Meatless Dishes for Hay Dieters

I think I’ve started a new obsession. Finding old books at second hand book stores or sales about diet/s, natural health, or diabetes. While I was in Auckland, we were waiting for a ferry and there was a little second hand book shop next to the terminal. I seriously don’t think that there was any book in there younger than 20 years old. But I came across this little old book that was first published in 1937 called ‘Meatless Dishes for Hay Dieters’ by Mabel Osborne.

I love old books!

I love old books!

I was curious about this book. I thought that vegetarianism was pretty rare within Western cultures around that time. But in doing some research for this blog, I’ve since found out that there were some quite large vegetarian organisations and that the early 20th century was quite pivotal in the vegetarian/vegan movement. The word ‘Vegetarian’ was first found in print in 1842. While a vegetarian diet was definitely still on the fringe of society in the early 20th century it had started to grow in popularity due to a rise in health, environmental, ethical and nutritional concerns.

Old book on the Hay Diet

Old book on the Hay Diet


The Hay Diet was designed by Dr William Howard Hay in the 1920s. The basic principle of the diet was to separate food into three groups: alkaline, acidic and neutral, another name for it was the food combining diet. This little book had a few notes at the start and then went on to provide all sorts of ‘meatless’ recipes. According to Mabel, these were the some of ‘the rules of the game’:

  • Eat three meals a day with the first meal being alkaline foods only, the second meal must have protein foods with salads, vegetables and fruit and meal number three must have starchy food with salads, vegetable and sweet fruit.
  • There should be 4-4.5 hours between each meal
  • Do not eat for the sake of eating – eat to sustain life and health
  • Do not eat of the ‘refined’ foodstuffs
  • Do not let coffee-drinking become a habit
  • Do not use vinegar -ever
  • Do see that 80% of the second and third meal is of alkaline material

Some of the more delightful recipes (and some I fully intend on using/adapting) she provided include:

  • Nutmeat Rissoles (basically rissoles made out of nuts and potato!)
  • Stuffed Aubergines
  • Shredded Pie (a Shepard pie type pie)
  • Pineapple and Cucumber Salad

A lot of the recipes contain dairy, but I’m sure I can work around that!

I think it’s interesting that I’ve picked up a book that’s essence is similar to the Alkaline diet. The Hay diet was popularised in the 1930s but I’ve noticed that there has been an increasing trend towards following  an Alkaline Diet recently. Human blood pH should be slightly alkaline, apparently 7.35 – 7.45 is good. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, below 7.0 is acidic and above 7.0 is alkaline. Research suggests that disease often runs rampant in bodies that are highly acidic.

An acidic balance will:  decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and       other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease it’s ability       to repair damaged cells, decrease it’s ability to detoxify heavy metals, make tumor       cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness. “


Alkaline vs. Acidic Foods

Alkaline vs. Acidic Foods

While there is some critique about following an Alkaline Diet, in my opinion, it’s never going to hurt to eat more fruit and vegetables.







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