EARLY in the present year the Editor asked me to write on the above subject. I am not at all sure that “Vegetarianism v. Disease” would not be a more appropriate title for what I may say under this heading. In any case, every day of my forty years practice of Vegetarianism has convinced me more and more that meat eating fosters disease while pure food from the vegetable kingdom promotes health.
It was reported in the daily press last week that the average loss of employment per head through illness was twenty-eight days per annum. Such figures appear to be almost incredible, but are none the less serious on that account. I could not help contrasting it with the writers record: not a single days illness during the whole forty years mentioned above, in spite of the fact that previously he had been refused acceptance by three different Life Insurance Companies.
To quote the Editor in his article on cancer, commenting on the figures from the seventy- fifth Annual Report of the English Registrar-General,” If you wish to avoid cancer, do not live the lives of barmen, brewers, and butchers, but the lives of agricultural labourers and clergyman; thus the cancer mortality could be reduced to one-half or one-third.”.
The same remarks apply in a greater or less degree to all other diseases, and even to the common cold. I am always being asked, often by those not half my age, “Shall you feel the draught there?” My invariable reply is, “I know nothing of draughts, to me it is Gods fresh air. I do not remember when I had the last cold.” Although I take all the risks, and many more than younger men and women, a fit of sneezing at night is the nearest to a cold I have ever got for many years. I retire to rest with the sure and certain knowledge that I shall be free from a cold and quite fit in the morning.
Rest assured, reader, the cheapest and best insurance against all the small accidents and troubles of the flesh is Vegetarianism. I will give a few illustrations. I often spend many hours pruning and tying to posts e best part of a hundred logan and blackberry bushes, resulting in dozens of “thorns in the flesh”. Most of these get removed without difficulty, but the remainder I leave with the certain knowledge that all will bewell shortly.
Hard skin forms round those left that can be removed with the offending thorns a few days later. If one happens to be, say, on the inside top portion of the thumb and finger, and usage causes it to show a slight sign of fester, this only delays the same treatment by a day or two, with the like result.
Only recently a Vegetarian friend of mine was rather badly bitten both sides of his hand on the fleshy part of the thumb, by an Alsatian dog. A retired doctor told him that all that was necessary was to wash it well with soap and water, and soak it in water as hot as he could bear it. The doctor then tied it up. My friend had no further pain, and a few days later it has quite healed. I should not like to have taken the risk had he been a flesh eater in the drink trade.
Another interesting aspect of this incident was a remark made by the doctor who had volunteered his services. Commenting on the several antiseptics offered by members of the party present, he said, “No, dont use any of them, if such antiseptics are strong enough to kill e germs they are strong enough to kill the good flesh also. If anything is necessary lemon juice is about the best thing to use, but it will be all right without it.” And he added the instructive comment with a laugh– “I am not now in practice so I can tell the truth.”.
There are always more risks, other things being equal, with flesh eaters than with their non-flesh-eating friends. Commenting on holidays and the return to work, one of the latter recently remarked, “Yes, we had a very enjoyable holiday, but my wife got poisoned by eating mackerel.” And on being asked, “Was it bad?” the reply was, “No, I ate the other half and it had no ill effect on me.” Doubtless the lady was suffering from catarrh or an otherwise inflamed stomach, brought on through unwise eating.
This gastric disorder proved to be the “last straw” that broke down the natural resistance of her body to ptomaine or other poisoning. Those who consider that there is more enjoyment in partaking of non-flesh diet than the opposite, cannot think it wise to take any such risks.
This reminds me of a story told me some time since by a Nature Cure Doctor, an enthusiastic vegetarian, who was asked to attend a class of students who were being instructed regarding the poisonous effect of a certain herb. My friend asked how much would be considered necessary for a fatal dose for a healthy person.
He then asked for such quantity to be measured into a glass, and he drank same without more to do, to the consternation of all present. But neither then nor later did he appear to be any the worse. What would have happened to man unhealthy subject is another matter.
These illustrations are but small everyday matters. The risk of contracting one or more of the many tabulated diseases by the Vegetarian is remote. Should, however, any such misfortune overtake a non-meat-eater –and vegetarians do not always live both wisely and well– then the risk of such illness proving long, serious or complicated, is very small.
The same remark applies to accidents of all kinds. Every doctor knows how great the risk is, with a broken arm, leg, or fractured ribs or collar bone, or even only knees with most of the skin removed. The vegetarian should return to his ordinary occupation in record time, but if the patient happens to be a barman or a brewers drayman, the doctor knows he is likely to have a big job on.
Another risk the meat-eater runs is the false stimulating effect such foods have. So much so that he really comes to believe that he could not live without the roast beef of Old England. Every brain worker is safer without any such unwise stimulating foods in this world of rush and tear. “For”, says Dr. S. Henning Belfrage, “flesh foods contain substances which the body cannot use, and which have to be got rid of as waste material by the liver and the kidneys.” “And”, says the Rev.
Peter Green of Manchester, Chaplain to His Majesty the King, “I am convinced that, had I been a meat-eater, I should have had a serious breakdown from overwork some time ago. I believe meat poisoning to be a fruitful cause of mental and physical breakdown.” I might personally say ditto to that, but for the fact that had I not been for many years an abstainer from flesh, fish, fowl and alcohol, I should never have reached the present time to tell the tale.
I would like to close with a quotation from the Lancet, which should be considered by the medical profession to be above suspicion.
“It may be difficult to find any scientific reason why mankind should regularly include animal flesh in their diet.”.
Yes ! It might be added that Vegetarians have always been saying this, and what is more, proving it by their mode of living, or as G.B.S. says, “I need say nothing about my having been a vegetarian for half a century. The results are before the public”.