Americans have a long tradition of dreaming up radical ideas for uber-healthy diets and trying to convince other people that their lives and bodies will be transformed if they just change what they're putting in their mouth. The country's first raw food restaurant opened in Los Angeles in 1917 and stayed open for 25 years. There were certainly some people who promoted these ideas potential profit, like Julian P. Thomas, M.D.:
But there were also people who had a more missionary zeal for their discoveries, like Eugene and Mollie Griswold Christian, the authors of Uncooked Foods & How to Use Them: A Treatise on How to Get the Highest Form of Animal Energy From Food. The book was originally published in 1904 by New York's Health & Culture Company, and a fifth edition copy is currently available from the rare-books dealer Rabelais. There's "a bit of spotting to the publisher's gilt stamped dark blue boards," but book, which is going for $90, is "otherwise near fine." Check it out:
Also, it's incredibly fun to read.
The Christians make a lot of the same arguments for healthy living and raw food that you hear today. Only they make them in turn-of-the-century style. Raw food, for instance, is good because God made it that way:
"They have been finished by nature, by some supreme intelligence, and sown with prodigal hand over the face of the earth, and man has become the beneficiary thereof. And none of his work and puny efforts can possibly improve them."
Or, here's their argument against coffee, tea, and tobacco:
"A being who subsists upon clean, elementary foods would have no more desire for stimulants and narcotics than a horse or a dog would have for a Manhattan cocktail."