Sylvester Graham (1795-1851)

Inventor of graham flour and the graham cracker
Sylvester Graham was an American Presbyterian minister (ordained in 1826) who preached on temperance and stressed whole-wheat flour and vegetarian diets. He was known for his graham crackers. His Graham Journal of Health and Longevity preached his principles of good health. He compared people physiologically to orangutans, and concluded that vegetarian food was natural for both primates.
Graham had many devoted followers, known as Grahamites, who slavishly followed his principles, which included temperance, sexual restraint, and baths, in addition to vegetarianism. He was so famous that his lectures on proper living were attended by thousands, and he was able to hold his audiences spellbound. He had many disciples who also worked diligently to further the vegetarian cause. When the British Vegetarian Society was founded in 1847, he helped found a similar group in America.
- Richard Schwartz
In 1831 and 1832, at the invitation of New York's temperance leadership, Philadelphia activist Sylvester Graham delivered lectures on the relationship between diet and disease. New Yorkers, Graham argued, had been fatally weakened in their ability to resist epidemics by the improper eating habits spawned by big-city life. Graham opposed the use of stimulants--not only liquor, wine, and cider but tea, coffee, and tobacco too. He advocated vegetarianism. He denounced urban bakers who used 'refined' flour--stripped of husks and dark oleaginous germ and whitened with 'chemical agents'--because it baked more quickly than traditional bread, even though the result was an almost crustless loaf without granular texture or nutritional value. He railed, too, against marketplace milk, much of which came from cows fed on leftover distillery mash (swill), with the anemic, liquor-inflected product made presentable by the addition of chalk, plaster of Paris, and molasses.
from Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace, _Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898_; New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999