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, USA
Died January 9, 2014(2014-01-09) (aged 68)
New York Methodist Hospital, New York City, New York, USA
Occupation author
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University
Period 1979 - 2013
Genre history and biography, short plays
Subject vegetarianism and veganism
Relatives Maternal: 1 sister and 4 other brothers; Paternal: 2 brothers (one deceased); Parents: Father (Rynn Sr.) and mother both deceased after divorce

Rynn Berry (January 31, 1945 – January 9, 2014) was an American activist and author of books about vegetarianism. Berry wrote a chapter on the history of the raw food movement for Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets, principally written by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. He also co-authored, with Chris Abreu-Suzuki, an annual Vegan Guide to New York City, the first exclusively vegetarian guidebook. Rynn Berry's books have been translated into many languages and were reedited numerous times. His book Famous Vegetarians and their Favorite Recipes (1993, 2003) has been compared to Howard Williams's classic The Ethics of Diet. Besides his books, he also wrote entries on vegetarianism and related issues for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink and The Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America, as well as many articles and interviews published in vegetarian-themed magazines.

Life and career[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.[1] He studied literature, archeology, and classics at the University of Pennsylvania (Ancient Studies) and at Columbia University.[1]

He became vegetarian as a teenager[2] and vegan in August 15, 1966, and celebrated that life decision every year.[3] He became a rawfooder in 1994.[4] He taught comparative literature at Baruch College in Manhattan (a school within the City University of New York), and later culinary history at New School for Social Research in New York City.[4]

For his first book, The Vegetarians (later re-titled The New Vegetarians), was published in 1979.

His next book, Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives and Lore from Buddha to the Beatles, 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.[5] The first edition of the book was published in 1989 by Panjandrum Books.[6] In 1995, Pythagorean Publishers released a revised edition with three additional chapters covering Mahavira (reputed founder of Jainism), Plato and Socrates, and Swami Prabhupada.[7]

A review published in Vegetarian Times, considered Famous Vegetarians "scholarship at the end of a fork – and for writing it, he deserves an 'A'."[5] In Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama, Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess say that Berry's book is "a twentieth-century parallel" to Howard Williams's classic The Ethics of Diet.[8] In his book The Vegetarian Revolution, Giorgio Cerquetti recommended "everybody to read Rynn Berry's excellent book."[9]

Famous Vegetarians has been translated into Italian (in 1996 and in 2000),[10] Chinese (in 1991 and in 2010),[11] Taiwanese,[12] and Polish.[13]

In 1998 he published his third book, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions, which consists of a collection of essays on world religions, accompanied by recipes and interviews with vegetarian representatives. Publishers Weekly stated, "Despite his best efforts, Berry can't convince various religious experts...to link a vegetarian diet directly with spiritual attainment. The most he gets them to say, in some remarkably frank and disarming interviews, is that following a vegetarian lifestyle is generally a matter of personal choice, albeit one that they felt aided their spiritual growth for ethical reasons."[14] Like his previous book, Food for the Gods was translated into Chinese.[15]

In 2004, Berry published his fourth book, Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover, which has an introduction by Martin Rowe, co-founder of Lantern Books, and founding editor of Satya magazine,[16] that, according to Richard H. Schwartz (author of Judaism and Vegetarianism), "make it by itself almost worth the price of the book." In his review, Schwartz also commented:

"Because animal-based diets and agriculture are so destructive, it is important that we dispel all false challenges to vegetarianism, including the recurring myth about Hitler.[citation needed] Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover does it definitively. I hope it gets the wide readership that it deserves."[17]

Rynn Berry also wrote the entry on the history of vegetarianism in America for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (2004),[18] edited by Andrew Smith, and he was commissioned to write seven entries for The Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America (2007)[19]

His book The Vegan Guide to New York City (now in its 20th edition) was the "first and only exclusively vegetarian guidebook on the planet".[20]

He was also a playwright who contributed a number of short plays about 'famous vegetarians in history' - Dr. John Harvey Kellogg: (Dr. John "Cornflakes" Kellogg, MD); Leo Tolstoy: (Tea with the Tolstoys); Hypatia of Alexandria: (Hypatia's Heresy); Leonardo da Vinci: (The Mona Lisa's Smile); Pythagoras: (Pythagoras & Theano), et al. - one-act plays which were performed publicly in several different venues in different US states, as well in Brazil.[21][22]

Fruits of Tantalus: A History of Vegan Rawfoodism and the Origins of Cooking was his forthcoming book, a clear work in culinary history.[23][24]

Over the years Berry also contributed many articles and interviews for vegetarian-themed magazines.[25][26]

Berry was on the advisory boards of the American Vegetarian Association [27] and of Earth Save, the historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society,[28] honored as a member of the American Vegan Society Speakers Bureau,[29] instructor at Victoria Moran's Main Street Academy,[30] and a recognized expert on the history of vegetarianism.[31] He was a frequent international lecturer.[32][33][34][35] George Guimarães, president of the Brazilian animal rights organization VEDDAS and founding member of the Brazilian Vegan Society (Sociedade Vegana) said that Rynn visited Brazil at least two times a year, and that he contributed much to the animal rights movement in Brazil, where he frequently lectured both in English (with a translator) and in Portuguese.[36]

Berry was a consistent vegan and primarily raw foodist after 1994,[4] and he made a great show of his all-raw diet at vegetarian gatherings, though he evidently deviated from this path constantly (yet remaining fully vegan) while touring New York City's vegetarian restaurants and sampling their vegan-friendly fare for each annual update of his book, Vegan Guide to New York City.[37]

Death and legacy[edit]

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[38] but not identified until January 7, 2014.[39] "The only clues in his pockets were keys and an asthma inhaler. (Winter runners with asthma are at high risk of cardiac arrest because extremely cold air constricts the lungs' passages, which strains breathing, which strains the heart.)"[37] He never regained consciousness and died at 12:30pm on January 9, 2014.[40]

Berry was locally and internationally well known in the vegan community.[41] 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."[42]

Chef Fran Costigan (author of Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts[43]) wrote that Berry was "a gentle soul whose life touched so many."[44]

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.[45] On July 5, 2014, he was honored at the annual NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA, 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. [46][47]

Berry had planned to publish three more books in 2014, but he died in January. Colleagues are hoping to publish all three of them posthumously.[citation needed]

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, 1993; Eight Printing (Revised: 2003). ISBN 0-9626169-1-5
  • 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[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b VegSource biography of Rynn Berry
  2. ^ It's All About Food (Interview begins around 3:05, when Rynn Berry talks about how he became vegetarian as a teenager)
  3. ^ Jon Wynne-Tyson, The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought, Centaur Press, 2009, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b c It's Easier To Be Green
  5. ^ a b Vegetarian Times, Fev 1991, p. 76.
  6. ^ William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in South Asia / Indian Subcontinent (1656–2010), Soyinfo Center, 2010, p. 828.
  7. ^ Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Op. cit., p. 865.
  8. ^ Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama, State University of New York Press, 2001, p. 194.
  9. ^ Giorgio Cerquetti, The Vegetarian Revolution: Commentary and Cookbook, Torchlight Publishing, 1997, (ISBN 1-887089-00-4) p. viii.
  10. ^ Da Buddha ai Beatles: La via e le ricette inedite dei grandi vegetariani della storia (translated by Annamaria Pietrobono, Gruppo Futura – Jackson Libri, 1996. ISBN 88-256-1108-0); Il Libro delle Ricette Vegetariane: In cucina con i grandi vegetariani della storia (Jackson Libri, 2000. ISBN 88-256-1690-2)
  11. ^ 经典素食名人厨房:从佛陀到摇滚披头士的自然饮食 [平装] (Awakening triple life Bookstore, 1991. ISBN 7-108-03319-4); (SDX, Joint Publishing Company, 2010. ISBN 7-108-03319-4)
  12. ^ 經典蔬食名人廚房:從古希臘到搖滾披頭四的自然飲食, 2004 ISBN 978-957-29440-2-8
  13. ^ Slynni wegetarianie i ich ulubione przepisy: od Buddy do Beatlesów (translated by Marta Maciejewska, 2006, Videograf II. ISBN 83-7183-416-0)
  14. ^ amazon.com, Cahners Business Information, Inc., 1998, "Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions". Accessed November 1, 2015.
  15. ^ 與神共餐 : 帶著你的心靈與碗盤,與眾神共進和平的晚餐 (2004, ISBN 978-957-29440-6-6)
  16. ^ Lantern Books: Martin Rowe
  17. ^ Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover - Reviewed by Richard H. Schwartz
  18. ^ Smith (editor), Andrew F. (2012). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Second ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199734962.001.0001. 
  19. ^ "Rynn Berry". Americanvegan.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  20. ^ Rynn Berry: History of the rawfood movement in California (August 10, 2010)
  21. ^ "Rynn Berry". Animalrights.about.com. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  22. ^ Palestra de Rynn Berry apresenta os motivos que levaram Da Vinci a adotar o vegetarianismo
  23. ^ Triangle Vegetarian Society Photo Album
  24. ^ Photo of book cover with abstract
  25. ^ Rynn Berry, By Doris Lin
  26. ^ It's All About Food – Vegetarian Historian, Rynn Berry, now part of Vegan History
  27. ^ "The American Vegetarian Association". Amerveg.com. 2004-01-07. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  28. ^ "NAVS | North American Vegetarian Society". Navs-online.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  29. ^ American Vegan. Winter 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ Ten Questions with Victoria Moran: Food Ethics, Spirituality, the Religion of Pop Culture and More
  31. ^ "Heritage Radio Network: Pythagoras' Other Theorem: A Short History of Vegetarianism". Huffingtonpost.com. 2013-04-29. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  32. ^ "World Vegetarian Congress 2000 - Rynn Berry". Ivu.org. 2000-07-17. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  33. ^ "World Vegetarian Congress - Edinburgh, Scotland, Summer 2002 - Rynn Berry". Ivu.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  34. ^ "Rynn Berry". Living-foods.com. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  35. ^ Associação Vegetariana Portuguesa: Rynn Berry - Biografia
  36. ^ Gentil e generoso, Rynn Berry contribuiu muito para o movimento animalista no Brasil
  37. ^ a b Braunstein, Mark Mathew, 2014 (Spring), "Tribute to Rynn Berry", Vegetarian Voice
  38. ^ Yee, Vivian. The New York Times, January 9, 2013, "Jogger Found Unconscious in a Park Dies, but Not Before Being Identified".
  39. ^ Berry's half-brother Charles identified him at New York Methodist Hospital on Tuesday evening (January 7, 2014), the source said.
  40. ^ Lee, Vivian (2014-01-09). "Jogger Found Unconscious in a Park Dies, but Not Before Being Identified - NYTimes.com". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  41. ^ Pals of Runner Who Collapsed in Prospect Park Seek His Good Samaritans
  42. ^ Rynn Berry left us a few hours ago – a loveable vegan historian & a great friend
  43. ^ 'Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts by Fran Costigan
  44. ^ Rynn Berry, Jogger Who Collapsed In Prospect Park, Has Died
  45. ^ The permanent online condolences and memorial guestbook at the New York Times is supported by Vegan World Radio
  46. ^ personal eyewitness; I attended the memorial
  47. ^ 2014 NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest program
  48. ^ QUEST.TV - NYC Vegetarian Food Festival 2013 - Rynn Berry discussing the Restaurant Guide: The Vegan Guide to New York City on YouTube