WHAT IS FLESH FOODS
It is convenient to apply this description to all those substances usually included under the definition animal food, although strictly speaking the latter term likewise embraces eggs, milk, and its products gelatine, beef-teas, beef-juices, and beef extracts. Flesh foods are still the most favoured articles of diet for supplying the body with building material or protein, and herein lies a great danger, because on account of their attractive character there is a tendency to consume considerably more than is required for the purpose of nutrition. Numbers of the middle classes eat 3 1/2 lbs. of meat or its allies per head per week, while those of the upper classes eat close upon 6 lbs.
Even this does not constitute us the greatest meat-eating nation of the world, this distinction belonging to Australia, and it is probably more than a mere coincidence that this country has also the reputation of consuming per head of the population more pills and potions for the relief of constipation than any other country in the world. The reason is not far to seek, for flesh, which is really muscular tissue and consists almost entirely of protein and water, is almost entirely absorbed, and thus leaves no residue for the bowel to act upon.
As most people know, meat should not be consumed for a day or two after the animal has been killed, unless it can be procured immediately after the animal has been slaughtered, and before what is called rigor-mortis sets in. During this time, which commences at a variable period after death, the flesh is decidedly tough, but when it passes away certain acids develop – chiefly sarcolactic acid – which render the flesh substance much more soft and easily digested. Various methods for imitating this process are in vogue; e.g. soaking beef in vinegar and water, rubbing lemon juice over veal before frying or stewing, and eating lamb with mint sauce. No doubt for a similar reason the use of vinegar favours the digestibility of the hard muscles of the crab and lobster.
Contrary to popular opinion, cooking reduces the digestibility of meat, raw meat being digested in about two hours, whilst roasted meat takes quite four hours for full digestion. For a weak stomach no more digestible substance could be found than the juice of a tender steak, and this is easily obtained by scraping with a blunt instrument such as the edge of a table-knife in the direction parallel to the course of the muscular fibre. This spreads the fibres and ensures the collection of the nutrient myosin or pulpy substance of the muscle, which can be seasoned with a little pepper, celery, or salt, and served either as a sandwich or stirred into broth.
Just as the feeding of an animal influences the flavour of its flesh, so the kind of meat we eat is not without its influence on the character of the individual. Compare the stolid, tolerant, beef-fed Englishman with the argumentative and opinionated porridge-loving Scot and the restless vivacity of the potato-fed Hibernian. Kean, the famous actor, carried the matter too far when he varied the food for the part he had to play, choosing pork for tyrants, beef for murderers, and mutton for lovers.
The most easily digested animal foods are soft-cooked eggs, sweetbreads, and boiled white fish, a liberal helping of either of these being disposed of by the stomach in something like two hours, whilst roast goose, pork, salmon, herring, and mackerel and other fat-containing substances may linger therein for more than double that time.
On the whole, however, fish is more easily digested than meat, and in any case is an agreeable change, providing a little more gelatine, a little less protein, and distinctly fewer stimulating extractives than meat. The fallacy that because fish contains phosphorus it is an excellent brain food has been exploded long ago. There are few foods which do not contain some proportion of phosphorus, and fish are by no means more noteworthy in this respect than others. But in any case the nutrition or functioning of the brain is not specially influenced by the administration of phosphorus in any form. Hence fish is no more likely to encourage thought than any easily digested or assimilated food may do by contributing to the growth and nourishment of the body.
A popular media term for a type of strep bacteria (group A streptococcus) which rapidly destroys tissue and left untreated causes death. Surgical excision of dead and infected tissue is usually necessary to help control the infection. The rapid spread and destruction of tissue caused by these bacteria is thought due to a combination of factors related to a protective coat and other substances produced by the bacteria.
FLESH FOODS CAUSE DEGENERATIVE DISEASE
The habitual and frequent use of large amounts of flesh foods in the diet is actually one of the causes of degenerative disease in a substantial percentage of the population. The decrease in, or elimination of, flesh foods from the diet is one of the important steps toward optimal health.
Man’s anatomy and physiology are poorly adapted to the processing of meat, and it cannot be done without some putrefaction (in addition to the putrefaction already present in the meat at the time it is consumed). The result is toxemia, which is the starting point of degenerative diseases like gout, arthritis, heart disease, hardening of the arteries, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, etc.
ANATOMICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS FOR REJECTING FLESH FOODS
There is a sound anatomical and physiological basis for the recommendation against the consumption of flesh foods. The human anatomy and digestive system are totally dissimilar from those of carnivores, which have sharp claws and teeth for killing and tearing. Carnivorous animals have short intestinal canals, and strong secretions of hydrochloric acid, so as to quickly digest and expel the waste products of the flesh they consume, before putrefaction can occur.
Flesh-eating animals also have the enzyme uricase, which breaks down uric acid into a harmless substance called allantoin; man does not possess this enzyme. Vegetable proteins, including nuts and seeds, contain enough carbohydrates to render this enzyme unnecessary.
The carbohydrate content of nuts also prevents a process called de-amination. Because the carbohydrate content of flesh foods is negligible, conventional nutritionists advocate eating protein with a carbohydrate since it is thought that the presence of carbohydrates is necessary for the digestion of protein and, when none are present, the liver will break down some of the amino acids and convert them to carbohydrates. If this is true (and the experiments have not been conclusive), then it is obvious that the nuts supplied to us by Nature come completely packaged along with their digestive requirements, while flesh foods do not.
MORBID RESULTS OF EATING FLESH FOODS
Meat is the most putrefactive of all foods. Flesh, when eaten by humans, tends to undergo a process of decay in the stomach, causing a poisoning of the blood. Putrefaction in meat eaters is evidenced by bad breath, heartburn, eructations, and the foul stool and odorous emissions—absent in vegetarians—and it is probable that the attempts of the body to eliminate these wastes has a profound influence on the shortening of man’s life span.
If the body fluid that bathes our cell’s is overloaded with waste, causing an excessive secretion of bile—fatigue, weakening and aging are the inevitable results. The accumulation of toxic substances in the body causes the deterioration of the intestinal flora, and the blood vessels gradually lose their natural elasticity—their walls become hardened and thickened. Irreversible damage to the organism proliferates.
REASONS FOR DISCARDING FLESH FOODS
Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use!
Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. Those who use flesh foods little know what they are eating. Often if they could see the animals when living and know the quality of the meat they eat, they would turn from it with loathing. People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated.
This command was given because swine’s flesh is unfit for food. Swine are scavengers, and this is the only use they were intended to serve. Never, under any circumstances, was their flesh to be eaten by human beings. It is impossible for the flesh of any living creature to be wholesome when filth is its natural element and when it feeds upon every detestable thing.
Often animals are taken to market and sold for food when they are so diseased that their owners fear to keep them longer. And some of the processes of fattening them for market produce disease. Shut away from the light and pure air, breathing the atmosphere of filthy stables, perhaps fattening on decaying food, the entire body soon becomes contaminated with foul matter.
Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures, and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses.
In many places fish become so contaminated by the filth on which they feed as to be a cause of disease. This is especially the case where the fish come in contact with the sewage of
large cities. The fish that are fed on the contents of the drains may pass into distant waters and may be caught where the water is pure and fresh. Thus when used as food they bring disease and death on those who do not suspect the danger.
The effects of a flesh diet may not be immediately realized; but this is no evidence that it is not harmful. Few can be made to believe that it is the meat they have eaten which has poisoned their blood and caused their suffering. Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating, while the real cause is not suspected by themselves or by others.
The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God!
The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human beings use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward
their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for man which are not broken without great suffering to them.
What man with a human heart, who has ever cared for domestic animals, could look into their eyes, so full of confidence and affection, and willingly give them over to the butcher’s knife? How could he devour their flesh as a sweet morsel?
It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood. These elements are not so well or so fully supplied by a flesh diet. Had the use of flesh been essential to health and strength, animal food would have been included in the diet appointed man in the beginning.
When the use of flesh food is discontinued, there is often a sense of weakness, a lack of vigor. Many urge this as evidence that flesh food is essential; but it is because foods of this class are stimulating, because they fever the blood and excite the nerves, that they are so missed. Some will find it as difficult to leave off flesh eating as it is for the drunkard to give up his dram; but they will be the better for the change.
When flesh food is discarded, its place should be supplied with a variety of grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits that will be both nourishing and appetizing. This is especially necessary in the case of those who are weak or who are taxed with continuous labor. In some countries where poverty abounds, flesh is the cheapest food. Under these circumstances the
change will be made with greater difficulty; but it can be effected. We should, however, consider the situation of the people and the power of lifelong habit, and should be careful not to urge even right ideas unduly. None should be urged to make the change abruptly. The place of meat should be supplied with wholesome foods that are inexpensive. In this matter very much depends on the cook. With care and skill, dishes may be prepared that will be both nutritious and appetizing, and will, to a great degree, take the place of flesh food.
In all cases educate the conscience, enlist the will, supply good, wholesome food, and the change will be readily made, and the demand for flesh will soon cease.
Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods? How can those who are seeking to become pure, refined, and holy, that they may have the companionship of heavenly angels, continue to use as food anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body? How can they take the life of God’s creatures that they may consume the flesh as a luxury? Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning, and themselves practice, and teach their children to practice, mercy toward the dumb creatures that God has made and has placed under our dominion.