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of Arguments in Favour of a Non-Flesh Diet. 

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author op 
'animals' rights, considbrbd in relation to social progress " 






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Where slaughter 'd beasts lie (quivering, pile on pile, 
And bare-armed fleshers, bathed iri bloody dew, 
Ply hard their ghastly trade, and hack and hew. 
And mock sweet Mercy's name, yet loathe the while 
The lot that chains them to this service vile. 
Their hands in hideous carnage to imbrue : 
Lo, there ! — the preacher of the Good and True, 
The Moral Man, with sanctimonious smile I 
•• Thrice happy beasts," he murmurs, •• 'tis our love, 
Our thoughtful love that sends ye to the knife 
(Nay, doubt not, as ye welter in your gore !) ; 
For thus alone ye earned the boon of life, 
And thus alone the Moralist may prove 
His sympathetic soul — by eating more* ' ' - 


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lol3.^(p OJZS^ 


In preparing this " Logic of Vegetarianism " for a new 
edition, I have carefully re-read a sheaf of press opinions 
which greeted the first appearance of the book some 
seven years ago, with the hope of profiting by any 
adverse criticism which might point out arguments that 
I had overlooked. In this, however, I have been 
disappointed, for, apart from a few such objections as 
that raised in all seriousness by the Spectator — ^that I had 
not done justice to the great problem of what would 
become of the Esquimaux — ^the only definite complaint 
which I can find is that the representatives of flesh- 
eating whom I have introduced in the dialogues are 
deliberately made to talk nonsense. " It is easy," said 
one critic, " to confute an opponent if you have the selec- 
tion of the arguments and the framing of the replies." 

I ought not, perhaps, to have expected that the 
assurance given in my introductory chapter (p. 2) as to 
the authenticity of the anti- vegetarian pleadings would 
shield me from this charge; indeed, the Vegetarian 
Messenger^ in a friendly review of the book, expressed 
doubt as to the policy of using dialogue at all, because, as 
it remarked, ''the arguments against vegetarianism are 
often so silly that it looks as if the author had set up a 
man of straw in order to demolish him." Yet, as the 


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Messenger itself added, " there is not ^n argument against 
vegetarianism quoted in this volume which we have not, 
time after time, seen seriously brought forward by our 
opponents." Surely it would be a strange thing if food 
reformers had to avoid any terse presentment of their 
adversaries' reasoning for the very fact of its imbecility ! 
And there is this further question. If I have failed 
to include in my selection the effective arguments against 
vegetarianism, where and what are they? Looking 
through those cited in the press notices, I can discover 
none that seem to be formidable ; but rather than again 
be suspected of unfair suppression, let me frankly quote 
the following specimens of the beef -eater's philosophy : 

" The proof that man should eat meat is that he always has 
done so, does now, and always will. " 

And again : 

"Nobody will want to make out that he [the advocate oi 
vegetarianism] is wrong, but folk will just go on suiting them- 
selves as before. Shelley and Thoreau, Wagner and Edward 
FitzGerald, were vegetarians, but, then, Wellington and Glad- 
stone partook of the roast beef of Old England, and were none 
the worse." 

There is a sublime simplicity about these statements 
which is most impressive, but I cannot think that any 
wrong is done to the case against vegetarianism by not 
including them in a discussion which purports to be a 
logical one. 

H. S. S. 


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Prbfacb - - - - - 

Introductory . - - - . 

Why " Vegetarian '•? - 

The Raison D*&rxs of Vegetarianism 

The Past and Present of Vegetarianism 

Structural Evidence - 

The Appeal to Nature 

The Humanitarian Argument 

Palliations and Sophistries • 

The Consistency Trick 

The Degradation of the Butcher 

The Esthetic Argument 

The Hygienic Argument 


Conditions of Climate 

Flesh Meat and Morals 

The Economic Argument 

Doubts and Difficulties 

Bible and Beef - - . 

The Flesh-eater's Kith and Kin 

Vegetarianism as Related to Other Reforms 


Index - . - - 










- 95 

- lOI 

• 109 

- "5 




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It is the special purpose of this book to set forth in a 
clear and rational manner the logic of vegetarianism. 
To the ethical, the scientific, and the economic aspects of 
the system much attention has already been given by 
well-accredited writers, but there has not as yet been 
any organised eflfort to present the logical view — that is, 
the dialectical scope of the arguments, offensive and 
defensive, on which the case for vegetarianism is founded. 
I am aware that mere logic is not in itself a matter of 
first-rate importance, and that a great humane principal, 
based on true natural instinct, will in the long-run have 
fulfilment, whatever wordy battles may rage around it 
for a time; nevertheless, there is no better method of 
hastening that result than to set the issues before the 
public in a plain and unmistakable light. I wish, there- 
fore, in this work, to show what vegetarianism is, and (a 
scarcely less essential point) what vegetarianism is not. 

For though, owing to the propaganda carried on for 
the last fifty years, there has been an increasing talk of 
vegetarianism, and a considerable discussion of its 
doctrines, there are still very numerous misunderstand- 
ings of its real aims and meaning. In this, as in other 
phases of the great progressive movement of which 
vegetarianism is a part, to give expression to a new idea 
is to excite a host of blind and angry prejudices. The 


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champions of the old are too disdainful to take counsel 
with the champions of the new ; hence they commonly 
attribute to them designs quite different from those which 
they really entertain, and unconsciously set up a straw 
man for the pleasure of pummelling him with criticism. 
Devoid always of a sense of sympathy, and mostly of a 
sense of humour, they absurdly exaggerate the least vital 
points in their adversaries' reasoning, while they often 
fail to note what is the very core of the controversy. It 
is therefore of great concern to vegetarianism that its 
case should be so stated as to preclude all possibility of 
doubt as to the real issues involved. If agreement is 
beyond our reach, let us at least ascertain the precise 
point of our disagreement. 

With a view to this result, it will be convenient to 
have recourse now and then to the form of dialogue, so 
as to bring into sharper contrast the pros and cons of the 
argument. Nor will these conversations be altogether 
imaginary, for, to avoid any suspicion of burlesquing 
the counter-case of our opponents by a fanciful present- 
ment, I shall introduce only such objections to vege- 
tarianism as have actually been insisted on — the stock- 
objections, in fact, which crop up again and again in all 
colloquies on food reform — with sometimes the very 
words of the flesh-eating disputant. It is not my fault 
if some of these objections appear to be foolish. I have 
often marvelled at the reckless way in which those who 
would combat new and unfamiliar notions step forth to 
the encounter, unprovided with intellectual safeguards, 
and trusting wholly to certain ancient generic fallacies, 
which, if we may judge from their appearance in all 
ages and climates, are indigenous in the human mind. 
Many of the difficulties which the flesh-eater to-day 
propounds to the vegetarian are the same, mutatis 
mutandiSf as those which have at various times been 
cast in the teeth of the reformer by the apologists of 
every cruel and iniquitous custom, from slave-holding to 
the suttee. 

To show the unreality of these sophisms, by clearing 
away the misconceptions upon which they rest, and to 




state the creed of vegetarianism as preached and practised 
by its friends rather than as misapprehended by its foes — 
such is the object of this work. To make " conversions," 
in the ordinary sense, is not my concern. What we have 
to do is to discover who are flesh-eaters by ingrained 
conviction, and who by thoughtlessness and ignorance, 
and to bring over to our side from the latter class those 
who are naturally allied to us, though by accident ranged 
in opposition. And this, once more, can only be done by 
making the issues immistakable. 

Incidentally, I hope these pages may suggest to our 
antagonists that vegetarians, perhaps, are not the weak 
brainless sentimentalists that they are so often depicted. 
It is, to say the least of it, entertaining when a critic 
who has just been inquiring (for example) " what would 
become of the animals *' if mankind were to desist from 
eating them, goes on to remark of vegetarians that 
"their hearts are better than their heads." Alas, we 
cannot truthfully return the compliment by saying of 
such a philospher that his head is better than his heart ! 
It cannot be too strongly stated that the appeal of vege- 
tarianism, as of all humane systems, is not to heart alone, 
nor to brain alone, but to brain and heart combined, and 
that if its claims fail to win this double judgment they 
are necessarily void and invalid. The test of logic, no 
less than the test of feeling, is deliberately challenged by 
us ; for it is only by those who can think as well as feel, 
and feel as well as think, that the diet question, or indeed 
any great social question, can ever be brought to its 

I — 2 


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The term "vegetarian," as applied to those who abstain 
from all flesh food, but not necessarily from such animal 
products as eggs, milk, and cheese, appears to have come 
into existence over fifty years ago, at the time of the 
founding of the Vegetarian Society in 1847. Until that 
date no special name had been appropriated for the 
reformed diet system, which was usually known as the 
" Pythagorean '' or ** vegetable diet," as may be seen by 
a reference to the writings of that period. Presumably, 
it was felt that when the movement grew in volume, and 
was about to enter on a new phase, with an organised 
propaganda, it was advisable to coin for it an original 
and distinctive title. Whether, from this point of view, 
the name "vegetarian" was wisely or unwisely chosen 
is a question on which there has been some difference 
of opinion among food reformers themselves, and it is 
possible that adverse criticism would have been still 
more strongly expressed but for the fact that no better 
title has been forthcoming. 

On the whole, the name " vegetarian " seems to be 
fairly serviceable, its disadvantage being that it gives 
occasion for sophistry on the part of captious opponents. 
In all controversies such as that of which vegetarianism 
is the subject there are verbalists who cannot see beyond 
the outer shell of a word to the thing which the word 
signifies, and who delight to chop logic and raise small 
obstacles, as thus : 

Verbalist : Why " vegetarian " ? 
Vegetarian : Why not " vegetarian " ? 

Verbalist : How can it be consistent with vegetarianism 
to consume, as you admit you do, milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, 
all of which are choice foods from the animal kingdom ? 



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Vegetarian : That entirely depends on what is meant by 
" vegetarianism." 

Verbalist ; Well, surely its meaning is obvious — a diet of 
vegetables only, with no particle of animal substance. 

Vegetarian : As a matter of fact, such is not, and has never 
been, its accepted meaning. The question was often debated 
in the early years of the Vegetarian Society, and it was always 
held that the use of eggs and milk was not prohibited. " To 
induce habits of abstinence from the flesh of animals (fish, 
flesh, fowl) as food '' was the avowed aim of vegetarianism, as 
officially stated on the title-page of its journal. 

Verbalist : But the word " vegetarian" — what other meaning 
can it have than that which I have attributed to it ? 

Vegetarian : Presumably those who invented the word 
were the best judges of its meaning, and what they meant by it 
is proved beyond a doubt by the usage of the Society. 

Verbalist: But had they a right thus to twist the word 
from its natural derivation ? 

Vegetarian : If you appeal to etymology, that raises 
another question altogether, and here, too, you will find the 
authorities against you. No one has a better right to speak on 
this matter than Professor J. E. B. Mayor, the great Latin 
scholar, and he states that, looking at the word etymologically, 
"vegetarian" cannot mean "an eater of vegetables." It is 
derived from vegetus, "vigorous," and means, strictly inter- 
preted, "one who aims at vigour." Mind, I am not saying 
that the originators of the term " vegetarian " had this meaning 
in view, but merely that the etymological sense of the word does 
not favour your contention any more than the historical. 

Verbalist: Well, what does "vegetarian" mean, then? 
How do you explain it yourself ? 

Vegetarian : A " vegetarian " is one who abstains from 
eating the flesh of animals, and whose food is mainly derived 
from the vegetable kingdom. 

The above dialogue will show the absurdity and in- 
justice of charging vegetarians, as the late Sir Henry 
Thompson did, with <* equivocal terms, evasion — in short, 
untruthfulness," because they retain a title which was 
originally invented for their case. The statement that 
vegetarians have changed the meaning of their name, 
owing to inability to'find adequate nourishment on a 


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purely vegetable diet, is founded on similar ignorance of 
the facts. Here are two specimens of Sir Henry Thomp- 
son's inaccuracy. In 1885 he wrote: 

"It is high time that we should be spared the obscure 
language, or rather the inaccurate statement, to which milk and 
egg consumers are committed, in assuming a title which has 
for centuries belonged to that not inconsiderable body of 
persons whose habits of life confer the right to use it."* 

Observe that Sir Henry Thompson was then under 
the impression that the name " vegetarian " (invented in 
1847) was " centuries " old ! Nor, names apart, was he 
any more accurate as regards the practice itself, for it 
can be proved on the authority of a long succession of 
writers, from the time of Ovid to the time of Shelley, 
that the use of milk and its products has been from the 
first regarded as compatible with the Pythagorean or 
" vegetable " diet. ' The fact that some individual 
abstainers from flesh have also abstained from all animal 
substances is no justification of the attempt to impose 
such stricter abstinence on all vegetarians on peril of 
being deprived of their name. 

Thirteen years later Sir Henry Thompson's argument 
was entirely changed. His assertion of the antiquity of 
the name " vegetarian '* was quietly dropped ; in fact, its 
novelty was now rather insisted on. 

"They [the "vegetarians"] emphatically state that they no 
longer rely for their diet on the produce of the vegetable king- 
dom, differing from those who originally adopted the name at a 
date by no means remote." f 

But our critic was again absolutely mistaken. There 
is no difference whatever between the diet of those who 
adopted the name at the date by no means remote and 
that of those who bear it now. Now, as then, there are 
some few vegetarians who abjure all that is of the 
animal, but the rule of the Society now, as then, is that 
the use of eggs and milk is permissible. At the third 
annual meeting, held in 1850, it was stated by one of 

* Nineteenth Century^ May, 1885. f ^^i^^y Ju»e, 1898. 


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the speakers that "the limits within which the dietary of 
the Vegetarian Society was restricted excluded nothing 
but the flesh and blood of animals." 

To avoid any possible misunderstanding, let me repeat 
that it is no part of the case for vegetarianism to defend 
the name " vegetarian " in itself ; it may be a good name 
or a bad one. What we defend is our right to the title, 
an indefeasible historical claim which is not to be upset 
by any such unfounded and self-contradictory assertions 
as those quoted. 

But it may be said that even if the title is historically 
genuine, it would be better to change it, as it evidently 
leads to misunderstanding. We should be perfectly 
willing to do this, but for two difficulties : first, that no 
other satisfactory title has ever been suggested, and 
secondly that, as the word " vegetarian " has now a 
recognised place in the language, it would' scarcely be 
possible to get rid of it ; at any rate, the substitute, to 
have the least chance of success, would have to be very 
terse, popular, and expressive. Take, for example, the 
name " flesh-abstainer," or " akreophagist," proposed by 
Sir Henry Thompson. The obvious objection to such 
terms is that they are merely negative, and give the notion 
that we are abstinents and nothing more. We do not at 
all object to the use of the term " flesh abstainer " as 
explanatory of " vegetarian," but we do object to it as a 
substitute, for as such it would give undue prominence to 
our disuse of flesh food, which, after all, is merely one 
particular result of a general habit of mind. Let us state 
it in this way : Our view of life is such that flesh-eating 
is abhorrent and impossible to us ; but the mere fact 
that this abstinence attracts the special attention of flesh- 
eaters, and becomes the immediate subject of controversy, 
does not make it the sum and substance of our creed. 
We hold that in a rational and humanised society there 
could be no question at all about such a practice as 
flesh-eating; the very idea of it would be insufferable. 
Therefore we object to be labelled with a negative term 
which only marks our divergence from other persons' 
diet ; we prefer something that is positive and indicative 




of our own. And untU we find somer more appropriate 
title, we intend to make the best of what we have got. 

The whole " Why * vegetarian ' ?" argument is, in fact, 
a disingenuous one. The practical issue between 
" vegetarians '* and flesh-eaters has always been perfectly 
clear to those who wished to understand it, and the 
attempt made by the verbalists to distract attention from 
the thing in order to fasten it on the name is nothing but 
sophistical. Of this main practical issue, and of the 
further distinction between the ** vegetarian " or flesh- 
abstaining diet and the purely vegetable diet, I will speak 
in the following chapter. 


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Behind the mere name of the reformed diet, whatever 
name be employed (and, as we have seen, " vegetarian *' 
at present holds the field), lies the far more important 
reality. What is the mison d'itre, the real purport of 
vegetarianism ? Certainly not any a priori assumption 
that all animal substances, as such, are unfit for human 
food ; for though it is quite probable that the movement 
will ultimately lead us to the disuse of animal products, 
vegetarianism is not primarily based on any such hard- 
and-fast formula, but on the conviction, suggested in the 
first place by instinctive feeling, but confirmed by reason 
and experience, that there are certain grave evils in- 
separable from the practice of flesh-eating. The aversion 
to flesh food is not chemical, but moral, social, hygienic. 
Believing as we do that the grosser forms of diet not 
only cause a vast amount of unnecessary suffering to the 
animals, but also react most injuriously on the health 
and morals of mankind, we advocate their gradual dis- 
continuance ; and so long as this protest is successfully 
launched, the mere name by which it is called is a matter 
of minor concern. But here on this practical issue, as 
before on the nominal issue, we come into conflict with 
the superior person who, with a smile of supercilious 
compassion, cannot see why we poor ascetics should thus 
afilict ourselves without cause. 

Superior Person : But why, my dear sir — why should you 
refuse a slice of roast beef ? What is the difference between 
roasting an pXjand boiiing an egg ? In the latter case you are 
eating an animal in embryo — ^that is all. 

Vegetarian : Do you not draw any distinction between the 
lower and the higher organisation ? 

Superior Person: None whatever. They are chemically 
identical in substance. 



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Vegetarian : Possibly ; but we were talking, not of chemistry, 
but of morals, and an egg is certainly not morally identical widi 
an ox. 

Superior Person : How or where does the moral phase of 
food-taking enter the science of dietetics ? 

Vegetarian : At a good many points, I think. One of them 
is the question of cannibalism. Allow me to read you a passage 
from the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" : *'Man being by nature [?] 
carnivorous as well as frugivorous, and human flesh being not 
unfit for hmnan food, the question arises why mankind generally 
have not only avoided it, but have looked with horror on 
exceptional individuals and races addicted to cannibalism. It 
is evident on consideration that both emotional and religious 
motives must have contributed to bring about this prevailing 
state of mind." 

Superior Person : Of course. Why read me all that ? 

Vegetarian : To show you that what you call " the moral 
phase of food-taking " has undoubtedly affected our diet. The 
very thought of eating human flesh is revolting to you. Yet 
human flesh is chemically identical with anim^ flesh, and if it be 
true that to boil an egg is the same thing as to roast an ox, it 
follows that to butcher an ox is the same thing as to murder a 
man. Such is the logical position in which you have placed 
yourself by ignoring the fact that all life is not equally valuable, 
but that the higher the life the greater the responsibility 
incurred by those who destroy it. 

Or it may be that the superior person, instead of deny- 
ing that morals affect dietetics, himself poses as so austere 
a moralist as to scorn the wretched half-measure of merely 
abstaining from flesh food while still using animal pro- 
ducts. The result is in either case the same. The all- 
or-nothing argument is sometimes put forward in this 
fashion : 

Superior Person : Well, as far as the right or wrong of 
the question is concerned, I would not care to be a vegetarian 
at all, unless I were a thorough one. What can be the good of 
forswearing animal food in one form if you take it in another ? 

Vegetarian : But surely it is rational to deal with the worst 
abuses first. To insist on an all-or-nothing policy would be fatal 
to any reform whatsoever. Improvements never come in the 
mass, but always by instalment ; and it is only reactionists who 
deny that half a loaf is better than no bread. 


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Superior Person : But in this case I understand that it is 
quite possible to be consistent. There are individuals, are there 
not, who live upon a purely vegetable diet, without using milk 
or eggs ? Now, those are the people whose action one can at 
least appreciate and respect. 

Vegetarian : Quite so. We fully admit that they are in 
advance of their fellows. We regard them as pioneers, who are 
now anticipating a future phase of our movement. 

Superior Person: You admit, then, that this extreme 
vegetarianism is the more ideal diet ? 

Vegetarian : Yes. To do more than you have undertaken 
to do is a mark of signal merit ; but no discredit attaches on 
that account to those who have done what they undertook. We 
hold that "the first step," as Tolstoy has expressed it, is to 
clear oneself of all complicity in the horrible business of the 

Superior Person : Well, I must repeat that, were I to 
practise any form of asceticism, I should incline to that which 
does not do things by halves. 

Vegetarian : Of course. That is invariably the sentiment 
of those who do not do things at all. 

Asceticism ! such is the strange idea with which, in 
many minds, our principles are associated. It would be 
impossible to take a more erroneous view of modern 
vegetarianism; and it is only through constitutional or 
deliberate blindness to the meaning of the movement that 
such a misconception can arise. How can we convey to 
our flesh-eating friends, in polite yet sufficiently forcible 
language, that their diet is an abomination to us, and that 
our " abstinence,'* far from being ascetic, is much more 
nearly allied to the joy that never palls ? Is the farmer 
an ascetic because, looking over into his evil-smelling 
pigsty, he has no inclination to swill himself from the 
same trough as the swine ? And why, then, should it be 
counted asceticism on our part to refuse, on precisely the 
same grounds, to eat the swine themselves ? No ; our 
opponents must clearly recognise, if they wish to form 
any correct notion of vegetarianism, that it is based, not 
on asceticism, but aestheticism ; not on the mortification, 
but the gratification of the higher pleasures. 




We conclude, then, that the cause which vegetarians 
have at heart is the outcome, not of some barren academic 
formula, but of a practical reasoned conviction that flesh 
food, especially butchers* meat, is a harmful and bar- 
barous diet. Into the details of this belief we need not at 
present enter; it has been sufficient here to show that 
such belief exists, and that the good people who can see 
in vegetarianism nothing but a whimsical " fad " have 
altogether failed to grasp its true purport and significance. 
' iFhe raison d'Ute of vegetarianism is the growing sense 
that flesh-eating is a cruel, disgusting, unwholesome, and 
wasteful practice, and that it behoves humane and 
rational persons, disregarding the common cant about 
" consistenc)^.'' and " all or nothing," to reform their diet 
to what extent and with what speed they can. 


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But, it may be said, before entering on a consideration 
of this reformed diet, for which such great merits are 
claimed by its exponents, the practical man is justified in 
asking for certain solid assurances, since busy people 
cannot be expected to give their time to speculations 
which, however beautiful in themselves, may prove at 
the end to be in conflict with the hard facts of life. And 
the first of these questions is, What is the historic basis 
of vegetarianism ? In what sense is "it an old movement, 
and in what sense a new one? Has it a past which 
may serve in some measure to explain its present and 
guarantee its future ? 

Such questions have been dealt with fully from time 
to^ time in vegetarian literature.* I can here do no more 
than epitomise the answers. Vegetarianism, regarded 
simply as a practice and without relation to any principle, 
is of immemorial date; it was, in fact, as physiology 
shows us, the original diet of mankind, while, as history 
shows us, it has always been the diet of the many, as 
flesh food has been the diet of the few, and even to this 
day it is the main support of the greater part of the 
world's inhabitants. Numberless instances might be 
quoted in proof of these assertions; it is sufficient to 
refer to the people of India, China, and Japan, the 
Egyptian fellah, the Bedouin Arab, the peasantry of 
Russia and Turkey, the labourers and miners of Chili 
and other South American States ; and, to come nearer 
home, the great bulk of the country folk in Western 
Europe and Great Britain. The peasant, here and all 

♦ As in "The Perfect Way in Diet," by Dr. Anna Kingsfordi 
and " Strength and Diet," by the Hon. R. Russell. 



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the world over, has been, and still is, in the main a 
vegetarian, and must for the most part continue so ; and 
the fact that this diet has been the result, not of choice, 
but of necessity, does not lessen the significance of its 
perfect sufficiency to maintain those who do the hard 
work of the world. Side by side with the tendency of 
the wealthier classes to indulge more and more in nesh 
food has been the undisputed admission that for the 
workers such luxuries were unneeded. 

During the last half-century, however, as we all know, 
the unhealthy and crowded civilisation of great industrial 
centres has produced among the urban populations of 
Europe a craving for flesh food, which has resulted in 
their being fed largely on cheap butchers' meat and ofFal ; ' 
while there has grown up a corresponding belief that we 
must look almost entirely to a flesh diet for bodily and 
mental vigour. It is in protest against this comparatively 
new demand for flesh as a necessity of life that vege- 
tarianism, as a modern organised movement, has arisen. 

Secondly, if we look back for examples of deliberate 
abstinence from flesh — that is, of vegetarianism practised 
as a principle before it was denoted by a name — we find 
no lack of them in the history of religious and moral 
systems and individual lives. Such abstinence was an 
essential feature in the teaching of Buddha and Pythagoras 
and is still practised in the East on religious and cere- 
monial grounds by Brahmins and Buddhists. It was 
inculcated in the humanitarian writings of great "pagan" 
philosophers, such as Plutarch and Porphyry, whose 
ethical precepts, as far as the treatment of the lower 
animals is concerned, are still far in advance of modem 
Christian sentiment. Again, in the prescribed regimen of 
certain religious Orders, such as Benedictines, Trappists, 
and Carthusians, we have further unquestionable evidence 
of the disuse of flesh food, though in such cases the reason 
for the abstinence is ascetic rather than humane. When 
we turn to the biographies of individuals, we learn that 
there have been numerous examples of what is now 
called <* vegetarianism'' — not always consistent, indeed, or 
continuous in practice, yet sufficiently so to prove the 


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entire possibility of the diet, and to remove it from the 
category of generous aspiration into that of accomplished 

But granting that there is historic basis for the vege- 
tarian system, the question is asked whether, on ethno- 
logical evidence, it does not appear that the dominant 
races have been for the most part carnivorous, and the 
subject races vegetarian — a line of argument which 
always appeals strongly to the patriotic Briton. 

Patriot : Come, now ; it is all very well to talk of philosophers 
and poets, and I have no doubt you can point to such names 
among the founders of your creed, but what I ask is, Were the 
founders of the British Empire vegetarians ? Were any great 
empires ever founded by vegetarians? Was Julius Caesar a 
vegetarian ? Was Wellington a vegetarian ? Can you give me 
any instance of vegetarianism as a fighting force ? 

Vegetarian : As regards the rank and file of conquering 
armies, there are many such instances, both in ancient and 
modem history. The diet of the Roman soldier was not that 
of a flesh-eater, and the Roman Empire was assuredly not won 
by virtue of flesh-eating, but by the haidihood which could 
subsist on simple rations of wheat, oil, and wine. So, too, the 
armies which built up the earlier empires of Egypt and Assyria 
were, for the most part, vegetarian. That is to say, while the 
rulers and wealthy classes of fighting nations have been 
carnivorous, the bulk of the soldiery, drawn from the frugal 
peasant class, has been unaccustomed to such luxuries. The 
idea that the flesh-eating races have everywhere subjugated the 
vegetarians is quite illusory. 

Patriot : But surely in India the flesh-eating Mohammedan 
has always conquered the vegetarian Hindu? 

Vegetarian : Not by any means always. It took him 
centuries of fierce fighting to do so, with all the advantages of 
religious fanaticism on his side, as against an enemy weakened 
by internal dissension and an enervating climate. But that 
Mohammedanism does not depend on flesh food for its fighting 
qualities may be seen from the case of that special ally and 
favourite of yours, the Turk. Let me read you what the 

* See the. list of names cited in Mr. Howard Williams's 
** Ethics of Diet," a biographical history of the literature of 
humane dietetics from the earliest period to the present day. 


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Standard said of him some twenty years back : '* From the 
day of his irruption into Europe, the Turk has always proved 
himself to be endowed with singularly strong vitality and 
energy. As a member of a warlike race, he is without equal in 
Europe in health and hardiness. He can live and fight when 
soldiers of any other nationality would starve. His excellent 
physique, his simple habits, his abstinence from intoxicating 
liquors, and his normal vegetarian diet, enable him to support 
the greatest hardships, and to subsist on the scantiest and 
simplest food." Have I said enough to show you that vege- 
tarianism may be a fighting force ? 

It will be objected, perhaps, that when food reformers 
claim these fighting qualities for their diet they are 
proving just a little too much for their principles, as, for 
example, in the reference to the sanguinary Turk as a 
practical vegetarian. If the outcome of vegetarian diet 
is to be war and massacre, how is the system any better 
than that which it fain would supersede ? This brings 
us back to the starting-point of the present chapter, the 
distinction between what may be called the old and the 
new vegetarianism. We have seen that, so far as the 
common practice is concerned, abstinence from flesh food 
is as old as history itself, and that rarer instances may 
be cited of practice and principle combined ; but when 
we regard vegetarianism as a propagandist movement, a 
conscious endeavour to benefit not merely the individual 
man, but human society itself, we have to recognise that 
it is a new movement. From a mere habit of the many, 
or piety of the few, it has become a reasoned principle, an 
organised system, with a name and nomenclature of its 
own : in vulgar language, it is an -«w, and, like other 
kindred -ismSi a part of the great humanitarian impulse 
of the past hundred years. 

The significance of this distinction is considerable. 
Modem *< vegetarianism '' is the same, yet not the same, 
as the << flesh abstinence '* that dates from earlier times 
— ^the same in so far as the actual dietary is concerned, 
and in some fewer cases the same in. principle, but 
different altogether in the spirit by which that principle 
is informed ; and for this reason it would be ridiculous 
to judge vegetarianism as a whole by the character of 


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those races who happen to have been abstainers from 
flesh, and who are merely quoted as proving the physical 
sufficiency of the diet. In a word, ethnical vegetarianism 
and ethical vegetarianism are two very different things. 

It has also to be remembered that the modem vege- 
tarian appeals not to humane instinct only, but to 
physiological facts, and that the movement has now 
become to a very large extent a scientific and hygienic 
one, thus again differing widely from the merely empirical 
and unconscious vegetarianism of earlier times. These 
several aspects of the system will be reviewed in suc- 
ceeding chapters; it is enough here to repeat that 
vegetarianism as a practice is immemorial, as a precept 
is of great antiquity, but as an organised cult is one of 
the new revolutionary forces of modern times. 


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We have seen, then, that vegetarianism, though new as 
a propagandist doctrine, has its historical record ; but if 
we wish thoroughly to understand its origin, we must go 
back beyond history to the more ancient and more durable 
evidence of the organic structure of Man. Here we come 
in conflict with what is, perhaps, the strangest of the many 
strange prejudices that oppose the humane diet — the super- 
stition, so common among the uneducated, and connived 
at, if not shared, by some of the " scientific ** themselves, 
that the verdict of comparative anatomy is fatal to the 
vegetarian claims. So far is this from being the case 
that the great naturalists, from Linnaeus onward, give 
implicit judgment to the contrary, by classing mankind 
with the frugivorous family of the anthropoid apes. Thus 
Sir Richard Owen says : 

'* The apes and monkeys, which man most nearly resembles 
in his dentition, derive their staple food from fruits, grain, the 
kernels of nuts, and other forms in which the most sapid and 
nutritious tissues of the vegetable kingdom are elaborated ; and 
the close resemblance between the quadrumanous and the 
human dentition shows that man was, from the beginning 
more especially adapted * to eat of the fruit of the trees of the 
garden.' *** 

* " Odontography," chap, x., p. 471, 1840- 1845. This sentence 
is quoted only for what it is worth — ^viz., as proving that, in 
Owen's opinion, man was originally frugivorous. If the whole 
passage in " Odontography " be studied, it will be seen that 
Owen cannot fairly be cited as a vegetarian authority, because, 
after alluding to the fact that the apes occasionally eat insects, 
eggs, and young birds, he sums up in favour of what he calls 
' ' the frugivorous and mixed regimen of the quadrumana and 
man." This point I have dealt with later in the chapter. 



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And here is the more recent verdict of Sir Benjamin 
Richaxdson : 

'* On the whole, I am bound to give judgment on the evidence 
of the teeth rather in favour of the vegetarian argument. It 
seems fairest of fair to read from nature that the teeth of man 
were destined — or fitted, if the word destined is objected to — 
for a plant or vegetable diet, and that the modification due to 
animal food, by which some change has been made, is practi- 
cally an accident or necessity, which would soon be rectified if 
the conditions were rendered favourable to a return to the ^ 
primitive state. ... By weighing the facts that now lie before r 
us, the inference is justified that, in spite of "the very lon^ time r 
during which man has been subjected to an animal diet, he 
retains in preponderance his original and natural taste for an 
innocent diet derived from the first-fruits of the earth.'* ♦ 

Yet, in spite of such testimony, and more of an equally 
authoritative kind, it is quite a common thing for some 
flesh-eating "scientist" to allege against vegetarianism 
the conformation of the human teeth or stomach. c 

Scientist : But our teeth, my good friend, our teeth ! What 
can be the use of your talking about vegetarianism, when we 
both of us carry in our mouths a proof of the necessity of fiesh- 
eating. ' 

Vegetarian : But surely you do not hold the popular fallacy 
that man's canine teeth class him among the camivora ? 

Scientist : They prove at least that he is an eater of fiesh as 
well as of vegetables. Why else has he got such teeth ? 

Vegetarian : Why has a gorilla got such teeth ? " For the 
purpose of combat and defence,'' Owen tells us, not of food. And 
if a gorilla, with " canines " much more developed than man's, 
is a frugivorous animal, why must man with less developed 
" canines *' be carnivorous ? 

Scientist : Well, well ; let us turn to the digestive organs, 
then. Look at the immense difference between the human 
stomach and that of the true herbivora. How can mankind 
get the required nutriment from herbs, when we have not the 
necessary apparatus for doing so? 

Vegetarian : But it has never been argued by us, nor is it 

* " Foods for Man," Longman^ s Magazine^ 188S. 

2 — 2 


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in any way essential to our argument, that mankind is 
herbivorous. What have the herbivora to do with the question ? 

Scientist : I have seen them quoted in your books as 
instances of strength and endurance 

Vegetarian : To dispel the illusion that there is no chemical 
nutriment in anything but flesh food ; but that is quite a different 
thing from asserting that man is himself herbivorous. The point 
at issue is simple. You charge vegetarians with flying in the 
face of Nature. We show you, from your own authorities, that 
the structural evidence, whatever that may be worth (it was you 
who first appealed to it), pronounces man to have been originally 
neither carnivorous, nor herbivorous, but frugivorous. If you 
think otherwise, what do you make of the apes ? 

The close similarity that exists between the structure 
of man and that of the anthropoid apes is the hard fact that 
cannot be evaded by the apologists of flesh-eating. In the 
conformation alike of brain, of hands, of teeth, of salivary 
glands, of stomach, we have indisputable proof of the 
frugivorous origin of man — indeed, it is not seriously 
questioned by any recognised authority, that man was a 
fruit-eater in the early stages of his development. As 
far as comparative anatomy throws light on the diet ques- 
tion, mankind and the apes are, so to speak, <* in the same 
box," and he who would disprove the frugivorous nature 
of man, must also disprove the frugivorous nature of the 
anthropoid apes, a predicament of which the more intelli- 
gent of our opponents are keenly aware. And this brings 
us to the second branch of the subject of this chapter. 

Whatever his original structure, it is argued, man has 
extended his resources in the matter of food, and has 
long been "omnivorous,*' while bis middle position 
between the carnivora and herbivora indicates that he is 
naturally suited for a "mixed diet." Omnivorous, it will 
be noted, is the blessed word that is to bring comfort 
to flesh-eaters, and the inconvenient apes, whom the 
naturalists class as frugivorous, have somehow to be 
dragged in under the category of " omnivorous." But, 
flrst, a word about the meaning of this saving term. 

Now, I wish to make it plain that vegetarians are not 
wedded to any a priori theory that the lines of dietetic 


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development are stringently limited by the original 
structure of man. If the flesh-eater appeals, as he so 
often does, to physical structure, with the intent of 
attributing carnivorous instincts to mankind, we confront 
him with an array of scientific opinion which quickly 
makes him wish he had let the subject alone ; and if he 
insists on the " evolutional " rather than the " natural " 
aspect of the problem, we are equally ready to meet him 
on this newer ground. But we decline to fall victims to 
the rather disingenuous quibble that lurks in the specious 
application to mankind of the term " omnivorous." 

For what, in the present connection, does the word 
" omnivorous " mean ? It cannot, obviously, mean that 
man should, like the hog, eat everything^ for, if so, it would 
sanction not only flesh-eating, but cannibalism, and we 
should have to class mankind (so Professor Mayor has 
wittily remarked) as hominivorous I It must mean, presum- 
ably, that man is fitted to eat not everything^ but anything 
— vegetable food or animal food — implying that he is 
eclectic in his diet, free to choose what is good and reject 
what is bad, without being bound by any original law of 
nature.* To the name "omnivorous," used not in the 
hoggish sense, but in this rational sense, and not exclud- 
ing, as the scientists would absurdly make it exclude, the 
force of moral and other considerations, the vegetarian 
need raise no objection. Man is " omnivorous," is he ? 
He may select his own diet from the vegetable and 
animal kingdoms ?" Well and good : that is just what 
we have always advised him to do, and we are prepared 
to give reasons, moral and hygienic, why, in making the 
selection, he should omit the use, not of all animal 
products, but of flesh. The scientists cannot have it 
both ways. They cannot dogmatise on diet as a thing 

* It has been well shown by Dr. J. Oldfield, in the New 
Century Review^ October 1898, that "omnivorism" in the hoggish 
sense, is not characteristic of progressive mankind. ** The 
higher we go in the scale of life, the more we find selection 
taking the place of omnivorism. The more complex the 
organism, the greater its selective capacity. * Selection,' then, 
rather than 'omnivorism,* should be the watch-cry of the 
human race evolving upward." 


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settled by comparative anatomy, and also assert that man 
is " omnivorous " — ».^., free to choose what is best. 
But let us return to our monkeys. 

Scientist : You just now quoted the gorilla as a frugivorous 
animal, but, on further consideration, I cannot admit him to be 
so. He is omnivorous — like man. I have Sir Richard Owen's 
authority for it. 

Vegetarian : What ! Does the ape rush upon the antelopes, 
and rend them with those canine teeth of his ? How horrible ! 

Scientist : Not exactly that ; but it was stated by Sir Henry 
Thompson that " Sally," the large chimpaneze once so popular 
in the Zoological Gardens, was not infrequently supplied with 
animal food. 

Vegetarian : Well, and how does that prove that the chim- 
panzee is not naturally frugivorous ? I should imagine that any 
one of us, if placed in a cage, and stared at all the year round 
by a throng of gaping visitors, might be liable to aberrations. 
Even a vegetarian might do the same. 

Scientist : But in their wild state also the baboons are 
known to prey on lizards, young birds, eggs, etc., when they 
can get them. Perhaps you were not aware of this when you 
called the apes frugivorous ? 

Vegetarian : I was quite aware of it, and in view of the 
exceedingly small importance of these casual pilferings as com- 
pared with their staple diet, I maintain that they are^ for all 
practical purposes, frugivorous. Indeed, so far from this 
mischievous penchant of the apes being an argument against 
vegetarianism, it is most suggestive as explaining how the early 
savages may have passed, almost by accident at first, from a 
frugivorous to a mixed diet. 

Scientist : Well, at any rate, it indicates that apes have a 
tendency to become omnivorous. 

Vegetarian : Yes, if you like to express it so ; and it is still 
more evident that men have that tendency. But the question is 
whether the tendency is rightly interpreted as giving a sanction 
\.Q flesh-eating. For flesh -eating, as we use the term, means the 
breeding, destroying, and devouring of highly-organised niam- 
mals, and is a very different thing from the ^%% and lizard 
hunting in which the monkeys sometimes indulge. If you 
would confine your flesh -eating to a few insects and nestlings, 
you would have a better right to quote the example of the apes. 


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Has flesh-eating been a necessary step in man's 
progress ? Without access to the flesh-pots, it has been 
asked, would not the race have remained in the groves 
with the orangs and the gorillas? I do not see that 
vegetarians need concern themselves to answer such 
speculations, which, interesting though they are, do not 
bear closely on the present issue. For though, as we 
have seen, the testimony of the past is in favour of a 
frugivorous origin, the problem of the present is one 
which we are free to solve without prejudice, and 
whether the past use of flesh food, by a portion of the 
world's inhabitants, has helped or hindered the true 
development of man is a matter for individual judgment. 
We may have our own opinion about it. But what we 
are concerned to prove is that flesh-eating can offer no 
advantages to us now. 




Of the many dense prejudices through which, as through 
a snowdrift, vegetarianism has to plough its way before 
it can emerge into the field of free discussion, there is 
none perhaps more inveterate than the common appeal 
to " Nature." A typical instance of the remarkable 
misuse of logic which characterises such argument may 
be seen in the anecdote related by Benjamin Franklin, in 
his " Autobiography," of the incident which induced him 
to return, after years of abstinence, to a flesh diet. He 
was watching some companions sea-fishing, and observing 
that some of the fish caught by them had swallowed 
other fish, he concluded that, "If you eat one another, I 
don't see why we may not eat you " — a confusion of 
ichthyology and morals which is ludicrous enough as 
narrated by Franklin, but not essentially more foolish 
than the attempt so frequently made by flesh-eaters to 
shuffle their personal responsibility on to some supposed 
" natural law." 

But let the carnivorous anthropologist sp^ak for 
himself : 

Anthropologist : Now, understand me ! I think this vege- 
tarianism is well enough as a sentiment ; I fully appreciate your 
aspiration. But you have overlooked the fact that it is contrary 
to the laws of Nature. It is beautiful in theory, but impossible 
in practice. 

Vegetarian : Indeed ! That puts me in an awkward posi- 
tion, as I have been practising it for twenty years. 

Anthropologist : It is not the individual that I am speak- 
ing of, but the race. A man may practise it perhaps ; but 
mankind cannot do so with impunity. 

Vegetarian : And why ? 



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Anthropologist : Because, as the poet says, " Nature is 
one with rapine." It is natural to kill. Do you dare to impugn 
Nature ? 

Vegetarian : Not at all. What I dare to impugn is your 
incorrect description of Nature. There is a great d^ more in 
Nature than rapine and slaughter. 

Anthropologist: What? Do not the beasts and birds 
prey on one another ? Do not the big fish eat the little fish ? 
Is it not all one universal struggle for existence, one internecine 

Vegetarian : No ; that is just what it is not. There are two 
principles at work in Nature — the law of competition and the 
law of mutual aid. There are carnivorous animals and non- 
carnivorous, predatory races and sociable races ; and the vital 
(question is — to which does man belong? You obscure the 
issue by these vague and meaningless appeals to the " laws of 
Nature," when, in the first place, you are quoting only part of 
Nature's ordinance, and, secondly, have not yourself the least 
intention of conforming even to that part. 

Anthropologist : I beg your pardon. In what do I not 
conform to Nature ? 

Vegetarian : Well, are you in favour of cannibalism, let us 
say, or the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes? 

Anthropologist ; Good gracious, my dear sir I I must 
entreat you 

Vegetarian ; Exactly ! You are horrified at the mere mention 
of such things. Yet these habits are as easily justified as fiesh- 
eating, if you take " Nature" as your model, without specifying 
whose nature ? The nature of the conger and the dog-fish, or 
the nature of civilised man? Pray tell me thaty Mr. Anthro- 
pologist, and then our conversation may not be wholly 

The idea that the Darwinian doctrine of the " struggle 
of life " justifies any barbarous treatment of inferior races 
is ridiculed by so distinguished an authority as Prince 
Kropotkin, who points out that Darwin does not teach 
this. " He proves that there is a struggle for existence 
in order to put a check on the inordinate increase of 
species. But this struggle is not to be understood in 


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a crude and exclusive sense ; there is a law of competition, 
but there is also — ^what is still more important — a law 
of mutual aid, and as soon as the scientist leaves his 
laboratory, and comes out into the open woods and 
meadows, he sees the importance of this law. Only 
those animals who are mutually helpful are really fitted 
to survive ; it is not jthe strong, but the co-operative 
species that endure.*** So, too, with reference to the 
strange notion that a guide for human conduct may be 
deduced from some particular animal instinct, taken at 
haphazard from its surroundings, a timely warning is 
addressed to such crude reasoners by Professor J. Arthur 
Thomson : " What we must protest against is that one- 
sided interpretation, according to which individualistic 
competition is Nature's sole method of progress. . . . 
The precise nature of the means employed and ends 
attained must be carefully considered, when we seek 
from the records of animal evolution support or justifica- 
tion for human conduct.**! 

It may be said, however, that though man is fitted to 
co-operate peacefully with his fellows, he is not bound by 
any such ties of brotherhood to the lower animals, and 
that it is "natural" that he should prey on the non- 
human races, even if it be not natural that he should 
seek pleasure at the cost of his fellow-man. But, in 
reality. Nature knows no such bridgeless gulf between 
the human and the non-human intelligence ; and it is 
impossible, in the light of modem science, to draw any 
such absolute line of demarcation between man and 
" the animals *' as in the now discredited theory of 
Descartes. We are learning to get rid of these " anthro- 
pocentric ** delusions, which, as has been pointed out by 
Mr. E. P. Evans, "treat man as a being essentially 
different and inseparably set apart from all other sentient 
creatures, to which he is bound by no ties of mental 
affinity or moral obligation**; whereas, in fact, "man is 
as truly a part an3 product of Nature as any other animal, 

* Humane Science Lectures : Summary of address given by 
Prince Kropotkin at Essex Hall, November 17, 1896. 
t *' Study of Animal Life.'* 


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and this attempt to set him up as an isolated point outside 
of it is philosophically false and morally pernicious."* 

The talk, then, about Nature being " one with rapine " 
is a mere form of special pleading, which will not stand 
examination in the full light of fact. If man is deter- 
mined to play the part of tiger among his less powerful 
fellow-beings, he will have to go elsewhere than to 
Nature to obtain a warrant for his deeds, for as far as 
the indications of Nature carry weight, they suggest that 
man, by his physical structure and his compassionate 
instincts, belongs unmistakably to the sociable, and not 
the predatory tribes ; and that by constituting himself a 
" beast of prey " on a vast artificial scale, he is doing the 
greatest possible wrong to nature {ue., to his own nature) 
instead of conforming to it. Our innate horror of blood- 
shed — a horror which only long custom can deaden, and 
which, in spite of past centuries of violence, is so powerful 
at the present time — is proof that we are not naturally 
adapted for a sanguinary diet; and, as has often been 
pointed out, it is only by delegating to others the detested 
work of slaughter, and by employing cookery to con- 
ceal the uncongenial truth, that thoughtful persons can 
tolerate the practice of flesh-eating. If Nature pointed 
us to such a diet, we should feel the same instinctive 
appetite for raw flesh as we now feel for ripe fruit, and a 
slaughter-house would be more delightful to us than an 
orchard. It is not Nature, but custom, that is the 
guardian deity of the flesh-eater. 

But we have not quite exhausted the appeal to Nature ; 
we have still to speak of the common objection to •vege- 
tarianism that " it is necessary to take life." 

Anthropologist : I have a most important argument to put 
before you. Must you not face the fact that, in this imperfect 
world, It is necessary to take life ? How can it be immoral to 
do what necessity imposes ? 

Vegetarian : We do not say that it is immoral to " take 
life," but that it is immoral to take life unnecessarily. It is not 
immoral, for instance, to destroy rats and mice, because it is 

* ** Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology." 


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necessary to do so. It is immoral to kill animals for the table, 
because it is not necessary to do so. Did you ever tread on 
a beetle ? 

Anthropologist : Yes, by accident. I could not help it. 
I am a most humane man. 

Vegetarian : Of course. But supposing that you wished to 
murder someone, would you think yourself justified in doing so 
because you had trodden on beetles — because, in fact, sometimes 
it is " necessary to take life ?" 

Anthropologist : Certainly not. How can you suspect me 
of being so immoral? There is a great difference between 
taking the life of a beetle by accident and of a man by design. 
There are degrees of responsibility, you know. 

Vegetarian : Ah I you have got your answer, then. 

How is it, we wonder, that rational beings can commit 
themselves to such irrational arguments as this appeal to 
what is called " Nature " but is in reality only an isolated 
section of Nature, viewed apart from the rest ? Let 
Benjamin Franklin himself supply the answer. For in 
narrating that incident of the cod-fish to which I have 
alluded, he humorously hints that his philosophical con- 
clusion, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we 
may not eat you," was not uninfluenced by the fact that 
he had been " a great lover of fish " in early life, and 
that the fish smelt " admirably well "as it came out of 
the frying-pan; and he sagely adds that one of the 
advantages to man of being a " reasonable creature " 
is that he can find or make a " reason " for anything he 
has a mind to do. Such is the logic of the flesh-eater, 
in which the wish is father to the thought, and mixed 
thinking leads by a convenient process to a mixed diet. 


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It will have been noted that the anti-vegetarian argu- 
ments which have so far come imder review have been 
mainly such as are based on purely materialistic groimds, 
as if the question were wholly one for doctors and 
scientists to decide ; and it has been shown that, even 
thus, there is no sort of warrant for the supercilious 
dismissal of vegetarianism as a theory condemned in 
advance by some superior tribunal. But the question is 
not one for the ipse dixit of the specialist. It is also a 
moral question of very great moment, and this fact gives 
a new significance to such unwilling admissions as that 
made by the British Medical - Journal^ that "man can 
obtain from vegetables the nutriment necessary for his 
maintenance in health " — j.^., from vegetables only, much 
more, therefore, from a vegetable diet with the addition 
of eggs and milk. The practicability of vegetarianism 
being thus fully granted, it is impossible to pretend that 
moral considerations are not relevant to the controversy, 
and that in forming an opinion on the vexed problem of 
diet we should not give due weight to the promptings of 

People often talk as if the humanitarian plea were 
some fanciful external sentiment that has been illogically 
thrust into the discussion ; whereas in truth it is one of 
the innermost facts of the situation which no sophistry 
can escape. Our humane instincts are unalterably im- 
planted in us, and we cannot deny them if we would ; to 
be human is to be humane. " There is something in human 
nature," says an old writer,* " resulting from our very 
make and constitution, which renders us obnoxious to 
the pains of others, causes us to sympathise with them, 

* Wollaston, " Religion of Nature,*' rySQ. 




and almost comprehends us in their case. It is grievous 
to see or hear (and almost to hear of) any man, or even 
any animal whatever, in torture." And now that modem 
science has demonstrated the close kinship that exists 
between human and non-human, the greater is the repul- 
sion that we feel at any wanton ill-usage of animals. 

This is now so generally admitted that the point in 
dispute is not so much the duty of humaneness, as some 
particular application of that duty, as in the present case 
to the slaughter of animals for food. What have humane 
people to say to the tremendous mass of animal suffering 
inflicted, in the interests of the table, on highly-organised 
and sensitive animals closely allied to mankind? By 
the imthinking, of course, these sufferings, being invisible, 
are almost wholly overlooked, while the deadening power 
of habit prevents many kindly persons from exercising, 
where their daily " beef " and " mutton " are concerned, 
the very sympathies which they so keenly manifest else- 
where ; yet it can hardly be doubted that, if the veil of 
custom could be lifted, and if a clear knowledge of what 
is involved in " butchery '* could be brought home, with 
a sense of personal responsibility, to everyone who eats 
flesh, the attitude of society towards the vegetarian move- 
ment would be very different from what it is now. If it 
be true that " hunger is the best sauce," it may also 
be said that the bon vivanfs most indispensable sauce is 
ignorance — ignorance of the horrible and revolting circum- 
stances under whith his juicy steak or dainty cutlet has 
been prepared. 

BoN ViVANT : What is this ? " Vegetarian " you call yourself? 

Vegetarian : And you ? You are a bon vivanU You " live 
well," I understand. 

Bon Vivant : Not ashamed of enjoying a good dinner, but 
not greedy, I hope. 

Vegetarian : Nor cruel, I suppose ? 

BON Vivant : Cruel I I subscribe regularly to the Society for 
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Vegetarian : And eat them. 




Bon Vivant; Why not? A speedy painless death is no 
cruelty, is it ? 

Vegetarian : While you are finishing that choice beef 
steak, I will tell you something of the speedy painless death 
of steak-producing animals. It may serve as an aid to digestion, 
like a musical accompaniment. 

Bon Vivant : Oh, you won't spoil my digestion. Fire away I 

Vegetarian : Let us suppose, then, that our friend (on your 
plate there) hails from Ireland, and at one of the fair grounds, 
of which there are several thousand in that island paradise, he 
meets the first agent in his euthanasia— the drover. " On such 
occasions," says the Report of the late Departmental Committee 
on the Inland Transit of Cattle, '* animals already, perhaps, 
exhausted and foot-sore fi-om a walk of many miles, stand for 
hours on the hard road, bewildered by the beating they receive 
and their unaccustomed surroundings. ... It was repeatedly 
asserted by responsible witnesses that many of the drovers are 
brutally harsh." So ferocious is the treatment that in many 
cases, when the animals are slaughtered, the hide, as butchers 
testify, simply falls off the back, and is worthless even for use as 
leather. I hope your steak is nice and tender ? 

Bon Vivant : But why are not the brutal drovers punished 
for it ? 

Vegetarian : Perhaps because it is not for themselves that 
they are driving. Then there is the journey in the railway- 
trucks, and we learn on good authority (Report of the Liver- 
pool S.P.C.A.) that " the animals have frequently gone twenty 
to twenty-four hours without food at the time they are driven on 
the boats." As for the delights of the sea-transit, you have 
read, I suppose, of what happens in cattle-ships ? 

Bon Vivant : Well, of course, in stormy weather there may 
be accidents 

Vegetarian : No, I am speaking of the ordinary scenes of 
the cattle traffic, and say nothing of the occasions (not so rare, 
either) when the boats come into port with blood pouring from 
their scuppers . 

Bon Vivant : Thank you, thank you ! that is enough ! 

Vegetarian : We find it stated, in the Report of the Com- 
mittee of Inc[uiry into the Irish Cattle Transit, that "the 
damage sustained by cattle is very serious, and that the principal 
portion of that damage is due to their treatment during ship- 
ment, while on shipboard, and on debarkation." On landing 


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there is more thrashing and tail -twisting, another railway 
journey, and then — the slaughterman. You have visited a 
slaughter-house,. of course ? 

Bon Vivant : No, really, I must protest 

Vegetarian : Ah, then it should interest you I The drover's 
task accomplished, the butcher's begins. Yard by yard and 
foot by foot, with chains fastened to his horns and sharp goads 
applied to his flanks, the struggling animal is dragged into the 
dark, blood-stained shed, where he is lucky indeed if he be 
killed by the first blow of the pole-axe 

Bon Vivant : Shameful I I do not believe you. It cannot be. 

Vegetarian : Then many well-known eye-witnesses must 
have strangely perjured themselves. Dr. Dembo, for example, 
says : " Cases m which several blows are required are very 
frequent. On my first visit to the Deptford slauglitering yards 
I found that the number of blows struck was five and more," 
and he goes on to describe a case which he saw in London, 
when twelve minutes elapsed before the animal 

Bon Vivant : Stop 1 I will hear no more. 

Vegetarian : You will hear no more — but will you eat more ? 
It is on yoUy not on the brutal drover or slaughterman, that the 
responsibility falls. For this is the " speedy and painless ^ way 
in which animals must be slaughtered that you may live well. 

" I will hear no more." That, said or implied, is the 
most common and the most insuperable argument by 
which the vegetarian is confronted. It is the one great 
stronghold of flesh-eating which remains from age to age 
impregnable. For how can even truth convince the deaf 
and the blind ? The horrors of the journey by sea and 
journey by rail, of the savage drover's goad and the clumsy 
butcher's pole-axe— if the ordinary man and woman, 
unimaginative and unfeeling though they are, could see 
or even hear of these things, the end of the controversy 
would be nearer. By the few flesh-eaters who have made 
inquiry, accidental or conscientious, into the facts of the 
cattle traffic and butchering trade, it is not denied that 
fearful cruelties are committed. Thus the Meat Trades 
Journal^ which is not a sentimental paper, remarks of the 
sea and land transit, that " our cattle, sheep, and pigs 
are carried by sea and rail with the minimum care and 


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maximum cost ; they are bundled and shunted about as 
if they were iron."* Again, Dr. T. P. Smith, writing in 
opposition to vegetarianism, allows that the indictment 
of the slaughter-house " hits a grievous blot on our much- 
vaunted civilization."! There is a mass of printed 
testimony to the same effect, which can be confirmed, 
as often as confirmation is needed, by a visit to the 
shambles. But that is a visit which the ordinary man 
will neither undertake himself nor hear of from the 
mouths of others. 

Much also might be said of certain special cruelties, 
such those involved in the supply of white veal or pdU de 
foie grasy and other so-called delicacies ; but it is un- 
necessary to dwell on such refinements of torture, 
because it is the ordinary every-day aspects of flesh- 
eating that are here under debate. It is a terrible fact 
that the very prevalence of the habit serves, more than 
anything else, to conceal its full import ; and thus a large 
number of people, who, in any other department of life, 
would indignantly refuse to profit by the cruel usage of 
animals, are (without knowing, or at least without recog- 
nising it) dependent for their daily food on the continued 
and systematic infliction of sufferings which, in their 
magnitude and frequency, surpass all other cruelties 
whatsoever of which animals are the victims. 

These horrors, as I have said, are not realised by those 
who are personally responsible for them. Or, rather, 
they are not directly realised ; for indirectly it is evident 
enough that the more sensitive conscience of mankind 
is far from easy about the morality of butchering, and 
would show still greater uneasiness but for the quieting 
assurance that flesh food is a strict necessity of existence. 
This sense of compunction has found at least partial 
expression in many non-vegetarian works, as, for example, 
in Michelefs "Bible of Humanity." " Life— death ! 
The daily murder which feeding upon animals impUes — 
those hard and bitter problems sternly placed themselves 

* December 29, 1898. 

t Fortnightly Review^ November, 1895. 




before my mind. Miserable contradiction ! Let us hope 
that there may be another globe in which the base, the 
cruel fatalities of this one may be spared to us !" 

Now, in view of these facts and these feelings, we have 
a right to press the advocates of flesh-eating for some 
more explicit and coherent statement than they have 
hitherto accorded us of their attitude towards the ethics 
of the diet question. If, as the scientists themselves 
admit, there is no such "cruel fatality" as that which 
Michelet pictured, and if flesh-eating is not to be regarded 
as necessary, but only as expedient, then it is in the 
highest degree imreasonable to rule out humane considera- 
tions from their due share in the settlement of this many- 
sided problem. The British Medical Journal has said that 
" there is not a shadow of doubt that the use of animals 
for food involves a vast amount of pain." The same 
paper has said that "man can obtain from vegetables 
the nutriment necessary for his maintenance in health." 
Can it be doubted, that if the average Englishman were 
made aware of these two facts, he would at least think 
vegetarianism worthy of a serious trial ? To ask, as 
a superior person of science has asked (not merely in 
these dialogues, but in actual debate), " How or where 
does the moral phase of food-taking enter the science of 
dietetics ?" or to take refuge in the common saying that 
"one man's food is another man's poison," is simply 
irrelevant For diet, like other social questions, has its 
moral aspect, which claims no less and no more than its 
due importance ; and it is because the " scientific " an- 
tagonists of vegetarianism have overlooked this fact that 
their judgments have hitherto been so warped, illogical, 
and unscientific. 


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It is instructive to note the desperate shifts and subter- 
fuges to which our antagonists have recourse when they 
find themselves face to face with the humanitarian 
impeachment of the slaughter-house. If one half of the 
popular prejudices were true, it might be supposed that, 
in the discussion of so ** fanciful " and " Utopian " a 
theory as vegetarianism it would be its supporters who 
would take refuge in metaphysical quibblings and sophis- 
tries, while its opponents would hold sternly to the hard 
facts of life. But no ! for when butchery is the theme 
we find the exact opposite to be the case, and it is the 
flesh-eaters, those level-headed deriders of the sentimental, 
who suddenly became enamoured of the imaginary what- 
might-be and the hypothetical what-woutd'Othermse-have- 
heen^ and are disposed to turn their attention to anything 
rather than to the unpalatable what-is. 

Now, when the apologists of any form of cruelty are 
reduced to the plea that it is " no worse " than some other 
barbarous habit, the presumption is that they are in 
a very bad plight indeed. Yet we frequently hear it said 
that the fate of animals slaughtered for the table is ** no 
worse " than that of other animals — those perhaps that 
are used for purposes of draught or burden — a quite 
pointless comparison, because, even if the statement be 
true, the one act of injustice can obviously be no excuse 
for the other. Or it may be that the mortality of man 
himself, and his liability to disease and accident, are 
allied in mysterious justification of his carnivorous 
habits, the sunering of the animals being represented as 
brief and momentary in contrast with the pathetic human 
death-bed — an argument which reached its culminating 
point in Mr. W. T. Stead's delightful assertion that of 

35 3—2 


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all kinds of death he would himself prefer ** the mode in 
which pigs are killed at Chicago," which mode, as he 
incautiously let out, he did not go to see when he visited 
that city. I do not think we need further discuss such 
remarkable preference ; it will be time enough to do so 
when we hear of Mr. Stead's lamented self-immolation 
in the Chicago pig-shambles. 

But it is said that domesticated animals owe a deep 
debt of gratitude to mankind (only to be repaid in the 
form of beef and muttonj, because, by being brought 
within the peaceful fold of civilisation, they have been 
spared all the harrowing fears and anxieties of their wild 
natural life. This, however, is a fallacy to which the 
great naturalists give no sort of sanction ; for it is 
obvious that, though the life of a wild animal is liable 
to more sudden perils than that of our tame "live- 
stock," it is not on that account a less happy one, but, on 
the contrary, is spent throughout in a manner more 
conducive to the highest health and happiness. Thus, 
Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace says : " The poet's picture of 
nature red in tooth and claw, is a picture the evil of 
which is read into it by our imagination, the reality 
being made up of full and happy lives, usually terminated 
by the quickest and least painful of deaths." And 
Mr. W. H. Hudson : " I take it that in the lower animals 
misery can result from two causes only — restraint and 
disease — consequently, that animals in a state of nature 
are not miserable. They are not hindered or held 
back .... As to disease, it is so rare in wild animals, 
or in a large majority of cases so quickly proves fatal, 
that, compared with what we call disease in our own 
species, it is practically non-existent. The * struggle for 
existence,' in so far as animals in a state of nature are 
concerned, is a metaphorical struggle ; and the strife, 
short and sharp, which is so common in nature, is not 
misery, although it results in pain, since it is pain that 
kills or is soon out-lived."^ 

Let us proceed, then, to the great sophistical paradox 
that it is better for the animals themselves to be bred 
and slaughtered than not to be bred at all — that most 




comfortable doctrine which of late years has been a 
veritable city of refuge, or grand old umbrella, to the 
conscientious flesh- eater under stress of the vegetarian 
bombardment. Hither flock the members of the learned 
professions, academies, and ethical societies, and fortify 
their souls anew mth this subtle metaphysic of the 

Sophist : Of all the arguments for vegetarianism, none, in 
my opinion, is so weak as the argument from humanity. The 
pig has a stronger interest than anyone in the demand for 

Vegetarian : Indeed ? And is that the view the pig himself 
takes of it ? 

Sophist : It is the view / take of it, speaking in the interests 
of the pig. For where would the pig be if we did not eat pork ? 
He would be non-existent ; he would be no pig at all. 

Vegetarian : And would he be any the worse for that ? 

Sophist : Yes, for he would lose the joy of life. And not 
the pig alone, but all animals that are bred for human food. 
Their death is the little price they necessarily pay for the 
inestimable boon of existence. 

Vegetarian : Now, let me first point out to you that it is not 
only flesh-eating that would be justified by this argument. Vivi- 
section, pigeon-shooting, slavery, cannibalism, any treatment 
whatsoever of animals or of mankind where they are specially 
bred for the purpose, might be similarly shown to be a kindness. 
Do you really mean that ? 

Sophist : I assume, of course, that the life is a happy one, 
and the death as painless as possible. 

Vegetarian : Neither of which conditions is in reality 
fulfilled ! For the wretched creatures that are bred and fed for 
the shambles have none of the true joys of life, but from the 
first are mere animated beef, pork, and mutton, while their 
death is nothing better than a prolonged and clumsy massacre. 

Sophist : But it need not be so. It is a mere question of 
police and proper supervision. It should be imperative on all 
those who confer life on animals to ensure absolute painlessness 
for the last moment. 

Vegetarian : It ^^ should bt"\ So it seems that this remark- 
able kindness of yours is, by your own showing, not an actual 


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but a hypothetical benefit. The animals fulfil their part of the 
compact b^ being killed and eaten, and you might flilfil your 
part by killing them painlessly — only you dotCt! Are you 
serious in talking this stuff? 

Sophist : This " stuff" ? Let me remind you, sir, that I have 
the authority of such eminent philosophers as Sir Henry 
Thompson, Mr. Leslie Stephen, Professor D. G. Ritchie, 
and Dr. Stanton Coit. Do you call their academical reasoning 

Vegetarian : What else can it be called ? For, as a matter 
of fact, quite apart from die conditions, good or bad, under 
which the animals live and die, it is a pure fallacy to say that it 
is a kindness to bring them into existence. 

Sophist : How so, if life is pleasant ? 

Vegetarian : Because it is impossible to compare existence 
with non-existence. Existence may, or may not, be pleasant ; 
but non-existence is neither pleasant nor unpleasant — it is 
nothing at all. It cannot, therefore, be an (advantage to be 
bom, though, when once you are bom, the good and the evil 
are comparable. The whole question is a post-natal, not a pre- 
natal one ; it begins at birth. 

Sophist: Well, but supposing you were an animal, would 
you not prefer 

Vegetarian : Oh, that is a very old question. You will find 
it all in Hansard. It was asked by Sir Herbert Maxwell when 
he defended the sport of pigeon- shooting in the Debates of 1883. 
"He wanted to ask the hon. member whether, if he were a 
blue-rock, he would rather accept life under the condition of his 
life being a short and happy one, and violently terminated, or 
whether he would reject life at all upon such terms." 

Sophist : Hear, hear I That is just what I say. 

Vegetarian : Then you had better think over Mr. W. E. 
Forster's reply, which puts the case in a nut-shell. He said 
that Sir Herbert Maxwell " made one very amusing appeal, by 
asking him [the member who introduced the Bill] to put himself 
in the position of a blue-rock. But this would be difficult, for 
the position was not a blue-rock in existence, but a blue-rock 
before it was bom." Whereat the House laughed, and sophistry 
was for the moment disconcerted. 

But for the moment only ; for there have since sprung 
up msCby other professors of this metaphysic of the 
larder, though none of them, with the exception of 


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Dr. Stanton Coit, have had the hardihood to expound 
their theory in detail— a wise reticence, perhaps, when it 
is seen how Dr. Coit fared in his conscientious but 
humourless essay on ** The Bringing of Sentient Beings 
into Existence." 

" If the motive," he opined, " that might produce the greatest 
number of the happiest cattle would be the eating of b^f, then 
beef-eating, so far, must be commended. And while, heretofore, 
the motive has not been for the sake of cattle, it is conceivable 
that, if vegetarian convictions should spread much further, love 
for cattle would (if it be not psychologically incompatible) blend 
with the love of beef in the minds of the opponents oif vege- 
tarianism. With deeper insight, new and higher motives may 
replace or supplement old ones, and perpetuate but ennoble 
ancient practices." * 

The ** Ox in a Tea-cup," be it observed, may hence- 
forth become the emblem of the concentrated humanity 
of the ethical societies ! 

"But we frankly admit,'' continues Dr. Coit, **that it is a 
question whether the love of cattle, intensified to the imaginative 
point of individual affection for each separate beast, would not 
destroy the pleasure of eating beef, and render this time- 
honoured custom psychologically impossible. IVe surmise that 
bereaved affection at the death of a dear creatvre would destroy 

What a picture is conjured up by the sentence I have 
italicised — the bereaved moralist, knife and fork in hand, 
swayed in different directions by the call of duty and the 
scruples of affection! And then Dr. Coit goes on to 
express a fear that mankind, if they adoped vegetarian- 
ism, might become "less powerful in thought"! I 
respectfully submit that, in view of the arguments 
quoted, there is not the smallest possibility of that. 

The plea that animals might be killed painlessly is a 
very common one with flesh-eaters, but it must be 
pointed out that wkat-might-be can afford no exemption 
from moral responsibility for what-is. By all means let 
us reform the system of butchery as far as it can be 

♦ The Ethical World, May 7, 1898. t ^^i^- 


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reformed — that is, by the total abolition of those foul 
dens of torture known as " private slaughter-houses," 
and by the substitution of municipal abattoirs, equipped 
with the best modern appliances, and under efficient 
supervision ; for there is no doubt that the sum of animal 
suflfering may thus be greatly lessened. There will be 
no opposition from the vegetarian side to such reform as 
this ; indeed, it is in a large measure through the personal 
eflforts of vegetarians that the subject has attracted 
attention, whereas the very people who make this pro- 
spective improvement an excuse for their present flesh 
diet are seldom observed to be doing anything practical 
to carry it into eflfect. But when all is said and done, it 
remains true that the reform of the slaughter-house is at 
best a palliative, a temporary measure which will 
mitigate, but cannot possibly amend, the horrors of 
butchery ; for it is but too evident that, under our com- 
plex civilisation, when the town is so far aloof from the 
country, and pastoralism can only be carried on in 
districts remote from the busy crowded centres, it is 
impossible to transport and slaughter vast numbers of 
large and highly-sensitive animals in a really humane 
manner. More barbarous, or less barbarous, such 
slaughtering may undoubtedly be, according to the 
methods employed, but the "humane" slaughtering, so 
much bepraised of the sophist, is an impossibility in fact 
and a contradiction in terms. 


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It is certain, then, that the practice of flesh-eating in- 
volves a vast amount of cruelty — a fact which cannot be 
lessened or evaded by any quibbling subterfuges. But, 
before we pass on to another phase of the food question, 
we must deal more fully with that very common method 
of argument (alluded to in an earlier chapter) which may 
be called the Consistency Trick — akin to that known in 
common parlance as the tu quoque^ or " you're another " — 
the device of setting up an arbitrary standard of " con- 
sistency," and then demonstrating that the vegetarian 
himself, judged by that standard, is as << inconsistent " as 
other persons. Whether we plead guilty or not guilty to 
this ingenious indictment depends altogether on the 
meaning assigned -to the term ** consistency." 

For, as anyone who tries to do practical work in the 
world will rapidly discover, there is a true and there is a 
false ideal of consistency. To pretend that in our com- 
plex modern society, where responsibilities are so closely 
interwoven, it is possible for any individual to cultivate 
** a perfect character," and stand like a Sir Galahad above 
his fellows — ^this is the false ideal of consistency which it 
is the first business of a genuine reformer to put aside ; 
for no human being can do any solid work without 
frequently convicting himself of inconsistencies when 
consistency is stereotyped into a formula. On the other 
hand, there is a true duty of consistency, which regards 
the spirit rather than the letter, and prompts us not to 
grasp foolishly at the ideal, like a child crying for the 
moon, but to push steadily towards the ideai by a faithful 
adherence to the right line of reform, and by ever keeping 
in view the just proportion and relative value of all 
moral actions. Let it be remembered that it is this latter 
consistency alone that has any interest for the vegetarian. 



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His purpose is not to exhibit himself as a spotless Sir 
Galahad of food reformers, but to take certain practical 
steps towards the humanising of our barbarous diet 

Herein will be found the answer to a class of questions 
frequently put to vegetarians, as to how they find it 
** consistent with their principles " to use this or that 
form of food or animal substance. It depends entirely 
on what their principles are. If their aspirations were of 
the Sir Galahad order, some of the ** posers " would 
indeed be formidable ; but as they do not aim at moral 
perfection, but merely at rational progress, the charge of 
inconsistency hurtles somewhat harmlessly over their 
heads. But here let the consistency man have his say : 

Consistency Man : But what I want to know is this — ^how 
you can think it consistent to use milk and eggs ? 

Vegetarian : Consistent with what ? 

Consistency Man : Why, with your own principles, of 

Vegetarian : Or do you mean with your idea of my principles ? 
The two things are not always identical, you know. 

Consistency Man : You condemn flesh-eating because of 
the suffering it causes, but it seems to have escaped your notice 
that the use of milk and eggs is also responsible for much. It 
is strange that it has never occurred to you 

Vegetarian : My good sir, it has occurred to us years and 
years ago. The question is as old as the movement itself. The 
cock-and-bull argument, I presume ? 

Consistency Man : I ask, what would become of the 
cockerels and bull-calves under a vegetarian regime f At 
present your supply of milk and eggs is easy enough, because 
the young males are killed and eaten by us carnivorous sinners. 
But are you not, to a certain extent, participators in the deed ? 

Vegetarian: Yes, frankly, to a certain extent (a very 
limited extent) I think we are. We are content to get rid of 
the worst evils first. 

Consistency Man : But is one sort of killing worse than 
another ? 

Vegetarian : Immeasurably worse. Even if it were neces- 
sary under the vegetarian system, to destroy some of the calves 


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at birth, as the superfluous young of domestic animals are now 
destroyed, it would be ridiculous to compare such restricted 
killing of new-bom creatures with the present wholesale butchery 
of full-grown and highly sentient animals in the slaughter-house. 

Consistency Man: You say "if* it were necessary, but is 
there any doubt of it ? 

Vegetarian: It is not by any means so certain as you 
suppose that the slaughter of calves would be unavoidable. 
Vegetarians use milk sparingly — far more so than flesh-eaters — 
and a limited amount of milk is obtainable without killing the 
calf. Nor is there any reason, as Professor Newman has 
pointed out, why a number of oxen should not be employed as 
formerly in working the land. But I do not wish to take refuge 
in future possibilities. I prefer to take the bull-calf argument 
" by the horns,'' and admit that, under present conditions, we 
are indirectly responsible. Call it inconsistency, if you like. 
If it be inconsistency not to postpone the abolition of the 
greater cruelties until we also abolish the minor ones, we are 
willing to be called inconsistent. 

It may be noted, in passing, that the zeal with which 
flesh-eaters urge this counter-charge of " inconsistency " 
is designed, unconsciously perhaps, to hide an important 
admission — viz., that where eggs and milk are used there 
is no necessity for butchers* meat, or, in other words, that 
vegetarianism is a perfectly feasible diet. "Eggs and 
milk," says Dr. T. P. Smith, when objecting to their use 
by vegetarians, " contain a much larger quantity of 
nutritive material than an equal amount of meat, for 
which, therefore, they may easily serve as substi- 
tutes."* If this be granted, the rest is a mere battle 
of words. 

But the cock-and-bull argument, with which may be 
linked the objection to the use of leather, is only one of 
many departments of the consistency trick. Another 
favourite method of convicting vegetarians of incon- 
sistency is to start from the false assumption that 
vegetarianism is the same thing as Brahminism, and that 
any destruction of even the lowliest forms of life is there- 
fore reprehensible. " As for the argument based on the 

♦ Fortnightly Review^ November, 1895. 


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cruelty of slaughter-houses," says Mr. W* T. Stead, " I 
don't see that it bears upon the question, unless you take 
the extreme Hindoo doctrine as to the wickedness of 
taking sentient life, even in the shape of lice and adders." 
That is to say, the terrible and quite unnecessary cruelties 
inflicted on the most highly-organised and harmless 
animals in the cattle-ship and slaughter-house do not 
even <* bear upon " the morality of diet, unless we also 
abstain from killing the most noxious and lowly-organised 
forms ! Of the same nature is the foolish " when-you- 
drink-a-^lass-of-water " fallacy, which ar^es that, as we 
necessanly swallow minute organisms m drinking, we 
need have no scruples as to the needless butchery of a 
cow or a sheep. The savages who in the good old times 
used to eat their grandfathers and grandmothers might 
have justified their dietetic habits on precisely similar 

Nor is it only insects and ** vermin " on whose behalf 
the consistency man is concerned, for plants also have 
life, and therefore if the vegetarian holds that " it is im- 
moral to take life " (which he does not)^ he must be 
inconsistent in eating vegetables. As an instance of 
a common but strange misunderstanding of the vege- 
tarian principle on this subject, I must here quote 
a passage from the " Science Jottings " of Dr. Andrew 
Wilson. Note the triumphant tone of the unscientific 
scientist as he rushes to his absurd conclusion : 

" I have not yet finished with the food faddist. Suppose I 
find a vegetarian who, more consistent than the run of his 
fellows, will not touch, taste, nor handle milk, eggs, cheese, 
or any animal product whatever. I think it is still possible to 
show him that he is infringing the code he lives by, in so far as 
its pretensions with the sacredness of life are concerned. Plants, 
no less than animals, are living things. Their tissues contain 
living protoplasm, which is the essential physical basis of life 
eveiywhere. ... I am afraid that the consistent vegetarian 
must no longer kill a cabbage if he is to live up to the standard 
of morals he sets up as a kind of fetish in his diet regulations ; 
and to lay low the lettuce, or pluck the apple from its bough, is 
really a direct infringement of the code which maintains that 


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yott have no right to kill any living thing for food. Really this 
is a monstrous doctrine when all is said and done."* 

It is a monstrous doctrine ; and what are we to think 
of a man of science who attributes such absurdities to 
vegetarians, and thereupon holds them up to public 
contempt as inconsistent, when by making inquiry he 
might at once have learnt that the blunder was on his 
own side ? Once more, then, be it stated that it is not 
the mere " taking of life," but the taking of life un- 
necessarily that the vegetarian deprecates, and that no 
criticism of vegetarianism can be of any relevance if it 
ignores the fact that all forms of life are not of equal value, 
but that the higher the sensibility of the animal, and the 
closer his affinity to ourselves, the stronger his claim on 
our humaneness. 

Before leaving this question of " consistency," as 
affected by the gradations of our duty of humaneness to 
animals, a few words may be said on the practice of fish- 
eating. It was humorously suggested by Sir Henry 
Thompson, who, as I have proved in the second chapter 
of this work, wrote in complete ignorance of the facts and 
dates of the vegetarian movement, that, as vegetarians 
have ** added " milk and eggs to their diet since their 
society was founded (a, statement quite devoid of truth), 
they may perhaps still further enlarge their dietary so as 
to include fish. Here, again, Sir H. Thompson only 
showed his unfamiliarity with the subject, for his novel 
proposition was in fact an old one, which has been 
debated and rejected by the Vegetarian Society in its 
adherence to its original rule of excluding fish, fiesh, and 
fowl, and nothing else, from its dietary. So far, then, as 
organised vegetarianism is concerned, those who eat fish 
are not within the pale of membership ; but looked at 
from the purely humane standpoint, it must be admitted 
that there is an immense difference between fiesh-eating 
and fish-eating, and that those unattached food reformers, 
not few in number, who for humane reasons abstain from 
•flesh, but feel justified in eating fish, hold a perfectly 

* Illustrated London News^ May 14, 1898. 


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intelligible position. And I would further note that the 
very feict of there having been some disposition, wise or 
unwise, within the vegetarian ranks to recognise the com- 
parative harmlessness of fish-eating, corroborates what I 
have asserted throughout — that the raison d'itre of vege- 
tarianism has not been a pedantic hard-and-fast crusade 
against " animal " substances, but a practical desire to 
abolish the horrors of the slaughter-house. 

This, then, is our parting word to the professors of the 
Consistency Trick. If they had charged us with the real 
inconsistency — that is, with sacrificing the spirit to the 
letter by overlooking graver cruelties while denouncing 
minor ones — ^we should have been fully prepared to meet 
so serious an accusation. But as they have not done 
this, but have merely twitted us with not attempting 
everything at once, and with allowing the subordinate 
evil to wait until the central evil has been grappled with, 
we cheerfully admit the impeachment — coming as it does 
(such is the humour of the situation) from those who are 
themselves desirous of perpetuating both kinds of suffering, 
the greater and the smaller alike ! We beg to assure 
them that we would much rather be inconsistently 
humane than consistently cruel. 


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But this question of butchery is not merely one of 
kindness or unkindness to animals, for by the very facts 
of the case it is a human question of no slight importance, 
a£Fecting as it does the social and moral welfare of those 
more immediately concerned in it. Of all recognised 
occupations by which in civilised countries a livelihood 
is sought and obtained, the work which is looked upon 
with the greatest loathing (next to the hangman's) is that 
of the butcher — ^as witness the opprobrious sense which 
the word " butcher " has acquired. Owing to the instinc- 
tive horror of bloodshed, which is characteristic of all 
normal civilised beings, the trade of doing to death count- 
less numbers of ino£Fensive and highly-organised creatures 
amid scenes of indescribable filth and ferocity is dele- 
gated — ^in the large towns, at any rate — ^to a pariah class 
of " slaughtermen," who are thus themselves made the 
victims of a grievous social wrong. " I'm only doing 
your dirty work. It's such as you makes such as us" is 
said to have been the remark of a Whitechapel butcher 
to a flesh-eating gentleman who remonstrated with him 
for his brutality ; and the remark was a perfectly just 
one. To demand a product which can only be procured 
at the cost of the intense su£Fering of the animal and the 
deep degradation of the butcher, and by a process which 
not one flesh-eater in a hundred would himself under any 
circumstances perform or even witness, is conduct as 
callous, selfish, and unsocial as could well be imagined. 

For butchery, as Sir Benjamin Richardson used to 
point out, is essentially a " dangerous trade." It not only 
deadens and destroys the moral sympathies, but it has 
the physical effect of straining the nerves and weakening 
the heart of the slaughterman, and thus naturally induces 
a tendency to have recourse to drink. How often, too, 



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in reading of some murderous crime, has one seen it 
stated that the criminal was a butcher ; as, for instance, 
in the Austrian " ripper " case, when, as the papers stated, 
a woman of the "unfortunate" class was killed by a 
young butcher of herculean frame, by whom it is supposed 
a previous victim had also been slaughtered. To have 
accustomed one's self to a total disregard for the pleading 
terror of sensitive animals and to a murderous use of the 
knife is a terrible power for society to put into the hands 
of its lowest and least responsible members. 

The blame must ultimately fall on society itself, and 
not on the individual slaughterman. No one had a better 
knowledge of this subject than the late Mr. H. F. Lester, 
and this is his opinion : 

" We must take into consideration the fact that the ranks of 
slaughtermen are habitually made up from persons in whom one 
could hardly expect to find the sentiment of pity strongly 
developed ; yet, even among these^ there is a certain air of 
dissatisfaction with the work they are compelled to do, and a 
mixture of insolence and shamefacedness, of swagger and evident 
dislike of inspection, which makes one think they know their 
trade is a nasty one, only bearable from lack of other employ- 
ment and from the good wages earned. But there are plenty 
of men engaged in this work of killing animals for food who are 
much too good for the business. These will tell you openly 
that they dislike the job, but ' people will have meat,* and if 
they were to give it up, someone else would step into the 
work." * 

Again, subordinate to the actual butchery, there are 
certain disgusting, if not dangerous, occupations, such 
as that of the women who work in or near the cattle 
markets at the malodorous task of " preparing animal 
entrails for conmiercial uses," of which process the 
following accoxmt has been given :t " The women's share 
in the ugly business begins when the greasy, slimy intes- 
tinal skins come to them for the scraping off of all fat 
and substance still attaching to them. They are washed, 

* " Behind the Scenes in Slaughter-houses.*' 
t Daily Telegraphy July 19, 1897. 


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twisted up, dressed with salt, and are ready for the 
sausage-maJcers, on whose behalf they have been thus 
prepared." The journalistic comment is, that "in an 
ideal world men would not permit women to do work 
from which every instinct of refinement and even decency 
shrinks," but that all is over-ruled by " the demands of 
present-day cheapness." This, as things go, is undeniable ; 
but it would be well that conscientious flesh-eaters should 
at least realise what their diet imposes on other people. 

That, however, is just what they are mostly determined 
not to realise, doubtless from a subconscious apprehen- 
sion that, if once they begin to look into this unsavoury S 
subject, they may be pushed to the verge of certain 
awkward conclusions. Nothing is more significant than 
the extreme unwillingness of philanthropists and members 
of ethical societies, who debate almost every problem 
under the sun, to give serious attention to the question 
of butchery — a reluctance which may be taken as one of 
the strongest possible tributes to the pertinence of vege- 
tarianism. This is said to be especially true of the 
philanthropists of Chicago — ^that great centre of the killing c 
trade. " No one who goes to Chicago," says an eye- 
witness, " should fail to see the shambles. They are the 
most wicked things in creation. They are sickening 
beyond description. The men in them are more brutes 
than the animals they slaughter. Missions and institutes 
have been built in the respectable parts of the city from 
the profits, and the employees of the shambles have been 
left to go straight down to the devil. ... It is the duty 
of everyone interested in social questions, of everyone 
whose demands necessitate this kind of labour, to wade 
through this filth to see these poor wretches at work."* 

And so they go their ways, the philanthropist to build 
"homes," the ethical folk to talk learnedly, and the 
social reformer to concoct schemes for the amelioration 
of the human race. Yet, meantime, these very persons 
are themselves perpetuating, by their mode of living, the 
evil conditions which they profess to be anxious to 

♦ New Age^ November 25, 1897. 



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remove, and condemning the pariah slaughterman to 
a life of sheer bestiality. "The meat-eater,** says Mr. 
Lester, ** accepts the results of this man*s demoralisation 
of character. Pious and professed Christians are conlent 
to allow the deep degradation of the nature of a whole 
class of men, set apart to do the nation*s dirty work of 
slaughtering, without an apparent thought of the baseness 
of their conduct.** 

Here, as I said at the outset, is a distinctively 
human question, and one which cannot be evaded, even 
by those slippery reasoners who would shuffle out of the 
duty of humaneness to animals by pretending (in the face 
of evolutionary science) that there is no bond of consan- 
guinity between the animals and mankind. By no possible 
sophistry can " educated ** people be justified in placing 
this heavy burden of butchery on the hands of their social 
"inferiors.** The vivisector and the sportsman, have at 
least the courage to do their own devilries ; and the work 
even of the hardened agents of " murderous millinery*' 
and the fur-trade is diversified to some extent by travel 
and adventure. But the slaughterman's task is one of 
unrelieved, unmitigated brutality, involving the constant 
and systematic doing of deeds that are inhuman in them- 
selves, degrading to the rough men who do them, and 
trebly disgraceful to the polite ladies and gentlemen at 
whose behest they are done. 


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Closely connected with the humane argument is the 
aesthetic argument, the two being, in fact, twin branches 
of the same stem. For " humane," as the Latin shows, 
has the double meaning of " gentle " and " refined " ; so 
that " humanity," in the original conception of the term, 
implies not only a moral regard for the rights of our 
fellow-beings, but also an aesthetic appreciation of what 
is beautiful and pure. Culture and . good-breeding, 
together with justice and compassion, are the character- 
istics of humane man ; and the fact that this twofold 
sense of the word has been well-nigh forgotten in the 
education of the modern "gentleman" may serve to 
explain why there is often such a grevious lack of gentle- 
ness in persons who claim to be refined. Our liteta 
humaniores are a mere academic course of book-learning, 
the humane element being altogether left out of account ; 
and to such bathos has this divorce of gentleness and 
refinement carried us that, in some quarters, a ** professor 
of humanity " is — a teacher of Latin grammar. 

We are prepared, then, to find that the aesthetic or 
artistic feiculty of the present day is deplorably narrow in 
its scope, and is so ignorant of the true relationship of 
humanity and art that it actually prides itself on omitting 
from its ken all humane considerations, while it diligently 
searches for the beautiful and the picturesque, as if 
beauty were a thing detached from the realities of every- 
day life ! The bare idea that there is an aesthetic side to 
the diet question, beyond the mere delicacies of cookery 
and embellishments of the dining-table, would be scouted 
as ridiculous by ninety-nine out of a hundred of our 
artists or literary men ; for the very force of habit which 
.has made them'so quick to resent the least technical flaw 

SI 4—2 


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in their special departments of work, has left them blindly 
iadifFerent to the hideous and revolting aspects of flesh- 
eating. To these aesthetes, so-called, the sight of an ugly 
house, for example, is a sore trouble and grievance r but 
the slaughter-house, with all its gruesome doings, is 
a matter of supreme unconcern — nay, rather a thing to 
be indirectly patronised and defended. I have known 
a case where an aesthetic lady, of great personal culture, 
and the centre of a polished circle, stained the floor of 
her charming suburban villa with bullock's blood brought 
from the shambles in a bucket. 

Yet the aesthete does not usually vindicate his car- 
nivorous diet and its appurtenances with the old unhesitat- 
ing heartiness of the barbarian ; he is somewhat ashamed 
of himself — ^imconsciously, perhaps — in these latter days, 
even as the cannibal is ashamed when the discussion 
turns upon "long pig." Like all the apologists of flesh- 
eating, in their respective spheres, he is shifty and evasive 
in his defences, and is not too proud, in his moment of 
extremity, to have recourse to the " consistency trick," 
and to try to trip up his vegetarian persecutor with the 
retort of " You're another." From which signs of grace 
it majr be surmised that the aesthete, in spite of his brave 
extenor, is not quite at ease in his dietetic philosophy, 
and that the products of butchery are, in a very real 
sense, the " skeleton in the cupboard " (the larder cup- 
board) of literature and art. 

^Esthete : Pray, why do you address yourself to me in that 
significant manner ? 

Vegetarian : Because I understand that you cultivate the 
artistic sense. You love to have beautiful things about you, do 
you not? So you must needs wish to be a vegetarian. 

Esthete; I love beautiful things, certainly. Art is my 
vocation. But what has vegetarianism to do with it ? 

Vegetarian .Have the arrangements of the dinner-table 
de^t?t%heflowS^^-^^^ ^^^^^' ^^ -^--^^ '^^ ^^-^> the 
dinbrwel?' ^ ^^""^ '^^^' obviously. There is much art in 


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Vegetarian: Yet the meats that are served at the table 
have nothing to do with it ! Is not that rather contradictory ? 

iEsTHETE : I did not say that. The cookery is an essential 
point, of course. 

Vegetarian : But what of the meat— the thing cooked ? 
What is it ? What was it ? And how did it come to be on your 
plate ? 

iESTHETE : I never think of such questions. So long as it 
is nice, I am content. It must satisfy my taste, that is all. 

Vegetarian : But are you sure that it does satisfy your taste 
in the same way that other things do ? I think not, for you 
have never put it to the trial. In no other branch of art do you 
take things wholly on trust, but you try them by the standard 
of an independent and educated intelligence. In diet, and in 
diet only, you ** shut your eyes and open your mouth," as the 
children say, and never distinguish between a real innate liking 
and the liking that is merely traditional. 

iESTHETE : De gustibus non est disputandum. 

Vegetarian ; About genuine tastes, I admit, disputation is 
idle. But the proverb is not true of the sham tastes to which I 
refer. There is a great deal to be discussed about them, 

.Esthete : But I assure you my liking for a ham-sandwich 
is a genuine taste. 

Vegetarian : With full knowledge of the pig-sty and the 
pig-sticker. Do not the antecedents of your ham-sandwich 
cause you a feeling of disgust ? 

.Esthete : Oh, well, if you persist in thinking about it, all 
feeding causes disgust. Don't you think there is something 
gross in the whole process of ingestion ? 

Vegetarian : Then why not gorge on carrion at once ? The 
moment you adopt the " in for a penny, in for a pound " attitude, 
you sacrifice the whole art of living. 

.Esthete : But what of the processes on which vegetarianism 
itself depends ? You talk of the filth of the slaughter-house ; 
but how about the filth of market gardening ? To watch the 
soil being manured, if we let our thoughts dwell upon it, is 
enough to spoil all appetite for the produce of the garden. The 
more delicious the asparagus or the strawberries, the more we 
ought to loathe them. 

Vegetarian : There I disagree with you entirely. There is 
nothing in the least disgusting, to me, at any rate (and I speak 


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from personal experience), in the manuring of the soil or in any 
agricultural process — on the contrary, there is much that is 
wholesome and cheering in this chemistry of nature. The 
healthy mind takes a delight in gardening, just as it regards 
slaughtering with abhorrence. If you want to see the contrast 
between the effects of the two professions on those who practise 
them, compare the face of the typical slaughterman with that of 
the typical gardener. It is as remarkable as the contrast 
between a butcher's and a fruiterer's shop. 

^Esthete : Well, it is no use talking about it ; our views of 
life are different. You are a social reformer and agitator, and 
agitation is fatal to the tranquility of art. I am an artist, and do 
not care a straw for social reform. My creed is expressed in 
Keats's couplet : 

Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

Vegetarian : Yes, but it is possible that Keats's meaning 
is somewhat deeper than you imagine. It is not your creed 
that I quarrel with, but your own misunderstanding and misuse 
of it. That the oneness of truth and beauty is knowledge 
sufficient, I admit ; but my complaint is that you do not really 
know it, and therefore I regard your aestheticism — the sestheticism 
that makes clean the outside of the cup and the platter, and the 
outside only — ^as mere vandalism in masquerade. 

Nor is even the outside of the aesthetic platter free 
from offence, for there is nothing more hideous to the 
eye (not to mention the mind) than the " scorched 
corpses," as Bernard Shaw calls them, that are displayed 
on polite dinner-tables when the dish-covers are removed. 
"Among the customs at table that deserve to be 
abolished,** wrote Leigh Hunt, " is that of serving up 
dishes that retain a look of life in death — codfish with 
their staring eyes, hares with their hollow countenances, 
etc. It is in bad taste, an incongruity, an anomaly ; to 
say nothing of its effect on morbid imaginations.'* 
Perhaps, however, the most morbid imagination, or lack 
of imagination, is that of the persons who are not dis- 
gusted by these ugly sights. 

Art and humanity, then, are but two branches of the 
same stock : the true humanist and the true artist are 
own brethren. To the artistic temperament, in particu- 


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lar, vegetarianism has the surest right of appeal ; for the 
aestheticism which can prate of truth and beauty, while 
it battens like a ghoul on bloodshed and suffering, has 
abnegated its own principles, and has ceased to be 
artistic. How would it be possible for the scenes that 
are hourly enacted in slaughter-houses to be tolerated for 
a moment in a community which had any real artistic 
consciousness ? Yet what " aesthetic " protest, except 
from vegetarians, is ever raised against them ? Take, for 
example, the following extract from some notes descrip- 
tive of the Chicago meat factories : 

" Slithered over bloody floor. Nearly broke neck in gore of 
old porker. Saw few hundred men slicing pigs, making hams, 
sausages, and pork chops. Whole sight not edifying ; indeed^ 
rather beastly. Next went to cattle-killing house. Cattle 
driven along gangway and banged over head with iron hammer. 
Fell stunned ; then swung up by legs, and man cuts throats. 
Small army of men with buckets catching blood; it gushed 
over them in torrents— a bit sickening. Next to sheep slaughter- 
house. More throat-cutting — ten thousand sheep killed a day — 
more blood. Place reeks with blood ; walls and floor splashed 
with it ; air thick, warm, offensive. * Yes,' said guide, * Armour's 
biggest slaughter-house in the world. There's no waste ; we 
utilise everything — everything except the squeak of the pigs. 
We can't can that.' Went and drank brandy."* 

It is much to be regretted that it is not found possible, 
in this enterprising establishment, to **can" the squeak, 
as well as the flesh, of the pig ; for such a phonographic 
effect might suggest certain novel thoughts to the refined 
ladies and gentlemen who contentedly regale themselves 
on ham-sandwiches at polite supper-tables. For imagine 
what the result would be, in studio and boudoir, dining- 
room and drawing-room, if the death-cries of the slaughter- 
house could be but once uncanned and brought to hear- 
ing. " The groans and screams of this poor persecuted 
race," as De Quincey said of cats, " if gathered into some 
great echoing hall of horrors, would melt the heart of the 
stoniest." But far vaster and more impressive would be 
the world-wide hall of horrors which should contain the 

* From a series of letters contributed to the Nottingham 
Guardian by Mr. J. F. Fraser, author of ** America at Work." 


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bitter cry of the victims of the butcher. Would that it 
were possible thus to compel the aesthetic flesh-eater to 
" face the music** of his misdeeds ! 

And, remember, it is not only at a big slaughtering 
centres that these ugly trades are carri^ on, nor are 
they there, perhaps, at their ugliest ; but every town and 
every village has its private torture-dens where the same 
carnage is performed the year round on a smaller scale 
and in a clumsier manner, and everywhere the butcher's 
shop presents the same ghastly spectacle of quartered 
carcases hanging a-row, and gloated over by " shopping ** 
women. One would think it incredible that any lover of 
the beautiful could doubt that the national sense of 
beauty must be seriously impaired by these disgusting 
and degrading sights. But enough of the subject ! Were 
we to dwell too long on it, we should be tempted to 
exclaim, as was said of another kind of iniquity, " While 
these things are being done, beauty stands veiled, and 
music is a screeching lie." 


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The humane and the aesthetic aspects of vegetarianism 
are constantly described by the advocates of flesh-eating 
as " sentimental," and if it be sentimental to have regard 
for the sufferings of animals and the beauty of our own 
surroundings, the charge will be gladly admitted; but 
there is also, independent of all considerations of humanity, 
a distinctly hygienic movement towards the disuse of 
flesh food, on the ground that such diet is not only 
barbarous but unwholesome. It is held that flesh food 
is in itself a stimulant, and that incidentally it is very 
liable to transmit disease, while vegetarianism, on the 
contrary, is a simple, natural, less inflammatory diet, 
which from the earliest times has been known and 
practised by a few wise persons as containing the secret 
of health. In Germany, especially, the system of 
" natural living " has attracted much attention, and the 
propaganda of food reform is there mainly on those lines ; 
in England less so, but here^ too, there are a number of 
vegetarians who are hygienists first and humanitarians 
afterwards, and all humanitarians are to some extent 
hygienists, so that it is ridiculous, in any serious criticism 
of vegetarianism, to leave out of sight, as some of our 
opponents do, this essential part of the system. 

There is, in fact, a considerable scientific literature on 
the subject, a train of thought and experience handed 
down from Cornaro and Gassendi, through their suc- 
cessors Cheyne, Hartley, Lambe, Abernethy, and others, 
to such modern authorities as Sir Benjamin Richardson 
and Dr. Alexander Haig ; yet so little known is this 
testimony that it might be imagined, from the nervous 
apprehension with which the abandonment of flesh flood 
is regarded, that vegetarianism were some new and 
hazardous experiment, whereon he who enters carries 



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his life in his hands. This ignorance of the long-standing 
claims of vegetarianism to a scientific basis is the result 
of the indijBFerence and prejudice that have always made 
dietetics the most unpopular of studies, those who are in 
health not caring to give more than a passing thought to 
the hygienic quality of their food, while those who are 
sick are naturally suspicious of change or overruled by 
medical advisers. 

Yet the moment impartial inquiry is made into the 
comparative benefits and perils of the two modes of 
living, certain undeniable facts begin to appear, of which 
the first and most obvious, though not the most impor- 
tant, perhaps, are the incidental dangers of flesh-eating. 
Many, indeed, and unsuspected by the ordinary man who 
takes a " good meat dinner," are the ills that flesh is heir 
to, especially in the diet of the poor ; for, as Professor 
F. W. Newman pointed out, ** where the population 
is dense, the poorer classes, if they eat flesh- meat at all, 
are sure to get a sensible portion of their supply in an 
unwholesome state.** This assertion is no mere piece of 
vegetarian polemics; it rests on the authority of more 
than one Royal Commission, the latest of which has 
insisted, in the Tuberculosis Report of 1898, that "so 
long as private slaughter-houses are permitted to exist, 
so long must inspection be carried out under conditions 
incompatible with efiiciency.** There is, in fact, no 
genuine inspection of the meat killed in private slaughter- 
houses, nor is the case (^t present) much better in public 
ones, and it is notorious that a large amount of tuber- 
culous flesh, examined and rejected under their more 
careful scrutiny by the Jews, is thought good enough 
to be sold for the use of the "Gentiles.** It would be 
easy to quote official figures to show the prevalence of 
the mischief, but it is not necessary here to do so, because 
the facts are not denied.* The cause of the disease thus 
prevalent among cattle must be sought partly in the 
excessive demand for flesh food, and the consequent high 
price of meat, which is a great temptation to graziers 

* See the official facts and figures cited in " Tuberculosis,'* 
by Dr. J. Oldfield, 1892. 


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to breed from immature stock; partly, too, in the xm- 
healthy system of stall-feeding and cramming, and last, 
but not least, in the rough treatment to which animals 
are exposed during their transit by sea and rail — an evil 
which is recognised by butchers no less than by humani- 

Moreover, in addition to the dangers which flesh- 
eaters incur of diseases contagious and paralisitic, there 
is the risk of eating decomposed meat under the title of 
" table delicacies." Here, as one instance out of many, 
is an extract from a London daily paper. 

Some exemplary fines were inflicted when summonses con- 
nected with the seizure of 13 tons of rotten pigs* livers came on 
for hearing. A company promoter, trading as manufacturer of 
table delicacies, was fined ;^ioo, including costs, for the posses- 
sion of forty-four barrels of the livers, which were deposited for 
the purpose of being converted into human food in the shape of 
meat-extracts, soups, and other table delicacies. The magistrate 
characterised the condemned goods as absolute filth.** 

The bearing of such facts on the public health is 
obvious. " The shocking revelations,*' it has been said, 
" as to the potted meat trade of London, clearly give us 
the key-note to the terrible weekly statistics of fevers and 
other diseases in the poorer districts of London and big 
towns generally. Putrid sheep's hearts — putrid meat of 
unknown origin — anything from horse to pug dog — slimy 
livers, reeking lights that would poison even a Fleet Street 
cat, and moribund hams from diseased pigs are the 
foundation of our table delicacies. Ugh ! it is enough 
to make a man forswear anything * potted ' for ever."* 

But, though these and similar facts are indisputable, 
and though so great an authority as Sir B. W. Richard- 
son has stated that, " in respect to the propagation of 
disease, it seems just to declare that the danger is much 
less and much more easily preventable on the vegetarian 
than on the animal diet," the flesh-eaters, strong or weak 
as they may happen to be, even to the sickliest valetu- 
dinarian that ever sipped his Liebi§, are much more 
afraid of being infected with vegetanan principles than 
t Reynold^ s Newspaper^ March 19, 1899. 


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with the poisons of the murdered ox, and would venture 
on every drug in the Pharmacopoeia rather than on a 
pure and simple diet. Yet more than a hundred and 
fifty years ago so eminent a physician as Dr. George 
Cheyne, then in a hale old age, had written as follows*: 

** My regimen at present is milk, with tea, coffee, bread-and- 
butter, mild cheese, salads, fruits and seeds of all kinds, with 
tender roots (as potatoes, turnips, carrots), and, in short, every- 
thing that has not life, dressed or not, as I like, in which there 
is as much or a greater variety than in animal foods, so that the 
stomach need never be cloyed. I drink no wine nor any 
fermented liquors, and am rarely dry, most of my food being 
liquid, moist, or juicy. Only after dinner I drink either coffee 
or green tea, but seldom both in the same day, and sometimes 
a glass of soft small cider. The thinner my diet, the easier, 
more cheerful and lightsome I find myself; my sleep is also the 
sounder, though perhaps somewhat shorter than formerly under 
my full animal diet; but, then, I am more alive than ever I 

The close connection of vegetarianism with temperance, 
simplicity, and general hardihood has been discovered by 
many thousands of persons since Dr. Cheyne recorded 
it, and has had its latest illustration in the doings of 
vegetarian athletes, whose remarkable achievements in 
cycling matches and long-distance walks have shown 
once more that flesh-eating is not by any means a 
necessary condition of physical prowess. It cannot be 
mere accident that vegetarians are almost invariably 
abstainers from alcohol and tobacco, that, man for man, 
they eat more sparingly, dress more lightly, live more 
naturally, and work harder than flesh-eaters, and are far 
less subject to illnesses and ailments. It is notorious 
that in quite a number of diseases, especially those of 
the gouty class, a vegetarian diet is prescribed by 
medical men, who use for cure what they scorn to use for 
prevention. In the works of Dr. Alexander Haig,t the 

* The " Author's Case." 

t " Uric Acid as a Factor in the Causation of Disease. Diet 
and Foods Considered in Relation to Strength and Power of 


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most distinguished recent exponent of reformed diet, a 
close study has been made of the "comparative whole- 
someness and unwholesomeness of vegetable and animal 
foods, and to these writings, together with those of the 
other authorities above-mentioned, I would refer any of 
my readers who may be under the idea that vegetarianism 
has no medical support. The doctors, of course, or those 
of them who study the history of their own profession, 
are well aware of the hollowness of this common super- 
stition, but they still continue to let an ignorant public 
fondly hug the belief that vegetarianism is a mere "fad,** 
a mushroom growth born of the follies and sentimentali- 
ties of a decadent and hypercivilised age. 

It is impossible in the limit of these pages, which are 
concerned with the logical, not the medical view of 
vegetarianism, to discuss with any fulness the argument 
based on hygiene ; but it may be stated as a matter, not 
of opinion, but of knowledge, that quite apart from all 
humane bias, there is a strong case for the reformed 
regimen on the ground of its healthfulness alone, and 
that a scientific statement of this case may be found, by 
those who care to become acquainted with the facts, in 
the published writings of a small, but not inconsiderable 
succession of medical authorities. Humanity and hygiene 
are the twin deities of food reform, and their paths, 
though separate for the time, converge eventually to the 
same v^etarian goal. 


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We have seen that the scientific apologists of flesh-eating 
do not seriously rely on the old bogey of "structural 
evidence," though they have certainly not been over- 
anxious to dissociate their cause from whatever support 
has accrued to it through this too common misunder- 
standing. The same is true of that other widespread 
superstition, that meat alone "gives strength — *.e?^ that 
vegetarian diet, as compared with a flesh diet, is deticient 
in flesh-forming constituents— an error which the medical 
faculty, as a whole, has secretly fostered and encouraged, 
though in face of the existence of the elephant ajad 
rhinoceros and other mighty herbivora, its responsible 
spokesmen have, of course, not committed themselves to 
any such absurdity. Except for the fact that thousands 
of ignorant persons are still under the delusion that no 
adequate nourishment is to be found in the vegetable 
kingdom, it would not be necessary to point out that, by 
the admission of all authorities^ the albuminoids, carbo- 
hydrates, oils, salts, and other chemical food-properties, 
exist in vegetable no less than in animal substances, and 
therefore that a vegetarian diet, even without the use of 
eggs and milk, has access to all the needed elements. 

The professional, as distinct from the popular, objections 
to vegetarianism, are based nowadays on quite other 
arguments, as may be seen from the suggestive admissions 
and assertions made in the following passage from the 
British Medical Journal : 

"Man is undoubtedly in his anatomy most nearly allied to 
the higher apes, and these animals, though they show obvious 
tendencies to be omnivorous, are yet, in the main, eaters of nuts 
and fruits. But man is not a higher ape, and in the process of 
development to his present high status he has become omni- 
vorous. It IS true that he can obtain from vegetables the 


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nutriment necessary for his maintenance in health, but he has 
learnt that he can obtain what he wants at less cost of energy 
from a mixed diet^ and he is not likely to unlearn this lesson.^ 

In the words that I have italicised we have the latest 
shibboleth of carnivorous " science " in its changing 
treatment of the food question. Vegetarianism is not 
" impossible '* (as we used to be told it was) ! Oh, no I 
life, and even healthy life, can really be maintained on a 
diet of vegetables (how many thousands of doctors have 
asserted the contrary!). But the inferior digestibility d 
vegetable food — that is the trouble ! The poor vegetarians 
must put their digestive organs to so great a strain, and 
must eat so large a bulk of food in order to get the 
requisite nourishment. Why, then, says the chemist, 
should they thus over-tax their systems, when they could 
digest a few slices from a dead b!ody at so much less cost 
of energy ? 

Now, if the chemist were a man of action, and not 
merely a ma^ of study, the practical aspects of this 
question might at the outset give him pause. Had he 
known vegetarians, lived among vegetarians, and talked 
with vegetarians, instead of regarding them theoretically, 
he would be aware that the average vegetarian eats 
decidedly less in bulk than the average Hesh-eater, and is 
seldom or never troubled with the indigestion that the 
flesh-eater dreads. So far from being compelled to 
consume a greater bulk of food, it is the general ex- 
perience of those who have adopted vegetarianism that 
they eat much less under the new system than they did 
under the old, and it is a frequent marvel to them, when 
they dine with their former messmates, to see the huge 
amounts that they devour. 

There is the further consideration, entirely overlooked 
in the argument of the British Medical Journal^ that 
" vegetarianism," in the current sense of the word, is not 
a diet of vegetables only, but includes the use of eggs, 
butter, cheese, and milk. For all which reasons the talk 
about " less cost of energy " seems to have little practical 

* British Medical Journal^ June 4, 1898. 


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bearing on the subject under discussion, and it may be 
suspected that the chemical chimera is quite as fabulous 
as the phantom difficulties that have preceded it. 

Chemist : Now listen 1 I am a chemist, and I'have no time 
to think or talk of anything sentimental. To all your views 
about vegetarian diet I have but one answer — "Hofmann's 

Vegetarian: So Hofmann's figures have settled this diet 
problem for all time ? 

Chemist : Undoubtedly. For they prove that the human 
stomach can assimilate a greater percentage of animal than of 
vegetable substances ; in other words, that it requires a greater 
exercise of digestive power to get an equal amount of nourish- 
ment from vegetables. What have you to say to that ? 

Vegetarian : Obviously this — that it is quite devoid of value 
unless we know who were the persons experimented on. No 
statistics of the comparative digestibility of foods can be of 
practical use unless the habits and conditions of those who 
aigest the foods are also noted. Custom and the personal 
element are all-important factors in the result. Many vegetable 
foods, nuts for example, are readily digested by vegetarians 
accustomed to their use, though almost universally found 
indigestible by flesh-eaters. 

Chemist : I cannot follow you into that. Let us keep clear 
of all such sentiment, if you please, and bear in mind the great 
precept which Dr. Andrew Wilson, in his application of 
Hofmann's figures, has laid down for our guidance, that *" animal 
matter, being likest to our own composition, is most easily and 
readily converted into ourselves." 

Vegetarian : With all due deference to the Andrew Wilson 
formula, may I ask what matter is likest to our own ? 
Chemist : Why, animal matter, of course. 
Vegetarian : Yes, but what animal matter? 
Chemist : Oh, we don't go into that. 

« JS!?f?^^ri^^^^ • ^"^ ^ ^° ' ^^^ ^ ^^^ yo" to observe that the 
^^^^^ ^ ^^^ ^^ ^"^ °^" composition" is human flesh, so that 
na««!K "f^ i° *^® Andrew Wilson formula, we all ought to be 

SSLTdfgest^^^^^^^^ ^^^"^^ ^""^^^ ^^^^ ^"«* ^ *^^ 

caSS .' ^^^ "^^^^ '^ '^ ^''' '^^'''^^ ^ ^"^ ^^* approve of 


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Vegetarian : Then allow me to read you a sentence from 
C. F. Gordon Cumming's book, " At Home in Fiji." " At every 
cannibal feast there was served a certain vegetable, also 
commonly used by the cannibal Maoris of New Zealand, which 
was considered as essential an adjunct as mint-sauce is to lamb 
or sage to goose. Its use, however, was prudential, as human 
flesh was found to be highly indigestible^ and this herb acted as 
a corrective." Now I ask you if that does not logically dispose 
of the Andrew Wilson formula ? 

Chemist : Nonsense, sir ! I will not discuss cannibalism. 
You fail to see that some things, though logical enough, may 
not be expedient. 

Vegetarian : I am delighted to hear you say that. I beg 
you to remember it when you next talk of " Hofmann's experi- 
ments." It is possible that flesh-eating, like cannibalism, is 
" not expedient," when it is regarded from a wider standpoint 
than that of the chemical doctrinaire. 

Nothing, indeed, could be more M»scientific than the 
attitude taken on this question by " scientists " of the 
Andrew Wilson type. For, in the first place, as pointed 
out above, it is impossible to arrive at any scientific 
conclusion as to the comparative digestibility of vegetable 
and animal foods unless the conditions are equal — that is, 
unless the persons experimented on are equally accus- 
tomed to the food-stuffs they are invited to digest ; and, 
secondly, there is the question of the quality of the foods 
supplied, for as Dr. Oldfield has remarked, " it is quite 
as unfair to judge of the digestibility of the proteid of the 
vegetable kingdom from one example of the legumens 
as it would be to class all forms of fiesh as indigestible 
because veal or lobster happens to be so." Against the 
academic testimony of the Hofmann school of specialists 
we may confidently set that of so distinguished a practical 
chemist as Sir B. W. Richardson, who, by his personal 
knowledge of vegetarians and vegetarianism, was pecu- 
liarly qualified to judge. ** From experimental observa- 
tions which I have made, I am of opinion that the 
vegetable flesh-forming substances may be as easily 
digested, when they are presented to the stomach in 



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proper form, as are the animal substances of like feeding 

The true function of the chemist in his general 
relation to the diet question is to help the coming 
dietary by transferring to the vegetarian system some 
of the scientific attention that has hitherto been solely 
devoted to flesh meats. "Men of practical science," 
says Sir B. W. Richardson, " ought to be at work 
assisting with their skill in bringing about that mighty 
reformation. We now know to a nicety the relation of 
the various parts of food needed for the construction of 
the living body, and there should be no difficulty, except 
the labour of research, in so modifying food from its 
prime source as to make it applicable to every necessity 
without the assistance of any intermediate animal at all." 
Why should not the chemist, instead of maintaining, like 
Mrs. Partington, a pettifogging and quite futile opposition 
to the flowing tide, put himself in the current of progress, 
and try to turn his special knowledge to the furtherance 
of a noble end ? 

♦ " Foods of Man." 




To try to " change the venue " is sometimes the policy of 
defendants in an action at law, and a similar device is 
adopted by those who would stave off the hearing of the 
vegetarian case. "The tropics" are the convenient 
limbo to which this uncongenial subject is most 
frequently consigned ; and it is with a proud sense of 
humour and self-assurance that the British Islander, who 
objects to alien immigration and all foreign frivolities, 
warns the vegetarian heresy to keep clear of his in- 
hospitable clime. Such diet may be all very well, he 
thinks, for passive Hindoos, but not for the hard-working 
inhabitants of this temperate zone. 

British Islander: Vegetarianism? No thank you; not 
here / All very nice in Africa and India, I dare say, where you 
can sit all day under a palm-tree and eat dates. 

Vegetarian : But I have not observed that when you visit 
Africa or India you practise vegetarianism. On the contrary, 
you take your flesh-pots with you everywhere — even to the very 
places where you admit you don't need them, and where, as in 
India, they give the greatest offence to the inhabitants. 

British Islander : Oh, well, it's no affair of theirs, is it, if 
I take my roast beef? 

Vegetarian : Yet you think it your affair to interfere with 
the cannibals when they take their roast man. And have you 
observed that it is in the tropical zone, not the temperate 
zone, that cannibalism is most nfe ? 

British Islander : Why do you remind me of that ? 

Vegetarian : To show you that all this talk about vege- 
tarianism being *' a matter of climate " is pure humbug. The 
use of flesh is a vicious habit everywhere, and nowhere a 
necessity, except where other food is not procurable. 

British Islander : But do we not need more oil and fat in 
northern climates ? 

67 5—2 


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Vegetarian : Undoubtedly ; but these can be readily ob- 
tained without recourse to flesh. 

British Islander: Then how do you account for the 
iact that northern races have been, to so great an extent, 
carnivorous ? 

Vegetarian ; Perhaps because in primitive times hunting 
and pasturage were less toilsome than agriculture. But I am 
not called on to " account " for such a fact. Their past addiction 
to flesh food no more proves the present utility of flesb -eating 
than their gross drinking habits prove the utility of alcohol. 

British Islander : Can you quote any scientific authority 
for your contention ? 

Vegetarian : There is one which is all the more valuable 
because it is an admission made by an opponent. Sir William 
Lawrence wrote : " That men can be perfectly nourished, and 
that their physical and intellectual capabilities can be fully 
developed m any climate by a diet purely vegetable, has been 
proved by such abundant experience that it will not be necessary 
to adduce any formal arguments on the subject." ♦ ** In any 
climate," mark 1 And a diet "purely vegetable** ; whereas all 
you are asked to do is to forego the actual flesh foods, and not 
the animal products. But come now I Ask me the great 
question I 

British Islander : What is that ? There is only one other 
I had in mind. What would become of the Esquimaux ? 

Vegetarian : Of course 1 I have always been profoundly 
touched by the disinterested concern of the Englishman (when 
vegetarianism looms ahead) for the future of that Arctic people. 
Well, perhaps the question of what ice-bound savages mip^ht do, 
or might not do, need scarcely delay the decision of civilised 
mankind. For that matter, what would become of the polar 
bears ? If you cannot dissociate your habits from those of the 
Esquimaux, why don't you eat blubber? At least they have 
a better reason for eating blubber than some people have for 
eating beef—they can get nothing else. 

The dishonesty of the excuse that vegetarianism " may 
be all very well in the tropics " is shown by the fact that 
Englishmen, when living in the tropics, make precisely 
the contrary statement. "You would be surprised,** 
writes Mr. B. K. Adams, from Ceylon, "if you knew 

* Rees's " Encyclopaedia," Article, " Man.** 

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how much prejudice and opposition there is here. The 
most amusing part is that nearly everyone says, it is all 
very well being a vegetarian in England, in a cool climate 
like that, but out here in this hot, depressing, and ener- 
vating climate, you must have meat, and some add alco- 
holic stimulant."* 

Twenty years ago, just the same "climatic " argument 
used to be put forward by the opponents of the tem- 
perance movement ; it was impossible here to abstain 
from alcoholic drink, whatever it might be elsewhere. 
We do not often meet with that argument now ; on the 
contrary, it is generally admitted that a disuse of alcohol 
brings with it an increased power of hardihood and 
endurance. As in drink, so in food. Those who fly to 
stimulants obtain a temporary sense of comfort at the 
cost of permanent vigour. 

But granting that it is possible to support life on 
vegetarian diet in northern climates, is it also possible, 
asks the conscientious doubter, to live at one's highest 
energy under such conditions ? Look at the carnivorous 
Mr. Dash's career, it is said, as compared with that of 
the vegetarian Mr. So-and-So ! Was not the greater 
public activity of the former attributable to his mixed 
diet ? To which it may be replied that any such personal 
comparison is necessarily useless, from lack of sufficient 
data as to the relative powers and opportunities of the 
persons compared It is obvious that a man whose 
convictions are unpopular will have far less opportunity 
of carrying his principles into action than one who is the 
mouthpiece of widely current opinions, to the propagation 
of which he devotes, perhaps, an equal amount of ability. 
For this reason it is absurd to suggest that vegetarians, 
or any other class of unpopular reformers, are living on a 
less active plane because their activities are not of the 
kind that commend themselves to the man in the street — 
or to that equally fallible person, the man in the study. 

The whole notion that vegetarians are less able than 
flesh-eaters to endure a severe climate is a delusion ; it is 

♦ Vegetarian Messenger^ January, 1899. 


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not only untrue, but the contrary of the truth. " No one 
surely suggests," says Dr. Oldfield, "that the English 
climate is too cold for a vegetarian dietary, when there is 
the experience of the stalwart, hardy Scotch peasantry, 
in a climate far more rigorous, developing brain and 
muscle superior to the average Englishman, and this 
upon a dietary which for generations has been so largely 
vegetarian that no one would dream of saying that the 
small amount of flesh eaten by them could have had any- 
thing to do with the matter.'** 

Anyone who is intimately acquainted with the vege- 
tarian movement in this country will bear me out when I 
say that the average vegetarian is much less susceptible 
than the average flesh-eater to extremes of cold and heat, 
and can get through an English winter in comparative 
comfort, without any of the " wrapping up '* to which the 
mixed dietists are reduced. It is amusing, indeed, after 
being asked that common question, " Don't you feel the 
cold very much, as you eat no meat ?" to observe one's 
questioner attired perhaps to face a moderate London 
winter like a German student for a duel — a moving mass 
of scarves and furs and overcoats, stoked up internally 
with plates of beef and cups of bovril, and shivering 
withal. " Poor fellow I" one thinks, " it looks as if you 
were the person whose diet might be all very well for 
those who live in the tropics, but not for the hard-working 
inhabitants of this northern clime." 

♦ Nineteenth Century^ August, 1898. 


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"Man is what he eats," says the materialist in the 
German proverb. The body is built up of the food-stufifs 
which it assimilates, and it is reasonable to suppose that 
diet has thus a determining influence on character. If 
this be true, the reflection is not a pleasant one for the 
flesh-eater. ** Animal food," it has been said, " contain- 
ing as it does highly- wrought organic forces, may liberate 
within our system powers which we may find it difficult 
or even impossible to dominate — lethargic monsters, foul 
harpies, and sad-visaged lemures — which may insist on 
having their own way, building up an animal body not 
truly human."* 

But here the idealist steps in with a different theory. 
Man is not what he eats, but what he thinks and feels ; 
it is not what we eat, but how we eat, that most vitally 
aflfects us. This is well expressed in one of Thoreau's 
daring parodoxes : " There is a certain class of unbelievers 
who sometimes ask me such questions as if I think I can 
live on vegetable food alone ; and to strike at the root of 
the matter at once — for the root is faith — I am accustomed 
to answer such, that I can live on board-nails. If they 
cannot understand that, they cannot understand much 
that I have to say." 

There is, however, no real antagonism between these 
two theories, for both may be to a great extent true, 
though neither wholly so. If mind affects matter, matter 
also afifects mind ; if spirit acts on food, food in its turn 
reacts on spirit. The one truth that stands out clearly 
from a consideration of this subject, and from the witness 
of common experience, is that a gross animal diet is 

♦ Edward Carpenter, "The Art of Creation," "Health a 



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inimical to the finer instincts, and that, as Thoreau says, 
" every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his 
higher or more poetic faculties in the best condition, has 
been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food.*'* 
Plain living and high thinking are indissolubly connected. 
Vegetarianism, as I have already shown, is not asceticism, 
but if it offer the moral advantages of asceticism without 
the drawbacks, is no^ that in its favour ? 

But there is a tendency among certain " psychical ** 
authorities of the present day to eschew thj vegetarian 
doctrine as itself "materialistic," and as attributing too 
much importance to the mere bodily functions of eating 
and digesting. " What does it matter about our diet,'* 
they say, "whether it be animal or vegetable, flesh or 
fruit, so long as the spirit in which we seek it be a fit 
and proper one ? The question of food is one for doctors 
to decide ; *tis they who are concerned with the body, 
while we are concerned with the soul.'* I wish to show 
that this reasoning is nothing but a piece of charlatanry, 
and rests upon a perversion of the philosophy that it 
claims to represent. 

For though it is true, in a sense, that spirit can sanctify 
diet, it is not true that a general sanction is thereby given 
to any diet whatsoever, no matter what cruelties may be 
caused by it, or who it be that causes them. We may 
grant that so long as no scruple has arisen concerning 
the morality of flesh-eating, or any other barbarous 
usage, such practices may be carried on in innocence and 
good faith, and therefore without personal demoralisation 
to those who indulge in them. But from the. moment * 
when discussion begins, and an unconscious act becomes 
a conscious or semi-conscious one, the case is wholly 
different, and it is then impossible to plead that " it does 
not matter ** about one's food. On the contrary, it is a 
matter of vital import if injustice be deliberately practised. 
To use flesh food unwittingly, by savage instinct, as the 
carnivora do, or, like barbarous mankind, in the ignorance 
of age-long habit, is one thing ; but it is quite another 
thing for a rational person to make a sophistical defence 

♦ Walden, " Higher Laws.** 


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of such habits when their iniquity has been displayed, 
and then to claim that he is absolved from guilt by the 
spirit in which he acted. The spirit that absolves is one 
of unquestioning faith, not of far-fetched sophistry. The 
wolf devours the lamb, and is no worse a wolf for it ; but 
if^ he seek, as in the fable, to give quibbling excuses for 
his wolfishness, he becomes a byword for hypocrisy. 

Psychic Philosopher : Why all this fuss about vegetar- 
ianism and what we eat ? With the best intention, no doubt, 
you regard the matter from too low a plane. Has not the 
greatest of teachers himself told us that " Not that which goeth 
into the mouth defileth a man ; but that which cometh out of 
the mouth, this defileth a man '* ? 

Vegetarian : You kfiow well the text has not the meaning 
you put on it It could as logically be made to excuse any 
swinishness whatsoever. Flesh-eating is not a mere ceremonial 
cjuestion of eating " with unwashed hands," as that referred to 
in the text, but one that involves the gravest issues of right- 
doing and wrong-doing. 

Psychic Philosopher : But to the pure all things are pure. 

Vegetarian : Possibly — if we know who are the pure. But 
the mere eating of impurities is scarcely proof sufficient. 

Psychic Philosopher: I cannot take your view of the 
importance of this question. To me, as to the Indian yogis, 
the choice of food is a matter of indifference. 

Vegetarian : I doubt if your butcher's bill would bear out 
that assertion. If food is one of the " indifferent " things, why 
do you hold fast to your flesh meat, like a snarling dog to his 

Our psychic philosopher, in truth, is a wolf in sheep's 
clothing — a carnalist in psychical disguise.* 

It will be objected, no doubt, that the injurious effect 
of flesh food on morals has never been scientifically 
proved, t nor indeed is it possible that absolute proof 

♦ It is a curious fact that the Greek word psychic had the 
double sense of spiritual and carnal. See TertuUian's treatise, 
"Against the Carnal- Minded" (Psychicos). 

t Even cannibalism — such is the complexity of the human 
character — is not always directly demoralising. " This un- 


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should be forthcoming until vegetarianism is widely 
enough practised to furnish data for comparison ; there 
are, however, certain very marked indications that can 
hardly be overlooked. In the first place, as already 
stated,' there is the immemorial belieif, especially 
prominent in the usage of monastic orders, but scarcely 
less so in all systems of hygienic or spiritual exercise — 
amounting, in short, to a practical consensus of mankind 
— that a stimulating or excessive diet is harmful to 
sobriety and self-control ; as evidenced by the far greater 
amount of crime rife among luxurious town-dwellers than 
among frugal peasants. Secondly, there is the fact, too 
well attested to be challenged, that flesh-eating and 
alcoholism are closely allied, and that the drink-crave dies 
a natural death when a stimulating diet is withdrawn ; 
from which it may be further realised that the excitaticm 
caused by flesh food must necessarily, in many cases, 
act injuriously on the nerve-system and contribute power- 
fully to the vicious habits which moralists deplore. 

"The deepest, truest, and most general causes of 
prostitution in all great cities," says Dr. Kingsford, 
"must be looked for in the luxurious and intemperate 
habits of eating and drinking prevalent among the rich 
and well-to-do. The 'chief element of this luxury is the 
use of flesh and alcohol, which mistaken notions of 
hygiene and therapeutics tend to press more and more 
upon all classes of men and women. Abolish kreophagy 
and its companion vice, alcoholism, and more, a thousand- 
fold, will be done to abolish prostitution than can be 
achieved by any other means soever as long as these 
two evil influences flourish. The young man of the 
present day, accustomed from childhood to frequent and 
copious meals of flesh, and from early youth to the 
use of all manner of fermented beverages and liqueurs, 
carries about with him and fosters an increasingly dis- 

natural practice," says Captain Burrows in his " Land of the 
Pigmies," 1899, " stands by itself, seeming not in any way to 
affect or retard the development of the better emotions.'' 


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ordered appetite, which not infrequently assumes the 
character of true disease."* 

The evils of stimulating diet in the case of the young 
have been emphasized by such well-known authorities as 
Dr. .George Keith and Sir B. W. Richardson. Here is a 
significant passage from the writings of the former : 

" I have done much for many years privately, whenever I had 
the opportunity, to impress on fathers and mothers the danger 
to their sons and daughters from exciting prematurely their 
natural desires and passions ; but custom and fashion have so 
powerful a hold, especially in the higher circles of society, that 
I have frequently had to feel that my efforts were in vain. . . . 
The existence of bad habits at schools is well known to the 
masters, and they take what measures they can for their pre- 
vention. Even when they know the truth, the strength of 
custom and habit so imperatively demands a full diet for the 
growing youth that they are obliged to fall in with the customs 
of the day. But few of them are aware of the main cause of the 
evil, and the last thing most would dream of as a remedy is a 
simpler diet'* f 

So, too, Sir B. W. Richardson : 

'* In all my long medical career, extending over forty years, I 
have rarely known a case in which a child has not preferred 
fruit to animal food. I say it without the least prejudice, as a 
lesson learnt from simple experience, that the most natural diet 
for the young, after the natural milk diet, is fruit and wholemeal 
bread, with milk and water for drink. The desire for this same 
mode of sustenance is often continued into after years, as if the 
resort to flesh were a . forced and artificial feeding, which 
required long and persistent habit to establish its permanency 
as a part of the system of every-day life." J 

Contrast with this wise and weighty advice the dietetic 
habits actually prevalent among the youth of our well- 
to-do classes, where we see not only a strong tendency 
to over-eating, but a rooted and active conviction that 
flesh is the sumtnum honum of food. The fatted calf is 
rivalled by the fatted schoolboy; the cramming of 

* « The Perfect Way in Diet." 

t ** Fads of an Old Physician," chap. xiv. 

t " Foods for Man." 


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Strasburg geese itself is not more disgusting than the 
cramming which makes pdU de fok gras of the moral 
fibre of the young. When we find even the Eton College 
Chronicle raising a protest against the diet of boyish 
athletes, we may be sure the evil is a crying one : 

" He [the boy in training] takes a lot of exercise, and finds he 
has a good appetite. For breakfast he has a chop every morn- 
ing ; we have known some who had two. He also has heard 
porridge is nourishing, and that this is why Scotchmen are so 
hardy and brawny. He acts upon this information. For 
dinner he makes a point of having two good helpings of meat 
*to get his weight up,' while for tea, besides having a plate of 
eggs and chicken, or something of that kind, he winds up with 
a large allowance of marmalade." 

Nor is it only among schoolboys that over-eating is 
rampant, for the tables of the wealthy are everywhere 
loaded with flesh meat, and the example thus set is 
naturally followed, first in the servants* hall, and then, 
as far as may be, in the homes of the working classes. 
To consume much flesh is regarded as the sign and 
symbol of well-being — witness the popular English 
manner of keeping the festival of Christmas. "We 
interknit ourselves with every part of the En'glish- 
speaking world," said the journal of the Cosme colony, 
in Paraguay, describing a Christmas celebration, "by 
the most sacred ceremony of over-eating." A nice moral 
bond of union, truly, between colonies and motherland ! 
What is likely to be the effect on the national character 
of such patriotic gorging ? 

We come back, then, to the point that though it is not 
absolutely true that "man is what he eats," there is, 
nevertheless, a large element of truth in the saying, and 
the vegetarian has just ground for suspecting that beefy 
meals are not infrequently the precursors of beefy morals. 
Carnalities of one kind are apt to lead to carnalities of 
another, and fleshly modes of diet to fleshly modes of 
thought. " Good living," unfortunately, is a somewhat 
equivocal term. 


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" The oftener we go to the vegetable world for our food," 
says Sir B. W. Richardson, " the oftener we go to the 
first, and therefore the cheapest source of supply." The 
case for vegetarianism would by no means be complete 
without a statement of the economic ^iew, though 
precedence is necessarily given to the motives of humanity 
and healthfulness, the higher considerations to which the 
idea of economy must be subservient. If it were proved 
that flesh food is essential to the real interests of the race, 
and that there is no moral objection to the use of it, the 
greater outlay would be justified by the value of the 
result ; but if such proof is not forthcoming (and it has 
been the object of the preceding chapters to show that it 
is not), it is obvious that the comparative cost of a flesh 
diet and a vegetarian diet becomes a question of high 
importance to mankind. What, then, are the facts ? 

They are so plain as to be positively beyond dispute, 
and it is a cause for marvel what Dr. J. Bumey Yeo can 
have meant in describing vegetarianism as "a scheme of 
diet which we believe to be utterly impracticable on an 
extensive scale, and irreconcilable with the existing state 
of civilised man, not so much on strictly physiological 
grounds as on general economical considerations,**'^ If it be 
in accordance with " general economical considerations " 
to pay threepence for what can be procured for a penny, 
then only does Dr. Yeo's statement become intelligible. 

For the very first fact that demands notice in this 
comparison of foods, is that not only does butchers' 
meat, pound for pound, cost about three times the price 
of the cereals and pulses, but that it is under the further 
disadvantage of containing a much larger percentage of 
water — that is to say, in purchasing flesh, you have to 

* ** Food in Health and Disease." 


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buy the water, and buy it dirty, while in V^^^^^f 
s Jds and grains you do not buy ^l^^..^^^^^^^^^! 
clean. The following passage from Sir B. W. Richard 
son's " Foods for Man " puts the case succinctly : 

« If we make an analysis of the primest joints of ^imal food, 
legs of mutton, sirloin of beef, rump steak, yeal cutlet, pork 

chop, we find as much as 70 to 75 per ''^''^fJZf^h^lew 
Oatmeal contains 5 or 6 per cent. ; good ^^eaten flour, barley 
meal, beans and peas, 14 ; rice, 15 ; and g^od bread 40 to 45 
of water. TakingrThen, the value of foods as estimated by ^eir 
solid value, ther^are, it will be observed, a great many kinck of 
vegetable foods which are incomparably superior to animal. 

We find accordingly, when we turn from this analysis 
to the actual charges at restaurants, that, whereas a good 
vegetarian, dinner may be got for a shilUng, it is necessary 
to pay fully three times that sum for an equivalent m 
flesh food. It would be waste of time to argue further 
that vegetarianism, whatever its other advantages and 
disadvantages to the individual, is much more economical 
than flesh-eating.* 

But here we are met by the difiiculty that the well-to- 
do, on the one hand, are not easily influenced by the 
motive of economy, while the poor, on the other hand, 
are naturally suspicious of the gospel of " thrift," so often 
preached to them by the predatory classes who do not 
practise it themselves ; and it must be admitted that it is 
perfectly useless for philanthropical persons to preach 
food-thrift to the poor, unless by their own method of 
livmg they are testifying to the truth of what they preach. 

It is sometimes said that vegetarianism is an "incon- 
venient" diet, which means no more than that the 
adoption of any new system gives trouble at first, though 
it may save trouble afterwards. When once adopted, 
vegetarianism is, of course, a far more convenient, because 
a simpler and cleaner diet than the ordinary one, as is 
testified by those who have had personal experience 
of both. " Havmg been my own butcher and scullion," 

« c. ^^rr.^^ A^^^^^l Z^'* " Values of Foods," pp. 93, 94, in 
Strength and Diet,'' by the Hon. R. RusseU. 


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says Thoreau, " as well as the gentleman from whom the 
dishes were served up, I can speak from an unusually 
complete experience. The practical objection to animal 
food in my case was its imcleanness, and besides, when I 
had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, 
they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was 
insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came 
to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as 
well, with less trouble and filth."* 

The assertion that the cheapening of food would cause 
the lowering of wages is true only as an answer to the 
exaggerated claims sometimes made by vegetarians, that 
their system would of itself solve the whole problem of 
employment. It would not do so ; and if there were no 
force but vegetarianism in the field it is doubtful whether 
the adoption of the cheaper diet would in the long run 
bring any economical advantage to the workers, though 
it would still benefit them morsJly and physically. This, 
however, does not detract from the real strength of the 
vegetarian argument ; for with labour now organised and 
resolute, and yearly growing in power and intelligence, 
there is no likelihood that the workers' thrift would 
become the capitalists' profit ; on the contrary, it would 
clearly add to the resources of labour. To assert that 
the working classes should maintain the cruel and waste- 
ful practice of flesh-eating merely to " keep up wages " 
is pure nonsense, for the same reasoning would justify 
the maintenance of drink, or any other extravagant and 
useless habit. 

What is true for the individual and the class is true 
also for the community, and unless flesh food can be 
shown to be necessary for human progress, the con- 
tinuance of pastoralism, to the detriment and neglect of 
agriculture, is a criminal waste-of the national resources. 
In this Malthusian age of over-population scares and 
emigration schemes it is well to recollect that a remedy 
lies close to hand if we would but use it. " Not only is 
the earth not yet a quarter peopled," says Mr. W. R Greg, 

* Walden, " Higher Laws." 


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" but even the inhabited portion is scarcely yet a quarter 
cultivated. In many countries the soil is barely scratched. 
Even in England it is not made to yield, on the average, 
more than one-half its capacity."* And in the same 
work he points out that "the amount of human life 
sustainable on a given area, and therefore throughout the 
chief portion of the habitable globe, may be almost 
indefinitely increased by a substitution pro tanto of vege- 
table for animal food. ... A given acreage of wheat will 
feed at least ten times as many men as the same acreage 
employed in growing mutton." 

In view of the great complexity of the land question, 
the variety of the causes that have led to the depression 
of agriculture, and the difficulty of forecasting accurately 
what would be the result of the adoption of any particular 
reform by any one nation, considered apart from the rest, 
vegetarians will do wisely in not claiming too much for 
the system they advocate. But at least it must be 
admitted that vegetarianism would tend to bring about, 
in some form or other, that much-desired return to the land, 
which, in the present congested 'state of our cities and 
busy centres, is felt to be the best hope of stanching a 
dangerous woimd. The town is at present draining the 
life of the country, and the tide of emigration is still 
further sapping the national strength; but if men's 
thoughts could be turned hack from commerce to agricul- 
ture, if a healthy love of the soil, of firuit-growing, of 
market-gardening, could be substituted for the insane 
thirst for the feverish atmosphere of the town, it is 
evident that a great step would have been taken towards 
the cure of the disease. " If the towns renounced flesh- 
eating,*' says Professor Newman, "we should see in a 
single generation, even without improved land-tenure, a 
tide of migration set the other way — firom towns into the 
country. Rustic industry would be immensely developed. 
AH motive for the expatriation of our robustest youth 
would, for a long time yet, be removed, and the country 
might be enormously enriched, not in an upper stratum 

♦ Appendix to ** Enigmas of Life." 


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of great fortunes, but down to the bottom of the 

So, too, Max Nordau, in some notable passages of his 
Conventional Lies of our Civilisation : 

" If the soil of Europe were cultivated like that of Belgium, it 
could support a population of 1,950 millions much more com- 
pletely and abundantly than the 360 millions it now supports 
so poorly. . . . Cultivation of the soil is the despised child of 
oiu- civilisation. It hardly takes one forward stride where 
manufacture takes a hundred. . . . Experience teaches us that 
man's labour as a general thing can nowhere be employed in a 
more lucrative way than in agriculture. If a man should work 
over his' field with the shovel and spade instead of the plough, 
he would find that a plot of ground of incredibly small size 
would be sufficient to support him." 

There is yet another peril that would be lessened in 
proportion to the increase of vegetarianism — the depen- 
dence of this country on the importation of food from 
abroad. " At present," says Mr. W. E. A. Axon, 
" probably one-half of the population is dependent upon a 
foreign supply. That England should be, and is, the 
last country in the world to desire a Chinese wall for the 
exclusion of foreign commodities, need not blind us to the 
fact that there may be grave national dangers in the soil 
of the country providing food for about half its people. 
A nation of vegetarians would create such a demand that 
rural England would be, if not a cornfield, yet a vast 
orchard and market-garden.**! 

Enough has now been said to show that the habit of 
flesh -eating, involving as it does the sacrifice of vast 
tracts of land to the grazing of cattle, and the consequent 
starving of agriculture, is far too costly to be justified, in 
the face of an extending civilisation, unless by a much 

♦ " Essays on Diet," p. 55. 

+ Manchester Vegetarian Lectures y ** Vegetarianism and 
National Economy.'* For a clear statement of the present 
shocking neglect of agriculture in this country, see ** Fields, 
Factories, and Workshops,** by P. Kropotkin, 1899, where it is 
shown that two-thirds of our food-supply is now imported from 



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clearer proof of its necessity than ^y which its advo- 
cates have essayed ; in fact, it only remains possible, on 
its present large scale, tlirough the temporary use of 
huge pasture-grounds in remote semi-civiUsed regions 
which will not always be available. For pastoralism 
belongs rightly to another and earlier phase of the world's 
economics, and as civilisation spreads it becomes more 
and more an anachronism, as surely as flesh-eating, 
by a corresponding change, becomes an anachronism 
in morals.* It seems, generally speaking, that the. 
foods which are the costliest in suffering are also the 
costliest in price, whereas the wholesome and harmless 
diet to which Nature points us is at once the cheapest 
and most humane. 

♦ Against the sea fisheries, it may be noted, the same objection 
cannot be raised, as they do not diminish, but supplement the 
produce of the soil. 


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We have next to deal with a special class of irregular 
foemen, the guerillas and Bashi-Bazouks of the flesh- 
eater's army, whose game it is to waylay and harass the 
vegetarian movement by a small fire of doubts and 
difficulties as to what the future has in store. The 
alarmists they are, whose apprehensive minds are con- 
cerned not so much with the rightness or wrongness of 
the system, as with the anxieties of ** what would happen *' 
if the triumph of vegetarianism should be won ; and so 
gloomy are their forebodings as to suggest a probable 
collapse of the whole fabric of society, if once that great 
prop and mainstay of civilisation— the habit of eating 
dead animals — should be disloyally undermined. 

Now, at the outset, it should be said that the well- 
worn method of trying to discredit new principles by 
" wanting to know " beforehand exactly how everything 
will happen, is in many cases a foolish and fraudulent 
device. There are, of course, certain quite legitimate 
questions, as to the general scope and practicability of any 
proposed reform, to which reformers must be prepared 
to make answer before they can expect to prevail, and 
to such questions vegetarians have a convincing reply ; 
but when the inquisition takes the form of asking for 
a present explanation of future developments, and for 
a foreknowledge of details which, in the very nature of 
things, are unknowable, then it is well to make it clear 
from the beginning that we will be no parties to any such 
waste of time. Reasonable foresight is one thing, the 
gift of prophecy is another ; and it is in no wise the duty 
of those who are working towards a more or less distant 
goal, to give a precise geometrical survey of their 
Promised Land. 

In the case of vegetarianism the answerable doubts 
83 6—2 


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and difficulties fall mostly under two heads, relating first 
to the alarming discomforts which the loss of flesh-food 
would entail upon mankind, and secondly to the not less 
grievous straits to which the animals themselves would 
be reduced under so misguided a r6gime. Let us take 
the selfish view first, as containing, perhaps, a modicum 
of real feeling, which can scarcely be found in that 
suspicious concern for the animals. There are some 
folk, it seems, over whose troubled minds there really 
does hang, like a nightmare, the alarmist's vision of a 
world impoverished and dismantled by vegetarianism — 
a world sans leather, sans bone, sans soap, sans candles, 
sans manure, sans everything. 

Alarmist : But this is mere trifling. It is idle to talk of the 
humanity, the wholesomeness, the economy of a vegetarian 
diet, while you are overlooking the disastrous consequences 
that stare you in the face. We may perhaps be able, as you 
say, to exist without meat, but what could we do without 
leather and the other animal substances on which civilisation 
depends ? 

Vegetarian : Well, I suppose we should take care not to be 
without them, or something just as good. 

Alarmist : How could we do that, if there were no carcases 
to supply us with hides, bone, and tallow ? In your devotion to 
an ideal you seem to forget that if your principles prevailed, we 
might wake up some fine morning to find ourselves confronted 
by the dislocation of the boot trade, the bookbinding trade, the 
harness trade, and a hundred others. Thousands of men and 
women would be thrown out of work, and we should soon have 
no boots, no portmanteaus, no soap, no candles, no knife- 
handles. It would be a downright relapse into barbarism. 

Vegetarian : But, happily, your lurid picture is based on 
the false assumption that vegetarianism would come about by 
a sudden and mstantaneous conversion. That is not the way 
in which great changes are accomplished. They are a matter 
of years and centuries, not of days and weeks ; and the ** fine 
morning" you spoke of will be a gradual morning of very 
extensive dul-ation. 

Alarmist : Well, but that is only putting off the evil day — it 
would come at last. 




Vegetarian : But would not something else have also been 
coming meantime ? Would not the demand, in this as in all 
other usages of life, have produced the corresponding supply ? 
There is no need, however, to speculate as to what would 
happen, because it is happening already. 

Alarmist : What is happening ? 

Vegetarian : The articles which you named are being sup- 
plied in substitutes from the vegetable kingdom. Slowly and 
tentatively at first, as is inevitable while vegetarians are so few 
in numbers ; but vegetarian boots, vegetarian soap, and vege- 
tarian candles are now in the market, and as the movement 
spreads, the demand will be proportionately greater. So pray 
do not alarm yourself about the dislocation of trade, for the 
whole change, great as it is, will come to pass imperceptibly, 
and will never bring a moment's inconvenience to anyone. 
Mankind, as it happens, is not so helpless, so uninventive, so 
literally "hidebound," as to let its progress be dependent on 
skins, bones, and guts. 

There is a good deal of unintended humour, too, in 
some of the difficulties that are alleged. Thus, vege- 
tarians are often asked how the land could be fertilised 
without the use of animal manure, it being apparently 
forgotten that ex nihilo nihil fit, and that animals can only 
return to the land in manure what they have previously 
taken from it in food ; also that by our absurdly wasteful 
drainage system we are all the time poisoning our seas 
and rivers with a mass of sewage which would be amply 
sufficient for the soil. " Let the land," says Mr. William 
Hoyle, " only receive, in the shape of manure, the sewage 
and refuse from the teeming population of our towns and 
villages, in addition to the other means which are applied 
to it, and let it be properly drained and cultivated, and 
there is hardly anv limit to its power of production."* 

But it is superfluous to spend time in answering such 
questions, for their silliness is far in excess of their 
honesty. For years the opponents of vegetarianism in 
the press had been asking, " What should we do without 
leather ?" etc. ; yet as soon as the substitutes for these 
articles began to be exhibited at the annual Vegetarian 

♦ "Our National Resources," 1889. 


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Congress, the note was changed, and the reporters 
remarked that the exhibition was " not of much interest," 
until we found the London correspondent of a big 
provincial paper actually complaining that ** the crusade 
against meat of every kind, and even against leather (at this 
exhibition they have boots and shoes made of imitation 
leather), is carrying the reform a little too far." Our 
critics are hard to satisfy. We are going <* a little too 
fiar " if we produce a substitute for leather ; if we do not 
produce one, we are not going far enough. 

And now, with all becoming gravity, we turn to the 
second branch of our subject — the disinterested inquiry 
as to **what would become of the animals" if we ceased 
to kill them for food. " If the life of animals,*' says 
Dr. Paul Cams," had to be regarded as sacred as human 
life, there can be no doubt about it that whole industries 
would be destroyed, and human civilisation would at 
once drop down to a very primitive condition. Many 
millions would starve, and large cities would disappear 
from the face of the earth. But the brute creation would 
suffer too. There might be a temporary increase of 
brute life, but certainly not of happiness. Cattle would 
only be raised for draught-oxen and milk-kine, and they 
would not die the sudden death at the hands of the 
butcher, but slowly of old age or by disease."* 

A pathetic picture, indeed ! It does not for a moment 
occur to this sapient prophet of disaster that the adoption 
of vegetarianism will necessarily be gradual, and further 
that vegetarians do not hold the life of animals to be " as 
sacred as human life." To critics who do not even 
ascertain what the system means before they reject it, 
and who ignore all consideration of the degrees and 
relative sacredness of the various forms of life, vege- 
tarianism must naturally seem to be a confused jumble 
of thought — the confusion, in reality, being altogether on 
their own side. 

Alarmist : There is another aspect of this question, and a 
very grave one. If flesh-eating were abolished, what would 
become of the animals ? 

♦ "The Open Court," 1898. 


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Vegetarian : Yes, let us talk about that fearfiil contingency. 
You think they would be thrown out of employment, so to 
speak — would find their careers cut short, or raUier left long ? 

Alarmist : It is no joking matter. Would they not run 
wild in ever-increasing numbers, and perhaps overrun the 
land, or, if food failed them, lie dead and dying about our 
roadways and suburbs ? 

Vegetarian : Before I relieve your anxiety on this point, 
. may I just remark that this second difficulty seems to counter- 
balance the former one? If every suburban householder is 
likely to have a dead ox against his garden-gate, we evidently 
need not fear the failure of the leather and tallow trade. But 
once again you are mistaken. You have overlooked the fact 
that the breeding of animals is not free and. unrestricted, but 
is kept within certain limits, and carefully regulated by man ; 
so that if the demand for butchers' meat should gradually 
decline, there would be no more alarming result than a corre- 
sponding gradual decline in the supply from the breeder. 

Alarmist : Well, I don't know. I sadly doubt whether 
things would balance themselves so comfortably. 

Vegetarian : Ah, you think that some neglected old porker, 
like Scott's " Last Minstrel," would be left out in the cold. 

For, well a-day I their date was fled, 
His tuneful brethren all were dead ; 
And he, neglected and oppressed, 
Longed to be with them and at rest. 

But no ; for look at the case of the donkey. We do not (know- 
ingly) eat donkeys, yet a dead donkey is proverbially a rare 
sight. Nor are we overrun with donkeys — at least, not in the 
sense referred to. 

Alarmist : Yet I understand that in India, where there is 
a reluctance to kill animals, they are often in wretched plight. 

Vegetarian : True ; but we were talking not of killing 
animals but of eating them. Vegetarianism is not Brahminism ; 
we would kill when necessary, whether for our own sake or the 
animals', but we would not breed them in vast numbers in order 
to kill, nor kill them in order to eat. Surely the distinction is 
a clear one? 

The attitude of vegetarians towards this subject is 
indeed plain enough for those who wish to understand it. 
Regarding the slaughter of animals for food as cruel and 


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unnecessary, they advocate its discontinuance (a process 
which, if it comes about at all, will, as I have shown, be 
a gradual one, and will at no point cause any sudden dis- 
ruption of existing conditions), but this does not commit 
them to the absurd belief that animal life, in all its various 
grades, is absolutely sacred and inviolable. Must we not 
suspect that the apologists of flesh-eating who make 
these childish alarums and excursions are fain to do so 
from some inner conviction of the weakness of their own 
case ? 




" Bible and Beer " is the title that is sometimes sarcasti- 
cally applied to the political alliance between churchmen 
and publicans ; and in like manner the dietetic alliance 
between the " unco* guid *' and the butchers may be not 
inaptly designated as Bible and Beef. When all else fails, - 
the authority of Holy Writ is triumphantly cited by the 
bibliolatrous flesh- eater as the great court of appeal to 
which the food question must be carried ; and here at 
least, it is pleaded, there can be no doubt as to the 
verdict. " It seems to me," wrote Dr. William Paley, 
more than a hundred years ago, ** that it would be 
difficult to defend this right [to the flesh of animals] by 
any arguments which the light and order of Nature 
afibrd, and that we are beholden for it to the permission 
recorded in Scripture."* 

It is a far cry from the theologian of 1784 to the Meat 
Trades' Journal of to-day, but from an editorial article we 
learn that the organ of the butchering trade is animated 
by the same profound sense of piety. " The great 
Creator of all flesh," it says, " gave us the beasts of the 
field, not only for our food, but for other purposes equally 
as essential to us. The grass must be eaten by our flocks 
and herds, otherwise the fertility of the soil would vanish. 
It was a frightful punishment on the Egyptian [sic] King 
that he should be reduced to the level of the beasts of the 
field and eat grass."! 

Now, waiving the fact that grass is not precisely the 
diet that vegetarians adopt, and that it is, therefore, no 
reproach to vegetarianism if Nebuchadnezzar, not being 
a ruminant, found such a regimen distasteful, we must 
recognise that there is a widespread idea among religious 

♦ " Moral and Political Philosophy." 
t November 19, 1892. 


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people that the lower animals were ** sent " us as food, 
and that the practice of flesh-eating has the seal of 
biblical sanction. In meeting this prejudice, there is a 
right line and a wrong line of reasoning, both of which 
have at different times been followed by vegetarian 

The wrong line is to attempt to answer the texts 
quoted as favourable to flesh-eating by pitting against 
them other texts as favourable to vegetarianism — a 
course which not only degrades the Bible into a text- 
book for disputants,* but also surrenders the most sacred 
claim of the reformed diet — viz., its appeal not to this or 
to that textual authority, which some thinkers accept 
and others deny, but to the universal principle of 
humanity and justice. 

• The right line is to show, first, that it is wholly im- 
possible, in the face of modern knowledge and evolutional 
science, to maintain the old " anthropocentric '* idea 
which regarded man as the sum and centre of the 
universe, a monarch for whose special benefit all else 
was created ; and, secondly, that the ancient Hebrew 
scriptures, whatever be their exact significance for 
Christian readers (a matter with which we are not here 
concerned), cannot be regarded as affording any clue to 
the solution of modern problems which .have arisen 
centuries later. It would be no whit more absurd to 
argue that negro-slavery is justifiable because it was not 
condemned in the Bible than to claim scriptural sanction 
for the cruelties of butchery because the Jews were flesh- 
eaters. And, indeed, such arguments have been advanced 
by religious people in support of slavery ; we read, for 
example, the following in John Woolman's journal : ** A 
friend in company began to talk in support of the slave- 

* As in the epigram, 

Hie liber est in quo qucerit sua dogmata quisque^ 
Invenit et pariier dogmata quisque sua : 

which may be freely rendered. 

This is the Book, to dogmatists well-known, 
Where each man dogma seeks, and finds — his own. 


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trade, and said the n^roes were understcx)d to be the^ 
offspring of Cain, their blackness being the mark which 
God set upon him after he murdered Abel ; that it was 
the design of Providence they shotdd be slaves, as a con- 
dition proper to the race of so wicked a man as Cain 

But it is now time to introduce the textualist in person. 

Textualist: Well, sir, I understand that you advocate 
vegetarianism. What sort of a religion is that ? 

Vegetarian : The real sort — the sort that has to be practised 
as well as preached. 

Textualist : If it is die real sort, the proof is easy. Show 
me the passages in the Book. 

Vegetarian : I beg to be excused. I do not bandy texts. 

Textualist : What ? You can produce no verses in support 
of your religion? I thought vegetarians relied on what they 
call the "Ten Best Texts," and here I stand ready to meet 
them with five-and-twenty better ones. 

Vegetarian : I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not 
one of the text-quoting vegetarians. 1 regard all such methods 
of reasoning as wholly irrelevant. There is not the least doubt 
that the Jews were a flesh-eating people ; indeed, the very idea 
of vegetarianism (that is, a deliberate and permanent disuse of 
flesh-food for moral and hygienic reasons) was wholly unknown 
to them. What, then, can be the use of hunting up Bible- 
texts which do not refer, one way or the other, to 5ie point at 
issue ? 

Textualist : But if it was unknown and immentioned in the 
Bible, what hope for vegetarianism ? It perishes like all else 
that is unscripturaL 

Vegetarian : The same hope as for the abolition of slavery, 
or any other humane cause that has had birth in our modem 
era. We live and learn. 

Textualist: But it is written, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat." 
What is your answer to that ? 

Vegetarian : It needs no answer, as you will see if you 
study the context. 

Textualist : Then you have not a single text to set against 
the injunction with which I confront you ? 


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Vegetarian: Not one — unless it be, "Answer not a fool 
according to his folly." 

To repel texts with texts is a futility to which vege- 
tarians as a body have fortunately not committed them- 
selves, because vegetarianism appeals, without reference 
to religion, to the common sentiment of humaneness, and 
numbers amongst its adherents men of every nationality 
and creed. If biblical vegetarians have engaged in con- 
troversy with biblical flesh-eaters, that is their own 
concern ; and we may rest assured that the battle will be 
a sham one, as the firing is with blank cartridge on both 

Apart, however, from such irrational argument, there 
is a sense in which an appeal may be fairly made to the 
Bible, as to any other great ethnical scripture or world- 
literature — that is, to the spirit, as distinguished from the 
letter, the context as distinguished from the text. That 
vegetarians, preaching and practising a doctrine of love 
and humaneness, should quote, " Behold I have given 
you every herb bearing seed ... to you it shall be for 
meat," as indicating the ideal primitive diet, and " They 
shall not hurt nor destroy in sill my holy mountain," as 
prophetic of the ideal future, is just and appropriate, for 
such passages, though dealing with poetry rather than 
fact, are far more suggestive than any textual evidence ; 
and when we come to ask what is the spirit of the New 
Testament towards such instincts as that from which 
vegetarianism springs — the desire to increase the happi- 
ness and lessen the suffering of all sentient life — ^it is 
plain that here, at least, the vegetarian is on unassailable 

But the answer to the biblical flesh-eater lies still 
nearer at hand. For the moment any attempt is made 
by hipi to ally the modem religious spirit with the 
maintenance of the slaughter-house, the incongruity of 
his position is revealed. Take "grace before meat," for 
instance, and note the flat impiety of offering thanks to 
God over the body of a fellow-being that has been cruelly 
slaughtered for the sake of our " pleasures of the table." 


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As Leigh Hunt has remarked : " It is not creditable to a 
thinking people that the two things they most thank God 
for should be eating and fighting. We say grace when 
we are going to cut up lamb and chicken, and when we 
have stuffed ourselves with both to an extent that an 
orang-outang would be ashamed of; and we offer up 
our best praises to the Creator for having blown and 
sabred his * images,' our fellow-creatures, to atoms, and 
drenched them in blood and dirt. This is odd. Strange 
that we should keep our most pious transports for the 
lowest of our appetites and the most melancholy of our 
necessities ; that we should never be wrought up into 
paroxysms of holy gratitude, but for bubble-and-squeak 
or a good-sized massacre 1" 

But why, it may be asked, if the practice of flesh- 
eating is such as it is here described, do "religious" 
people acquiesce in it ? Why indeed ! except that, in 
these personal matters of every-day life, the religionism of 
to-day, like the stoicism of old, has a tendency to respect 
the letter, but disregard the spirit of its principles. The 
complaint which modern vegetarianism brings against the 
religious flesh-eaters is that which the humaner philo- 
sophy made, centuries ago, against the carnivorous 
stoics : 

" Who is this censor who is so loud against the indulgence of 
the body and the luxuries of the kitchen ? Why do they denounce 
pleasure as effeminate indulgence, and make so much fuss about 
It all? Surely it had been more logical if, while banishing 
from the table sweet-meats and perfumes, they had exhibited 
yet more indignation against the diet of blood ! For as though 
all their philosophy merely regarded household accounts, they 
are simply interested in cutting down dinner expenses, so far as 
concerns the superfluous dainties of the table. They have no 
idea of deprecatmg what is murderous and cruel."'^ 

And so is it nowadays with the champions of Bible 
and Beef, for, like all formalists, they sacrifice the sub- 
stance of religion to the shadow, and while for ever 

* Plutarch, "On Flesh -Eating," quoted in "The Ethics of 
Diet," by Howard Williams. 


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quoting the sacred names of justice and loving-kindness, 
not only oppose those principles when in conflict with 
their own appetites, but actually base their opposition on 
the authority of their " scripture." It would be im- 
possible to do the Bible a deadlier wrong than this ; 
for whether it be " inspired " or not, it is by universal 
consent a great literary monument, and those who 
profess to reverence it most should be the last to wish to 
utilise it as a handbook for reactionists — a store from 
which to draw irrelevant quotations for obstructing the 
progress of reform. 


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There is nothing so pleasant as the reunion of long- 
separated kinsfolk, and it is the cheerful duty of this 
chapter to exhibit the flesh-eater in what may be called 
his domestic relationship, to wit, his undoubted, but 
somewhat forgotten, connection with the cannibal and 
the blood-sportsman. For, disguise it as he may, he 
cannot altogether escape the fact that this kinship is a 
real one. Kreophagist and anthropophagist, butcher 
and amateur butcher, are but different branches of one 
and the same great predatory stock. The cannibal and 
the sportsman are the wicked uncles of the pious flesh- 
eater, unrespectable descendants from a common ancestry, 
who have failed to adapt themselves to modern require- 
ments, and, like belated Royalists in a Commonweal, 
have continued to play the old privileged game when its 
date is over-past, an indiscretion which has caused them 
— the cannibal especially — to be ignored as much as 
possible by their more cautious relatives. We are all 
familiar with that chapter of "The Egoist " (the ** Minor 
Incident showing an Hereditary Aptitude in the Use of 
the Knife"), in which the youthful Sir Willoughby 
Patterne, already an adept at ** cutting," is "not at 
home" to his poor relation, the middle-aged unpresen- 
table lieutenant of marines. '< Considerateness dismisses 
him on the spot without parley." Even such is the 
attitude of the respectable flesh-eater towards the blood- 
thirsty cannibal, and in a less extent also towards the 
devotee of murderous " sport." 

But to the student of the food question these antique 
types have no little interest, as a survival from an earlier 
and more innocent phase of flesh-eating when the old 
brutality was as yet untempered by the new spirit of 
humaneness. They exhibit kreophagy in its extreme 



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logical form — an anachronism, no doubt, and a reductio 
ad absurdum in the present age — but at least logical, and, 
therefore, not to be overlooked by those who, in their 
hostility to food reform, are so fond of appealing to logia 

The sportsman, for instance, is an old-world barbarian 
born into a civilised era, a representative of the age 
when flesh-food could only be obtained by the chase, and 
he is candid enough to avow that he does his killing, not 
like the butcher, in order to earn a livelihood, but for the 
brutal reason that he enjoys it. "The instincts of the 
primeval man," it has been well said, ** food-hunting, 
predatory, self-preserving, re-emerge in the modem : 
moral sanctions are disregarded, the rights of inferior 
races are forgotten, and the hunter feels himself, figura- 
tively speaking, naked, savage, bloodthirsty, and un- 
ashamed."* A butcher he certainly is, but an amateur 
butcher only, for it can hardly be contended that the 
preserving of game increases the national food-supply, in 
view of the fact that pheasants, hares, and even rabbits, 
are sold at a price far below their actual cost of produc- 
tion, and are thus a direct tax on the public resources. The 
blood-sportsman, then, is a member of the carnivorous 
family by another line of descent, which has kept a touch 
of the rank primitive wildness even to the present day ; 
and this one thing alone can be said in his favour, that 
when he butchers in sport, he at least does the butchery 
himself, and does not delegate the filthy task to others. 
He is his own slaughterman — a mere and simple savage. 

Cannibalism, again, is simply flesh-eating, free from 
those sentimental ** restrictions " which Sir Henry 
Thompson and his fellow scientists deplore, and the 
cannibal's only fault, judged from the scientist's stand- 
point, is that he carries out the scientific doctrine not 
wisely but too well. For this reason every lecture on 
vegetarianism ought to touch on cannibalism as illus- 
trating a past chapter in the great history of diet — a past 
chapter as regards the leading and so-called civilised 

* Robert Buchanan. Preface to J. Conneirs "The Truth 
about the Game Laws." 


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nations, but to this day a present and very instructive 
chapter in the world's remoter regions, from which we 
may learn certain lessons as to the feelings, arguments, 
and fallacies that attend the gradual process of transition 
from one dietetic habit to another. The flesh-eater 
generally affects to look on cannibalism as something 
monstrous and abnormal, a dreadful perversion of taste 
which has no connection with the civilised meat-diet on 
which our welfare is supposed to depend ; but the real 
facts show that the truth is quite otherwise, and that the 
position of the cannibal who is being proselytised to give 
up his man-eating is in many ways analogous to that of 
the flesh-eater who is worried by the vegetarian propa- 
gandists. The glories of the old English roast beef 
may be instructively compared with the glories of the 
old African roast man. 

It is amusing to observe that the kreophagist who, 
on the one side, regards abstinence from flesh food as an 
absurd delusion is equally confident that cannibalism, 
on the other side, is an unpardonable infamy, forgetting 
that many of the excuses that are made for flesh-eating 
might be made with as much justice for cannibalism 
also. "Prejudice is strange," says Professor Flinders 
Petrie. **A large part of mankind are cannibals, and 
still more, perhaps all, have been so, including our own 
forefathers, for Jerome describes the Atticotti, a British 
tribe, as preferring human flesh to that of cattie. . . . 
Does the utilitarian object? Yet one main purpose of 
the custom is utility ; in its best and innocent forms it 
certainly gives the greatest happiness to the greatest 
number."* Nor can it be held that all cannibals are 
a specially degraded race, for Livingstone and later 
travellers quote well-authenticated instances to show 
that tribes addicted to man-eating are sometimes more 
advanced, mentally and physically, than those which 

* For interesting facts concerning cannibalism, see Professor 
W. M. Flinders Petrie's article. Contemporary Review^ June 1897 ; 
"The Fall of the Congo Arabs," by Captain Sidney L. Hinde, 
1897 ; and " The Land of the Pigmies," by Captain Guy Burrows, 



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abstain from such diet ; and as to the hygienic merits of 
the regimen, does it not stand on record, in an old 
English ballad, that Richard Cceur de Lion was cured 
of a dangerous malady by eating a Turk's head, which 
was served up to him as the best substitute for pork? 
The kreophagist at present is able to pass unlimited 
censure on the cannibal, because the poor savage has 
not the wit to argue with the civilised man ; but if, in 
these days of University Extension schemes, such a 
person as a scientific anthropophagist should ever 
make his appearance, who can say that the position 
might not be somewhat reversed ? 

Vegetarian : Let me introduce you, gentlemen. You are 
blood-relations, I think, and should have much to say to each 
other. The Kreophagist — the Anthropophagist. 

Kreophagist : Good morning, uncle. But I cannot admit 
the relationship if it is true that you are addicted to the atrocious 
habit of cannibalism. 

Anthropophagist: How atrocious, nephew? If you eat 
one kind of flesh, why should you abstain from another ? Are 
you aware that they are chemically identical? Pig or *^long 
pig " — where is the difference ? 

Kreophagist : Where is the difference ? Can you ask me 
suc];i a question ? 

Vegetarian : It is uncommonly like the question you have 
been asking me / 

Anthropophagist : Your objection to human flesh is 
altogether a sentimental one. You are a food faddist. It is the 
universal law of nature that animals should prey on one another. 

Kreophagist : It is not my nature to eat my fellow-beings. 

Vegetarian : Why, that is the very same answer that I 
made ioyou/ 

Anthropophagist : And pray, what would become of our 
paupers, criminals, lunatics, and sick folk, if we did not eat 
them ? Would they not grow to a great residuum and overrun 
the land ? And the missionaries, too — are they not " sent " us as 
food ? And what right have you to the name omnivorous^ if 
you restrict your diet in this way ? Why " omnivorous " ? 


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The discontinuance of cannibalism marks, of course, 
an immense step in humane progress, and so long as the 
kreophagist does not absurdly claim that it is sl final 
step, his case against the anthropophagist is a sure one ; 
but if, while denouncing anthropophagy as a barbarism 
of the past, he refuses to see that flesh-eating must also, in 
turn, be replaced by a more humane diet, he lays himself 
open to a raking fire of criticism. Observe, for example, 
in view of the historical facts of cannibalism, the absolute 
helplessness of Sir Henry Thompson's position, when, as 
an objection to vegetarianism, he argues that ** the very 
idea of restricting our resources and supplies is a step 
backwards, a distinct reversion to the rude and distant 
savagery of the past, a sign of decadence rather than of 
advance." It is true that mankind has, on the whole, 
largely extended its resources; but it is none the less 
true that, while it has acquired many new foods, it has 
abandoned certain old ones. It has advanced, in short, 
as already stated, by a process not of omnivorism, but 
of eclecticism, which implies not only acceptance, but 
rejection — a fact which knocks Sir Henry Thompson's 
reasoning to atoms. 

The power which has condemned cannibalism is that 
growing instinct of humaneness which makes it impossible 
for men to prey on their fellow-beings when once recog- 
nised as such. A notable passage in one of Olive 
Schreiner's works may be quoted in illustration : 

" In those days, which men reck not of now, man, when he 
hungered, fed on the flesh of his fellow-man and found it sweet. 
Yet even in those days it came to pass that there was one whose 
head was higher than her fellows and her thought keener, and 
as she picked the flesh from a human skull she pondered. And 
so it came to pass that the next night, when men were gathered 
round the fire ready to eat, she stole away, and when they went 
to the tree where the victim was bound, they found him gone. 
And they cried one to another, ' She, only she, has done this, 
who has always said, I like not the taste of man-flesh ; men are 
too like me : I cannot eat them.* Into the heads of certain 
men and women a new thought had taken root; they said, 
' There is something evil in the taste of human flesh.' And ever 
after, when the flesh-pots were filled with man-flesh, these stood 



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aside, and half the tribe ate human flesh and half not ; then, as 
the years passed, none ate." ♦ 

A strange comment this on the Andrew Wilson 
formula, that we should eat <<that which is likest to 
our own composition 1" For what if we have begun to 
recognise that the lower animals also are related to us 
by a close bond of kinship? From our knowledge of 
the past we form our judgment of the future, and see, 
with Thoreau, that **it is part of the destiny of the 
human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off 
eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes left off 
eating each other when they came in contact with the 
more civilised, "t 

* " Trooper Peter Halket." 
t Walden, "Higher Laws." 




It is sometimes held by the champions of vegetarianism 
that reform of diet is the starting-point and foundation- 
stone of all other reform — a panacea for the ills and 
maladies of the world. This over-estimate on the part 
of a few enthusiasts of an unpopular cause is due, 
presumably, to a revolt from the contrary extreme of 
depreciation ; for a little thought must show us that, in 
the complexity of modern life, there is no such thing as 
a panacea for social ailments, and that, as there is no 
royal road to knowledge, so there is no royal road 
to reform. It is impossible for vegietaranism to solve 
the social question, unless by alliance with various 
other reforms that are advancing pari passu — so inter- 
locked and interdependent are all these struggles 
towards freedom. It has been well said that, " By 
humanitarians, socialists, vegetarians, anti-vivisectionists, 
teetotalers, land-reformers, and all such seekers of human 
welfare, this must be borne in mind — that each of their 
particular efforts is but a detail of the whole work of 
social regeneration, and that we cannot rightly understand 
and direct our own little piece of effort unless we know 
it, and pursue it, as part of the great whole."* 

Still more mistaken, on the other hand, is that common 
prejudice against food reform which would exclude it 
altogether from the dignity of propagandism, and would 
limit it to the personal practice of individuals. " There 
can be no objection," says Dr. Burney Yeo, "to in- 
dividuals adopting any kind of diet which they may find 
answer their needs and minister to their comfort ; it is 
only when they attempt to enforce what they practise 

* The I^ew Charter, " The Humanitarian View." 





on others that they must expect to encounter rational 
opposition."* Unfortunately, we have learnt by bitter 
experience that rational opposition is the last thing we 
can expect to encounter — as, indeed, is made sufficiently 
evident by Dr. Yeo's argument. For how could in- 
dividual vegetarians have ever heard of the new diet 
except for the propaganda ? And why have vegetarians, 
as a body, less right than teetotalers, socialists, or any 
other propagandists, not to " enforce," but to advocate 
their philosophy of diet with the view of ultimately 
influencing public opinion? This professional attempt 
to class vegetarianism as an idiosyncrasy, and not a 
system, is as irrational as it is insincere, and what its 
insincerity is may be seen from the fact that, though we 
are told at one moment that " there can be no objection " 
to individual practice of the diet, yet whenever individuals 
do attempt to practise it, they meet with the strongest 
possible objection from the doctors themselves ! 

Thus it comes about that in this progressive age, and 
even among those who label themselves " progressives," 
vegetarianism is so frequently regarded as a mere whim 
and crotchet, with no practical bearing on the forward 
movement of to-day. It is a marvel that so many 
" advanced " journals, which have a good word for a 
host of worthy causes that are fighting an uphill battle 
against monopoly and injustice — social reform, land 
reform, law reform, prison reform, hospital reform, and 
a hundred more — are dumb as death, or speak only to 
sneer, when the subject is food reform; and thus lead 
their readers to suppose that, whereas on all other 
matters there has been a great change of feeling during 
the past half-century, on the one matter of diet there 
has been no sort of progress I Yet they might easily 
learn, if they made serious inquiry, that the reformed 
dietetics, so far from being the outcome of mere senti- 
ment about animals, have a past record based as surely 
on moral and scientific reasoning as that of any cause 
included in the progressive programme. Vegetarianism 

* " Foods in Health and Disease." 


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is, in truth, progressiveness in diet; and for a progressive to 
scout such ideas as valueless and Utopian is to play the 
part (as far as diet is concerned) of a reactionist. What 
is the meaning of this strange discrepancy ? It must 
mean, we fear, that to a large number of our social 
reformers the reform of other persons is much more 
congenial battle-cry than the reform of one's self. Hinc 
ilia lacrymce. They call vegetarianism "impracticable" 
for the strange reason that, unlike most isms^ it asks 
them to do something individually which they know 
they could do — if they wished 1 It is impracticable 
because it does not suit them to practise it. 

Reformer : Let me entreat you ; give up this fanciful scheme 
of vegetarianism and come and work for social reform. 

Vegetarian : Social reform without food reform ! Is not 
that rather a lame and lop-sided business ? 

Reformer : Not at all. When we have so many things to 
do we must do the most important ones first. 

Vegetarian : And what are the most important ? 

Reformer : Well, there is international peace and arbitration. 
You will admit that our first duty is to avoid unnecessary blood- 

Vegetarian : Ah, I see I And the habit of living by blood- 
shed doesn't come within your scope ! 

Reformer ; Then there is the land question, and the need 
of relieving the congestion of our crowded cities by the revival 
of agriculture. 

Vegetarian : So, of course, you can't attend to a diet-system 
which would bring people back to the land ! 

Reformer ; There is also the temperance problem — the 
terrible evils of the drink crave. 

Vegetarian : Which would disappear for the most part if 
we left off eating flesh. 

Reformer: And the welfare of animals — for to that also I 
devote myself. We need some stringent legislation for the 
better prevention of cruelty. 

Vegetarian : We do. But as such legislation would leave 
your reformers dinnerless, don't you think you should revise 


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your dietary meantime? Your reforms are excellent, I grant 
you ; but what of self-reform f Does not reform, like charity, 
begin at home ? 

Reformer : Well, well ; to everyone his taste — reform or 
self-reform. I prefer the former ; you the latter, I suppose. 

Vegetarian : No ; that is just where you are mistaken. I 
prefer both at once. 

Reform and self-reform, not reform or self-reform — that 
is the true key to the solution of the social question. 
The work that we can do ourselves is the most whole- 
some condiment for the work that we can only do 
through society. And here let me express the hope 
that, as a matter of ppHcy, vegetarians will stand aloof 
from all " philanthropic " schemes of vicarious food reform 
in prisons, reformatories, and workhouses ; for there is 
no surer way of making a principle unpopular than by 
forcing it on the poor and helpless, while carefully 
avoiding it one's self. Philanthropists, if they be philan- 
thropists, will practise what they preach ; by their 
practice we shall know them. 

To the so-called ethical, no less than to the political, 
school of thought the question of vegetarianism is un- 
welcome, obtruding as it does on the polite wordiness of 
learned discussion with an issue so coarsely downright : 
" You are a member of an ethical society — do you live 
by butchery?** But the ethics of diet are the very 
last subject with which a cultured ethical society would 
concern itself, and the attitude of the modern ** ethicist " 
towards the rights of animals is still that of the medieval 
schoolman. The ethicist does not wish to forego his 
beef and mutton, so he frames his ethics to avoid the 
danger of such mishap, and while he talks of high themes 
with the serene wisdom of a philosopher the slaughter- 
houses continue to run blood. We surmise that the 
royal founder and archetype of ethical societies was that 
learned but futile monarch referred to in the epitaph : 

Here lies our mutton-loving king. 

Whose word no man relies on : 
He never said a foolish thing, 

And never did a wise one. 


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So, to6, throughout the whole fiel4 of hygiene, temper- 
ance, and plain living, to ignore vegetarianism is^ to 
ignore one of the most potent influences for self-restraint. 
One is reluctant to quote the late Sir Henry Thompson 
in any matter that tends to the praise of vegetarianism, 
in view of the extreme irritability which that distinguished 
scientist exhibited as regards his sacred text, with which 
you could never take the liberty of assuming that, when 
it distinctly said one thing, it did not mean the opposite ; 
yet he did say that " a proportion amounting at least to 
more than one-half of the disease which embitters the 
middle and latter part of life, among the middle and 
upper classes of the population, is due to avoidable errors 
in diet.*'* If this be so, it is obvious that diet reform (of 
some sort) is very urgently needed; and I submit that 
it would be difficult to frame any intelligible scheme of 
diet reform in which vegetarian principles should play 
no part, embracing, as they do, all the best features of 
temperance and frugality. What is the use of for ever 
preaching about the avoidance of luxuries and stimulants, 
if you rule out of your system the one dietary which 
makes stimulants and luxuries impossible ? The relation 
of vegetarianism to temperance, of the food question to 
the drink question, is that of the greater which includes 
the less. 

But it is when we turn from philanthropy to zoophily, 
and to the questions more particularly affecting the wel- 
fare of animals, that the importance of vegetarianism, in 
spite of the stubborn attempts of the old-fashioned 
" animal lovers " to overlook it, is most marked. Here, 
again, I do not share the extreme vegetarian view that 
food reform is the foundation of other reforms, for I think 
it can be shown that all cruelties to animals, whether 
inflicted in the interests of the dinner-table, the labora- 
tory, the hunting-field, or any other institution, are the 
outcome of one and the same error — the blindness which 
can see no unity and kinship, but only difference and 
division, between the human and the non-human race. 

* Nineteenth Century , May, 1885. 


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This blindness it is — this crass denial of a common origin, 
a common nature, a common structure, and common 
pleasures and pains — that has alone hardened men in all 
ages of the world, civilised or barbarous, to inflict such 
fiendish outrages on their harmless fellow-beings ; and to 
remove this blindness we need, it seems to me, a deeper 
and more radical remedy than the reform of sport, or of 
physiological methods, or even of diet alone. The only real 
cure for the evil is the growing sense that the lower 
animals are closely akin to us, and have rights. 

And here we see the inevitable logic of vegetarianism, 
if our belief in the rights of animals is ever to quit the 
stage of theory and enter the stage of fact ; for just as 
there can be no human rights where there is slavery, so 
there can be no animal rights where there is eating of 
flesh. *< To keep a man, slave or servant," says Edward 
Carpenter, " for your own advantage merely, to keep an 
animal that you may eat it, is a lie ; you cannot look 
that man or animal in the face." I am not saying that 
it is not a good thing that, quite apart from food reform, 
anti-vivisectionists should be denouncing the doings of 
" the scientific inquisition," while humanitarians of another 
school are exposing the horrors of sport, for cruelty is 
a many-headed monster, and there must at times be 
a concentration of energy on a particular spot ; but I do 
say that any reasoned principle of kindness to animals 
which leaves vegetarianism outside its scope is, in the 
very nature of things, foredoomed to failure.* 

Vegetarianism is an essential part of any true zoophily, 
and the reason why it is not more generally recognised 
as such is the same as that which excludes it from the 
plan of the progressive — that it is so upsetting to the 
everyday habits of the average maa Few of us, com- 
paratively, care to murder birds in "sport," and still 
fewer to cut up living animals in the supposed interests 
of "science," but we have all been taught to regard 

♦ Take, for example, the rule to which some bird-lovers bind 
themselves, to wear no feathers but those of birds killed for 
food. One is reminded of Thomas Paine's epigram : " They 
pity the plumage, but forget the dying bird." 


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flesh food as a necessity, and it is a matter, at first, of 
some effort and self-denial to rid ourselves of complicity 
in butchering. Herein is at once the strength and the 
weakness of the case for vegetarianism — the strength as 
regards its logic, and the weakness as regards its un- 
popularity — that it makes more direct personal demand 
on the earnestness of its believers than other forms of 
zoophily do; for which reason there is a widespread, 
though perhaps unconscious, tendency among zoophilists 
to evade it. 

Yet that such evasion is a blunder may be seen from 
the outcry raised against it not by vegetarians only, but 
by the vivisectionists and sportsmen themselves, who are 
quick to ask the zoophilists why, if they are so eager for 
the well-being of the animals, they do not desist from 
eating them — a question which, however insincere in the 
mouths of some who propound it, must at least be 
allowed to be logical. For it is simple truth that though 
vivisection is a more refined and diabolical torture, and 
sport a more stupidly wanton one, the sum of suffering 
that results from the practice of flesh-eating is greater 
and more disastrous than either, and by being so familiarly 
paraded in our streets is a cause of wider demoralisation. 
When one thinks of the aimless and stunted life, as well 
as the barbarous death, of the wretched victims of the 
slaughter-house, bred as they are for no better purpose 
than to be unnaturally fattened for the table, it makes 
one marvel that so many kindly folk, keenly sensitive to 
the cruelties inflicted elsewhere, should be utterly deaf 
and blind to the doings of their family butcher. The 
zoophilist loves to quote the famous lines of Coleridge : 

He prayeth best who loveth best 
All things both great and small. 

But what kind of " love " is that which eats the object of 
its affection? There are hidden rocks in that poetical 
passage which a sense of humour should indicate to the 
pilot of zoophily. 
Our position, therefore, is this — that while we make 


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no exaggerated claim for vegetarianism, as in itself a 
panacea for human ills and animal sufferings, we insist 
on the rational view that reform of diet is an indispen- 
sable branch of social organisation, and that it is idle to 
talk of recognising " rights of animals '* so long as we 
unconcernedly eat them. Vegetarianism is no more and 
no less than an essential part in the highly complex 
engine which is to shape the fabric of a new social 
structure, an engine which will not work if a single screw 
be missing. The part without the whole is undeniably 
powerless; but so also, as it happens, is the whole without 
the part. 


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The chief object of this work, as stated at the outset, 
has been to prove the logical soundness of vegetarian 
principles, and the hoUowness of the hackneyed taunt, 
so often a makeshift for reasoning, that vegetarians are 
a crew of mild brainless enthusiasts whose "hearts 
are better than their heads." How far I have been suc- 
cessful in this purpose it is for the reader to judge; I 
trust it has, at least, been made plain that, if it is logic 
that our friends are in need of, we are quite ready to 
accommodate them, and that nothing will please us 
better than a thorough intellectual siftmg of the whole 
problem of diet. Only it must be a thorough sifting. 
The great foe of vegetarianism, as of everjr other reform, 
is habit — ^that inert, blind, dogged force which time called 
into being, and time only can outwear — and it is this 
which lurks behind the flimsy sophisms and excuses that 
the flesh-eater loves to set up, in which, as a rule, though 
there is much show of controversy, there is little real 
discussion. To those of our opponents who honestly 
wish to grapple with the question of diet, and to under- 
stand what vegetarianism means (whether they agree 
with it or not), I submit that the following points have, 
at any rate, l)een clearly set before them : 

I. That the objections raised to the name" vegetarian'* 
are founded on sheer ignorance of the word's origin, and 
calculated, if not designed, to distract attention from the 
substance by fixing it on the shadow. It is not nowa- 
days seriously denied, by any responsible authority, that 
a vegetable diet, with the addition of eggs and milky is quite 
adequate for nutriment ; but the method is this — to allow 
what is said (rightly or wrongly) of the sufiiciency o£ 
a strictly vegetable diet to be misunderstood by the 



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public as referring to "vegetarianism." Thus, Dr. J. 
Burney Yeo, in his " Food in Health and Disease," 
first argues that "vegetarians" have no right to their 
title, because they consume animal products, and then 
proceeds to allege various reasons against "a purely 
vegetable diet," which by his own showing is not what 
vegetarianism represents. This is a fair sample of flesh- 
eaters* logic. 

2. That the immediate aim of vegetarians is not that 
which, under various forms, is so industriously foisted 
on them — viz., a desire to attain at one step to the 
millennium, by altogether ceasing to take the life of 
animals, or by entire abstinence from animal products — 
but rather it is a practical, intelligible, though necessarily 
imperfect, attempt to humanise, as far as may be, the 
present sanguinary diet system, by the omission at least 
of its more loathsome and barbarous features. 

3. That vegetarianism, if once admitted to be practic- 
able, offers certain positive benefits of the utmost value, 
humane, aesthetic, hygienic, social, economic; while, on 
the other hand, the denials that have hitherto been made 
of its practicability, on the plea of structure, laws of 
nature, climate, digestion, and so forth, are far too weak 
and illogical to bear the test of criticism. There may, of 
course, be some conclusive reason against vegetarianism, 
but if so, why is its production delayed ? 

4. That in the greater number of the arguments 
brought against vegetarianism, the importance of the 
moral aspect of the question is studiously kept out of 
sight. Thus, Sir Henry Thompson, in his Nineteenth 
Century article of 1885, while admitting the possibility of 
abstaining from flesh foods, gave judgment on the whole 
in favour of a moderate use of them — but without 
allowing the smallest weight to humane or moral con- 
siderations. Writing on the same subject in 1898, he 
so far repaired this oversight as to argue that it is really 
kinder to eat animals than not to do so, because other- 
wise they would not be bred at all ! That is the amount 
of attention the moral side of vegetarianism receives 
from its opponents, a great humane issue being set 


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aside by a sophism more suited for a Savoy comedy than 
for serious discussion. 

But there is the further question — and as far as these 
chapters are concerned, the final question — ^why, if 
vegetarianism is part and parcel of a genuine " pro- 
gressive " movement, does it not more rapidly progress ? 
"Why so little result from your propaganda?" is the 
frequent sneer of the flesh-eater, and the vegetarian 
himself is sometimes fain to be down-hearted at the 
seeming slowness of his advance. Does vegetarianism 
progress? Yes and no, according to the expectations, 
reasonable or unreasonable, that its supporters have 
been cherishing. If we have fondly hoped to witness, in 
the future, the triumph of the humaner living, it must be 
allowed that the actual rate of progress is extremely dis- 
heartening ; but if, on the contrary, we work under a 
rational understanding that a widespread change of diet, 
like any other radical change, is a matter not of years 
but of centuries, then we shall not find in the slow 
growth of our movement any reason for dissatisfaction. 
Revolution in personal habits, be it remembered, is even 
more difi&cult than revolution in political forms, and 
needs a greater time for its fulfilment, and, looked at in 
this light, vegetarianism has made as much progress 
during the past half-century as any other cause which 
aims at so far-reaching a change. 

But what of the many individual failures, it is asked, 
among those who make trial of vegetarianism ? Taking 
the circumstances into account, the failures cannot be 
regarded as numerous ; for in every such movement there 
are half-hearted people who are impelled by motives of 
restlessness and curiosity, rather than of real conviction, 
and in view of the personal obstacles that beset the path 
of the vegetarian it is not surprising that in food reform, 
as in drink reform, there are a certain number of back- 
sliders. In an ordinary household every possible influence, 
social and domestic, is brought to bear on the heretic 
who abstains from flesh foods. Anxious relatives and 
indignant friends adjure him to remember the duty he 
owes to himself and to his family, and urge him for the 


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sake of those dear to him, if not for his own, to return 
to that great sacramental bond of union between man 
and man — ^the eating of our non-human fellow-beings. 
Is he smitten by one of the numberless ailments that are 
the stock-in-trade of the physician, and of which flesh- 
eaters are daily the victims in every part of the world ? 
The doctor looks wise, shakes his head, and informs a 
sorrowing circle that it is the direct result of " his 
vegetarianism." Above all, the fear of ridicule, acting 
on the natural unwillingness of mankind to venture along 
unknown paths, is a strong deterrent ; for there are still 
many persons to whom the idea of abstinence from 
butchers' meat is positively a matter for merriment, 
and it seems fated that vegetarianism, like every new 
principle, must be a target for such shafts. Well, so be 
it! We know that the struggle will be a long one, 
and if vegetarianism has got to run the blockade of 
Noodledom, and a huge amount of foolish talk must 
perforce be fired off, the sooner the battle commences, 
and the sooner it is concluded, the better for all con- 
cerned. And ridicule, as the flesh-eater will learn, is a 
weapon which can be wielded by more parties than 

For, to be frank, the dietists of the old-fashioned 
kreophagist school have talked, and sure talking, a great 
deal of downright nonsense in their tirades against vege- 
tarianism, and the only reason why they have not been 
more widely brought to book is that they speak in ortho- 
dox quarters where no reply is permitted. The oracle, 
of course, must not be answered or criticised. So far 
as they have condescended to state a case against food 
reform, it is a case which would be laughed out of court, 
as a string of quibbles and absurdities, in any open 
discussion; for the specialist, that most humourless of 
persons, is apt to forget that the moment he quits the 
ground on which he has made himself a master (and such 
^ p^roimd has very narrow limitations) he is no longer 
infallible, and that if he thinks to exorcise modern feeling 
by the repetition of ancient formulas, he will only make 
himself ridiculous. And as a matter of pure humour, 


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apart from humanity, which is the more comical — ^the 
man who can live in simple affluence on a supply of food 
which is as little costly to himself as it is burdensome to 
others, or he who cannot be content unless he gluts an 
ogreish appetite on animals slaughtered for his larder, 
and then pharisaically pretends that he has done them 
a kindness by eating them ? It is custom, and custom 
alone — the thraldom of that " ceaseless round of mutton 
and beef to which the dead level of civilisation reduces 
Us "* — that prevents civilised men from seeing the essential 
silliness of maintaining the diet of savages. 

That a percentage of those who make trial of vege- 
tarianism should return to their former habit is in 
accordance with what always happens in the fight 
between the new and the old, and at the utmost — that is, 
in the rare cases where such trial has been a genuine one 
— proves only that a change of diet is much more difficult 
for some persons than it is for others, a fact which all 
rational food reformers have recognised. But from the 
force of affirmative testimony there is no escape, when, as 
in the case of v^etarianism successfully practised, and 
yielding the best results, the instances are drawn from 
every rank and temperament, and are amply sufficient in 
number to prove the experience trustworthy. It is idle 
to go on asserting that a thing cannot be done, when you 
are face to face with some thousands of people who not 
only have done it, but are happier and healthier in 

•With the question of the right choice of food, and how 
to adopt vegetarianism, I am not here concerned ; such 
information is readily accessible in current vegetarian 
literature. But it must be said in conclusion — and this 
is the thought which, above all others, I would leave in 
the mind of the reader — that the surest warrant of success 
in the reform of diet is a sincere belief in the moral 
rightness of the cause. The Mrit in which one takes up 
vegetarianism is the main factor in the result. It is 
useless to look for any absolute proof in such matters — 

* Richard Jefferies, " Field and Hedgerows." 



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the proof is in one's self — for those, at least, who have 
heart to feel, and brain to ponder, the cruelty and folly 
of flesh-eating. It is an issue where logic is as wholly 
on the one side as habit is wholly on the other, and where 
habit is as certainly the shield of barbarism as logic is 
the sword of humaneness. 


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Adams, a K., quoted, 68, 69 

.Esthete, the, 5z-54 

AUurmist, the, 84-80 

**AU or Nothing' argument, 10-12. 

See Consistenqr 
Animals, what would become of them? 

Animal products, use of, 5, 6, 42, 43, 

Z09, zio 
AnthropcMd apes, z8-33 
Anthropologist, the, 34-98 
Anthropophogist, the, 95-98 
Asceticism, zz, 72 
Athletics, vegetarian, 60 
Axon, W. E. A., quoted, 81 

Bible and Beef, 89 

Bon Vivant, the, 30-32 

Brahminism, 43, 44, 87 

British Islander, the, 67, 68 

British Medical Journal, quoted, 29, 

34» 62, 63 
Buchanan, Robert, quoted, 96 
Bntcheiy, effect on character, 47-50 

Canine teeth, argument from, Z9 
Cannibalism, zo, 64, 65, 73 (note) ; its 

^ rdation to flesh-eating, 95-97 

^CamaUst, the, 73 
Carpenter, Edward, quoted, 7Z (note), 

Cartesian theory, 26 
Cams, Dr. Pkm, quoted, 86 
Catde transit, 3Z 
Chemical aigument, 9, zo 
Chemist, the, 64-66 
Cheyne, Dr., quoted, 60 
Chicago shambles, 35. 36, 49, 55 
Climate, argument from, 67-70 
" Cock and Bull " argument, 42, 43 

Coit, Dr. Stanton, quoted, 39 
Consistency, true and fialse. See ' 

or Nothuig," 4Z-46 
Cramming system, 75, 76 


Darwinian theory, 25, 26 
Dembo, Dr., quoted, 32 
De Qumcey. quoted, 55 
Digestibility of foods, 62-65 
Diseased flesh, 58, 59 
Drover, the, 3Z 

Economy of vegetarian diet, 77, 78 
Esquimaux, what would become of 

them? 68 
" Ethics of Diet," Z5 (note), 93 
Ethical Societies, attitude towards 

Vegetarianism, 39, Z04 

Fish-eating, 45, 46, 82 (note) 
Flinders retrie, Professor, quoted, 

Franldin, Benjamin, 24, 28 
Eraser, J. F., quoted, 55 
Frugivorous nature of Man, z8-3t 

Gordon-Cumming, C. F., quoted, 65 
Grace before meat, 92, 93 
Greg, W. R., quoted, 79, 80 

Habit, influence of, Z09, zz3 
Haig, Dr. A., 60, 6z 
Herbivora, the, 20, 62 
Hofmann's Eroeriments, 64, 65 
Hudson, W. H., quoted, 36 
Humanity, synonymous with culture, 

SI. 54 
Hunt, Leigh, quoted, 54, 93 
Hygienic Aspect of Vegetarianism, 

Keith, Dr. G., quoted, 75 
Kingsford, Dr. Anna, Z3 (note), 

quoted, 74 
Kropotldn, Prince, quoted, 25, 26, 

8z (note) 

Land question, the, 80 
Lawrence, Sir William, quoted, 68 



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Leather, what should we do without? 

Lester, H. F., quoted, 48, 50 
Life, relative value of, 10, 27, 28, 4a, 

Logic, uses of, x, 109 

" Man is what he eats," ^^ 
Manure question, 85 
Majcwell, SirH., 38 
Mayor, Rev. Professor J. E. B., 5, 2Z 
Meat Trades Journal^ quoted, 32, 89 
" Metaphysic of the larder," 37-39 
Michelet, Jules, quoted, 33, 34 
Monastic orders, vegetarian diet of, 

Moral aspect of diet question, 10, 34, 
72-74, no 

Nature, argument from, 24-28 
Newman, Professor F. W., quoted, 

Nordau, Max, quoted, 8z 

Oldfield. Dr. J., quoted, 21 (note), 

Omnivonsm, 2o< 21, 99 
Owen, Sir Richard, quoted, 18 

P^y, Dr. Wniiam, quoted, 89 
Patriot, the, 15, 16 
Philanthropist, the, 84, 108 
Plutarch, 14, 93 
Progressive movement, relation of 

Vegetarianism towards, X02, Z03 
Psychic philosopher, the, 72, 73 
"Pythagorean diet," the same as 

Vegetarianism, 4, 6 

Reform and self-reform, 104 
Reformer, the, Z03, 104 
Richardson, Sir B. w., quoted, 19,,75,77,78 
Rights of animals, no 
Ritchie, Professor D. G., 51 
Roman soldiery, diet of, 15 
Russell, Hon. R., quoted, 13 (note), 

78 (note) 

Schrdner, Olive, quoted, 99 

Scientist, the, 19-23 

Shaw, G. Bernard, quoted, 54 

Slaughter-house, the, 32 ; reform of, 

Slaughterman's work, effect on 

character, 47-50 
Slavery, justified by Bible texts, 90, 91 
Smith, Dr. T. P., quoted, 33, 43 
Sophist, the, 37, 38 
Sport, in relation to flesh-eating, 95, 

Stead. W. T., 35, 36. 43, 44 
Stephen, Leslie, 38 
Superior Person, the, 9-1 z 

Temperance Movement, 69 
Tertulliao, Contra Psychieos, 73 (note) 
Textualist, the, 9Z 
Thompson, Sh* Henry, 5-7, 45, 96, 

99, Z05, zio 
Thomson, J. Arthur, quoted, 26 
Thoreau, quoted, 7Z, 72, 79, zoo 
Tuberculosis, danger of, 58 
Turkish soldiery, diet of, z6 

" V^etarian," the name, ori^^n, 4 ; 
objections urged against it, 4-8, 
Z09, zzo ; why retained, 7, 8 

Vegetarianism, misunderstandings of, 
z, 2 ; grades of, 6, zz ; its real pur- 
pose, 9-Z2, zzo ; a moral principle, 
9, zo. 29. 47, 73, 74, zzo; relation 
to other reforms, zoz-108; indivi- 
dual failures and successes, zzz, 
ZZ2, zz6 ; "inconvenience" of, 78 

Vegetarian Society, its founding and 
principles, 4, 5, 45 

Verbalist, the, 4, 5 

Wages question, in relation to Vege- 
tarianism, 79 

Wallace, Dr. Alfred R., quoted, 36 

Wilson, Dr. Andrew, 44, 45, 64, 65, 

Wollaston's "Religion of Nature," 

29. 30 
Women's work at Deptford, 48 
Woolman, John, quoted, 90, 9Z 

Yeo, Dr. J. Bumey, quoted, 77, xoz, 
Z02, zzo 

Zoophily, as related to Vegetarianism, 




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