|Born||26 February 1765|
|Died||11 June 1847 (aged 82)|
William Lambe, FRCP (26 February 1765 – 11 June 1847) was an English physician and early veganism activist. He has been described as a pioneer of vegan nutrition.
He was born in Warwick, the son of Lacon Lambe, a Hereford attorney. He was educated at Hereford Grammar School, where he was head boy, and St John's College, Cambridge, graduating B.D. (as fourth wrangler) in 1786, M.B. in 1789, and M.D. in 1802. He was admitted a fellow of his college on 11 March 1788.
In 1790 he took over the practice of a Warwick friend and in the same year published his ‘Analyses of the Leamington Water'. The results of further minute chemical examination of these waters were published by him in the fifth volume of the ‘Transactions’ of the Philosophical Society of Manchester. Moving to London about 1800, Lambe was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1804, becoming a censor (examiner) and delivering the Croonian Lecture on several occasions between 1806 and 1828 and the Harveian Oration in 1818.
His London practice was in King's (now Theobald's) Road, Bedford Row, where he attended three times a week. Many of his patients were needy people, from whom he would accept no fees. He retired from medical practice about 1840.
He died on 11 June 1847 at Dilwyn, Herefordshire, and is buried in the family vault in the churchyard there. His son, William Lacon Lambe, also studied medicine and graduated M.B. in 1820 from Caius College, Cambridge.
Lambe was considered an eccentric by his contemporaries, mainly on the ground that he was a strict, but not fanatical, vegetarian and that his favourite prescription was filtered water.
Lambe suffered from a variety of chronic diseases so gave up animal food in 1806 and embraced a vegetable and distilled water diet. His health improved so he continued the diet on a permanent basis. Lambe tried the diet on several of his patients and published the results in a book in 1815. In 1816, there was an extensive review of Lambe's book in The Medico-Chirurgical Journal and Review. Lambe converted his patient John Frank Newton to vegetarianism.
Lambe believed that a distilled water and vegetarian diet could cure almost every known disease, including cancer. Lambe ate a very simple diet. For breakfast he ate bread with fruit or salad. His dinner consisted of vegetables, a pie, often an onion dumpling. For supper, he ate the same as his breakfast. Lambe did not drink coffee or tea and always walked, no matter the weather. As Lambe did not consume dairy or meat products, he has been described as an "early vegan pioneer".
Lambe's ideas were not popular amongst the medical community of his day. In 1843, Jonathan Pereira commented that Lambe "gained few, if any proselytes to his opinions and practice."
Lambe influenced the vegetarian movement in the United Kingdom. In The Ethics of Diet, 1833 Howard Williams concluded that "Dr. Lambe occupies an eminent position in the medical literature of vegetarianism, and he divides with his predecessor, Dr. Cheyne, the honour of being the founder of scientific dietetics in this country."
In 1873, Inspector-General Edward Hare authored a biography of Lambe.
He published a number of written works, including: