This week's cover story may seem a bit off the beaten track for Patrick Ercolano, who covers religion for The Evening Sun. But Patrick has a food-writing background: He regularly wrote stories on the subject for The Evening Sun's Accent section, and did restaurant reviews for the paper for a couple of years. Now he's back at it for the magazine. "The recent upsurge in vegetarianism," he says, "is something that caught my attention and interested me as a subject to write about."

Throughout history, he says, the meatless diet has had a small but avid group of advocates, but the word "vegetarian" wasn't coined until 1847, with the founding of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester, England. During the next 20 years, similar societies were established in the United States and Germany. George Bernard Shaw and Tolstoy were among those championing the cause.

In the United States, vegetarianism hit a peak in the 1960s, when it gained popularity as an expression of left-wing politics and the counterculture movement. Many of those who still practice vegetarianism date their interest to the '60s. In recent years, though, the movement has shed some of its hippie image as more and more people have turned to vegetarianism out of concern for their health, the environment and animal rights.

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