Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/591

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
587
VEGETARIANISM

IS VEGETARIANISM CAPABLE OF WORLD-WIDE APPLICATION?
By Professor ALONZO ENGLEBERT TAYLOR

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

VEGETARIAN'S are to be classed into four groups:

Vegetarians from motives of gustatory taste.
Vegetarians from motives of esthetic taste.
Vegetarians from motives of physiological opinion.
Vegetarians from motives of ethical opinion.

Some individuals, particularly in youth and in advanced years, dislike the flavor of flesh. Esthetic vegetarianism is common; and much that in the minds of the adherents of this exclusive diet is regarded as physiological opinion is really esthetic revulsion. The publication of the "Jungle" made many converts to vegetarianism. The centralization of slaughtering has intensified the natural aversion to the process, since, in addition to the lack of hygienic precautions that once prevailed in the large packing houses, the mass of gore as exemplified in the large establishments multiplies the esthetic revulsion. This is due to a trait in human nature familiar to every psychologist and sociologist. It has been difficult to arouse in this country a proper general appreciation of the extent of the yearly loss of life due to preventable dangers of machinery. The daily deaths among employees, here and there geographically, does not impress the public mind. But when through a defect of machinery a score of lives are obliterated in a wreck, the public is appalled.

Vegetarians from motives of supposed physiological opinion are very numerous. The physiological reasoning of the majority of these individuals is not based upon a study of physiology in any sense of the word. It is too often merely an expression of that license of democracy, according to which in this free country everybody feels the right to a definite opinion on every subject, without having studied it—a license almost as widely utilized by the college-bred as by the uneducated man, and contrary to common prejudice as widely utilized by men as by women. To the individual adherent of this school of vegetarianism, the exclusion of flesh from the diet is based upon the conviction that it is harmful to digestion or inimical to nutrition. A sense of personal experience (often purely esthetic, sometimes merely an idiosyncrasy, at times imaginary) is all too easily expanded into a generalization in the untrained mind. That the contrary experience can occur is made evident by the reported instance of a young man in the Alps who from