While celebrating all the gains made by vegetarians during the past year, we should always remember that our accomplishments are in no small way due to the groundbreaking work of those who came before us and set the stage for progress. Much of the credit belongs to them. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Sadly, one of those giants has just passed away. Congressman Andy Jacobs was the first congressman to publicly come out as a vegetarian in the 20th century.
In 1970, the 6-foot-3 Mr. Jacobs became a vegetarian, choosing what he called a “cruelty-free diet.” While initially motivated by compassion for animals, he later adopted the health cause as well. In a 1977 Vegetarian Times interview he said, “The leanest steak has fat and grease. You’re putting grease in your body that you wouldn’t pour down your kitchen sink.”
Years before vegetarianism became widely accepted, Jacobs ate no meat and did not wear leather. “He couldn’t stand, in any way, suffering to other creatures,” said John Krull, a longtime acquaintance, director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College. That meant that at rubber chicken political dinners, Jacobs would often “just eat the vegetables,” said Bill Crawford, a former longtime member of the Indiana House of Representatives, who like Jacobs, is a vegetarian.
Andy was a United States Marine who fought and was wounded in the Korean War. He died on December 28, 2013 at his home in Indianapolis, aged 81. He is survived by his wife, Kim Jacobs, and two sons. But, he lived to see the founding of the first ever Vegetarian Congressional Caucus. This giant will be missed but never forgotten.