“Methinks at meals some odd thoughts might intrude.”—Byron
HARDWORKING men sometimes think there is a sort of merit in “not caring what one eats.” This is a fallacy; for though it is meritorious to be able to content oneself with plain fare, yet mere indifference about one’s food can only arise from stupidity or thoughtlessness, since the welfare of the body and mind is intimately connected with what we eat. Those who are willing and able to think about their food are invited to consider the following aspects of Vegetarianism.
I. ITS PRACTICABILITY.—Vegetables, though less stimulating than flesh, contain the same nutritive substances, and, as even flesh-eaters admit, are well able to sustain man’s physical powers. The statement, frequently made, that a flesh diet is necessary to support intellectual energy, is without a particle of proof, and contrary to all experience and common sense. This, and all similar assertions, are disproved by the fact that there are many Vegetarians now living in perfect bodily health and full mental vigour.
II. ITS MORALITY.—Vegetarianism involves–(1) No cruelty to animals. (2) No degradation to man. Those who eat flesh are responsible for the horrors of the slaughter-house, and the sufferings of many harmless animals. Even if it were necessary to kill animals, it would be degrading to eat their carcases. It is trebly degrading to breed and rear animals solely for this purpose, and to delegate to a class of butchers the bloody task which no gentleman would perform himself.
III. ITS ECONOMY.—Millions of money are annually spent on breeding, rearing, and transporting animals for human food. The Political Economist, who condemns all luxury, must also condemn this system of flesh-eating; for here is immense waste of labour in producing unnecessary food.
There are also some indirect advantages of Vegetarianism, which may be here briefly indicated. (1) It is conducive to simplicity of living. A man who understands the importance of the question of diet is not likely to be a glutton. (2) It prevents drunkenness; for the craving for alcohol dies out, together with the craving for flesh. (3) It fosters humanity and gentleness, and quickens all the intellectual faculties. Perhaps the most comprehensive reason for not eating flesh is the one given by Chatterton—“He had no right to make himself stupider than God made him.”
H. S. S.
The Dietetic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger, January 1884