Studies of the development of vegetarianism in the United States between the Civil War and World War I emphasize the distinctly American character the movement assumed during this period. They take a top-down prescriptive perspective that emphasizes celebrated advocates of a meatless diet such as William Metcalfe, Sylvester Graham, Bronson Alcott, and J. H. Kellogg, ignoring the often humdrum reality of this food choice. This article instead examines what it meant to live a vegetarian life from the bottom up, during an era when American foodways were being transformed by growing global interconnectedness resulting from advances in technology, science, transportation, and communications, bound up with American imperialism. It takes as its starting point the voluminous correspondence and other archival material associated with Benjamin Smith Lyman (1835–1920), a lifelong vegetarian and the author of Vegetarian Diet and Dishes (1917), and an eloquent, idiosyncratic, yet overlooked spokesperson for this practice. Lyman was an eminent, widely traveled mining geologist who over the course of a fifty-year career carried out surveys in the United States, Canada, India, the Philippines, and Japan, where he remained from 1873 to 1881. His activities and writings draw attention to the cosmopolitan dimensions of the cultivation, procurement, preparation, and consumption of foodstuffs suitable to a vegetarian diet, many introduced from Asia to the United States through the efforts of governmental agencies and immigrants.