They ripped off one of the greatest artists in history, Leonardo da Vinci, and chiseled a fictional quote into the lobby of their office. They exploited one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by attributing a quotation that condones violence in their cause. They twisted the legacy of one of the greatest statesmen in history, Abraham Lincoln, by portraying him to be an emancipator of animals, as well as humans. So after a little bit of digging, it should come as no surprise that animal rights radicals have also exploited one of the greatest scientists in history: Albert Einstein.
You may have seen this alleged Einstein quotation. Maybe from one of hundreds of online references. Or maybe plastered on an activist’s t-shirt. ($24? Do vegetarians know how many chicken sandwiches that could buy?)
The quotation supposedly goes like this:
Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
Throughout his life, Einstein was called upon to answer questions on a wide range of issues, and his aphorisms are widely quoted. But if you’re like us, you’ll agree that this one sounds a little extreme and, well … mushy. So we contacted a few physicists who have taught and written extensively on Einstein. When one said it had “the flavor of a pseudo-Einsteinism,” we decided to investigate further.
Our conclusion? There is not a shred of evidence that Einstein ever said it. Alice Calaprice, author of The Einstein Almanacand the The New Quotable Einstein, has found no legitimate source attributing this quotation to Einstein. In fact, in The New Quotable Einstein, you’ll find it in the “Probably Not by Einstein” section.
There is evidence, however, that the father of General Relativity thought the equivalency of animals and people—the principal belief of animal rights activism—was relatively absurd:
When you buy a piece of land to plant your cabbage and apples, you first have to drain it; that will kill all forms of animal and plant life that exist in that water. Later you would have to kill all the worms and caterpillars etc. that would eat your plants. If you must avoid all this killing on moral grounds, you will in the end have to kill yourself, all for the sake of leaving alive those creatures who have no such conception of higher moral principles.
In 1953, Einstein told his biographer, “In the past it never occurred to me that every casual remark of mine would be snatched up and recorded. Otherwise I would have crept further into my shell.” Had he known animal rights activists would put words in his mouth, he might have sealed up that shell for good.
Da Vinci. MLK. Lincoln. And now Einstein. Given the way animal activists routinely ignore facts in their anti-meat campaigns, we’re not all that shocked that they would abuse the legacy of history’s greatest figures. But with so many supposed famous allies now in the “nope, never said it” camp, we’re still wondering if anyone worth remembering ever agreed with them.