With mid-nineteenth century advances in scientific studies of health and nutrition, diet-based cookbooks like Dr. Russell Trall’s proliferated. Trall founded the New York Hydropathic and Physiological School in 1854, and his New Hydropathic Cook Book was one of the first to subscribe to the school’s advocacy of the water cure, using baths and drinking pure water to combat disease and maintain health. The diet proposed in the cookbook consists almost entirely of fruits, grains, and vegetables, with a few animal-based recipes thrown in for those who demanded a wider diet. More than just a list of recipes, the cookbook presents the basis of Trall’s diet—the belief that all nutritive material comes from vegetables, and thus animal foods are inferior because they are derivative and likely to be impure. It also includes a discussion of digestion and an exhaustive catalogue of vegetable foods. This edition of The New Hydropathic Cookbook was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the society is a research library documenting the lives of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection comprises approximately 1,100 volumes.
About the Author
Born in 1812, Russell Trall grew up on a farm in western New York, then studied medicine and settled in New York City, where he became a hydropathist. In 1843 he opened a water-cure establishment and later expanded it to a medical school, The New York Hydropathic and Physiological School. Trall was recording secretary for the first American Vegetarian Society launched in New York. Although his earliest works included small numbers of recipes for meat and animal products (he did describe them as a “compromise”), by 1863 Trall changed the food at his establishment to consist entirely of plant foods and water, and later wrote The Hygeian Home Cook-Book (1874), the first known vegan cookbook.