Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/102

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94
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
VEGETABLE DIET.

By LADY WALB. PAGET.

I DO not write this paper with the intention of converting or even convincing anybody, for nobody is more impressed with the great truth that what is good for one person is not good for all. The infinite individuality of the human race is what distinguishes it from animals. A certain kind of food will be liked and digested by all animals belonging to the same species, while, as an eminent doctor remarked the other day, there is not one article of food in the whole world which is eaten with pleasure by every human being alike. All I wish to do is to put my experiences before those to whom they may be useful, and who may profit by them without making the disagreeable mistakes my ignorance led me into.

I have all my life thought that meat-eating was objectionable from the aesthetic point of view. Even as a child the fashion of handing around a huge grosse pièce on an enormous dish revolted my sense of beauty; and I was delighted when, on my first visit to England, a small and thin slice of beef was unobtrusively shown to me behind my left shoulder, to be accepted or rejected ad libitum. I quite agree with Lord Byron, who said he would not marry a pretty girl because she had asked for two helps of lobster salad, though if beefsteak had been substituted I should understand it better still. The biftek à l'anglaise, which seems to be the only idea a foreign waiter ever has when he is asked to suggest something to eat to English-speaking travelers, is simply a piece of hot raw meat, far more fit for the Zoölogical Gardens than for human food; for, despite of constant and sometimes indignant disclaimers, it is generally believed on the Continent that it forms the staple food of the British nation — that the strong limbs of the young men, the lovely complexions of the girls, and the bright eyes of the children are entirely due to this nourishment, and anxious mothers of families abroad are constantly impressing upon their offspring and everybody else about them the utility and necessity of this panacea, if they wish to be in good health and feel fit and strong. It is a curious fact that in places where this regimen of viande saignante is followed anæmia is very frequent.

I have been told, though I have not read it myself, that somebody has written a description of a town where the whole population was vegetarian. The change this would make in all the sights and smells is far greater than we at first imagine. The ghastly butchers' shops which meet one at every turn appear to me an incongruity, not to say more, in this civilized age; they