THE editor has asked the writer on several occasions for articles on “Vegetarianism and Efficiency” or “Vegetarianism and Fitness”. This, to one who believes he owes most things that are worth having in life, and even life itself, to the practice of vegetarianism, appears to be such a vast subject that he has always fought shy of making the attempt. Once commenced, how long this series of articles will continue I cannot say, but I will endeavour to deal with each aspect of the subject in as simple and concise a manner as possible, with the hope that they may help some readers of “HEAL THYSELF” at any rate, to need less healing.
I consider the title of our Magazine to be one of the best titles, if not the best, of any Health Magazine, and in fact the only one that puts the responsibility of getting fit on each individual reader. This I interpret to mean to so act and so live that we assist Nature, the only healer, to heal ourselves. The title does, however, infer that we all require “healing”. Of this most of us are conscious. In conversation recently with a stranger who admitted that he was not as fit as he was forty years ago, he remarked “If we only had the knowledge and experience at twenty that we have at sixty, and lived it, what different constitutions we should have”.
I could not help thinking how much more truth underlies this statement than another to the effect that “I have done it for five and twenty years and it suits me alright” which is heard far oftener. We may do unwise things for that length of time, with apparent impunity, owing to the fact that we inherited a giant constitution, but we cannot break Natures laws for ever and escape the penalty. We may boast at twenty that we could digest cobble stones, but unwise eating and drinking may lay us on our backs before forty is reached.
Two of the strangest things about human beings, and we all live in glass houses in this respect, are, firstly, the many things we know, but fail to know we know because we do not wish to know, and accordingly, do not attempt to live the truths we know; and secondly, how clever we all are in making excuses for doing the things we do and wish to do. I once heard of a “very good” Scotch lady who said that it was wrong to feed a cow on Sunday, but not wrong to milk her. Her explanation being that “if you provide the food on Saturday the cow can feed herself, but she cannot milk herself”.
The evidence that can be produced in proof of the fact that Vegetarianism tends to promote fitness is overwhelming. To those who doubt that it will promote both health and fitness I say try it, live it, nothing doubting, then every day thou shalt obtain life and blessing more abundantly.
The writer formed this opinion nearly fifty years ago, after being refused by three different Insurance Companies, and he has not since been kept away from business for half a day on account of illness.
About that time I used to take a considerable interest in cycling and rode a “penny-farthing” bicycle and attended the races of similar machines in Molineux Grounds, Wolverhampton. I there learnt that in such racing and all other kinds of spirit, fitness was one of the chief factors to success, and in the long run the supreme factor.
I have since learnt also that true success, with happiness, cannot be obtained, in any walk of life or calling, apart from health and fitness. I think I am right in saying that unwise eating and drinking has done more to eventually defeat champions in all kinds of sport than any other factor.
If I remember rightly, the name of the first and foremost champion bicycle rider at the time mentioned was Howell. How long with fitness he might have continued to occupy this exalted position it would be hard to determine. He first found it impossible, through lack of fitness, to longer continue to be the pace setter. He would let anyone else set the pace while he kept half a wheel behind, confident that he had sufficient reserve to do the trick, in the last lap, on the straight for home, and to pass the line first.
On several occasions I have seen this, countered by other riders, until the speed was reduced to almost a snails pace, with the result that, with the fall of one, half a dozen riders would fall together in a heap, to the disgust of the crowd who did not consider this to be either sport or “cricket”. Where this did not happen and the champion passed the tape first he then fell back fainting, his friends and supporters stood ready to catch him while still on his machine. Thousands of athletes have met with defeat since then, not by better but by fitter men and women.
It is the power of endurance in the long run that counts, and this cannot be secured or success achieved in any walk of life without fitness.
To achieve athletic success one most possess fitness above the normal, for from the athletes wonderful body great things are expected, and the many eyes of youth are fixed on those thus called upon to play the game, and.
“When the great match is over,
And the Captain calls my name,
It matters not whether we won or lost
But whether we played the game”.