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Grahamites were the followers of Presbyterian minister, Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), an American dietary reformer and advocate of what would now be called alternative medicine, although the term did not exist in his day.Grahamites accepted the teaching of their mentor with regard to all aspects of lifestyle. As such, they practiced abstinence from alcohol, frequent bathing, vegetarianism, and a generally sparse lifestyle. Graham also was an advocate of sexual abstinence, especially from masturbation, which he regarded as an evil that inevitably led to insanity. He felt that all excitement was unhealthful, and spices were among the proscribed ingredients in his diet. As a result his dietary recommendations were inevitably bland, which led to the Grahamites consuming large quantities of Graham crackers, Graham's own invention. White bread was strongly condemned by Graham and his followers, however, as being essentially devoid of nutrition, a claim echoed by alternative medicine advocates and nutritionists ever since. Some Grahamites lost faith when their mentor died at the age of fifty-seven. Other than the crackers, the Grahamites' major contribution to American culture was probably their insistence on frequent bathing, and to this day Americans, for the most part, bathe far more than any other people. However, Graham's doctrines found later followers in the persons of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg. Their invention of corn flakes was a logical extension of the Grahamite approach to nutrition.Grahamism was influential in the vegan movement. Sylvester Graham focused on meat and milk, which he believed to be the cause of sexual urges. In fact, he claimed animal byproducts produced lust; Grahamism thus rejected meat, animal byproducts, and alcohol in order to develop a purer mind and body. Quite popular in the 1860s-1880s, this movement rapidly lost momentum and is now remembered mostly for its Graham crackers.
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