Billions of Animals NOT Served: World's Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant

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Studies suggest that approximately 5 percent of Americans (more than 15.6 million people) follow a vegetarian diet. With so many compassionate people to feed, foodservice providers are answering the call and making plant-based food choices evermore widely available and great tasting.

In 1898, however, this was hardly the case. A vegetarian diet was largely unheard of in the United States and Europe. Despite the rarity of vegetarians, a vegetarian restaurant opened its doors in Zurich, Switzerland. A trendsetting establishment way ahead of its time, it is now the world's oldest continually operating vegetarian restaurant.

Ambrosius Hiltl, a Bavarian cobbler who adopted a vegetarian diet to alleviate joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, purchased the restaurant in 1903 and ran it for nearly 50 years. While the health benefits of a plant-based diet were not widely recognized in the early 20th century, today they are well-established.

As a pioneer of the vegetarian movement, Mr. Hiltl stands among such greats as Leonardo da Vinci, Mohandas Gandhi and Sir Isaac Newton. The willingness of these individuals to stand up to a traditional, meat-eating society on principles of health and ethics paved the way for a society in which vegetarianism is often proudly proclaimed.

For more information on how you can make the transition to a compassionate vegetarian diet, visit