Event type
Food History
Event dates
, 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Online- via Zoom
Mari Takayanagi (UK Parliamentary Archives), Molly Baer Kramer (Independent Scholar)
Email only

Mari Takayanagi, UK Parliamentary Archives: The Intoxicating Liquor (Sale to Persons Under 18) Act 1923

Temperance is usually viewed as a Victorian movement, but its ideals lived well into 20th century policy making. Before 1923, a teenager could go into a pub at the age of 14 to buy and drink beer; and aged 16, he or she could also buy spirits. The Intoxicating Liquor (Sale to Persons Under Eighteen) Act 1923 introduced the principle that people should be aged 18 to drink alcohol in bars, still the situation today, yet it is largely overlooked in studies of temperance, drink and society. It was the first successful private members' bill passed by a woman MP, Nancy Astor, a great temperance advocate. This paper will consider the background to Astor's Bill, which emerged from ongoing wartime liquor restrictions, a changing discourse over alcohol and public health after the First World War, and a petition signed by 116,000 teachers. It will analyse the Parliamentary passage of the Bill, which took place in the face of die-hard opposition from many of Astor's fellow Conservative MPs. It will argue that although amendments reduced the impact of the Act, it was a significant achievement in the political circumstances; that Astor's role has been frequently downplayed and misunderstood; and that the Act deserves better recognition as a success for temperance campaigners and for its long-lasting impact on society. Astor's Bill was also opposed by Edwin Scrymgeour, Britain's only Prohibitionist MP, and the paper will consider how his extreme version of alcohol control may have assisted Astor in her more moderate approach.

Molly Baer Kramer, Independent Scholar: The Importance of Being Pure’: Attitudes to Health and the Body among Vegetarians and Anti-Vivisectionists in England, 1950-1980 

The body and violations of it have long been a concern of the humanitarian movement. In the animal welfare movement, the animal body in conditions of pain—abused,  diseased, injured, confined, abandoned—has taken principal place in image and rhetoric since the movement’s founding in the UK in the early nineteenth century. While protecting  animals’ bodies from unnecessary pain was and is a central motivation, vegetarians and anti vivisectionists were, in this period, equally motivated to protect human health.  Meat was not just a product of suffering, these reformers instructed readers of their  literature, but unclean and unhealthy. Health and illness mirrored the oppositions of purity  and pollution: on one side, cleanliness, safety, wholeness, and naturalness; on the other, filth  and impurity, danger, deficiency, and artificiality. Therefore, health food was also considered good, whole, pure, and natural; while unhealthy food was filthy, contaminated, harmful, deficient, and unnatural. 

Protecting their own bodies from pollution was a central tenet of vegetarian and anti vivisectionist health ideology, informing their interest in anti-drink and anti-vaccination. and,  later, their opposition to blood transfusion and organ transplantation. This paper will investigate the intersections of attitudes to meat, animality, pollution and health in these movements in the later twentieth century. How did these positions—an  interest in human health, and in the welfare of animals—interact? And what impact did aversion to ingesting animal products have on their attitudes to the animals themselves? 

All welcome - This event is free, but booking is required.