THE CASE FOR VEGETARIANISM
By. DR. M. HINDHEDE, Director, Laboratory for Nutrition Research, Denmark.
TOWARDS the end of the World War, when Denmark was rigorously blockaded, and when the people were threatened with starvation, I was asked to reorganise the food supply and I did so by placing the people mainly on a vegetarian diet and feeding them largely on foods stuffs which hitherto had been given to animals. White bread was replaced by genuine wholemeal bread containing a hundred per cent of the grain, and to this a very large proportion of bran was added.
Doctors and interested millers had told us for decades that wholemeal bread was indigestible because of the bran contained in it, that it was dangerous to health, that it would irritate the alimentary tract, causing disease, etc. During the twelve months from October 1917, to October 1918, the Danes lived on the Hindhede diet, lived largely on fodder usually given to cattle and pigs, and the result was that the death rate in Copenhagen declined as follows:.
October 1917-October 1918.
Death Rate in Copenhagen, All Causes.
The fall in the death rate may be described as amazing, it had gradually but slowly declined during the twenty-eight years preceding the Hindhede regime. Between 1917 and 1918, during the time when people were reduced to primitive vegetarianism, there was an unparalleled fall in the death rate, which declined in one year from 1,236 to 985. During the last quarter, 1918, came the terrible influenza epidemic, which, of course, greatly altered the death rate.
I am a vegetarian and am in favour of vegetarianism, not from prejudice, but from conviction. My views on nutrition are based on reliable scientific data. The idea that intensive consumption of meat, eggs, milk, cream, butter etc., is needed to give health and strength prevails widely, but it is mistaken. This can be appreciated by the subsequent figures and arguments.
Flesh and fish
Butter Lard Margarine.
Daily Consumption per head in grammes.
Danish farmers of Funen Island,
American farmers, State of Missouri,
While there is little difference as regards the consumption of milk protein in the two countries, there is a vast difference in the consumption of milk fat, taken in the form of butter, cream and full milk. Besides, the American farmer consumes from two to three times as much animal protein as the Danish farmer in the shape of flesh and eggs.
There is a group of scientific dieticians, and I belong to that group, who believe that the great consumption of flesh protein and egg protein is apt to poison the organs of digestion, the bowel tract, liver, kidneys and the veins and arteries. We cannot as yet decide whether this poisoning takes place directly through the disintegration of these proteins, or indirectly through the poisons produced by micro-organisms of the bowel. At any rate it must be pointed out that all the experts in nutrition have not yet been convinced of the harmfulness of meat. That question is still in dispute.
In considering the extraordinary difference between the Danish diet and the American diet, as shown in the above figures, it occurred to me that the study of the Danish and American mortality statistics might throw light upon the subject. I applied for statistics to the government office of statistics in Copenhagen, and would, for the sake of brevity, compare the death rate from nephritis, kidney disease, in the two countries:.
Death rate from Nephritis in 1924, per 100,000 people aged Twenty-five to Sixty-five.
In Six Atlantic States.
New York State 95
New Jersey 99
Average mortality 82
Mortality in Denmark 24.
In Four States of the Middle West.
Average mortality 69
Mortality in Denmark 24.
If fanatic vegetarians should wish to prove that the consumption of meat is harmful to the kidneys, the above figures would supply them with the most striking argument. Detailed statistics for the death rate from nephritis show that the difference in favour of Denmark becomes greater the older the Americans get. It is greatest for the ages from sixty-five to seventy-five, when the American death rate from kidney disease is from six to seven times as great as the Danish death rate. The longer people eat meat, the greater becomes the injury done to the kidneys.
It is fair to compare the States of Indiana and Missouri with Denmark, because Denmark, Indiana and Missouri have about the same number of inhabitants and in all three a similar proportion of the people are engaged in agriculture. In Indiana there were in 1924, 2,040 deaths from nephritis, while there were only 214 such deaths in Denmark, calculated upon the identical number of inhabitants. In Missouri there were in 1924, 2,494 deaths from kidney disease, while the Danish mortality came only to 464 for the identical number of inhabitants. According to the latest investigations the consumption of meat, cheese and eggs comes in Missouri to 381 grammes per head per day, and in Denmark to 190 grammes per day.
While I experiment on myself and other human beings, other experts on nutrition experiment on animals. Feeding statistics made on animals confirm the fact that over-consumption of protein is injurious to the kidneys. Mr. Simmonds, the first assistant of Professor McCollum, wrote: “All rats which had been lavishly fed with protein showed distinct injuries to the kidneys, but, as we have previously mentioned, all these animals, judging by their appearance, were in good health while under a high protein diet.”.
Professor Sundwall obtained from the professor of medical statistics at the University of Michigan the following interesting statistics:.
Number of inhabitants
Deaths from apoplexy
Deaths from nephritis
Deaths from diabetes.
U.S. Registration Area, 1924.
If the mortality from these three diseases were no greater in the United States than it is in Denmark, the total deaths in 1924 should only have been as follows:
Deaths from apoplexy 49,830
Deaths from nephritis 20,790
Deaths from diabetes 12,720.
Over-consumption of protein obviously leads to a very excessive death rate from apoplectic stroke, from diabetes, and particularly from kidney disease. Experienced doctors have learned that many of the diseases of the digestive apparatus which have developed under a meat diet can be cured if the meat diet is replaced by a correctly chosen fleshless diet. In view of the above facts I think I am justified in concluding that the majority of the diseases of the alimentary tract and of other internal organs from which civilised men suffer and from which they die between the ages of 50 and 60, are due to the excessive consumption of animal food products.
I wish to accentuate that over-consumption of meat is particularly harmful to the kidneys because the residues and poisons generated by flesh foods have to be excreted by the kidneys, which are injured in the process. The Masai, an African tribe, who are big flesh eaters, begin to get old after twenty-five years of age, and they die, as English doctors also do, from diseases of nutrition, from the degeneration of the digestive organs, kidneys, etc. During the past thirty years I have always asked my scientific opponents to show me a race, or even a profession, whose members are big flesh eaters and who have a low death rate at the ages of 40, 50 and 60. But up to now no one has been able to satisfy me, nor is such an instance furnished by the latest researches.
(After many years of ill health, the editor became a vegetarian, much to his benefit. He has been an abstainer from flesh, fish and fowl for ten years and, though well above sixty, can walk thirty miles a day. Moreover, he has caused hundreds of sick people to adopt vegetarianism with excellent results, and he can confirm Dr. Hindhedes opinion and experience. EDITOR, “THE HOMOEOPATHIC WORLD”).