WHY I AM A VEGETARIAN


The conquering soldiers of Rome and Sparta, the athletes and Wrestlers of Greece, also abstained from flesh meat. To say nothing of the increasing army of vegetarians in this country, many now enjoying ripe old age, who testify that they are happier, healthier and more fit than when they fed on animal flesh.


I CONCLUDED my article in the July issue with the statement that I hoped later to deal with other aspects of the subject including the belief that “Vegetarianism would settle the drink question”. I have since been reminded of this by what I saw in one of the most progressive of Midland cities. Had I needed any convincing of the close connection that exists between the consumption of flesh and alcohol and the fact that there is still a “drink question”m I might, by what I saw, have been so convinced.

It was on the occasion of an Ox Roasting Exhibition, which appeared to have attracted not only the most undesirable elements of the neighbourhood but also many school children and youth of all ages. I can only imagine what the degrading Ox Roasting Exhibition was like, but the condition of many of the spectators after leaving the revolting spectacle was most disheartening to anyone wishing to do something to “build a new Jerusalem in Englands green and pleasant land”.

I need say nothing more than remark that I saw more drunken youths between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five in an hour on that Saturday evening than I had seen altogether during the last ten years in the City of Birmingham and its adjacent towns.

I am pleased to say that I have more personal friends among temperance folk than among any other class of people, but I must admit that as a class their corns are the most easily trodden on. The reason I think is clear, they have abandoned the use of alcohol-the most stimulating of liquids-but they still adhere to beef and mutton, the most stimulating of solids, and stimulants ask for stimulants. There are many who would rather lose their right hand than place on the table alcoholic liquors that might prove a temptation to their sons and daughters, while they do not hesitate to offer them stimulants in the form of beef and mutton.

Let one who is used to this form of food for lunch go into a Vegetarian Restaurant and consume twice the amount of nourishment at half the usual cost, and he may be so deceived that he will tell you that “he feels just ready for a beef steak”. In like manner the man who has been in the habit of consuming half a pint of beer and drinks water instead, will not only fail to be satisfied but it may be weeks before he ceases to crave for the stimulant he has become accustomed to.

This truth accounts for the fact that I still have the L5 offered nearly forty years a go for the production of a vegetarian drunkard. It may be asked if drunkards do not come from the ranks of the vegetarians, where do they come from ? Further, did any of my readers ever find a heavy drinker who would refuse the meat and could relish the sweet course ? To get into closer quarters with my temperance friends, I would like to quote a statement made some years ago by a well- known teetotaller.

He stated that “there was not a single argument that could be advanced against the principles of Vegetarianism, and in favour of meat-eating, that could not with equal force be put forward against the abstinence from strong drink, and in favour of moderation.” Without endorsing this statement in its entirety I venture to assert that it contains more philosophy than the majority of my temperance friends dream of, and that it would be difficult to find a weak spot in the argument.

In considering the many parallels that exist between the two movements I would like to mention a few, not of those where my readers are likely to differ, but rather where we may be in accord, for everyone is now in favour of temperance, including the “True Temperance” Society. Teetotallers in the past have had to combat the argument that we could not live and enjoy health without alcohol, and we have marshalled our facts again and again to prove otherwise; and then we have been told “Oh, it may suit you, but it wouldnt suit everybody, I could not do my work without my glass of beer”.

But we have pitied them, believing that they were as deluded with regard to the latter assertion as the former. These are exactly the objections that are now put to the Vegetarians with reference to their mode of living, as if abstinence from the flesh of animals is but a thing of yesterday, when it is as old as the hills.

The argument that only some classes of people can do without it, and only some kinds of work can be accomplished without its assistance, falls to the ground in the light of facts. The enterprising Japanese, the Buddhists of China, the Brahmins and Hindoos of India of India, many Arabs, the famous porters of Turkey and Greece, the Norwegians and Finns, also the Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican and Trappist monks, numbering collectively hundreds of millions, inhabiting every variety of climate, and engaged in every manner of occupation, practically all live without eating meat.

The conquering soldiers of Rome and Sparta, the athletes and Wrestlers of Greece, also abstained from flesh meat. To say nothing of the increasing army of vegetarians in this country, many now enjoying ripe old age, who testify that they are happier, healthier and more fit than when they fed on animal flesh. Not forgetting the testimony of Sir Isaac Pitman, the inventor of Shorthand, Annie Besant, Bernard Shaw, Leo Tolstoi, Dr. Kellogg, Edison, George Arliss, General Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army, and a host of champions in sport, and heaps of others from all walks of life. In fact, as I heard a smart young lady say recently when shown round a picture gallery of many of the above, “Why, you have bagged all the best”.

We are also told, both as teetotallers and vegetarians, that these are medical questions, and if we find that either meat or alcohol does not agree with us, it is best to abstain, but to make it into a question of principle is silly. Teetotallers will not admit this for a moment with regard to the drink question, and those who are not vegetarians should be equally as charitable in the matter of meat. We have not turned it into a question of principle, but rather it has become to us a great energizing principle, through force of circumstances, and in spite of our possible inclination to cling to the flesh pots of the post.

If it were not for making this article unduly long, no end of parallels might to given between the two reforms, in fact the difficulty is to find a phase of the drink question which has not a parallel from a vegetarian standpoint. A few others may be considered in the September issue.

Rickets is a disease of crowded slum areas, but, wherever conditions comparable to these are reproduced-and this is really accomplished in such a climate as that of England, even in the homes of the wealthy and in the midst of country surroundings-the disease tends to arise.

The food factor plays no part in the origin of the disease. No deficiency or defect of feeding will produce rickets when the child is exposed to bright sunshine and lives much in the open. Over a large area of the globes surface where such conditions prevail, rickets is for all practical purposes unknown. Errors in diet in the East and in the tropics generally, are more common and more gross than in Europe, and the mortality from intestinal infections is often high, but rickets does not result. One the other hand, the best of feeding will not protect the child when it is exposed to the conditions which produce the disease. . . .

The constant conditions which are present when rickets are prevalent are : (1) the breathing of a vitiated atmosphere in close and confined dwelling; (2) the exclusion of sunlight; (3) the lack of opportunity of exercise; (4) damp climates and long winters, notably in the colder northern temperate zones.

Where such conditions prevail rickets will develop in spite of the best of breast feeding. These evil factors produce their chief effect in the young infant immediately it begins to lead a separate existence after birth, at a time when fresh air and free oxygenation of the blood are most essential.

Under such circumstances, Nature rapidly produces the lymphatic, rachitic child, with shallow, quick breathing, holding in strict reserve all its activities, so that no undue demands are made for fresh air and sunshine and abundant movement, which are all so essential to the proper growth and development of the young infant.-DR. J. LAWSON DICK, Rickets.

In an experience of twenty-two years surgery in the Punjab, I have found the following diseases very uncommon : Appendicitis, gastric and duodenal ulcer, acute cholecystitis, gall-stones and their sequelae, and, finally cancer in all its forms. Acute rheumatism is most uncommon; as would be expected, heart disease in any shape is correspondingly rare.

The immunity of the Himalayan peasantry from acute rheumatism, chorea, and endocarditis is most striking. The women toil for hours in the flooded rice fields up to their knees in water in the steady downpour of the rains, wet to the skin, and yet never seem to contract rheumatism. This disease is equally uncommon in the plains, but there the climate is dry.

With regard to the rarity of the first group, I have been struck by the extreme reluctance shown by medical men in this country with whom I have discussed the question to accept the statement that these abdominal emergencies are indeed uncommon in the Punjab or in primitive tribes generally. The usual argument is that the cases exist but that they do not come to hospital.

If cases of strangulated hernia come to hospital and submit freely to operation, why should cases of gangrenous appendicitis be left at home ? If the Punjab peasant be willing to submit to operation for the enucleation of an enlarged prostate, why should he display this peculiar modesty with regard to his appendix or his gall-bladder ? A modesty which fades and withers away when it is a question of an operation for a liver abscess.

Operations for liver abscess are common enough in the Punjab, but operations for acute appendicitis are as rare as operations for gastric or duodenal ulcer or their sequelae. Indeed, it is possible for a surgeon to spend twenty years in practice in the Punjab and never to see one of the cases enumerated above.-COLONEL HALLILAY, The Practitioner, January, 1925.

FLESH meant, like alcohol, as has already been said, is a stimulant. It therefore stirs up, both in men and animals, all that is pugnacious, selfish and cruel when they partake of it. This fact must be patent to all. Let my readers sum up in their minds all the different kinds of animals they can think of that are vegetarians, and they will find that cruelty is the exception. Then consider the carnivorous ones and they will find cruelty to be the rule, and whether in man or animal, these qualities are developed in like proportion to the animal food partaken of.

And mark the difference in the two extremes, the gentle herbivorous deer and the cruel carnivorous tiger. It is interesting also to note that from the vegetarian animals we get all the workers, while from the purely flesh of animals that have been fed on vegetarian diet. Of the pig that lives on a mixed diet, the preference is for the “farm” or “home fed” that has been fed on barley meal, rather than for the flesh of the animal that has been kept at the back of a slaughter house.

I remember as a boy seeing, one Sunday afternoon, the top masts only showing above the sea level off Bembridge, Isle of Wight, of the Euridice training ship that had turned turtle earlier in the day, and about six hundred young lives lost. the dead bodies were being washed ashore more or less all the summer. Incidentally there was a great harvest of mackerel that summer, and it was reported that they came up the Solent to feed on the dead bodies. The fishermens harvest was thus finished, and hundreds of tons of the fish were accordingly used of manure.

Vegetarians contend that it is far more important to abstain from flesh than it is to abstain from strong drink, in as much as the greater includes the less, and the former included the latter. Let us bring up all our youths and maidens as vegetarians and we shall have no drunkards. Persuade the moderate to become vegetarians and they will soon, from choice, obtain from strong drink also, for this country of ours has yet to produce such a strange creature as a drunken vegetarian.

It is a truism that in proportion to the quantity of drink sold, so are the people degraded. But surely it will be said that there is no parallel to this in vegetarianism. Is this so? Where slaughter and bloodshed are most prevalent, there the people become the most brutalized and degraded. East London will illustrate this. There, years ago, slaughter houses were numbered by the hundred, and little children thus became accustomed to scenes of violence and cruelty from childhood, accordingly crime and brutality were rampant.

The late W.T. Stead saw a great deal of the world, but a town in America perhaps more than all others arrested his attention. He stops, and thinks and then he writes: “If Christ came to Chicago.” But why, it may be asked, is this so much blacker than other cities? The answer is because it is a huge shambles for the supply of tinned meat, for a large portion of the civilized world.

Again this business, like the drink traffic, brutalized in some measure everyone engaged in it, from the cruel drovers to the heartless slaughtermen, and from the slaughtermen to the butchers. The law recognizes this whether we choose to admit it or not, in as much as that it will not allow a butcher to act on a jury in a murder trial; his familiarity with violence and bloodshed having, in the eyes of the law, made him an unfit person to do so. Each species of animal which a nation is in the habit of killing for food, individuals also treat with correspondingly less consideration and regard for their rights than they do other species.

Horses, for example, the most humane part of the community will let them live as long as possible, and many tradesmen, farmers and others would rather turn them out into the fields to end their days, than take their lives. Even the dead body of a dog or stag brings forth the exclamation, “Poor thing”, and people get out of the way as soon as possible. But the same kind ladies will go into a butchers shop, and although surrounded by the carcasses of cattle that were but yesterday adding picturesqueness to the valley or lambs that were then skipping about so joyfully in the meadows, yet not a feeling of sympathy escapes them.

A great waste undoubtedly takes place by the yearly destruction of the vast amount of grain that is turned into strong drink, so likewise, from a vegetarian stand point a greater waste takes each year. The ground that is now used for the feeding of cattle and sheep is sufficient to produce fruit, vegetables and cereals to feed a vast population, and so save millions sterling per annum, now paid to the foreigner.

A noble young student with a countenance it was good to look upon, a native of India, who was from religious convictions as abstainer from meat, as likewise had been for generations all his ancestors, as far back as he knew before him, once told the writer that we Christians would have no influence among his people whatever so long as we continued to slay Gods creatures and to shed their blood, for whenever a New Teacher came among them they first enquired into his form of diet, and it the new religion had not lifted its adherents, in this respect, up to their platform of living, then always they refused to have anything to do with it.

We who would be the saviours of world from the drink curse, should also be the most capable of delivering it from the bondage of the flesh pots, unto a cleaner, nobler and purer mode of living, the road to which is sacrifice, and the hill to climb is self-denial, and from those heights obtain a clearer vision of the land that is to be; and a greater faith in the time when the wolf shall dwell the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the lion shall eat straw like an ox, and nought shall hurt of destroy in all Gods holy mountain.

Though the Jews are mostly town dwellers (four-fifths of the Jews live in cities) and largely engaged in indoor occupations, such as tailoring, boot-making, etc., their mortality from tuberculosis is everywhere less than that of the people amongst whom they live.

The Jewish mother suckles her children, and knows better than her Gentle neighbour how to feed them with good and nourishing food. Dr. D.C. MUTHU, Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Its Etiology and Treatment.

James Henry Cook