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Rynn Berry

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Rynn Berry
Rynn Berry at the 2012 World Vegetarian Congress in San Francisco
Rynn Berry at the 2012 World Vegetarian Congress in San Francisco
Born(1945-01-31)January 31, 1945
Honolulu, Hawaii, US
DiedJanuary 9, 2014(2014-01-09) (aged 68)
New York Methodist Hospital, New York City, New York, US
OccupationAuthor, activist
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania, Columbia University
GenreHistory and biography, short plays
SubjectVegetarianism and veganism

Rynn Berry (January 31, 1945 – January 9, 2014) was an American author and scholar on vegetarianism and veganism,[1] as well as a pioneer in the animal rights and vegan movements.[2]

Early life[edit]

Berry was born on January 31, 1945, in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, where his mother and maternal siblings lived. He studied literature, archeology, and classics at the University of Pennsylvania, and ancient history and comparative religion at Columbia University.[3][4]

He became vegetarian as a teenager and vegan at the age of 21.[5] He became a rawfooder in 1994.[6]


Berry taught comparative literature at Baruch College and later culinary history at New School for Social Research in New York City.[6] He was a scholar of vegetarian history, and wrote a number of books, plays, and other works on this subject.[7] Richard H. Schwartz, founder of Jewish Veg, called his fourth book, the 2004 work, Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover (with an introduction by Lantern Books's co-founder Martin Rowe) a "thoughtful and carefully documented book."[8] A frequent international lecturer,[9][10][11] Berry's books have been translated into many languages, and he was locally and internationally known in the vegan community.[12][13]

Berry also wrote the entry on the history of vegetarianism in America for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (2004),[14] edited by Andrew Smith, and he was commissioned to write seven entries for The Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America (2007).[15] He was also a playwright who contributed a number of short plays about 'famous vegetarians in history'.[16] He wrote a chapter on the history of the raw food movement for Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets.[17]

He was also on the advisory boards of EarthSave,[18] the American Vegetarian Association, and historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society.[19] He was an honored member of the American Vegan Society Speakers Bureau, instructor at Victoria Moran's Main Street Academy.[20] Berry also contributed to the animal rights movement in Brazil, where he frequently lectured both in English (with a translator) and in Portuguese.[21]

Famous Vegetarians[edit]

One of Berry's most notable works, Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives and Lore from Buddha to the Beatles,[7] is a collection of biographical sketches of famous people who were vegetarians at some point in their lives. Each chapter also contains an illustration of each of the famous vegetarians profiled, followed by some of their favorite recipes. For the Leonardo da Vinci chapter, he translated for the first time into English recipes from De Honesta Voluptate by Bartolomeo Platina.[22] The first edition of the book was published in 1989 by Panjandrum Books.[23] In 1995, Pythagorean Publishers released a revised edition with three additional chapters covering Mahavira, Plato and Socrates, and Swami Prabhupada.[24] A review published in Vegetarian Times, considered Famous Vegetarians "scholarship at the end of a fork – and for writing it, he deserves an 'A'."[22] In Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama, Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess said that Berry's book is "a twentieth-century parallel" to Howard Williams's classic The Ethics of Diet.[25] In his book The Vegetarian Revolution, Giorgio Cerquetti recommended "everybody to read Rynn Berry's excellent book."[26]

Death and legacy[edit]

Berry lived alone in an apartment in Prospect Park. He was an enthusiastic amateur runner, despite having asthma.[27]

He was found collapsed and unconscious in jogging clothes in Prospect Park in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, on December 31, 2013,[27] but not identified until January 7, 2014.[28] The only clues in his pockets were "keys and an asthma inhaler".[29] He never regained consciousness and died at 12:30 pm on January 9, 2014.[27]

Martin Rowe, author and co-founder of Lantern Books, commented on Berry's death:

"Rynn's impact was literally incalculable, given how many met him, bought his books, or talked with him at the Union Square green market over the many years. He was the epitome of the kind of unheralded grassroots activist without which any movement for change cannot grow, and he was a witty and erudite figure: the Dr. Johnson of the vegetarian movement. He would be missed greatly, even by those who never met him, but his work will live on."[30]

Author Chef Fran Costigan wrote that Berry was "a gentle soul whose life touched so many."[31]

His life was celebrated publicly and outdoors on March 30, 2014, for about thirty minutes, at the annual Veggie Pride Parade in New York City. On July 5, 2014, he was honored at the annual NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in a plenary led by vegan activist and author Victoria Moran. In previous years, Berry had been on the staff of Vegetarian Summerfest as a scholar and speaker on veganism and world religions.[32]

“The Rynn Berry Jr. Papers” are housed in the North Carolina State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Research Center.[7]

Bibliography of published writings[edit]

  • The Vegetarians, Autumn Press, 1979. ISBN 0-394-73633-8
  • The New Vegetarians (updated edition of his previous book, with William Shurtleff interview instead of Marty Feldman's), Chestnut Ridge, New York, Townhouse Press, 1988 ISBN 0-940653-17-6; Pythagorean Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0-9626169-0-7
  • Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives and Lore from Buddha to the Beatles. Pythagorean Publishers. 1995. ISBN 0962616915.
  • Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions, Pythagorean Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-9626169-2-3
  • Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover (with an introduction by Martin Rowe) Pythagorean Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-9626169-6-6
  • "Veganism," article in The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 604–605.
  • Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets (with Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina), Book Publishing Company, 2010. ISBN 1-57067-238-5
  • The Vegan Guide to New York City (with Chris A. Suzuki & Barry Litsky), Ethical Living, 2013 (20th edition). ISBN 0-9788132-8-6[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Heritage Radio Network: Pythagoras' Other Theorem: A Short History of Vegetarianism". Huffingtonpost.com. 2013-04-29. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  2. ^ "Rynn Berry, Pioneer in Vegetarianism and Veganism, Has Died". The Daily Meal. 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  3. ^ "RYNN BERRY JR's Obituary on New York Times". New York Times. 2014-01-11. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  4. ^ "Rynn Berry". vegsource.com.
  5. ^ Jon Wynne-Tyson, The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought, Centaur Press, 2009, p. 18.
  6. ^ a b It's Easier To Be Green, the New York Times, 2001-04-08
  7. ^ a b c Abraham, Laura (2018-03-09). "Discovering Treasures While Processing the Rynn Berry, Jr. Papers". North Carolina State University Libraries. Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  8. ^ "Judaism and Vegetarianism: Book Review, "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover"". www.jewishveg.org.
  9. ^ "World Vegetarian Congress 2000 - Rynn Berry". International Vegetarian Union. 2000-07-17. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  10. ^ "World Vegetarian Congress - Edinburgh, Scotland, Summer 2002 - Rynn Berry". Ivu.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  11. ^ "Rynn Berry". Living-foods.com. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  12. ^ "Pals of Runner Who Collapsed in Prospect Park Seek His Good Samaritans". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014.
  13. ^ "Go Vegan Radio - Archives - Rynn Berry". Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  14. ^ Smith, Andrew F., ed. (2012). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Second ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199734962.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2.
  15. ^ "Rynn Berry". Americanvegan.org. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2023-03-31.
  16. ^ "Palestra de Rynn Berry apresenta os motivos que levaram Da Vinci a adotar o vegetarianismo - ANDA - Agência de Notícias de Direitos Animais". ANDA - Agência de Notícias de Direitos Animais. January 23, 2010.
  17. ^ "Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Recommended Reading". One Green PlanetOne Green Planet. 21 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  18. ^ "Welcome to the Triangle Vegetarian Society". www.trianglevegsociety.org.
  19. ^ "NAVS | North American Vegetarian Society". Navs-online.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  20. ^ Zukowski, John A. (2014-01-09). "Ten Questions with Victoria Moran: Food Ethics, Spirituality, the Religion of Pop Culture and More". Spiritual Pop Culture. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  21. ^ Gentil e generoso, Rynn Berry contribuiu muito para o movimento animalista no Brasil Archived 2014-01-30 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ a b Vegetarian Times, Fev 1991, p. 76.
  23. ^ William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in South Asia / Indian Subcontinent (1656–2010), Soyinfo Center, 2010, p. 828.
  24. ^ Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Op. cit., p. 865.
  25. ^ Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama, State University of New York Press, 2001, p. 194.
  26. ^ Giorgio Cerquetti, The Vegetarian Revolution: Commentary and Cookbook, Torchlight Publishing, 1997, (ISBN 1-887089-00-4) p. viii.
  27. ^ a b c Yee, Vivian. The New York Times, January 9, 2013, "Jogger Found Unconscious in a Park Dies, but Not Before Being Identified".
  28. ^ "Mystery Prospect Park Jogger Identified as Vegan Author". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014.
  29. ^ Braunstein, Mark Mathew, 2014 (Spring), "Tribute to Rynn Berry", Vegetarian Voice
  30. ^ Edmundson, John (2014-01-09). "Rynn Berry left us a few hours ago - The Veggie Blog". The Veggie Blog. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  31. ^ Bakija, Mary (2014-01-10). "Rynn Berry, Jogger Who Collapsed In Prospect Park, Has Died". BKLYNER. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  32. ^ Program for Veggie Pride Parade, March 30, 2014
  33. ^ QUEST.TV - NYC Vegetarian Food Festival 2013 - Rynn Berry discussing the Restaurant Guide: The Vegan Guide to New York City on YouTube

External links[edit]