premises of Paris Hotel on Deribasovskaia 7, on Sunday May 7, 1913, was a great public event, not omitted by the local press. The festive dinner started at the canteen at 12.30. Work in the kitchen was supervised by Jenny Schulz, who wrote a menu for the dinner. One could feast on different cold snacks and drinks, while warm dishes consisted of bouillon with pies and asparagus soup, stuffed potatoes and vegetable croquettes. The festive menu was topped off by ice-cream of two kinds and a cream pie.

After welcoming the guests, chairman Zuev read out greetings telegrams from the Kiev Vegetarian Society, co-workers of the Vegetarian Review, the Society of Russian Doctors, and doctor-obstetrician Piotr Ambrozhevich. Members of the society’s board delivered short speeches on the benefits of vegetarianism and praised the opening of the canteen. Aleksandr Iasinovskii was commemorated. It was mentioned that Ivan Sosnovskii, the city governor, could not attend the opening due to work obligations. Leonid Levitsii, an Odessa medical inspector, argued for the health benefits of a meatless diet, as well as shortcomings of the sanitary control of meat in slaughterhouses, and hygiene aspects in favor of adopting a plant-based diet. Compared to other speeches delivered that day, Levitskii’s speech differed in its appeal and argument. According to Levitskii and in line with Iasinovskii’s vision, uric acid diathesis, gout and arthritis, diseases common among the intelligentsia and well-off people, were caused by meat consumption. The festive dinner was concluded by the public appearance of Jenny Schulz, who was applauded and praised for the food cooked under her supervision.

The prices for food at the canteen, as reported, were moderate: a meal of two dishes cost 35 kopecks, while three dishes cost 45 kopecks. In comparison, in 1911, the prices in one café in the center of Odessa were as follows: bouillon — 7 kopecks; fried eggs — 20 kopecks; fried eggs with sausages — 30 kopecks, sandwiches — between 6 and 10 kopecks, black coffee — 20 kopecks.

Organizing a canteen from scratch and running it appears to have been a demanding venture for vegetarian enthusiasts who obviously had no experience in public catering and the restaurant business. In his report, Grigorii Rublev, a canteen supervisor, recalled the first six months of the canteen’s work, shedding light on the backstage of this enterprise. Even though the source tends to represent Grigorii Rublev’s view, one gets a glimpse of the tensions, difficulties and challenges on the ground faced by the board.

According to the contract between the Paris Hotel and the Odessa Vegetarian Society, the premises of its restaurant with all equipment were leased to the society for one year from May 1, with a possibility of extending the contract for two more years. The canteen opening on May 5 was obviously a success. However, as Rublev disclosed, problems already started the next day, when the canteen was opened to the public. When the canteen opened at 12.00 on May 6, it had to be closed at 14.00 since all the food was already consumed. During May 7—10, customer numbers increased constantly. In order to meet their needs, the staff was hastily expanded and twice as many goods were procured. Finding professional service-minded personnel for the canteen within a limited time was a real challenge. In the words of Rublev, due to the haste, hired people were “the first caught,” unsuitable, lazy and untidy, in his own words. The appointed canteen manager (khoziaika stolovoi) turned out to be “completely unsuitable” as well. Tensions arose between the canteen manager and Jenny Schulz, in charge of the kitchen (khoziaika kukhni). As a result, Schulz announced to the board that she was returning to Kiev. This conflict developed against the backdrop of the influx of customers. On top of that, some members of the society started interfering in canteen affairs, intensifying the chaos, in Rublev’s words. The tensions calmed down somewhat after Zuev’s appeal to the members of the society at the May board meeting, asking them not to use canteen affairs for personal attacks.

Another problem that Rublev addressed was that the spatial capacities of the kitchen did not correspond to those of the canteen’s dining room. The kitchen could hardly encompass 20 staff while the dining room could accommodate 150 customers. Rublev mentioned that the staff of 20 people was not enough, and that the dining room space was too small for all customers during the high season, when 700—800 people visited the canteen daily. Personnel and staff turnover was another headache. As Rublev hinted, hiring service-minded and professional workers had not been an easy task. Jenny Schulz, “who on demand obtained dictatorial powers, that is, complete non-interference in her affairs,” in the words of Rublev, caused concern for the board as well. Finding a canteen manager was not an easy task either. Only on the third attempt, in August 1913, was a skillful, experienced manager hired, who built a strict but productive relationship with a staff of waitresses, rather than setting them against the society’s board as the first manager had done, as Rublev asserted. He continued:

At the present moment [meaning by the end of 1913] the kitchen is run not so much by an experienced, as by a sensible person, who managed to subjugate and guide correctly the entire labor force of the kitchen. Henceforth, finding such a person will continue to be much easier than finding a specialist vegetarian.

Rublev concluded his report with an assessment of canteen’s clientele in 1913. According to him, the society’s vegetarian canteen was visited by many doctors and some professors of the medical faculty, bank and office clerks, men whose wives seasonally left for summer cottages, by people of nearby hotels, and many sick people, both locals and guests, who were prescribed a vegetarian diet. Finally, he acknowledged seasonal fluctuations of customers, whose numbers, and therefore the canteen profit, increased twofold from May to October. The anonymous complaints about the high cost of food were judged as unfair, since, according to Rublev, the canteen was only profitable for five months, from May to October. During the rest of the year, the canteen was not a self-sufficient enterprise, incurring losses of not less than 300 rubles monthly.

Similar to the Saint Petersburg Vegetarian Society, in July 1913 the rules for employees of the Odessa Society’s canteen were adopted by the society’s board, laying the foundation for personnel policy at the canteen. This document regulated the power balance of free-lance employees of the kitchen and canteen, the duration of their working day, the amount of salary and monthly tip, the right to a weekend and weekly pay for a visit to the bathhouse, two meals during the working day, etc. The document also specified the obligations and powers of different groups of employees of the canteen. Bearing in mind the conflict with Schulz and in order to make subordination clear as well as to avoid any confusion, the board included a paragraph saying that all employees were hired and fired by a canteen supervisor.

The First Public Vegetarian Canteen won popularity among locals. From the day of its opening on May 6 to December 31, 1913, 125,471 people visited it. In comparison, 233,077 people visited the First Kiev Vegetarian Canteen in 1913, while 58,977 people visited the second one. In 1913, three vegetarian canteens of the Moscow Vegetarian Society were visited by 560,831 customers. When raising funds for the launch of the public canteen, vegetarian enthusiasts did not foresee the challenges they would face connected to finding premises, procurement of goods and hiring personnel. Looking at the background of the leading activists, none of them had had experience in public catering or the restaurant business.

Having overcome the initial difficulties, the canteen became a nodal point in the society’s activities during 1912—1913. The vegetarian canteen became an important sign of the collective action’s earnestness and the reformed diet’s perceived commercial viability. A canteen prominently situated in the city center could not be ignored, as it proved the feasibility of the diet beyond the home circle.

A vegetarian missionary: Jenny Schulz and her time in Odessa

Jenny Schulz, a well-known vegetarian expert in Central European and Russian imperial circles, arrived in Odessa in May 1913 to set up the society’s first vegetarian dining room. There was no time for familiarization; she got straight to work. So how did she succeed in this task?

We start by taking a closer look at her vegetarian activity through the eyes of Iosif Perper. Schulz was born in 1855 in West Prussia. She graduated from Friedrich Fröbel’s pedagogical courses. In 1889, while in Dresden, Jenny Schulz got acquainted with local vegetarian society, attended vegetarian lectures and studied vegetarian literature. In the same year she turned vegetarian and decided to devote herself to spreading the diet. In 1895, Jenny met a renowned Hungarian vegetarian figure, Prof. V. Weixlgärtner, and with his support she opened the first vegetarian canteen in Budapest, Hungary, in 1896. In the same year the first Hungarian Vegetarian Society was founded by Prof. Weixlgärtner. Schulz went to Zurich in 1900, to run a public vegetarian kitchen there. After Zurich, she worked in vegetarian canteens in Berlin and Locarno. In 1901, she was invited by Leo Tolstoy and like-minded people to Moscow, where in October she opened the first vegetarian canteen in Russia, which functioned for a year or so. At least two more vegetarian canteens in Moscow, as Iosif Perper commented, were started up with Jenny’s involvement. At the invitation of the Hungarian Vegetarian Society, she went back to Budapest to run a vegetarian kitchen there. Having arrived in Budapest, she was impressed by the growth of activism there. After working there for a year, she was invited by Fiodor German and other like-minded people to Moscow in 1907 to run a vegetarian dining room there. However, according to Perper, the opening of the canteen dragged on and Jenny Schulz left for the Caucasus, to Essentuki, to run a vegetarian kitchen at the local sanatorium. When the Moscow Vegetarian Society finally opened its canteen in 1909, Jenny Schulz contributed to the project and worked there. Afterwards she worked for a vegetarian cause in Kiev for a while. In April 1913, during the first All-Russian Vegetarian Congress in Moscow, Schulz oversaw the conference’s vegetarian menu.

When the Odessa Vegetarian Society opened its First Public Canteen in the premises of the International Restaurant at the Paris Hotel on May 5, 1913, the canteen’s kitchen was run by Jenny Schulz, now a well-known figure. Apparently, cooperation was difficult, and tensions occurred between Schulz and the society’s board. It is hard to give details of the reasons for this due to lack of voices of all parties involved. In his report, Grigorii Rublev, member of the society’s board and the canteen supervisor, mentioned Schulz’s dictatorial powers, which together with her being a newcomer in an unknown city and a new setting, according to his judgement, created an insoluble conflict situation, as a result of which she decided to return to Kiev. The power struggle between two parties and the collision between Schulz’s and the board’s visions on the management of the canteen might be the bottom line of the conflict. Jenny Schulz was too experienced a manager and vegetarian expert to let others into “her” domain. The board, on the other hand, wanted to have a full power over the enterprise. However, before leaving for Kiev, Jenny Schulz recommended her sister to take her place. In June 1914, Minna Schulz came to Odessa. As Rublev claimed, Minna Schulz followed the same pattern as her sister, not letting anybody interfere in kitchen matters. After half a year of active search, the board had finally found a “sensible man,” in Rublev’s words, to run the vegetarian kitchen, who however was not a “specialist vegetarian.” Jenny Schulz presumably left Odessa for Kiev and then maybe for Moscow and never returned to Odessa.

Now we will take a closer look at the duties of a canteen manager (ekonomka, khoziaika stolovoi), and a kitchen manager (khoziaika kukhni), and how the powers of these positions were linked to each other. Being liable for finances and property, the canteen manager managed and controlled a warehouse of food and supplies daily. She was responsible for orderliness and tidiness in the canteen, as well as being obliged to strictly monitor and manage the staff of waitresses. She was to ensure that all visitors were attentively and politely served and take corrective measures when needed. She was also responsible for stocktaking. What were Jenny Schulz’s powers in the vegetarian canteen? As the kitchen manager (khoziaika kukhni), Schulz’s job was to buy goods at a market every morning, ensuring and checking its high quality and preservation. She had to control all provision and goods consumption. Schulz had keys to the kitchen, larder and barn. Every day at 5 pm she was supposed to discuss and compose a menu for next day with a cook and send it to the printer. As kitchen manager, she directed cooking assistants, cooks, pan-cooks and dishwashers, “distributing work accurately between them.” Schulz’s job entailed supervising the whole process of cooking, serving and cleaning of the kitchen and dishes. And of course, she was to be present and active during the work of the canteen, between 12 and 6 pm. She was required to report to the board of the vegetarian society about all shortcomings on daily basis. As kitchen manager, she earned 50 rubles. Basically, both managers were to work closely together, which could have created potential tensions between these two positions if the personal chemistry was poor.

In 1903, Posrednik publishing house in Saint Petersburg released a cookbook, 100 Vegetarian Dishes, compiled by Larisa Nikolaeva and based on Jenny Schulz’s work in German, Swiss, Hungarian and Russian vegetarian canteens. In 1909, the second edition was released, and the fourth came out in 1914. The book was a success, as the number of editions shows. From 1905, Jenny Schulz occasionally published articles in Vegetarische Warte, and after 1909, she was employed by the Vegetarian Review. She also wrote for the Vegetarian Review and this periodical published texts about her. With her experience of running vegetarian kitchens in Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, Jenny Schulz was seen in the Russian empire as a trendsetter in vegetarian cooking.

For Odessa vegetarian activists, the arrival of Jenny Schulz, I suppose, was a matter of prestige and symbolic legitimization. It marked their belonging to an imagined international progressive community, even though her stay did not last long. Odessa was not a vegetarian province, even if under Jenny Schulz’s eye, at least for a while, vegetables bought at Odessa markets were transformed into highly praised meals of “European” vegetarian gastronomy (for the dishes served in the Odessa Vegetarian Canteen, see Appendix 1 in the end of the article).

Vegetarian canteens in times of turmoil

1914 and the outbreak of the World War I brought both improvements and challenges to vegetarian activism. One innovation in 1914 was the introduction of the society’s Economic and Cultural Educational Commissions with specific powers, as well as the revision of its charter. In order to optimize the work and manage the canteen more effectively, the board, in its own words, decided to delegate the authority for the procurement of daily foods from the kitchen manager to the Economic Commission. This Commission was supposed to support the canteen supervisor (zaveduiushchii stolovoi). It was composed of nine people, including the chairman of the society, his deputy and two members of the board; the remaining six members were to be elected annually by the general meeting from the society’s full members. The chairman of the Economic Commission was the chairman of the society’s board or his deputy. Beside the purchase of provisions, equipment, goods for the canteen, quality and pricing supervision of procured provisions, and the repair of premises and equipment, the Commission exercised “control over the rational menu design, as well as over improving the quality of dishes served and reducing their prices.” According to Poves, a supervisor of the canteen from June 1914, the collective management of the canteen’s economy had positive effects, since it smoothed and secured thrifty and rational food procurement without compromising quality and despite food shortages and price rises. Moreover, the position of housekeeper (ekonomka) was introduced, whose responsibility was to account for, monitor and store food in pantry and cellar. It allowed the kitchen manager to focus exclusively on the work in the kitchen.

Besides the reorganization of food procurement, bookkeeping and stocktaking were also rearranged, as well as checking and assessing the nutritional value of the food. It was decided to systematically monitor the variety of food served at the canteen in order to ensure the nutritional value of the vegetarian dietary regimen. The scientific food classification system, encompassing 200 species of plants, was embraced and served as a basis for the development of menus. This, in the words of Poves, was to strengthen an argument about the variety of food served at the vegetarian canteen, and to discredit meat-eaters’ accusations of the poor nutritional value of vegetarian food. The ambition was to design and serve a varied and nutritionally rich menu based on scientific grounds, what was called a rational diet. In Poves’ report on the management of the canteen in 1914, the rationalization and optimization of labor, improvements in the canteen’s work, and its assumed role in societal development, are rhetorically intertwined. As Poves maintained, the canteen’s activity could not be considered solely from a gastronomic and restaurant standpoint, designed to satisfy all the tastes of interested people, even in the sphere of vegetarianism. The canteen, as Poves continued, was only one step in the fulfillment of the society’s goals, which, in his words, aimed to implant and propagate the idea of vegetarianism.

Due to changes in the charter, the society’s board revised the rules for free-lance employees in December 1914. The new document legitimized the Economic Commission and position of housekeeper and detailed some paragraphs of the previous document. As with its predecessor, the rules primarily focused on the delimitation of powers and the workers’ obligations, while attention was also paid to the employees’ working conditions and rights. Since the management of the canteen was collectively delegated to the Economic Commission, communication with and daily reporting of the canteen and kitchen managers to the commission were conducted via its chairman.

The outbreak of World War I did not diminish attendance at the vegetarian canteen. In 1914, around 152,928 customers were reported to have eaten there. In 1915, the Vegetarian Herald reported in its spring issue about the huge popularity of the Odessa vegetarian canteen, when on April 5, 1915, according to the report, it was necessary to put a chain on the canteen door and restrict the intake. The queue stretched down the street outside the canteen, the waiting time was long, and the staff did not have time to serve all customers. Interestingly, the same issue reported that at least two private vegetarian canteens had either shifted to serving meat dishes or to a mixed menu. As the Vegetarian Herald maintained, the only canteen that served a purely vegetarian diet was the society’s, where the prices were higher than in the private canteens. This, together with a decline of competitive members of the society and no increase in full members, according to the Vegetarian Herald, was a sign of a decline in the vegetarian movement in Odessa. In contrast to the Vegetarian Herald, Samuil Perper, Iosif Perper’s brother, who lived in Odessa for a time in 1915, provided a very positive picture of the activities of the Odessa Society in the spring issue of Vegetarian Review, listing its achievements and praising it for having “the one vis vitalis, which is so necessary for every public organization (obshchestvennaia organizatsiia) for its prosperity and development.”

The quantity of products consumed increased by 66% during 1915, which served as a proof of a general increase of customers in the canteen. Compared to 1914, the canteen’s income increased by 51%, but expenses also grew due to rising prices. Compared to 1914, some foodstuffs rose in price by as much as 230%. Despite war time, the second canteen was opened in July 1916 on Koblevskaia Street. During 1916, the work of both canteens was at risk due to lack of fuel, supply outages, and very high prices for foodstuffs. The number of visitors to the first canteen did not drop due to the opening of the second one. The society’s board reported on the huge popularity of both canteens and the enthusiasm of the townspeople, who, according to the board, even sent their suggestions for the location of the new canteen. In the words of the board, the opening of the second canteen was of great public value, “since due to the high cost of foodstuffs, and difficulty in fuel production, large numbers even of families go to our canteens with the whole household, where they could get healthy and tasty lunches for a cheap price and we fed almost two thousand people in our two canteens.” 371,577 customers visited the canteens in 1917 and 482,416 people in 1918; 1,210,259 dishes were served in 1917, and 1,033,236 in 1918.

In 1914, the management of the society’s public catering was collectively delegated to the Economic Commission. The position of housekeeper was introduced, which indicated that the society was embracing the logic of optimization of the enterprise, and further institutionalization of activism. At the same time, the rhetoric on rational diet, as well as an eagerness to offer nutritionally rich food, appeared among the leadership. The rise in the cost of basic foodstuffs was gigantic in 1916. Lack of fuel, as well as sporadic supply outages of potato, cabbage, butter, and sour cream, put the functioning of both canteens at risk. Nor was cultural educational work realized in 1916, due to the war. Instead the board directed all its energy and resources into the two canteens, which, in its view, were “the practical hotbeds (rassadniki) and the guides (provodniki) of ideas of vegetarianism.” In times of war, vegetarian canteens continued to offer their services for Odessa townspeople, and even made efforts to counteract the humanitarian disasters of the time.

On a mission: Propaganda and philanthropy

Today the word “propaganda” suggests the biased use of information, but, in the early 20th century, the term seems to have been synonymous with popularization and promotion. Propagating vegetarianism meant enlightening people on how to live and eat, as well as pursuing activities to influence people’s attitudes. The necessity of ideological work when it came to promotion of dietary reform and vegetarianism was acknowledged by the society’s leaders from the time of its foundation. The section below offers a closer look at the methods and strategies of popularization and dissemination of vegetarianism in Odessa.     

In 1913, the board of the Odessa Vegetarian Society deliberately decided to publish 200 copies of the menu on a daily basis, since, as the board maintained, “most canteen visitors take away the ‘menu.’” The board saw this tendency rather positively, as a sign of interest. Therefore, the regular publication of the menu was seen as a way of promoting vegetarianism. Besides, the sale of books, journals and brochures on vegetarianism was legalized in the canteen from October 1913, with the permission of the authorities. In this way, the canteen became an information center for dietary reform.

Sometime in the first half of 1914, the earlier mentioned Osip Inber suggested to use a part of the society’s profits to promote vegetarian doctrine by organizing systematic lectures on vegetarianism. In his well formulated appeal to the Odessa Vegetarian Society, he called on it not to restrict the society’s activities to the maintenance of canteens, given the fact of its ideological purposes, since otherwise, in his view, there would be no difference between the vegetarian society and private vegetarian canteens that also offered slaughter-free food. Every canteen, private or public, exists due to its clientele, exposed to seasonal fluctuations, yet remaining at approximately the same level. Hence, in Inber’s opinion, movement, growth, and progression were simply missed out. Restricting the society’s activity to the maintenance of canteens would thus lead to the society’s stagnation, depriving it of prospects. To avoid this, in Inber’s opinion, the society should take the path of “broad and accessible propaganda.” It must appoint a special commission, which should organize popular lectures on nutrition and vegetarianism, find proper premises for lectures and invite well-informed speakers, publish low-priced brochures and free flyers on the basics of vegetarianism, and in general, as Inber suggested, support by all means a broad popularization of vegetarian ideas in the society of Odessa. It was reported that Inber’s suggestion was received with enthusiasm.

Introduced in 1914, the Cultural Educational Commission, comprising 12 members, aimed at “the most widespread implantation, development and systematic propagation of the idea of vegetarianism.” The Commission declared its intention “to disseminate information about dietary reform through publications, lectures, articles in newspapers and magazines etc., indicating the benefits of a vegetarian diet in physical, mental and moral respects”; working with the help of “organizations of schools, kindergartens, libraries, reading rooms, clubs”, and “publications of books, brochures and periodicals.” In 1914 the Commission organized two public lectures. On March 31, 1914, the first of these was conducted by Ivan Lutsenko in the premises of the vegetarian canteen and entitled “On the Newest Scientific Grounds of Vegetarianism.” On December 16, 1914, Lev Kaplan, a student at the medical faculty of Imperial Novorossian University, gave the second lecture on nutrition and science. Both lectures illuminated medical justifications of dietary reform, and according to the Commission, attracted many listeners. On April 17, 1914, Lutsenko delivered a lecture on the issue of nutrition in the premises of the Odessa Literature Artistic Club. Some words should be said about Ivan Lutsenko, a homeopathic doctor and a political leader of the Ukrainian national movement. He authored works on medicine, including the treatment of measles, hemorrhoids, scarlet and typhoid fever, and cholera, but none on dietary reform. A nobleman from Poltava province, he took his doctorate on night blindness at Saint Petersburg Imperial Medical and Surgical Academy in 1893. He was an organizer and a first chairman of the Board of the Odessa Ukrainian Cultural Society “Prosvita”. In 1905 he was elected to Odessa council as a deputy for the Ukrainian Democratic Party. In 1906, Lutsenko founded the People’s Cause (Narodna sprava), the first Ukrainian newspaper, soon afterward closed by the authorities. In 1917 he became a member of the Central Council (Tsentral’na Rada) of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In April 1919, during the retreat of the Ukrainian People’s Republic’s troops, he died in a battle with Red Army cavalry. Vegetarian collective action, as this shows, attracted a range of people to the cause of its promotion.

Anniversaries were a good pretext for attracting public and media attention to the cause of dietary reform. On May 5, 1915, the second anniversary of the opening of the first public vegetarian canteen, the Odessa Society organized a gala dinner attended by many Society’s members and 80 guests. This was covered by the Odessa News and was partly for promotional purposes, as the Vegetarian Review implied. A number of greetings and speeches were delivered at the event. Leonid Kaplan spoke about the hygienic, dietetic value of vegetarian food, as the only useful food for a human being. Sergei Poves spoke about social aspects of vegetarianism and Petr Ambrozhevich pointed out the usefulness of vegetarian diet for parturient woman.

The society planned to increase promotion and publishing activities in 1915, and 1,500 rubles were allocated for these purposes. However, the breakthrough in the commission’s activity did not happen and, as the board itself acknowledged, the Cultural Educational Commission did not meet even once in 1915. Nor was any of the planned cultural educational work, including lectures, and publications, realized in 1916, due to the ongoing war. Instead, the board redirected its focus on the canteens, as mentioned before.

Apart from purely philanthropical intentions, charity was also seen by the Odessa Vegetarian Society as a way to publicize and promote the society’s goals. The society offered lunch coupons for people in need as well as preferential lunches in the vegetarian canteen for the students of Novorossian University and Women’s Higher Courses. For these types of charity, fixed sums of money were regularly allocated. During 1913, the Odessa vegetarian canteen provided a limited number of preferential lunches for the students of Novorossian University and Higher Women’s Courses, as well as for people in need. The same policy was pursued during 1914 for the “development of propaganda of vegetarianism among young students and at the same time to help the poorest of them.” On May 5, 1914, on the first anniversary of the opening of the first public vegetarian canteen in Odessa, the students of Odessa’s higher educational establishments were provided with 150 free lunches. Students obviously constituted an important focus group for propagation of vegetarianism and made up a good share of the canteens’ clientele.

With the outbreak of World War I, charitable activities were expanded, and new types were introduced with respect to refugees, and homeless children of conscripts, for example. In 1914, the board of the society met the request for help from the guardianship society for Jewish children of reservists called up to fight, and decided to allocate 2% of the gross profit of the canteen for this society. In 1915—1916, charitable activities and donations continued to be pursued, along with student discounts and free lunches. Due to rising food prices and fuel shortages, prices in the canteen were raised twice during 1915. In 1915, the preferential discount for students’ and pupils’ lunches constituted 3,880 rubles 33 kopecks. To the board’s delight, most visitors to the canteen were students of the medical faculty at the local university. Taking into consideration the local medical beau-monde’s sympathy to the vegetarian cause, this fact also carried the potential replenishment of a future vegetarian flock with ideologically sound new converts: A new generation of medical vegetarians, so vital for the reproduction of activism!

Based on the socially significant activities exercised by the society and the fact that it pursued no commercial goals, in its board’s words, it — unsuccessfully — petitioned the Odessa city council to reduce the city tax on the two canteens. Despite continuous rhetorical emphasis on commitment to the ideals of vegetarianism in the society’s documentation, the outbreak of war brought some adjustments to its agenda and the realization of its purposes. In the horrors of war, it seems, the ideological work of spreading dietary reform by arranging educational and public events, as initially planned, became irrelevant, if not absurd. On the other hand, it is hard to say what vegetarianism activism and its ideological work would have been looked like if war had not broken out. Despite economic hardships and hyperinflation, the society continued and even expanded its philanthropical activities.

Mission (not) completed? Concluding discussion

Odessa vegetarian activists appear to have been a well-organized, well-mobilized, ideologically united, self-sufficient and financially sustainable community with a vision, agenda and established institutions. Given the number of full and competitive members of the society, and despite occasional membership fluctuations, it was certainly one of, if not the most numerous among vegetarian societies in the Russian empire.

When it comes to its ideological grounds and collective identity, Odessa vegetarian activists proclaimed themselves followers of Aleksandr Iasinovskii, a Doctor of Medicine, an advocate of a meatless diet on scientific grounds, for reasons of health and hygiene. He was virtually canonized as the activism’s guru. Dietary reform found a response and interest in the medical world of Odessa. Local doctors and physicians were members of the society and involved in collective action. Students of the medical faculty made up a good part of the customers of the vegetarian canteens. In view of the ideological stand of the Odessa cohort, this reciprocity was crucial for the activism’s reproduction. Representatives of the local elite (Viktor Doks, Ivan Sosnovskii, Leonid Levitskii) also sympathized with vegetarianism.

Typically, this kind of activism was essentially upper middle-class and upper working-class, with some supporters among the lower classes. The core of the society and its members comprised of public figures, intellectuals, local elite, doctors, physicians, engineers, clerks, journalists. There are reasons to argue that women were underrepresented among the society’s full and competitive members. When studying the lists of members of the society and other documentation, it becomes obvious that activists of Jewish origin constituted its sizable part. I did not come across evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes in Odessa vegetarian circles, although these occurred in other settings, but antisemitism certainly existed in the city of Odessa as previous research showed. Unless new sources prove the opposite, one may suggest that Odessa vegetarian activism appeared as a space of interactive and multi-ethnic cooperation in an imperial public life, a space of contact among diverse people, and an ostensibly expanded space for Jewish agency.

The Vegetarian Society was legalized in 1912, turning into a mobilizing platform for passionate supporters and sympathizers of vegetarianism. Yet, the available sources are not particularly outspoken on why and how people actually got mobilized. The society underwent advancement of its institutions, as well as revision of its Charter in 1914, enabling all organizational innovations to be legalized. Jenny Schulz and her short stay in Odessa somewhat symbolically legitimized Odessa vegetarian activism, putting it on the map of her virtual European tour in service of new dietary regimen.

Despite the outbreak of the war, food shortages and inflation, the Odessa Vegetarian Society expanded its public catering. This would not have been feasible if there was no demand. Remarkably, the society’s canteens managed to survive the outbreak of war and the second canteen was even opened in 1916. Vegetarian canteens were important signs of the activism’s earnestness and the reformed diet’s perceived commercial viability. With the ambition to serve a rational and nutritionally rich diet in line with the latest science, public canteens offered a varied European cuisine, encouraging their numerous customers to explore new tastes and combinations. As James Gregory reminds us, the promotional and practical value of vegetarian restaurants had long been appreciated, but for much of the period the vegetarian movement had to rely on the power of the platform and print. Vegetarian canteens turned into meeting places for converts and activists, hubs of enlightenment, where books and brochures were sold and lectures delivered, and locations where a reformed diet could be tasted by the uninitiated. The Odessa Society’s promotional educational activities, discussed and started up in a small way in 1914, already died out the following year. The war still made corrections to the society’s agenda, although it is hard to say how it would have been looked like if the war had not broken out.

Drawing attention to the cause in public could have borne fruit. Thanks to a journalist among its members, the Odessa Society enjoyed certain publicity. Media coverage of the society’s activity both in local press and all-empire vegetarian press was thorough. The society’s anniversaries and its media coverage, and tactical publication of canteen’s menus, were among the latent methods of, if not promotion, then at least conducting a groundwork for mobilization by making Odessa townspeople aware of the phenomenon. Philanthropic activities, such as free lunches for young students at the society’s canteen, could be judged as both humanitarian measures and latent forms of popularization of the cause.

Based on the sources of the study, it is hardly possible to make any reliable estimates about how vegetarianism was taken up by wider society, or of the success of the dissemination strategies and tactics pursued. The popularity of the canteens is neither a measurement, nor a direct proof, of the success of propagation. People could have been attracted to canteens for other reasons than ideology: moderate prices and the good quality of food served at the canteens, and finally their locations, etc.

According to Ronald LeBlanc, the demise of the Russian imperial vegetarian movement can be attributed more to the altered social, political, ideological, and economic circumstances that followed the Bolshevik seizure of power rather than to the ideological polemics that took place within the movement between the “moralistic vegetarians” and the “hygienic vegetarians” during the pre-revolutionary period. 1918 was the last year of the Odessa Vegetarian Society’s activity. The sources of the study are not outspoken about the closure of the society, which however survived the February and October Revolutions of 1917. Further research is required to shed light on the matter. Vegetarian activism in Odessa certainly had resources and important potential — precious knowledge, distinguished intellectuals and masterminds, eager managers, a financial and material base, middle-class radicals, willingness to act, as well as a critical mass of enthusiastic townspeople open for new tastes and experiences.

The subject of vegetarianism in imperial Russia, Darra Goldstein observes, “inevitably conjures up Leo Tolstoy, a guru for vegetarians of all stripes even today.” Historical studies of vegetarianism, as a rule, almost invariably contain a brief section on Tolstoy and the Dukhobors, the members of the peasant religious sect who shared his radically Christian principles, including vegetarianism, as Ronald LeBlanc notes. This study shows how approaching vegetarian activism from the vantage point of the imperial borderlands, as well as introducing new sources from the former imperial provinces, can enrich and nuance our understanding of the phenomenon. It also introduces new dimensions and sets out to question established truths, as well as bringing to the surface new personalities who have not gained their place in the history of dietary reform in Eastern Europe.

Note: All translations are the author’s unless otherwise indicated.

Acknowledgements: This study is conducted within my postdoctoral project at the CBEES, financed by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies (Östersjöstiftelsen).

Appendix: See pdf


  1. The epigraph is from Sergei Poves, a supervisor of the first vegetarian canteen of the Odessa Vegetarian Society, see: “Doklad Tovarishcha Predsedatelia Obshchestva po zavedyvaniiu stolovoi v 1914 godu,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god (Odessa, 1915), 20.

  2. The name of imperial cities (such as Odessa, Kiev), and newspapers (Odesskie novosti etc.) or streets are in Russian as they appear in the sources of the study. Russian was an official language of communication within the Odessa Vegetarian Society and between vegetarian associations. Educational activities and propagation were also pursued in Russian. The sources produced and left by the societies and activists are mainly in Russian, except for activists’ books translated into other languages such as Bulgarian, Yiddish etc. The activists’ names are transliterated from Russian as they appear in the sources. When it comes to the modern-day names of, for example, regional archives, the names are written in Ukrainian, as in the case of State Archives of Odesa Region.

  3. Ronald D. LeBlanc, “Vegetarianism in Russia: The Tolstoy(an) Legacy,” in The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, no.1507 (2001), 1.

  4. Darra Goldstein, “Is Hay Only for Horses? Highlights of Russian Vegetarianism at the Turn of the Century,” in Food in Russian History and Culture, ed. by Musya Glants and Joyce Toomre (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 103—123; Peter Brang. Rossiia neizvestnaia: istoriia kul’tury vegetarianskikh obrazov zhizni ot nachala do nashikh dnei. Per. s nem. A. Bernol’d i P. Branga (Moscow: Iazyki slavianskoi kul’tury, 2006); LeBlanc, 1—39. Based solely on vegetarian periodicals and due to biased methodology, the research implementation and the results of Olena Pyvovarenko’s study on the Odessa Vegetarian Society appear unreliable and limited. See: Olena Pyvovarenko, “Odesa Vegetarian Society at the Beginning of the XXth Century: Issues of Foundation and Main Activity Directions. On the Periodic Materials,” Skhidnoievropeiskyi Istorychnyi Visnyk, issue 13, 2019, 77—83.

  5. Alberto Melucci, Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society (London: Hutchinson Radius, 1989).

  6. Ron Eyerman and Andrew Jamison, Social Movements: A Cognitive Approach (Penn State University Press, 1991).

  7. Melucci, 34—35.

  8. Eyermann&Jamison, 68—70.

  9. From the huge amount of literature see: Alain Drouard, “Reforming Diet at the End of the Nineteenth Century in Europe,” in Peter J. Atkins, Peter Lummel and Derek J. Oddy, eds. Food and the City in Europe since 1800. (England – USA: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007),  215—225; Ulrike Thoms, “Vegetarianism, Meat and Life Reform in Early Twentieth-century Germany and their Fate in the ‘Third Reich’,” in David Cantor, Christian Bonah and Matthias Dörries, eds., Meat, Medicine and Human Health in the Twentieth Century (London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2015), 145—157.

  10. Cited from: Avi Sharma, “Wilhelmine Nature: Natural Lifestyle and Practical Politics in the German Life-Reform Movement (1890—1914),” Social History, 37:1 (2012): 43—44.

  11. Jill R. Steward, “Moral Economies and Commercial Imperatives: Food, Diets and Spas in Central Europe, 1800—1914,” Journal of Tourism History, 4:2 (2012): 181—203.

  12. State Archives of Odesa Region (Derzhavnyi arkhiv Odes’koi oblasti) (further DAOO), Collection 2, Inventory 1, File 2498. Ob utverzhdenii ustava vodolechebnitsy s postoiannymi krovatiami vrachei Semena Rabinovicha i Aleksandra Iasinovskogo. 1898—1899, sheets 1—8; Ustav Vodolechebnitsy v g.  Odesse vracha Semena Samoilovicha Rabinovicha i doktora meditsiny Aleksandra Aleksandrovicha Iasinovskogo: utv. 18 sent.1898 (Odessa, 1898).

  13. This designation was assigned to Leo Tolstoy by his followers-activists in the vegetarian press, a purposeful act in a chain of other acts, as LeBlanc suggests, to fashion and shape Tolstoy’s image as a vegetarian in a more appealing way, as a compassionate humanitarian vegetarian rather than religious, ascetic one. See: LeBlanc,  7, 17, 19.

  14. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Doktor A. A. Iasinovskii,” in Vegetarianskoe obozrenie (further VO), no.1 (1912): 3; Alexander Jassinowsky, “Die Arteriennaht. Eine experimentell-chirurgische Studie.” Dorpat, 1889. Accessed on January 21, 2020, from:

  15. Odesskoe vegetarianskoe obshchestvo. Otchet za 1912 god (Odessa, 1913),  1.

  16. V mire pechati, in VO, no.1 (1913): 41.

  17. Iosif Perper, “Pamiati druga,” in VO, no.1 (1913): 2.

  18. “Doktor meditsiny Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Iasinovskii (Nekrolog),” in Odesskoe Vegetarianskoe Obshchestvo. Otchet za 1912 god (Odessa, 1913),  2.

  19. Staryi vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 2 (1909): 30.

  20. Staryi vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 10 (1909): 36—37.

  21. Aleksandr Iasinovskii, “Miasnoi prizrak. Posmertnaia stat’ia doktora A.A. Iasinovskogo,” in VO, no.1 (1913): 6—9.

  22. DAOO, Collection 39, Inventory 5, File 148. Metricheskaia kniga Odesskogo gorodskogo ravvinata za 1913, sheet 17.

  23. In pre-revolutionary Russia, an artel was a cooperative association of craftsmen, farmers or agricultural laborers living and working together.

  24. Ivan Shiptenko, “Pamiati doktora A.A. Iasinovskogo,” in VO, no. 1 (1914): 2.
  25. Shiptenko, 2—3. Bold letters by the author of this article.

  26. Shiptenko, 3—4.

  27. Iosif Perper, “Pamiati druga,” in VO, no.1 (1913): 2.

  28. “Doktor meditsiny Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Iasinovskii (Nekrolog),” in Otchet za 1912 god, 2.

  29. Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1913 god (Odessa, 1914),  5.

  30. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 4—5 (1913): 202.

  31. DAOO, Collection 2, Inventory 7, File 469. Delo Kantseliarii Odesskogo Gradonachal’nika. Ustav Odesskogo Vegetarianskogo Obshchestva, 1912—1915, sheets 33—34.

  32. Aleksandr Voeikov, “Pestrye zametki,” in VO, no.2 (1909): 11.

  33. LeBlanc, 11.

  34. “Obshchemu Sobraniiu g.g. Chlenov Odesskago Vegetarianskago O-va. Doklad Soveta o deiatel’nosti za 1912 god,” in Otchet za 1912 god,  6—7.

  35. O sovremennom polozhenii vegetarianstva v Rossii.’ Doklad, chitannyi Iosifom Perperom 11 iulia 1909 goda v Moskovskom Vegetarianskom Obshchestve,” in VO, no. 7 (1909): 22—26.

  36. Katherine Sorrels, “Police Harassment and the Politicization of Jewish Youth in Interwar Bessarabia,” East European Jewish Affairs 47:1 (2017): 62—84. Pyvovarenko claims that the Odessa Vegetarian Society was not registered in 1908 “primarily due to his [Tolmachev’s] anti-Semitic views.” This claim however is not grounded in the sources she refers to in her article, see: Pyvovarenko, Odesa Vegetarian Society, 78.

  37. Kenneth B. Moss, “At Home in Late Imperial Russian Modernity – Except When They Weren’t: New Histories of Russian and East European Jews, 1881—1914,” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 84, no. 2 (2012): 403.

  38. “Obshchemu Sobraniiu g.g. Chlenov Odesskago Vegetarianskago O-va. Doklad Soveta o deiatel’nosti za 1912 god,” in Otchet za 1912 god,  6.

  39. Ustav Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva (Odessa: Tip. G. Borsutskago i Kh. Vulikhmana, 1912),  3—12.

  40. See: “Zvuki dnia” and “Vegetarianstvuiushchaia Odessa,” in Odesskii listok, no. 132, 8 June 1912,  2.

  41. “Vegetarianstvuiushchaia Odessa,” in Odesskii listok, no. 132, 8 June 1912,  2.

  42. Otchet za 1912 god,  3.

  43. Vasilii Zuev, Bani i vanny. Ikh ustroistvo, gigienicheskoe znachenie i istoricheskoe razvitie (Odessa: Tipografiia Iuzhno-Russkogo Obshchestva Pechatnogo Dela, 1898).

  44. In 1925, Gershanskii wrote and defended a diploma dissertation for the title of physician under the title “The Correlation Between Diseases of Teeth and the Tooth Cavity and Other Diseases of a Body.” See: DAOO, Collection 2147, Inventory 1, File 5193. Sprava z dokumentamy hromadianyna Hershans’koho Iehudy Aronovycha pro skinchennia kursu Odes’koho meduniversytetu, 1924—1926, sheets 1—2, 24—25, 28.

  45. “Spravochnyi otdel,” in Otchet za 1912 god,  22.

  46. Otchet za 1912 god,  4—5.

  47. DAOO, 2—7—469, sheet 9.

  48. Otchet za 1912 god,  4—5; “Denezhnyi Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1912 god,” in Otchet za 1912 god,  12—15.

  49. “Denezhnyi Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1912 god,” in Otchet za 1912 god, 12—16.

  50. Otchet za 1913 god,  3—4.

  51. DAOO, 2—7—469, sheets 8, 23—26, 28—32.

  52. DAOO, 2—7—469, sheet 27.

  53. “Ustav Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva, 1914,” in DAOO, 2—7—469, sheets 9—15.

  54. “Doklad Tovarishcha Predsedatelia Obshchestva po zavedyvaniiu stolovoi v 1914 godu,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god (Odessa, 1915),  25.

  55. “Odesskoe Vegetarianskoe Obshchestvo,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1915 god (Odessa, 1916),  3—7; “Odesskoe Vegetarianskoe Obshchestvo,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1916 god (Odessa, 1917),  3—7; “Odesskoe Vegetarianskoe Obshchestvo,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1917 god (Odessa, 1918),  3—5; “Odesskoe Vegetarianskoe Obshchestvo,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1918 god (Odessa, 1919),  3—5.

  56. Otchet za 1914 god,  93—97.

  57. Otchet za 1916 god,  55—61.

  58. Otchet za 1912 god,  3

  59. Peterburgskoe vegetarianskoe obshchestvo. Otchet o deiatel’nosti obshchestva za 1914 god i spisok chlenov na 1 ianvaria 1915 (Spb, 1915).
  60. Vegetarianskii vestnik, no. 3—4 (1915): 16.

  61. Staryi Vegetarianets, S.O. Perper, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 9—10 (1911): 52—58.

  62. “Svedeniia o chastnykh Vegetarianskikh stolovykh v g.Odesse,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  49.

  63. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 1 (1914): 36.

  64. “Obshchemu Sobraniiu Chlenov Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva. Doklad Soveta o deiatel’nosti za 1912 god,” in Otchet za 1912 god, 6—8.

  65. “Doklad chlena Soveta, zavedyvaiushchego stolovoi G.Ia.Rubleva,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  28.

  66. “Doklad ob osmotre stolovoi Kievskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva G.Ia. Rubleva,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  41—48.

  67. “Obshchemu Sobraniiu g.g. Chlenov Odesskago Vegetarianskago O-va. Doklad Soveta o deiatel’nosti za 1912 god”, in Otchet za 1912 god,  8.

  68. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1913 god,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  9.

  69. “Otkrytie Stolovoi,” in Otchet za 1913 god, 15—23. Ivan Sosnovskii, Odessa City Governor, accompanied by medical inspector Levitskii and Zuev, lunched at the vegetarian canteen for the first time on February 4, 1914. Both Sosnovskii and Levitskii left the best reviews of the canteen, food and service in the visitors’ book, according to the society’s report, see: Otchet za 1914 god,  15—16.

  70. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 4—5 (1913): 202.

  71. Adresnaia i spravochnaia kniga g. Odessy na 1911 g. Vsia Odessa (Odessa: Izdanie i redaktsiia L.A. Lisianskago, 1911),  49.

  72. “Doklad Chlena Soveta, zavedyvaiushchago stolovoi G.Ia.Rubleva,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  27—30.

  73. Ibid,  31—32.

  74. Ibid,  30.

  75. Ibid,  32.

  76. Ibid,  34—35.

  77. “Pravila dlia sluzhashchikh Stolovoi Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva, utverzhdennyia Sovetom togo zhe Obshchestva v zasedanii ot 5 iulia 1913,” in Otchet za 1913 god, 73—77.

  78. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no.3 (1914): 116.

  79. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 3 (1914): 115—116.

  80. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 2 (1914): 71.

  81. Iosif Perper, “Zh.I.Shul’ts,” in VO, no.6—7 (1911): 38—41.

  82. “Doklad Chlena Soveta, zavedyvaiushchago stolovoi G.Ia. Rubleva,” in Otchet Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1913 god (Odessa, 1914),  32.

  83. Ibid,  32.

  84. “Pravila dlia sluzhashchikh Stolovoi Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva, utverzhdennyia Sovetom togo zhe Obshchestva v zasedanii ot 5 iulia 1913,” in Otchet za 1913 god, 74—75.

  85. Ibid, 75.

  86. “Doklad ob osmotre stolovoi Kievskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva G.Ia. Rubleva,” in Otchet za 1913 god,  44.

  87. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” VO, no. 6 (1909): 36—38. See also: Nikolaeva, Larisa. Sto vegetarianskikh bliud: Nastavlenie k prigotovleniiu kushanii dlia bezuboinogo pitaniia, sostavlennye na osnovanii praktiki Zh.I. Shul’ts v germanskikh, shveitsarskikh, vengerskikh i russkikh vegetarianskikh stolovykh. Izdanie 4-e (Moskva: Posrednik, 1914).

  88. Iosif Perper, “Zh.I.Shul’ts,” in VO, no. 6—7 (1911): 38—41.

  89. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god,” in Otchet za 1914 god,  13—14.

  90. “Instruktsiia Khoziaistvennoi Komissii pri Odesskom Vegetarianskom Obshchestve,” in Otchet za 1914 god,  87.

  91. “Doklad Tovarishcha Predsedatelia Obshchestva po zavedyvaniiu stolovoi v 1914 godu,” in Otchet za 1914 god, 21.

  92. Ibid,  22.

  93. Ibid,  22—23.

  94. Ibid,  20.

  95. ”Pravila dlia sluzhashchikh po vol’nomu naimu lits v Odesskom Vegetarianskom Obshchestve, utverzhdennyia Sovetom O-va 5-go Iulia 1913 i 23-go Dekabria 1914,” in Otchet za 1914 god,  79—84.

  96. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no.3 (1915): 110.

  97. Novyi Vegetarianets, “Odessa,” “Upadok vegetarianskikh stolovykh v Odesse,” in Vegetarianskii vestnik [further VV], no.3—4 (1915):16—18.

  98. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 5 (1915):184—185.

  99. “Doklad Khoziaistvennoi Komissii,” in Otchet za 1915 god, 12—14.

  100. “Otchet Pravleniia o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1916 god,” in Otchet za 1916 god,  9.

  101. “Rost khoziaistvennoi deiatel’nosti,” in Otchet za 1918 god,  24.

  102. “Doklad Khoziaistvennoi Komissii,” in Otchet za 1916 god, 12.

  103. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1913 god,” in Otchet za 1913 god, 11.

  104. Ibid, 11—12.

  105. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 8—9 (1914): 302—303.

  106. “Instruktsiia Kul’turno-Prosvetitel’noi Komissii pri Odesskom Vegetarianskom Obshchestve,” in Otchet za 1914 god,  91.

  107. Ibid.

  108. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god,” in Otchet za 1914 god, 14—15. “The Instruction of the Cultural Educational Commission of the Odessa Vegetarian Society” was adopted by the general meeting on December 4, 1914.

  109. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no.5 (1914): 196.

  110. For example, see: Taras Vintskovs’kyi i Oleksandr Muzychko, Ivan Lutsenko (1863—1919): ukrains’kyi natsietvorets’ (Kyiv: Hamazyn, 2013).

  111. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no. 5 (1915): 184.

  112. Novyi Vegetarianets, “Odessa,” in VV, no. 3—4 (1915):16—17.

  113. “Doklad Revizionnoi Komissii Obshchemu Sobraniiu,” in Otchet za 1915 god,  62.

  114. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1913 god,” in Otchet za 1913 god, 11.

  115. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god”, in Otchet za 1914 god, 11.

  116. Staryi Vegetarianets, “Po miru,” in VO, no.5 (1914): 196.

  117. “Otchet Soveta o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1914 god,” in Otchet za 1914 god, 12—13.

  118. “Otchet Pravleniia o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1915 god,” in Otchet za 1915 god,  9—10.

  119. “Otchet Pravleniia o deiatel’nosti Odesskago Vegetarianskago Obshchestva za 1916 god,” in Otchet za 1916 god,  9.

  120. On the antisemitism in Odessa see: Robert Weinberg, “The Pogrom Of 1905 in Odessa: A Case Study.” In Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History, ed. by John D. Klier and Shlomo Lambroza (Cambridge University Press, 1992),  248—289.

  121. Gregory, Of Victorians and Vegetarians,  141.

  122. LeBlanc,  25.

  123. Goldstein,  103.

  124. LeBlanc,  2.
  • by Julia Malitska

    Received her PhD in History in 2017 with the dissertation Negotiating Imperial Rule: Colonists and Marriage in the Nineteenth-Century Black Sea Steppe. PhD in History and a project researcher at Södertörn University, Sweden. She currently completes her project on the history of dietary reform and vegetarianism in the late Russian empire. Her current research interests include imperial, post-imperial and new imperial histories of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, as well as intertwined histories of science, politics, food and environment.

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