Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/107

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
99
VEGETABLE DIET.

sheep, 15,180 pigs; but of this number 3,140 oxen, 5,915 sheep, and 2,943 pigs were cast into the sea during the transit; 231 oxen, 386 sheep, and 392 pigs arrived dead at the place of landing; and 93 oxen, 167 sheep, and 130 pigs were so mutilated that they had to be sacrificed on the spot. In résumé, 14,024 animals were thrown into the sea, 1,240 were landed dead, and 455 were slaughtered on the quay to save them dying of their wounds and sufferings. One asks one's self what state the remaining animals were in, which were sold for human food?

It is not an unnatural or far-fetched idea to connect this state of things with the excessive and inexplicable extension of cancer within the last decade. The more and the further cattle are transported under these conditions, the more tainted (though perhaps not perceptibly so) meat must be eaten, the more poison is infused into the blood. It is not possible that the flesh of an animal which has been knocked about, frightened, starved, exposed to the heat of the sun or icy cold for days and weeks, should be as healthy as that of those taken from our own fields and slaughtered at once, as was the case in the days of our ancestors.

These considerations, however, were not the only ones that moved me. I do not think that anybody has the right to indulge in tastes which oblige others to follow a brutalizing occupation, which morally degrades the man who earns his bread by it. To call a man a butcher means that he is fond of bloodshed. Butchers often become murderers. I remember two cases in the papers last summer where butchers had been hired to murder individuals whom they did not even know. After this comes the irrepressible thought. Is it right to take life in order to feed one's self, when there is plenty of other available food which will do just as well?

Having answered these questions to my own satisfaction, I plunged at once into full-blown vegetarianism, I got very little to eat, and that not very good, for neither I nor my cook was à la hauteur of the situation. I had, however, one, and that a very great compensation—I felt superior to my fellow-beings, treading on air, my head delightfully clear, and altogether lifted up above material things. The poet laureate's lines to Fitzgerald will give in a few words the story of my first and unsuccessful attempt:

“... live on milk and meat and grass;
And once for ten long weeks I tried
Your table of Pythagoras,
And seemed at first a thing enskied
(As Shakespeare has it), airy light,
To float above the ways of men.
Then fell from that half-spiritual height
Chilled, till I tasted flesh again.”