WHEN we come to sift the why and wherefore of our endeavours in this world, we are likely to discover that we are all out with the same object in view, viz., to obtain enjoyment and happiness; in other words, to get the best of this world and the next. There is no need to restrict the meaning of “this world and the next” to place or time. Neither do I wish to put any religious interpretation on the words. “Seeking happiness to-day and to- morrow” will suit my purpose equally as well.
The difference between us is not in what we are seeking, but in our method of attainment. In this we are all the more or less short-sighted. Some, in fact, are so anxious to crowd all the pleasures of life into to-day, that they are at the same time making happiness for to-morrow almost impossible. We cannot throw stones at each other in this respect, for we all live in glass house. We seem to have been born that way, and we all, more or less, wish to turn liberty into licence.
Only recently I heard of a boy asking his mother why all the things she said he must not do were nice things, while the things he was told he should do were nasty things. This blindness in young or old, combined with a determined spirit to obtain immediate happiness and the best of this life, does not always prove successful. Happiness is not at fault, although life may be considered a failure without it.
The way we act with a view to getting it is the important matter. It may, however, be said what has all this to do with Vegetarianism? It has everything to do with it. Whatever the individual reason for having adopted vegetarianism may be, we believed it would promote better health of mind and body and so greater happiness. After years of practice we have become convinced that it is not a question of “Vegetarianism v. the Best”, but “Vegetarianism and The Best.”.
To get the best out of life, the one thing more than perhaps anything else we have to learn is to become not only master of our circumstances, but what is more important, master of ourselves. We, however, shall never become master of ourselves until we have first become master of our own appetites. This, in the words of Tolstoi, is “The First Step.” Having accomplished this all else is easy.
Let us see how this works out in the attainment of happiness. I was given a very good illustration of this some years ago. A friend and I called on a man, a stranger to me, and in conversation the remark was passed, “Your lawn looks very nice.” The reply was, “Yes, it always does about this time of the year, after the Masons Annual Dinner.” In explanation I was informed that he never got drunk but once a year, and that was at this annual event.
Intoxicating drinks were then as plentiful as “Adams Ale”, and to the diners no more costly. He always made the most of it, and next morning he always had a splitting headache. He then exercised on the lawn with the mower and roller until all was well, and a perfect lawn was the outcome. “Which proves what a good thing getting drunk once a year is.” As the callers – my friend and myself-were both teetotallers and enthusiastic gardeners, we informed him that we could manage our lawns quite successfully without first getting drunk to accomplish it.
To sum up the matter as between him and another diner, a friend of the writer, who neither drank nor wished for anything stronger than water, and was always content to miss the fish and meat courses. The nights enjoyment and happiness of one was certainly as great as that of the other, and more so, doubtless, as my friend happened to hold high office. His fit condition and prompt appearance at the Office next morning told its own tale. Can there be any question as to who was securing the best of “this world and the next.”?.
Again, we are all tempted to eat too much. The more courses there are placed before us, the greater the temptation. Flesh meat is the most stimulating of solids, and alcohol the most stimulating of liquids. Stimulants always ask for stimulants, and so with the meat eater the temptation to eat too much is increased. This tells its tale, not only on the next day, but for all days.
We all have both liberty and licence to draw our food supplies first hand, direct from the endless variety the vegetable kingdom offers, or we can let the pig eat the food first hand then we eat the pit second hand, and store up in our own bodies the impurities such food contains. Those of us who have lived for many years on fruits, nuts and other of the endless products the vegetable kingdom offers, growing more and more into perfect fitness with greater enjoyment in eating and living, have learnt that this is the safe way of securing the best of this life and the next, for both mind and body.
“A recent contributor to the Daily Telegraph quotes an account given of a social chronicler of a hundred years ago of the crowd he encountered at Greenwich one Easter Monday. There were about 200,000 persons there, he estimated, and of these, towards evening, 50,000 were sober, 90,000 in high glee, 30,000 drunkish 10,000 staggering tipsy, 15,000 muzzy and 5,000 dead drunk.”
When one contrast the Englishmans method of living now to that of only twenty-five to thirty-five years ago, there is not doubt that he is learning the most importance of using wisdom in the matter of eating and drinking. He had learnt slowly but surely that much eating and drinking does not secure either true pleasure or lasting happiness. The lines written perhaps one hundred years ago are as true to-day:.
“He who drinks and has no thirst,
Or eats and has no hunger,
Unlike he who puts health first,
Suffers illness nd dies younger.”.
Englishmen have learnt that also a big dinner at mid-day does not ensure office fitness for the afternoon, and that a “big square meal” later in the day does not lead to sweet repose, or secure that “up-and-at-it” feeling in the morning.
The writer could not but notice the great improvement in this respect while spending a day recently, from 11 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., at a Public Auction Sale, when nearly four hundred lots were disposed of. The one auctioneer was at his post, apart from fifteen minutes he allowed for lunch, the whole of the time. The refreshment bar was as orderly and of the same character as that to be found in a first-class Temperance Cafe. I never saw one auctioneer accomplish such a task thirty-five years ago, and in all other respects things had all changed for the better.
The Medical Profession is also slowly but surely learning that the nature of the disease, whatever form it may take, is not the important matter it was once considered to be. The cause of the trouble is the important factor, and this usually can be found in the stomach. Remove the cause, stop feeding the disease, and the necessity for the disease will no longer exist, and Nature, the only Healer, will complete the healing.
There are numerous other pleasures in life enjoys by the vegetarian of which the meat-eater knows nothing. Only this week I was held up by a big flock of sheep being driven through the village of Four Oaks. Many cyclists had to dismount for their own safety and for fear of making mutton.
I heard one lady cyclist say to another, “What are we to do with this lot?” I remarked to my friend, “Most likely both of them will cut parts of the sheep up into small pieces and eat them, after the killing has been done for them by deputy, it being too cruel a business to perform themselves.” I experienced one of the endless pleasures of life in knowing that I was in no way responsible for the ghastly business that must take place between the driving of the sheep to slaughter and serving of such dinners.
Only a few months ago the same spot, at the same time of day, another commotion took place. The road was filled with horses mounted by riders, young and old, of both sexes, in circus-like apparel. A similar party was crossing a recently ploughed field close by, all in quest of fox that had run in fright from the country to the village, and taken shelter in a ladys bungalow.
This fox hunting is termed sport, and these good people thus seek enjoyment at the expense of the poor frightened fox. The Vegetarian, however, believes that true happiness is not secured at the expense of others, but rather in giving enjoyment to all. He obtains his enjoyment, accordingly, in seeking to make others as happy as himself, free from the responsibility of all unnecessary cruelty.