Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/95

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83
THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

All human beings became cooks as soon as they learned how to make a fire, and have all continued to be cooks ever since.

We should, therefore, look at this vegetarian question from the point of view of prepared food, which excludes nearly all comparison with the food of the brute creation. I say "nearly all," because there is one case in which all the animals that approach the nearest to ourselves — the mammalia — are provided naturally with a specially prepared food, viz., the mother's milk. The composition of this preparation appears to me to throw more light than anything else upon this vegetarian controversy, and yet it seems to have been entirely over-looked.

The milk prepared for the young of the different animals in the laboratory or kitchen of Nature is surely adapted to their structure as regards natural food requirements. Without assuming that the human dietetic requirements are identical with either of the other mammals, we may learn something concerning our approximation to one class or another by comparing the composition of human milk with that of the animals in question.

I find ready to hand in Dr. Miller's "Chemistry," Vol. III., a comparative statement of the mean of several analyses of the milk of woman, cow, goat, ass, sheep, and bitch. The latter is a moderately carnivorous animal, nearly approaching the omnivorous character commonly ascribed to man. The following is the statement:


 
Woman. Cow. Goat. Ass. Sheep. Bitch.
Water 88·6   87·4   82·0   90·5   83·6   66·3  
Fat 2·6   4·0   4·5   1·4   4·5   14·8  
Sugar and soluble salts 4·9   5·0   4·5   6·4   4·2   2·9  
Nitrogenous compounds and insoluble salts 3·9   3·6   9·0   1·7   5·7   16·0  

According to this it is quite evident that Nature regards our food requirements as approaching much nearer to the herbivora than to the carnivora, and has provided for us accordingly.

If we are to begin the building-up of our bodies on a food more nearly resembling the herbivora than the carnivora, it is only reasonable to assume that we should continue on the same principle.

The particulars of the difference are instructive. The food which Nature provides for the human infant differs from that provided for the young carnivorous animal, just in the same way as flesh-food differs from the cultivated and cooked vegetables and fruit within easy reach of man.

These contain less fat, less nitrogenous matter, more water, and more sugar (or starch, which becomes sugar during digestion) than animal food.

Those who advocate the use of flesh-food usually do so on the ground that it it is more nutritious, contains more nitrogenous material and