Rynn Berry

Rynn Berry (January 31, 1945 – January 9, 2014) was an American author on vegetarianism and veganism,[1] as well as a pioneer in the animal rights and vegan movements.[2] A frequent international lecturer,[3][4][5] Berry's books have been translated into many languages, and he was locally and internationally known in the vegan community.[6][7] He served on advisory board of the American Vegetarian Association.

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

Early life

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.[8][9]

He became vegetarian as a teenager and vegan at the age of 21.[10] He became a rawfooder in 1994.[11]

Professor Berry taught comparative literature at Baruch College and later culinary history at New School for Social Research in New York City.[11]


Berry's 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.[12] The first edition of the book was published in 1989 by Panjandrum Books.[13] In 1995, Pythagorean Publishers released a revised edition with three additional chapters covering Mahavira, Plato and Socrates, and Swami Prabhupada.[14] A review published in Vegetarian Times, considered Famous Vegetarians "scholarship at the end of a fork – and for writing it, he deserves an 'A'."[12] 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.[15] In his book The Vegetarian Revolution, Giorgio Cerquetti recommended "everybody to read Rynn Berry's excellent book."[16] It was translated into Italian, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Polish.

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.

In 2004, Berry published his fourth book, Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover, with an introduction by Lantern Books's co-founder Martin Rowe. Richard H. Schwartz, founder of Jewish Veg, called it a "thoughtful and carefully documented book.[17]

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]

He was also a playwright who contributed a number of short plays about 'famous vegetarians in history'.[20]

Berry was on the advisory boards of EarthSave,[21] the American Vegetarian Association, and historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society.[22] He was an honored member of the American Vegan Society Speakers Bureau, instructor at Victoria Moran's Main Street Academy.[23] Berry also contributed to the animal rights movement in Brazil, where he frequently lectured both in English (with a translator) and in Portuguese.[24]

Berry was a consistent vegan and primarily raw foodist after 1994,[11] and he made a show of his all-raw diet at vegetarian gatherings, though he evidently deviated from this path constantly while touring New York City's vegetarian restaurants and sampling their vegan-friendly fare for each annual update of his fifth and last book,[25] Vegan Guide to New York City.[26]

He wrote a chapter on the history of the raw food movement for Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets,[27] principally written by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina.

Death and legacy

Berry lived alone in an apartment in Prospect Park. He was an enthusiastic amateur runner, despite having asthma.[28]

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,[28] but not identified until January 7, 2014.[29] The only clues in his pockets were "keys and an asthma inhaler".[26] He never regained consciousness and died at 12:30 pm on January 9, 2014.[28]

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.

Bibliography of published writings

  • 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[32]

See also


  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. "World Vegetarian Congress 2000 - Rynn Berry". International Vegetarian Union. 2000-07-17. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  4. "World Vegetarian Congress - Edinburgh, Scotland, Summer 2002 - Rynn Berry". Ivu.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  5. "Rynn Berry". Living-foods.com. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  6. "Pals of Runner Who Collapsed in Prospect Park Seek His Good Samaritans". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014.
  7. "Go Vegan Radio - Archives - Rynn Berry". Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  8. "RYNN BERRY JR's Obituary on New York Times". New York Times. 2014-01-11. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  9. "Rynn Berry". vegsource.com.
  10. Jon Wynne-Tyson, The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought, Centaur Press, 2009, p. 18.
  11. It's Easier To Be Green, the New York Times, 2001-04-08
  12. Vegetarian Times, Fev 1991, p. 76.
  13. William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in South Asia / Indian Subcontinent (1656–2010), Soyinfo Center, 2010, p. 828.
  14. Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Op. cit., p. 865.
  15. Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess, Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama, State University of New York Press, 2001, p. 194.
  16. Giorgio Cerquetti, The Vegetarian Revolution: Commentary and Cookbook, Torchlight Publishing, 1997, (ISBN 1-887089-00-4) p. viii.
  17. "Judaism and Vegetarianism: Book Review, "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover"". www.jewishveg.org.
  18. 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.
  19. "Rynn Berry". Americanvegan.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  20. "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.
  21. "Welcome to the Triangle Vegetarian Society". www.trianglevegsociety.org.
  22. "NAVS | North American Vegetarian Society". Navs-online.org. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  23. 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.
  24. Gentil e generoso, Rynn Berry contribuiu muito para o movimento animalista no Brasil Archived 2014-01-30 at the Wayback Machine
  25. "American Vegan Society". American Vegan Society. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  26. Braunstein, Mark Mathew, 2014 (Spring), "Tribute to Rynn Berry", Vegetarian Voice
  27. "Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Recommended Reading". One Green PlanetOne Green Planet. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  28. Yee, Vivian. The New York Times, January 9, 2013, "Jogger Found Unconscious in a Park Dies, but Not Before Being Identified".
  29. "Mystery Prospect Park Jogger Identified as Vegan Author". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014.
  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. QUEST.TV - NYC Vegetarian Food Festival 2013 - Rynn Berry discussing the Restaurant Guide: The Vegan Guide to New York City on YouTube
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