SOME time since, a well-known temperance reformer who is not himself a vegetarian said 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 practice of 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 dreams of. I purpose to treat the subject under review in as simple ma manner as possible, and to lay before my readers a few of the many parallels existing between the vegetarian and temperance movements, with the view, not of finding out where we differ, but rather to see where we are in accord. A doctor in Birmingham said some years ago that he had no doubt whatever that he could cure nine-tenths of his patients without medicine of any kind, and with but one and the same prescription, which was, ” Abstain ! Starve !” I have no reason for doubting the truth of this; but what does it mean?
It means that nine out of every ten of the people who become unwell, bring their ill-health upon themselves by their unwise eating and drinking. When a man drinks too much he becomes ill; then he abstains, and he becomes ill; if he ceases altogether to eat, drinking only pure water he will most likely soon be well again, but the majority act otherwise; but Nature in these cases will most likely assert itself, and the man or woman will say, “No, I dont want any meat to-day; I am not up to the mark, my appetite has gone,” and so they live, for the time being, on a restricted and purer diet, and their usual health is soon restored to them.
How many teetotallers, I should like to ask, can truthfully say that they feel better, and more fit for work, after having partaken of what they call ” a good dinner “? Many, I am afraid, at such times prefer sleep to work. At tea-time we generally abstain from the fleshpots, and so, following that meal, we experience no such ill effects. But why, it may be asked, do so many eat so much that illness follows? The explanation is simple; because they live largely on animal flesh strong meat the most stimulating of diets; while if they lived on a pure vegetarian diet they would know quite well when to stop, but stimulants deceive, whether partaken of as liquids or solids, and they always ask for more.
There are things which happen in most lives, through which we become endowed with eyes whereby we see things that we never saw before, which also enlarge our hearts and broaden our sympathies. Many of us know that the fact of our becoming teetotallers, of having set our faces against the drink traffic, has opened our eyes to the awful cruelty springing out of and caused by this unholy liquor traffic, to which our eyes were closed before, and we rejoice that we have washed our hands of the acursed thing.
The eyes of those of us who have discarded an animal diet for a bloodless one have necessarily become opened also to the awful and horrible cruelty practised on our fellow- creatures, for whose care we are responsible, and not one of whom, the old Book says, “Falling to the ground, receives not our Fathers sympathy”. Cruelty which our past mode of living made imperative, and will continue necessary, so long and no longer than thin mode of living continues. It would be easy to utilize the whole of the space at my disposal and disgust many of my readers by quoting cases of cruelty which every day take place, to provide this nation of our with animal flesh.
There are some earnest men and women who are charged with using intemperate language with regard to the evils attending the drink traffic, but those who take the trouble to find out believe nothing has yet been said half had enough against it. Likewise those who are conversant with the cruelty attending the transport and slaughter of these our fellow-creatures, know full well that there is no language capable of portraying half its horrors. Truly we feel with the abstainer from strong drink, that it is a joyous thing to have no part or lot in the business.
Could the majority of my readers but realize the horrors and untold suffering of the poor creatures in a cattle-boat in mid-ocean in rough weather, they would be willing to make any sacrifice to rid us of so great a blot upon our civilization. The fact that many thousands of animals every year die in course of transit to this country, should cause the greatest lover of animal flesh to pause, and think.