The Church and Food Reform

By Rev. A M Mitchell M.A.

Reforms are in the air, our life is full of them, and they are not too numerous. We need them all: in the Church, in the State, and in the Home. Their existence makes very plain the fact how very far away from Nature our civilization has carried us, and how completely we have drifted from our Christian moorings.

” Back to Nature, back to Christ and His teachings ” is the aim and suggestion, expressed or otherwise, of every true Reform. And this is more true of Food- Reform than of many another. It is not a minor, insignificant, trivial Reform, but one of the greatest, the most important, and of highest value—physically, economically, and ethically. For a system of diet and living has been industriously built up in our midst, century after century, which is unnatural, undesirable, and detrimental to body, soul, and spirit. This system discards Nature, repudiates humaneness, and defies all concern about dietetic values.

Hitherto the people of this country have not asked “What shall we eat?” They have been in no uncertainty as to the diet they desire and demand. “Give us flesh to eat,” “Give us meat or we die,” and to satisfy the craving for the flesh of beasts, of creatures clean and unclean, our country has been defiled by abattoirs, slaughter houses, and butchers’ shops. In every city and town the blood of innocent victims has flowed in rivers like water, and the air has resounded to the cries and groans of the dying.

The weekly holocaust of slaughtered victims is enormous. Chicago, that city of terrible revelations, is alone responsible, through its stock yards, for a slaughter of no less than 2,400 victims per hour.

Is all this as it should be? Are we to eat just what we like, what we choose, without regard to the pain and suffering, to the rights of the creatures in our power, to the naturalness or unnaturalness of the food they supply, or, again, to the possible physical, mental, and moral injury their flesh may do to those who eat of it?

As a flesh-abstainer of fourteen years’ standing, a whole-hearted food reformer, in season and out of season, I advocate, not as a novice, but as a tried and experienced fruitarian, the non-flesh diet as being the best for all and sundry, physically, mentally, economically, ethically, and spiritually.

Brought up in the strictest sect of the meat eaters, I ate my fellow creatures with a clear conscience, and with more or less satisfaction, from childhood up to early middle age. I remember distinctly, as if yesterday, a well-known medical man in the sixties saying to my mother, ” Feed that child on plenty of mutton and give him stout.” My early training, therefore, did not promise well for a total abstainer, from either flesh-foods or alcoholic liquors.

Until fourteen years ago my firm conviction was that I could not live without beef and mutton, and other flesh meats—the withdrawal of them would mean certain collapse. But I have lived to prove the contrary, and am better to-day, in every way, than in the days of my ignorance, and able to show a larger output of work on my bloodless diet than when I fed myself so carefully, and, as I now see, excessively, on the fat of rams and other fleshy delights. This is a little piece of personal testimony to which you may be not unwilling to give ear, as given by one who ate flesh-meats with religious industry as often as three times a day.

In judging of the physique of avowed fruitarians or vegetarians, allowance should be made for certain facts, viz.:

(1) Non-fleshers are not generally life-long abstainers.
(2) Many have joined the Movement as broken down carnivora—as a kind of last resource.
(3) Numbers claim discipleship who are beyond the pale of reasonable philosophic food reformers— mere
faddists, cranks, monomaniacs, etc.

‘Tis not fair to judge flesh abstainers by the hosts of anaemics, liverish, dyspeptic, ricketty, tottery, diseased wrecks, who have recently adopted a reformed diet simply as a refuge of despair— who would not be vegetarians if they dared be flesh-mongers any longer.

Come with me to Manchester or London (you paying all expenses), and I promise to introduce you to as fine a lot of men as you will find in any business centre—men who are tall, well built, broad shouldered, fresh coloured, active, vigorous, smiling and peaceful, fine specimens of the mens sana in corpore sano, who have renounced the flesh of beasts for ever, and some of whom have never been of the number of human carnivora.

No mere boys are these ” Nature’s noblemen.” The old and middle-aged are much in evidence, four score years is nothing accounted of among flesh-abstainers; a fruit, cereal and vegetable diet tends to longevity, and, in turn, helps the nono-genarian to a second youth. Athletic ‘ records’ and triumphs prove, beyond doubt, that the no-meat-diet is the Gospel of good health, of physical stamina and endurance. The vegetarian or fruitarian athlete is more than a match for his meat-munching brothers on equal terms.

When properly fed the non-flesher is superior, physically, to his carnivorous competitor. “Experiments conducted in the American Universities at Yale and Harvard by scientific experts (Professors Chittenden and Irving Fisher), in London by Dr. Josiah Oldfield, and in Brussels by the University Authorities, have proved that abstainers from flesh, if properly fed on fruits, cereals and dairy produce, have superior health, stamina and endurance!” But it is imperative he should be properly fed.

The mistake which is commonly made in the adoption of the reformed diet is that, whilst the food may be sufficient in quantity, it is not of the right kind; not, that is, of sufficient nutritive value. Having resolved to give Vegetarianism a trial, our would-be reformer falls with determination upon potatoes and cabbages as constituting the staff of life! Now one may grow ” flabby ” on potatoes and cabbages, but seldom, I think, muscular and strong. The vegetarian larder is so bountifully stocked with the ” fat of the land,” as a substitute for the fat of beasts, that cabbage and potatoes may be altogether put aside, and never missed.

The food reform market is crowded with a rich abundance of cereals and farinaceous foods, nut foods, legumes, vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and dried fruits, besides such animal products as eggs, milk, cream, cheese and butter. ‘Tis a man’s own fault if he starves in the midst of such great plenty. Why perish of hunger when there is food enough and to spare?

The entrance into the non-carnivorous life should not be lightly and wantonly made, but reverently, discreetly, soberly, duly considering the ends in view —physical health and moral elevation, in fine, the salvation of both body and soul. Every one desirous of adopting the non-flesh diet should previously seek for counsel and advice from experts as to what foods to substitute for the flesh meats to which he has been accustomed all his life long. Otherwise much mischief may be done and the last dietetic state prove worse than the first.

Ignorance of the component elements of the foods available for our use is, naturally, the cause of many relapses, and of those, too, who were in earnest and promised well. A table of food values is necessary in our kitchens. I cannot here insert such a table — it will suffice to point out that flesh foods are largely composed of water (and dirty water at that), that a pound of lean beef contains 74.0 water, as compared with 26.0 total nutriments: that this same pound of beef contains less than one-half the nutriment in a pound of cheese, and about one-third of the nutriment in cereals, legumes, dried fruits and nuts. It may seem incredible, but it is none the less true, that to secure one pound of bona-fide beef you must buy four pounds. Yet so it is—the fact is beyond dispute, but the butchers will not love me for proclaiming it.

No one need go in fear of losing physical strength if only he begins well by choosing the right foods. The flesh abstainer may expect to become less corpulent, less flabby, less adipose, but there will be no loss of flesh tissue, no diminution of muscular strength. He who treads the purer and better way in diet has naught to lose physically but much to gain.

We ought not, as a Nation, to be so deeply enamoured of our flesh-eating customs, for have they not, after long trial, been found wanting ? The physical deterioration of the British people is an acknowledged fact, and, moreover, this deterioration is so serious that it was found necessary to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the cause or causes of it. The food of the people must be at fault when such genera! unsatisfactory results are apparent in the physique of the people.

“It is now only too well-known that, in respect to physique and general healthfulness, the British working classes do not compare favourably with those of the rest of Europe, especially in those countries where meat forms little or no part of the dietary of the people, and this simple fact alone should be sufficient evidence, to any rationally minded man, of the evil effect of flesh food on the human species.”*

The physical effects of flesh food are simply disastrous; it is responsible for an appalling amount of sickness, disease and death, it decimates the ranks of all classes of society. Rich and poor, high and low, idlers and toilers are alike—they all eat up their fellow creatures with avidity, some with sauce, some without it. And they pay the inevitable penalty.

But the remarkable thing about this consumption of animal flesh is that, most of those who swear by it as ‘necessary’ will yet aver that they eat “next to nothing” of the flesh of the slaughtered. Anyhow, this is what they tell us Fruitarians. If this were true only one butcher in ten would thrive where now the whole ten drive a roaring trade, and disfigure and disgrace our streets by exposing the mutilated corpses of bullocks, sheep, and pigs in their shop fronts. Such shops should be banished from our leading streets and relegated to some special quarter of our towns known as the shambles. They are a disgusting and terrifying sight which little children should never have the chance of seeing.

Flesh-eating very commonly means ‘ disease-eating.’ I say disease-eating and I mean it. When we sit at the dinner, or supper table, eating flesh meats, the probability is we may be infecting ourselves with a fatal malady, signing our own death warrants.

The latest and most popular of ” flesh-toothsomes” is celestial pig, or Chinese pork. “Concerning tastes there is no disputing.” Quite recently a consignment of 70,000 celestial porkers reached Liverpool, but, happily, through some technicality, were refused admittance and had to be taken to the continent for a market. Liverpool pork-lovers and cracknel scrunchers were sorely disappointed. Poor things ! they don’t know what disease and misery they may have been spared. They who have lived in China confidently assert that celestial swine are fed on garbage, the putrid flesh of humans and canines—the unpaid scavengers of the Chinese streets.

One of the most horrible diseases with which a human being can be afflicted is trichinosis, a disease very common to pigs, and through their flesh capable of being transmitted to the eater of it. Appendicitis is now so common, it is so fashionable to be operated on, to have the appendix removed,—that instead of inquiring when we meet ‘ How do you do?’ we shall very soon have to ask one another,—” Have you been appendicited ? ” ” Have you had your appendix removed ? “

The appendix scare is really amusing. This ‘ terminal superfluity’ should be removed (the doctors say), it is altogether unnecessary, indeed, it is much in the way, it has no business where it is—at the end of the caecum—it is a physical nuisance and must be got rid of, every one must be operated on, cut with the carving knife ! The wisdom of present day medical scientists is greater than that of God. The human body, according to these, has been badly planned and constructed.

In his booklet, “How to avoid Appendicitis,” Dr. Oldfield, commenting upon the enormously increased prevalence of Appendicitis to-day compared with a few decades ago, asserts the reasons for such an unfortunate state of things to be the enormous increase which has taken place in the sale and use of purgatives; and, in the second place, the immensely increased use of flesh foods in the general dietary of the people. . . . “Appendicitis, like many other novelties came to us from America— from America, the land of Chicago mysteries, and the home of quack medicines and personal self-drugging. . . . Flesh eating as a habit is followed by constipation as a result, and by self-drugging as a vice, and then by Appendicitis as a penalty. . . . The beginning of the cycle of mischief lies in the diet.”

Then of Consumption. The roast beef of Old England provides an annual holocaust of tuberculosis victims. Consumption is a steadily growing disease. How is it to be accounted for?Why do we fail to counteract its ravages and to exterminate it? It is in the flesh we eat, that we persist in eating, and eating largely. ” More than 50 per cent, of our cattle are estimated to be tuberculous. Outside our great cities there is no meat inspection at all worth mentioning, and the public are ignorantly eating and feeding their children upon garbage with dire results.” The connection between tuberculous cattle and tuberculous flesh-eaters is too obvious to necessitate anything in the nature of argument; it is a self evident truth.

As to Cancer a few brief words must suffice. Cancer pain is, probably, the most agonizing to which the human body can be subjected; it is the pain of crucifixion. Cancer is increasing at a somewhat alarming rate, and all attempts to check its growth have failed most miserably. God help the rising generation if the rapid spread of this fell disease is not arrested, and arrested at once.

All efforts of medical researchists to discover the root cause of this 20th century crucifixion, have failed most signally, but not, in this case, from want of funds. Money has poured in upon the researchists, the gold of the millionaire has flooded their exchequers but, so far, the only discovery made (made with the assistance of innocent and unoffending animals cruelly done to death) is that there is a cure for Cancer, and that this man or that is on the verge of a great discovery I Alas ! these men, with all the torture they inflict upon poor dogs, rabbits and other animals, get no further than the verge, the discovery itself eludes them, they fail to find and grasp the secret.

Cancer is not by any means to be wholly ascribed to blows, accidents, or, in the case of women to carelessness of treatment after confinement. No, it is largely due to the food we eat— the flesh meat which, being itself often cancerous, infects the carnivorous eater, with the like disease. Let us appeal to a great authority. That eminent medical man, Dr. Robert Bell, and expert in Cancer treatment, asserts that when he commenced his medical career, Cancer was not nearly so prevalent as it is to-day. Then, however, there was not nearly so much meat eaten as there is to-day.

The increase of Cancer, he goes on to say, is in direct ratio to the increase of imported butchers’ meat. ” Moreover so far as my experience goes, and I have been daily in contact with this disease for over thirty years, it is only those who indulge in the carnivorous habit who are attacked, while I am unable to recall a single instance where it has occurred in those who are content to subsist upon food which Nature has so amply provided, and which, moreover, is strictly in accord with our physiological requirements.”

The effect of flesh meat on mind and thought is proved to be distinctly detrimental. ” Fruitarians are clearer thinkers than meat-munchers.” This on the authority of one of our most prominent diet experts who has studied food problems, flesh eaters, and flesh abstainers to some purpose.

Everyone who has to use his brains much, who has to weigh problems and evolve thought, who has to criticize and mentally construct, knows and will gladly tell you, that a fleshless diet is the best friend of the brain worker. A little experience sometimes goes a long way, and, moreover, must be accepted on credible testimony. If a personal word may here be introduced I must testify that, on a cereal and fruit diet, my own wee brain is much more fertile, and can accomplish a great deal more work than on flesh foods. Anyone whose brain is much taxed, and who has made the trial, will tell you the same thing. ‘Tis a matter of simple, common, everyday experience.

The ethical aspect of Food Reform suggests many thoughts. We must touch only the fringe of the subject and nothing more. Food Reform is a moral question, ultimately it becomes a vital question of ethics.

What and how much does a pound of beef steak stand for? If it stood only for anything between nine and fifteen pence who would trouble? In it we see a pound of dead flesh, three parts water; but it stands for and represents a great deal more than most people take the trouble to discover; it is an object lesson in ethics which includes, (a) cruelty to the animal, (b), the brutilisation and degradation of a number of our fellow citizens, (c), the moral effects upon the character of the meat eater, — notably pugnacity and lust.

The sufferings of the holocaust of victims for human food is too painful for description viva voce, it is something one can write about but cannot trust one’s self to speak of. The number of victims butchered annually is appalling. The world has become a vast slaughter yard—a blood red stain lies upon East and West. We have rivers of blood as well as rivers of water.

“According to a Dutch journal the city of Amsterdam alone killed for food during 1909:— 39,073 cows, 30,627 calves, 61,342 pigs, 7,925 sheep and lambs, 377 goats, &c., 5,609 horses and two asses, a total of 144,955 lives sacrificed for a population of 565,601! What must be the world’s summary of slaughter when one single city of the size and population of Amsterdam can supply 144,655 victims? Of Chicago we have already spoken.

This slaughter of harmless, inoffensive creatures goes on day by day, with some slight abatement according to times and seasons, but there is no cessation. The ‘ Festival’ of the slaughterer, oh! the irony of it, is held at Christmas, the season of peace and goodwill.

It is idle to deny the cruel sufferings of these hapless victims, or to seek to justify them. How can we justify pain and death which are not necessary? The many millions of non-flesh eaters, who live healthily, happily, and long, prove that suffering and slaughter are not essential to Man’s food supply.

We are not in the dark and may not be indifferent to what we know and hear. It is only by awakening a feeling of shame, disgust, and horror that we shall ever succeed in abolishing our slaughter hells, or banish the barbarous practice of flesh eating. The animal has its rights, and can claim from us these two—Justice and Mercy.

Can we conceive of a more degrading, more brutalizing employment than that of the slaughterer? This employment is supplied by the flesh-eater— it is his responsibility. We have no moral right to employ men, women and children in such loathsome employment. Which of us would suffer our women-kind to engage in offal cleaning. Why then force the women-kind of others to do work which is too disgusting, too offensive, for our own.

If we would not kill for ourselves, why lay this cruel burden upon the shoulders of other men? These poor fellows are greatly to be pitied; what they are, our false Christianity has made them. Can you wonder if they are a coarse and brutal class of men with, too often, homicidal tendencies?

Is the effect upon the mind and character of the flesh eater good and desirable, morally and spiritually? Does it not engender an unhealthy excitability? Does it not make men and women quarrelsome and pugnacious ? Would there be so many home quarrels, separation orders, and decrees nisi, if the household diet excluded, as in the judgment of so many thinkers it should, the fat of beasts, and restricted itself “to the fat of the land?”

The more equable temperament, the saner mind, the more peaceable disposition is found among those who have renounced all carnal diet. The surest and swiftest way to destroy the war spirit, and the craze for Dreadnoughts, is the general adoption of a bloodless diet.

Most drunkards are meat-eaters, and the greater part of them could be made sober by a properly thought out course of fruitarian diet. I do not say it is impossible to find a so-called vegetarian drunkard, but I do assert that it is most difficult to find one, that such an individual is a rara avis.

The Drink Problem, which is ever with us, is quite easy of solution. The solution lies in the renunciation of flesh meat as a staple diet.

There is another effect for which the confirmed bad habit of flesh eating is responsible, an effect disastrous to the highest interests of Man here and hereafter—the hindrance to spiritual growth, the ruin of spirituality. A great meat eater is never a spiritually minded person. Meat for breakfast, meat for dinner, meat for supper builds up a spiritual bankrupt! Such meat gorging would, in time, transform a St. John the Divine into a Henry VIII.

Those human carnivora who honestly observe the Lenten season, who abstain from their dearly loved flesh-pots for forty days, tell us how much better they feel in every way for their abstinence, how they have gained physically, morally, and spiritually.

Why then do they not continue that which they have found so profitable to body and soul and spirit? If forty days without flesh meat have proved so good and profitable, would it not be better to abstain for forty years, and would it not be best of all to abstain all the days of the earthly pilgrimage? A crux this for Lenten fasters. Why do they not separate from the ranks of the carnivorous and enrol themselves in the growing army of fleshless dietarians?

Christianity means a higher, yea the highest, ethical code for the human race. The moral character of Christian people today should be far above the standard which marked the introduction of Christianity. ” Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” That means progress, develop, evolve, until the highest standard of ethical and spiritual excellence is reached.

We must ascend the Jacob’s ladder, we must rise from the coarser to the finer, from the carnal to the spiritual. The inhumanity, cruelty, and butchery connected with flesh eating, are widely separated from all that is loving, gentle, and kind; and, naturally, must prevent in a measure the development of the spiritual. Therefore it will be ultimately condemned by the conscience of Christendom!

The Herald of the Golden Age, April 1910.