DIET IN RELATION TO HEALTH.
A LECTURE DELIVERED BEFORE THE PSYCHO-THERAPEUTIC SOCIETY, ON NOVEMBER 18th 1907.
BY SIDNEY H. BEARD
(President of the Order of the Golden Age).
The subject of Diet in relation to Health is worthy of earnest study and consideration on the part of every thoughtful member of the community, for it is most intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being, and with that of our children and our race.
This living temple which we inhabit – the physical instrument which we psychic beings use in order to do our work and gain our experience on the physical plane – is continually being created and re-built. We are told by scientific authorities, who are supposed to know all about such things, that every cell in the human body is displaced and renewed once a year. And as this process of continuous reconstruction is the result of the provision and incorporation of material appropriate for the purpose, it must be obvious to every intelligent mind that a wise selection of such material is a matter of very considerable importance.
We do not expect to get our villas or mansions well-built it defective bricks and mortar and cheap timber are employed. Erections so constituted are commonly known as examples of "jerry building," and every sensible person who decides to have a house constructed for himself is careful to specify exactly what materials shall be used, so as to ensure good quality and proper quantity. And yet, although we show such care about the building of these temporary inanimate dwellings, that we can easily part with if we find them in any way defective, few of us take any trouble about the building of that living tabernacle which is our permanent earthly habitation, and from the defects of which we cannot as readily escape.
The Science of Dietetics, which may also be termed "the Art of body-building," has been much neglected in the past both by the general public and the medical profession. Most of us have been brought up entirely in the dark, as it were, concerning this matter; and it is in consequence of such prevalent neglect and ignorance that our hospitals, asylums, and prisons are overcrowded, and that abundant evidence of physical deterioration are everywhere apparent around us – which statement I hope presently to prove to your satisfaction by the logic of indisputable facts.
A POPULAR AWAKENING.
But in these days of increasing enlightenment, of spiritual awakening, and of realization on the part of many progressive souls that sickness is preventable, that effects have causes, and that Nature's laws cannot be transgressed with impunity, a general spirit of uneasiness and anxious inquiry is becoming noticeable. The more intelligent members of the community are beginning to think about the Food Question. They are getting tired of taking pills and drugs, and of paying doctors' bills without getting much benefit to say nothing of expending large sums for the privilege of being operated upon for appendicitis.
In all sections of society individual protest is now being made against the coarse and unhygienic dietetic habits of our forefathers and our contemporaries. Thousands are beginning to recognize the fact that pure and vital food makes pure and healthy blood, that pure blood and strong vitality give immunity from disease, and that it is unbecoming for an artistic, cultured and spiritually minded soul to allow his or her body to be perpetually used as a grave for the mortal remains of slaughtered animals.
Before proceeding further I should like to ask your indulgence as members of the Psycho-Therapeutic Society if I lay very considerable emphasis upon the absolute necessity of dietetic amendment in all cases of sickness in which natural and hygienic law has been violated. I do so, not because I undervalue mental, magnetic, and psychic treatment, but because I am convinced that the root causes of human malady must be removed if permanent improvements in health is to be secured. I have personally proved and witnessed the helpful efficacy of psycho-therapeutics, and, therefore, I fully recognize the value of the work of this Society, and wish you great success and the Divine blessing upon your efforts to relieve pain and sorrow. But I have come here at the invitation of your Committee to place certain facts before you concerning Dietetics in relation to Health, and this being my position, I trust you will not take it amiss if I strongly urge the claims of our modern Food Reform Movement, and ask for your earnest consideration of the same.
FLESH FOOD UNNATURAL.
Flesh food is unnatural for man. Our greatest anatomists and naturalists, including Baron Cavier, professors William Lawrence, F.R.S., Sir Charles Bell, F.R.S., Sir Richard Owen, John Ray, F.R.S., Pierre Gassendi, and Dr. Pouchet, are unanimous in stating that our physical structure is that of a fruit-eating creature, and Baron Cuvier goes so far as to say that "Man resembles the frugivorous animals in everything and the carnivorous in nothing."
Without going too much into details, I may state that all the Carnivore have large livers and a short intestinal canal, so as to enable them to digest flesh before it has time to decompose; whilst Man has a comparatively small liver and long intestines, like the anthropoid apes, who are all fruit eaters in their natural state. Consequently, when a human being consumes any portion of the dead body of an animal he does so at the risk of suffering from septic intestinal inflammation, caused by putrefactive ferments being generated in his digestive apparatus. Such inflammation used to be called by its right name a few years ago but now it is fashionable to label it "appendicitis" because it generally takes place in the caecum ( a kind of sharp corner in the intestinal passage where obstruction often happens), which is situated close to the much maligned but generally innocent, "appendix," and therefore involves it in the inflamed state that arises.
It is a fact that the digestive apparatus of the higher apes is almost indistinguishable from that of man, and that their physical structure is virtually identical, hence Linnaeus classifies man as being at the head of the anthropoid mammals.
To eat the flesh of slaughtered animals is therefore contrary to our Creator's intention and purpose – and this view of the matter is confirmed by reference to the utterances of the world's most truly inspired prophets in every age. Amongst those leaders of human thought who have practiced or advocated total abstention from flesh food I may mention Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Buddha, Seneca, Hypatia, Plutarch, and Daniel; the first Christian Apostles (and, doubtless, their Master and Lord), the Christian Fathers, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, Clement, and others – Milton, Isaac Newton, Newman, Franklin, Wesley Swedenborg, Tolstoy, and General booth. I might also mention a crowd of more modern witnesses, including a large number of physicians, eminent churchmen and journalists, the latest accessions to the list being our present Pope, the Rev. R. J. Campbell, and Dean Wilberforce.
As members of this Society you will, I am sure, realize the importance of our living in harmony with Natural Law, and will be well aware how inevitable penalty overtakes those who transgress against the physical laws of their being. Let me, then, ask you to reflect concerning the vast amount of pain and sickness we see on every hand around us, to remember that such must have a fundamental cause, and to endeavor to trace our disease to its true source in those physical dietetic sin which are at present so prevalent amongst us.
Flesh-food is unnecessary. Any remarks concerning this point may well appear to be superfluous, but as the time-honored-delusion still exists in some minds, that health and strength cannot be maintained without a liberal supply of butcher's meat, I feel that I ought to remind you that the Roman and Spartan armies won their victories on a bloodless diet, that the Japanese, who appear to be able to outmarch and outfight anybody if necessary, have been non-carnivorous for many centuries; that many of our most famous athletes are vegetarians; and that the chief long-distance athletic records are held by them.
Concerning the longevity of abstainers from flesh food let me say that last year a meeting was held in London and was addressed by a number of octogenarian and nonagenarian food reformers, who astonished their audience by their vigor and by their enthusiastic advocacy of simple living and a dietary of fleshless food. And, more wonderful still, I hold in my hand some photographs of a man (Captain Diamond, of San Francisco) who has abstained from flesh food for over 80 years, and who is now, at the age of 111 years active, vigorous, and healthy. At the age of 107 he was boxing, cycling, and teaching physical culture to a class of young men, and a doctor who examined him last year declared that he saw no reason why he should not go on living for an indefinite period to come.
Experiments recently conducted in the American Universities at Yale and Harvard, by Professor Chittenden and 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 milk, have superior health, stamina, and endurance. The results of these experiments are corroborated by the experience of thousands of reliable witnesses of all ages who engage in every form of mental and manual toil.
FOOD THAT IS INJURIOUS.
Flesh food is injurious, and the chief cause of human malady, for the simple reasons that it quickly decomposes and putrefies, that it is heavily impregnated with uric acid and other toxic waste products, even when animals are healthy, and that it is only too frequently infected with disease. The human body under normal conditions generates about three grains of uric acid per day, this would appear to be the normal amount that can be eliminated, and you can easily judge how deleterious flesh must be, and how prone to develop uric-acid diseases, such as Gout, Rheumatism, Calculus, Bright's disease, etc., when I tell you that a pound of lean beef contains about 14 grains of uric acid, a pound of liver 19 grains, and a pound of sweetbread nearly 70 grains. Need we wonder that about half the people we meet are suffering from some form or uric acid accumulation and poisoning?
More than 50 percent of the cattle of Great Britain are tuberculosis – or, in other words, "consumptive." In fact, the British delegate to the International Meat Trade Congress, held this year at Hamburg, declared that if the tuberculosis cattle of the United Kingdom were to be compulsorily slaughtered, "it would practically mean extermination of our herds."
The recent Royal Commission on Tuberculosis declared that this disease in the human subject is often the direct result of introduction into the human body of the bacillus of bovine tuberculosis, and that "the milk coming from consumptive cows ought not to be used as human food at all." From this Resolution we can easily draw the conclusion that the flesh of consumptive cows is equally as dangerous, seeing that the inner part of a joint of meat never reaches boiling point, and that the bacillus can survive a temperature of boiling water, even if subjected to it. Our policy as a nation in multiplying hospitals for consumptive, while no effort is made by the State to prohibit the eating of the bodies of consumptive animals, resembles that of the man who picked up apples with one hand whilst he threw them down with the other. We isolate our human consumptive patients – and wisely so, for the disease is very contagious – and then we eat up the sub-human ones, and yet consider ourselves sane.
Let me also remind you that the animals who are slaughtered and sold for food without any adequate inspection – in fact, without any inspection at all outside our great cities – suffer from anthrax, swine fever, pluropneumonia, sheep-scab, foot and mouth disease, and infestation by parasites of various kinds; and that such undesirable material for body-building often produces dire results in those who are so unwise as to consume it and to give it to their children. Let me also draw your attention to the fact that our worst disease, Cancer, has increased in extent and frequently in exact proportion to the increase of the meat consumed in this country; and that at the present time one woman in every eight, expect to die of Cancer if such are flesh-consumers. The amount of Cancer in each country is in exact proportion to the amount of flesh consumed by the inhabitants, as is shown in the statistics contained in that comprehensive book that was published last year by the Hon. Rollo Russell, entitled "Strength and Diet in Relation to the Life of Nations." Many of our most eminent Cancer specialists, amongst whom I may mention Dr. Alexander Maraden, Dr. Roger Williams, and Dr. Robert Bell have expressed the opinion that flesh eating is one of the chief causes of Cancer, and every year this conviction is gaining ground amongst our most progressive medical men.
My own study, observation, and experience, have convinced me that the cure for Cancer will be found in its prevention – by simple, natural, and hygienic living and abundant exercise, that the disease is the result of blood poisoning arising from the accumulation in the system of partially decomposed animal tissue; and that unless the unseemly habit of eating the dead bodies and internal organs of our fellow-creatures is abandoned we shall continue to be afflicted with this terrible penalty for wrong-doing.
THE CHIEF CAUSE OF DIPSOMANIA.
Flesh food is the chief cause of Dipsomania. In countries where carnal diet is not habitual the Drink Problem is virtually unknown. Fruitarian drunkards are conspicuous by their non-existence, and it has been demonstrated, in the Inebriate Homes of the Salvation Army and elsewhere, that the worst dipsomaniacs can be speedily cured by a well-selected and nutritious fruitarian dietary.
When men are properly nourished upon non inflammatory diet, that is rich in protein and nerve and tissue-building substance – such as nuts of all kinds, and their products; cereal foods (wheat meal, oatmeal, macaroni, rice, etc.); legumes (haricots, lentils, and peas); fruits of every sort; and dairy produce (cheese, milk, and eggs), they do not crave for strong drink, nor are they in danger of taking alcohol to excess.
The carnivorous habit involves the brutalization and degradation of thousands of men, women, and boys through their employment in most revolting forms of work (viz. butchery and offal cleaning, etc.) It also brings upon their posterity abnormal evil and homicidal tendencies, thus inflicting upon society in general much suffering and loss. Such influences must be inimical to the health of mankind, and as human solidarity is an unsayable fact, the innocent are made to suffer with the guilty.
Let me also remind you that the adoption of a natural and fleshless dietary will create an immensely increased demand for agricultural labor. The land will support about eight times as many men when devoted to the production of fruit, cereals and market garden produce, as it will when used for boviculture. Thus the alarming evils of rural depopulation and the overcrowding of cities will be rendered possible of alleviation. "Back to the land" is the only real remedy for the sorrows of Slum Dom and for our racial deterioration, and a national Food Reformation is essential as a preliminary step to this.
THE CRUELTY INVOLVED.
Before concluding I must ask you to bear with me if I mention the appalling amount of pain and cruelty that is inflicted upon animals in order to meet the demand for flesh food; and that, seeing the suffering which is involved in the flesh traffic is inflicted needlessly, it is but reasonable to expect that Nemesis in some form will overtake those who are responsible in the matter.
Death by violence in its most brutal forms (unmitigated by pity, alleviation, or mercy) is meted out to at least a million large animals every day in what are called Christian countries – and this, after the infliction of untold suffering in cattle trains and cattle boats. Such violation of the spirit of Humaneness and of the Law of Love towards one's fellow-creatures may reasonably be expected to bring a terrible Karmic retribution upon those who are accessories, before and after the fact, to such ruthless exploitation, and this is actually taking place before our very eyes. Those who live by the knife only too often perish by the knife, as is illustrated by the two million surgical operations that were performed in this Metropolis alone last year. I venture to hold the conviction, and to affirm that, had the people of this country been living a simple and natural life and subsisting upon the fruits of the earth instead of upon the products of the shambles, most of these operations would have been unnecessary, and many homes would have been saved from the dark cloud of sorrow and from visitation by the Angel of Death. One very prevalent malady alone is sufficient as an example. I refer to Appendicitis, which has been declared by the highest medical authorities in France, America, and elsewhere to be the direct result of flesh eating. It is caused by the decomposition of annual tissue in the human intestine, and is a complaint from which fruitarians are practically immune.
I affirm, without fear of contradiction, that the carnivorous habit is highly detrimental both to individuals and the State, and I hold strong convictions on this matter, because I speak from long personal experience and observation of the deleterious effects of our conventional diet, and of the benefits that result of living upon wisely chosen fruit and cereal food combined with dairy produce. When I retired from my profession twenty years ago I was a prematurely old man, and a physical wreck through attempting to live upon our conventional meat and white bread diet, whilst undergoing great mental strain. I was too nervous to mount a horse, was obliged to wear glasses for double astigmatism, and was too weak to walk a mile without fatigue – and I failed to recuperate. But thirteen years ago I became a total abstainer from flesh food and adopted a natural dietary, with the result that I now feel many years younger instead of older. I have not had a day's real illness during this time, although I have done the mental work of half a dozen men; I have not worn spectacles for the past eight years, and am now able to ride twenty miles without dismounting, and to play 60 or 80 games of tennis without undue fatigue. Similar benefits have accrued to my family, and for ten years our doctor's bill amounted to be 5s only, that sum being expended on behalf of one of the servants. I have also seen scores of men and women find improved health from adopting a similar course, and I have witnesses many die a premature death through failing to amend their dietetic ways.
In view of these facts, which I could multiply ad libitum if time permitted let me appeal to each one of you to lend your influence to the great Food Reform Movement which is now spreading all over the globe, and thus to hasten the time when human pain and sorrow will be reduced to a minimum. Let me urge you to make this important change in your daily habits, not only for the sake of others and for the sake of the groaning animal creation (that can only thus be emancipated from human tyranny and cruelty), but for your own sakes, and in order that you may more speedily reach those higher physical, mental, and spiritual planes that are awaiting us all. You will find purity in diet a great aid to self-culture, and to the attainment of physical and mental efficiency. And you will also find that furtherance of the Food Reformation on your part will be a most direct and practical way of preventing human suffering, on increasing human happiness, and of helping to emancipate our race from many of the physical and social evils and limitations which now afflict us.