Information: This booklet was kindly sent to the Anna Kingsford Site by Mr. Brian McAllister. It contains the text of a lecture given to the Croydon Vegetarian Society on November 13th 1928. An abridged version of the lecture was issued as a pamphlet by the London Vegetarian Society.
FOOD & CHARACTER.
SAMUEL HOPGOOD HART
149, SHROFF BAZAR,
This small but important treatise so ably written by Mr. Samuel Hopgood Hart, the eminent Food Reformer and enthusiastic worker of the London Vegetarian Society made its appearance only six months ago through the generosity of the great Jain philanthropist Rao Saheb Raoji Sojpal from whose munificent donation the League could publish 25,000 copies of the first edition. Its rapid circulation created a very great demand from men of genuine thirst for Knowledge on the question of Diet. The first edition having been so soon exhausted, and the demand for more books being continuous and pressing with numerous letters of appreciation of the treatment of the subject by the learned Author, the League has to issue this 2nd edition (25,000) from its general funds scanty though they are. The great and growing demand for the booklet is indeed a matter of satisfaction to the author and the publisher, besides being a testimony of its public utility. Mr. Hart took considerable pains in preparing this lecture. In a letter to Mr. Ambalal Sarabhai, a prominent millowner of Ahmedabad, who sent us this brochure, Mr. Hart writes:
“I think it would do much good if such a lecture as this could be circulated for
missionaries who are sent from
These missionaries do not preach the true Christianity when they seek to prove that there is no connection between food and morality.”
Nature has not made the consumption of flesh necessary and the bodily needs of man are not in continual antagonism to his reason and to his spiritual instincts. Mr. Hart has well explained in this lecture what the Best Food is and what are its effects are on Character. The readers can benefit themselves by adopting the views expressed therein and abstaining from the use of flesh-diet, which is unsuited to the structure and organs of man, comparatively innutritious, largely impure and unsafe, and extremely costly.
We also once more thank Mr. Samuel Hopgood Hart for his praiseworthy efforts in preparing this lecture, and Mr. Ambalal Sarabhai who kindly brought this valuable Pamphlet to our notice.
Such Literature on Food Reform is published by the League from time to time and the same can be had from the League’s office by sending a one anna postal stamp for postage expenses.
149, Shroff Bazar,
Lallubhai D. Jhaveri
B. H. League.
FOOD & CHARACTER
By Samuel Hopgood Hart.
Food may be defined as “anything on which a living animal feeds,” or “what supplies nourishment to organic bodies”; but I do not now use the word in quite such a wide sense as this. I use it rather as including “every article that is used for food or drink by man.” Using the word in this sense, it will be my object to show that while some foods are good and beneficial and therefore lawful and right; others (though they may contain nourishment) are neither good nor beneficial, and, therefore, are not right foods. Then, apart from the question of the kinds of food, there is the question of how much food we should eat. This also is of importance when considering the connexion between food and character, because the relationship between food and character may be considered from the standpoint of temperance. There should be “temperance in refection” – not only for bodily health and well-being, but because sensuality and spirituality are in opposition, and he who aspires to the highest must not be ruled by the bodily senses. We must learn to distinguish excess from necessity and be temperate. The natural appetite requires food for the sustaining of nature, and the food should be of the right kind; but the sensual appetite considers only the pleasure of eating apart from the benefit or otherwise to be derived from the food eaten. I am not against the enjoyment of proper and wholesome food, but it must not be overlooked that the object of eating is for the benefit of the eater on all planes
of his being, and not merely for the gratification of the sensual appetite. A sufficient quantity of the right kind of food must be eaten if health and well-being are to be sustained; but food should not be eaten for the mere pleasure of eating and apart from reason if greatest and highest good is sought. Sensuality in feeding easily develops into gluttony, and gluttony is a form of intemperance. This applies to foods that are lawful and right as well as to others. The true end, aim, and object of feeding is to enable us to live at our best and do the work that is before us. Good wholesome and natural foods, such as vegetarians advocate, and particularly those that are uncooked, are not, I think, so likely to be an occasion for the kind of intemperance to which I have referred as are the cooked and frequently highly seasoned flesh-foods. You have only to read such accounts as the following to know that temperance does not always rule the Board when the greatest and highest good is sought. In a recent account of a “Colchester Oyster Feast”, at which it was said there were four hundred participants, it is recorded that there was one who boasted of having “broken the record for Colchester” by eating eight dozen oysters, the feast also including “rich brown stout served plentifully in jugs and brewed specially for the feast,” and brown bread and butter. Other participants were stated to have eaten as many as six or seven dozen oysters each. (The Daily Express, 26th October 1928). Necessity must be our guide. Gluttony and excessive drinking produce evil conditions from which the world has suffered much degradation. The mere pleasure of eating – even such foods as are lawful –
must not be allowed to rule our lives, and the kind of food we eat and drink must be considered.
Character and disposition are much the same. In the broad sense, character includes moral character of which the disposition is a manifestation. In general, character may be regarded as the expression of the personality of a man which reveals itself in his conduct. There are two classes of factors that go to make men what they are. First, there is that which they inherit from the past, and secondly, there is that which they acquire during their lives in the world. As regards the first there is a double inheritance, namely, that which they inherit from their own past lives (which is by far the most important), and there is that which they may be said to have inherited from their ancestors. The ancients called this inherited character “the temperament.” No two people are born with exactly the same temperament, and with no two people are the experiences of life exactly the same. At the end of life all that we shall be able to claim as our own will be our characters. The temperament of each individual will largely determine how he will respond to his environment during his earth life, but every man is responsible for his temperament because he has the power to fashion it as he will and the manner in which the will is exercised, is the final and determining factor in the character of the man.
What we have to consider is: What connection (if any) is there between a man’s character and the food he eats? I recently came across the following quotation in a daily paper: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Can our food
affect our personal qualities? I shall show that our characters are affected as well as indicated by the food we eat, and for this reason: A man’s original disposition or temperament must be affected by his acquired habits, of which his mode of feeding is one, and one of the most important. This fact was some years ago brought forcibly to my notice under the following circumstances. A friend of mine, who is a doctor, told me of a lady who had consulted him regarding the unruliness and bad behaviour of her son, a young boy, who was so unruly and ill-behaved that his mother could not do anything with him, and she did not know what to do. The boy’s health had not been good, and to this his mother had put down his bad conduct, and she wanted to know if the doctor could advise anything that would help in the matter. My friend, being a vegetarian, and thinking that possibly food was at the bottom of the trouble, asked the lady what she gave her son to eat, when she said that he was accustomed to have three meals a day with meat at each meal. She had made a point of giving him plenty of meat, because being delicate, he needed extra nourishment. On learning this, my friend told the lady that in his opinion the boy’s diet was responsible for his condition, and he advised her to feed him differently when, he was sure, there would be a change for the better. In particular the boy was not to have any more meat. All flesh food was to be excluded from his diet, and in other respects his food was to be such as vegetarians are accustomed to eat. My friend’s advice was followed, and in the course of a few months, the boy became a changed boy. His health, improved, aIso his disposition, and from that time his mother had no further trouble with
him. This may be an extreme case, but it is a good illustration of the effect of food on character.
The fact that the kind of food we eat affects our character as well as our health has been recognised from time immemorial; and, whether admitted or not, the principle is continually acted on. I need but refer to the question of taking intoxicating drink in confirmation of this. Not only the health, but the character of the man who overindulges in alcoholic drink is affected. When taken to excess, a man is said to be under the influence of drink, and in such condition he will do things which in his sober moments he would not think of doing. His character has for the time being been affected for worse, and if the evil habit be persisted in, he may, as men say, “go to the dogs.” For this reason, the taking of alcoholic drink as a beverage is, by many, condemned. These facts are so well known that I need not press the drink question further. The strange thing is that while so many people recognise the evil that follows alcohol drinking, comparatively few people have any idea of the evil that follows flesh-eating, though there is a close connection between the two because food and drink cannot be separated. In my opinion, the eating of flesh is as much to be condemned as the excessive use of intoxicating liquors, and perhaps more so, because it brings in its train worse evils though they are not so apparent. Not only is flesh-eating conducive to evil, but more than anything else it stands in the way of man’s spiritual advance and evolution. Abstinence from flesh-eating is not, of course, an end in itself. Mere abstinence will not make a saint. But it is a means to an end – an end
to which we must all be assumed to be striving – and one without which it may be impossible to attain. Buddha taught that one of the signs that a man follows "the right path" is that he “sustains life by means that are quite pure,” but Buddha was careful to make it clear that mere abstinence from flesh diet would not of itself make a man wise. In one of his sayings he emphasized this point as follows: – “Neither abstinence from fish nor flesh, nor going naked, nor shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough garment, nor covering oneself with dirt, nor sacrificing to Agni, will cleanse a man who is not free from delusions.”
Given the power of choice of food, we are responsible for the manner in which we exercise such power. Man has the divine gift of free will, which makes him the arbiter of his own destiny which depends upon the use he makes of this power – the power (that is) to do evil as well as the power to do good. The manner in which this power is exercised depends upon the ruling factor of the Will. It is a power to obey or not to obey. Our Wills are the factors that go to make our characters, and they must be brought into line with the Divine Will. What is the Divine Will as regards our food? This can be known by ascertaining what is the Divine Character – a character that has been revealed to us by all the great teachers of the world throughout the ages – and it is revealed to us interiorly if we look within for guidance: “Righteousness and equity are the habitation of thy seat: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” If the soul be raised very high, it perceives things as God does – and “God is Love.” The
higher we climb, the clearer will be the guidance. The great teachers of the world have all been teachers of mercy and justice to all, and their teaching was well summed up by the Prophet Micah, when he said: – “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
The real cause of wrong feeding is due to our defective system of thought; a system which condones (if it does not approve) violence, bloodshed and a denial of mercy and justice to our fellow-creatures whom we regard as below us in the scale of life. It is the human character that is at stake. Flesh-eating tend to lower the character of the man who eats it, and for that reason is conducive to evil. If there were no flesh-eating, there would be no killing of animals for food. Killing, except in case of necessity or in mercy, is a terrible and degrading occupation. Which of us would desire a child of ours to be a butcher? Who would choose such an occupation? Do we look among butchers for the highest type of mankind? Most assuredly not! Those who sell animals to be killed for food and those who willingly eat of such food when provided, are as guilty of bloodshed as those who do the killing, although they may not be so hardened. They are accessories either before or after the fact. While among flesh-eaters there are many who would shrink from killing, there are few who will trouble themselves even to make slaughter as humane as possible. Most flesh-eaters wish to think and try to persuade themselves and others that flesh-eating is necessary; but many of them know the contrary
to be the case, and all the Vegetarian
Societies in the country are witnesses against them. But they are callous. If flesh-eating were necessary, then, however deplorable, there
would be nothing to say against it. But what shall be said of the man who
kills for pleasure – the “sportsman” as he is generally called? I
refer to him because he is one of the products of the flesh-eating habit.
Most flesh-eaters would become “sportsmen” if they had the means and
opportunity. There are few flesh-eaters who will condemn blood sports. Some of
them will condemn tame deer-hunting and fox-hunting, in which they have no
interest; but ask them what they think of killing animals for sport, and they
will not see any harm in it, particularly if the slaughtered animals are to be
eaten. Here again we see the evil effect of flesh-eating on the character of the
flesh-eater. If any one doubts this, let his attention be directed to the case
of “The Woman Pig-Sticker”, of whom I recently read in the Daily
Express (27th October 1928). It was therein
stated that “For every woman (in
that he did not know of “anything more destructive of the Christian Character and human intellect, than those accursed sports, in which man makes of himself cat, tiger, serpent, and alligator in one, and gathers into one continuance of cruelty, for his amusement, all the devices that brutes sparingly, and at intervals, use against each other for their necessities,” and he speaks of “the bitterness of the curse which the habits of hunting and la chasse have brought upon the so-called upper classes of England and France, until, from knights and gentlemen, they have sunk into ... butchers by battue etc.” (Modern Painters: Vol. II). In the “Company of St. George,” which be endeavoured (without success) to establish, one of the rules which the members undertook to observe was “not to kill nor hurt any living creature needlessly, nor destroy any beautiful thing, but to save and comfort all gentle life, and guard and protect all natural beauty upon the earth.” The “Company” came to nought for want of support – the difficulty of finding, among a flesh-eating community, members who would oppose cruel sports being the reason for the failure. For the same reason we have vivisection. It is not the vegetarians who support vivisection. The late Edward Maitland, speaking of the low condition to which flesh-eating has reduced the world, and realising what a different place it would be to live in under humane conditions, said: – “Man’s whole idea and habit of life have become so utterly at variance with all possibility of the perfection of which his existence is capable, that only by incessant and unsparing denunciation can he be in any measure impressed with their heinousness”; and, Anna Kingsford, speaking on the same subject, and turning her back to then present
evil conditions, said: – “I know that at some distant day, now, indeed, perhaps very remote, the message we preach in a corner will become a religion of great nations.”
Abstinence from flesh food is necessary for the enhancement of our spiritual faculty. Flesh-eaters cut themselves off from divine influences that might otherwise reach them and help them on their upward way. They make their path to perfection harder, and by so doing stand in their own light. It is essential to clear spiritual vision that the body be subject to the rule of purity, especially in respect of diet. After becoming a vegetarian, Edward Maitland, in The Life of Anna Kingsford (Vol. I, p. 70), says: –
“To my inexpressible delight I found myself coming into possession of a strangely enhanced faculty of ideation which manifested itself in a power of insight into problems which had hitherto baffled me. It was as if my mental surfaces had been cleansed and sensitised in such wise as to render them accessible to impressions and suggestions which formerly had been too subtle and refined to obtain recognition.”
F. Haines (whose name is well known in the Insurance business world) recently, under spiritual influence, wrote a book called Thus Saith Celphra which contains comments on our modem civilisation as well as teaching of value, and one of the conditions to which he had to submit to qualify him to write that book was that he “abstain from eating meat.” He says, he was also, for similar reasons, required to forego intoxicating liquor in any form. This prohibition was necessary for the purification of the instrument and enhancement of the spiritual consciousness.
The amount of truth which can be perceived is dependent on the purity of the instrument, and if it be that our dispositions are our perceptions – for what we perceive becomes our own – then how important becomes this question of purity of instrument. The purer we can make our instrument the greater shall become our perceptive faculty, and our power to know truth. When we would know how we should live if we are to attain the highest spiritual consciousness, the question of food and feeding presents itself for consideration.
All bodily growth, whether of plant or animal, must be preceded by nourishment or food. The food of the plant may differ from that of the animal (including man), but the process is the same for both. Speaking generally, each kingdom should derive its nourishment from the kingdom below it: that is to say, the vegetable from the mineral, and the animal from the vegetable – in each case, of course, plus air and water. Plant life, therefore, is the link between sentient and insentient creation. All life above plant life, must be sustained by other life. The animal cannot live on the mineral. If the vegetable kingdom failed, man could not live. This truth is well expressed in the Psalms where it is said “He bringeth forth grass for the cattle, and green herb for the service of men in order that He may bring food out of the earth.” Mark how and in what manner the food of man in to be brought “out of the earth.” It is by means of the vegetable kingdom. There is no suggestion of man having been given any right to feed on the flesh of his fellow animals that share the world with him. The food intended for man is to be found in the vegetable
and not in the mineral or in the animal kingdom. In each case, the nourishment or food taken from the lower kingdom has to be transmuted by the consumer. As man must assimilate from his food the material he requires for his physical development, and as the character of the food he eats is determined by its vibration, the kind of food he eats becomes a matter of importance, not only from the point of view of assimilation, but also from the point of view of the vibratory effect that the food eaten will have on the character of the man who eats it.
Let us give a few minutes to consider this question of vibration. In a Lecture on “The Nature and Constitution of the Ego,” which forms one of the Chapters in The Perfect Way by the late Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, it is stated that “Consciousness being inherent in Substance, every molecule of the Universe is able to feel and to obey after its kind – the inorganic as well as the organic between which there is no absolute distinction as ordinarily supposed,” and that “Wherever there are vibration and motion, there are life and memory,” and that “there are vibration and motion at all times and in an things.” Now, each thought we encourage, whether good or bad, has its own vibration that gives it an existence which under favourable conditions becomes an active power for progress or retrogression, and if these thought-powers be not in harmony or consistent with order, peace, and love, they become positive powers of evil. Every sentient creature has a soul of some kind which is a thought centre, and the sum total of the thought vibrations or powers for which each individual is responsible goes to make up
the character. The soul of a man may be regarded as representing a unison of thought entities, and, as such, every soul is by the thought vibrations that it gives out, a most powerful influence for good or for evil as the will of the man directs. ‘‘The human-ego” said the late Edward Maitland “represents all the Consciousnesses of man’s system centralised into a unity and polarised to a higher plane.” The greatest power in heaven and earth is thought. All we see around us is the outcome of thought. There are thoughts that bring life and healing, and there are thoughts that bring death and destruction. A man’s thoughts are his powers.
In the Buddhist Scriptures it is truly said: “As thou thinkest, so art thou”; and in the Christian Scriptures we find: “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Everything that is in harmony with thought, all that is in tune therewith – be it good or bad – is drawn to or becomes responsive to the thinker. We cast our bread of thought upon the waters of the cosmos and, without doubt, it shall return to us again with increase. This is sympathy. “Like to like.” Thus, nature may be to each of us an inspiration. Let nature speak to us through all channels that are open to us for the purpose. Our five senses, which represent our bodily or earthly limitations, are not the only channels or the most important through which thought vibrations may reach us. Vibrations are received from planes other than the material (which is the lowest), and the law of affinity holds good on all planes of Being. Like attracts like, and he that hath, to him shall be given much of his own kind, and the soul of every man by the law of spiritual affinity, receives or gathers from without vibrations that harmonise with its own character.
“Like to like.” “He loved not blessing, therefore shall it be far from him” (Ps. CIX, 16). Recognise the freedom of the will which belongs to man as a spiritual being and the power of his thought, and you must acknowledge the power of every man to fashion his own character and thereby his own fate. Disraeli spoke the truth when he said “Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.” In the book by Mr. Haines, to which I have referred, there occurs this pregnant passage:
“Keep undefiled the avenues of approach to the higher. There are tremors of spirit presence in every vibration of physical existence, tremors which sanctify the heeding soul and create within it a perfection which glorifies by kinship with the spiritual.”
Vegetarianism offers to those who will accept it a chalice
of peace. The whole creation may be as the voice of God to the man who walks
through life in a spirit of love and charity to all. But this does not include
those who elect to live by bloodshed and the slaughter of their fellow creatures
when another and better way is open to them. The “dogs” (or
carnivora) have their place outside the
been well summed up as follows: “Ye shall not take away the life of any creature for your pleasure, nor for your profit, nor yet torment it. Ye shall not eat the flesh, nor drink the blood, of any slaughtered creature; nor yet anything which bringeth disorder to your health or senses.” Laws of nature are laws of health and health and harmony go together, provided the harmony be on all planes of man’s being. Health is order, obedience and government. Discord spells disease. “It is love that is the binding principle of the Universe, and without it dissolution and disintegration to the total extinction of individuality must occur." “Their own iniquity” is the cause of the destruction which God is said to bring upon evil doers. The following instruction bearing on this subject was given to the late Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland: –
“Purify your bodies, and eat no dead thing that has looked with living eyes upon the light of Heaven. For the eye is the symbol of brotherhood among you. Sight is the mystical sense. Let no man take the life of his brother to feed withal his own. But slay only such as are evil in the name of the Lord. They are miserably deceived who expect eternal life, and restrain not their hands from blood and death.”
The salvation of the world is impossible while people nourish themselves on blood. This teaching is not new. For ages men and women have gone to the Psalms for spiritual guidance and consolation, and what do they teach? They teach that “The voice of joy and health is in the dwelling of the righteous.” Now, righteousness is associated with justice. The righteous are the just, and I ask, “Is the flesh-eater a righteous man? Is he a just man?” Whether, as
regards feeding we live righteously, or not, this is certain: our bodies are our dwellings, the “houses of our pilgrimage” and if we would have in our bodily dwellings, or houses, this voice or vibration of joy and health which is so desirable, we must live righteously. The same truth is insisted on when we are told that “Health is far from the ungodly”, and for this reason: “They regard not Thy statutes” – which are declared to be “righteous altogether” and which, moreover, we are told “rejoice the heart” – “They are the very joy of my heart.” “When Thou hast set my heart at liberty”, says David, “I will run the way of Thy commandments.”
Again, we are told, if we make a “sepulchre” of our dwelling – and that is exactly what the flesh-eater does – our beauty shall consume therein. The wicked man is described as one “whose throat is an open sepulchre” and “whose feet are swift to shed blood.” Here, indeed, is shewn a connection between food and character. Flesh-eating is one of the signs of wickedness – wicked, because of the cruelty and injustice that is implied thereby, when there is open another and better mode of life which is described as “the way of peace.” “Such as are gentle, them shall He learn His way.” (Ps. XXV, 9) Christ, wherever manifest, is truly the “son of David,” who said: “I will wash my hands among the harmless, O Lord, and so will I encompass Thine altar”; and who prayed: “O shut not up my soul with the sinners, nor my life with the blood-thirsty.”
One of the best examples of the evil effect of flesh-eating and all that it implies is to be found in the conditions which to-day prevail at Chicago, where
more animals are slaughtered and where
there is more bloodshed than in any other place in the world.
To derive from food the highest good, the vibratory forces of the food must be suitable to those of the feeder, because the assimilation of the food will mean a uniting of vibratory forces in the feeder, namely, those of the food and those of the feeder. It will thus be seen that the character of man is affected for
good or for ill as a result of
discriminate or indiscriminate feeding as the case may be. It is recorded that
when, in the wilderness, the children of
“The sooner man realises that what he eats contributes important qualities to his spiritual being, the sooner will he progress to that
higher vibratory condition of being towards which he progresses by Divine will ... If you can rise to discriminate choice of viands, so that gross foods and sense-degrading liquors be altogether excluded from the table, your feastings would still further elevate your souls. What is now seldom more than an orgy of self-indulgence with an aftermath of physical discomfort and spiritual degradation might become an avenue of spiritual communion, elevating, inspiring, full of joy and health-giving laughter, with precious results to all who so rejoice together.”
We must ever bear in mind that “the life is more than the food” – the life not only of the feeder, but also of those who obtain and prepare our food. We must not consent to feed regardless of the cost to those who toil in the getting or in the preparation of our food. In many a kitchen there is unnecessary toil and often waste. This is by no means confined to the kitchens of the rich. Let us simplify our lives in our feeding as well as in other respects and avoid luxury, extravagance and waste. We must not allow our bodily desires to be our sole guide as to what and how much we should eat and drink. If we do so, we shall soon find that they are not guides but taskmasters, and that we no longer rule our lives. Many people eat too much. We must use our intelligence in the selection of our food, live on simple foods, and see that the food selected be of a quality in vibration calculated to assist the spirit as well as feed the body. To those who aspire to higher spirituality, what is to be the test of quality? This question has been answered as follows: – “Those who seek the higher faculties of identity with the Will of God, will abjure
meat and strong drinks.” There is no better food for man than that which nature has provided for him in the vegetable kingdom, including, of course, nuts and fruit; and there is no better drink for man than that which nature has provided for him in pure cold water and pure unfermented fruit juice. This is the ideal diet of man, and this is the diet for which he should strive, and it offers a fairly wide selection of choice. But if, for special reasons, having regard to our present conditions of life or to some particular circumstances, such a diet should prove too restrictive or impracticable, then, milk, butter, and cheese may be added. Food reform on right lines and character reform go hand in hand, and there will be no character reform in an upward direction worth speaking of without the abandonment of bloody foods. It is not revolution so much as reformation which is needed to right existing evils, and the first and most important step towards this is Food Reform on the lines indicated. In this I am not advocating anything contrary to nature, for man was not created a flesh-eater. How or why man (or some races of man) first took to flesh-eating is not a matter for present consideration, but it was a downward step… It represented devolution. It was a step the evil effects of which we reap in the world to-day. The evil, no doubt, started in a small way; but in time it grew to large dimensions, and we see the results. Flesh-eating must have been preceded by cruelty and blood-lust. First, came the lust to kill and shed blood, then the eating of flesh. Present conditions of life do not all make for joy and health. The very methods of some among us who should stand for health are unhealthy and even evil. We have, for example,
Voronoff and his rejuvenation experiments, which are the outcome of vivisection. Let not the newly fashioned idols of orthodox science be substituted for the crumbling idols of orthodox religion. The world will not be redeemed by flesh-eaters. Their methods will not bring with them that health and joy to which I have referred. Our earth conditions need readjustment. A materialistic civilisation does not make for true progress. It is our material minds that are responsible for so much of the evil which we deplore. These must be dominated before we can reach perfection of character, and, to this end, the question of food is an all-important consideration. Many people do ill who mean well, and we rightly forgive them for their good motives, but right motives must not be allied to wrong actions, for evil effects will follow. Flesh-eating is selfish, and where selfishness is opposed to justice (which makes for perfection) evil must inevitably result.
I recently came across the following in a religious publication: “The History of mankind seems to shew that while the meat-eating nations of the earth have been the most powerful and aggressive (growing, in other words, like the things they feed on) yet they have been and continue to be strenuous upholders of religious liberty and morality.” The truth of this statement depends upon what the writer of the article understands by “religion” and “morality.” A prominent Bishop (the Bishop of London) speaking as a flesh-eater to his fellows has said: “We ourselves are not necessarily depraved because we eat mutton chops.” (Daily Express 15th Sept. 1925). It is refreshing to turn from such teaching as this to an
article written by Dr. Paul
Carton, who is well known in
“The meatless diet is above all other things an uplifting and spiritualising one. From the spiritual standpoint, a diet which includes flesh foods, can never be anything else than positively degrading, tending as it does both to sensuality and to a materialistic outlook on life. Yet, for the most part, the religious leaders of the day seem totally blind to this aspect of things, that is if we may judge from the indifference, with which they themselves are wont to devour heavy meat meals, washed down with fermented drinks, sometimes also to the accompaniment of tobacco smoke; all of which habits tend to disturb the true equilibrium of the mind, as well as that of the body.”
“The fact of the pernicious influence of flesh foods on the mentality of the individuals is, indeed, not difficult to establish. The practice of slaughtering, like that also of excessive meat-eating, tends to induce habits of violence, callousness and depravity amongst certain sections of those engaged in the trade, while people who live chiefly on the flesh and blood of pigs (ham, sausages, black pudding) – the use of which the Mosaic law so wisely forbade – are notorious for their heavy wit, their coarse physical frames, their brutal manners, their unbridled violence, their excessive reliance of merely physical force and their unmitigated greediness. People, on the other hand, who incline to Vegetarianism, are likely to be marked by
a greater refinement, a truer elegance of form, a more agreeable disposition, a higher idealism and a more complete control of the appetites.”
“The saints and sages of the past were well aware that, from the point of view of moral purity and of spiritual progress, the choice of food is of the first importance. Thus, as already said, the diet of the Pythagoreans was strictly vegetarian, while the Yogis of India abstain from flesh for three reasons: (a) for the sake of the lower creatures, which also are evolving sentient beings like man himself; (b) for the sake of their own spiritual development, which would be retarded by the introduction of flesh foods into their system; and (c) in the interests of bodily purity, which must needs be corrupted by the toxic products of food obtained from such a source.”
And Dr. Carton quoted with approval the following passage (taken from Gorres) as another reason why man should not eat flesh foods:
“That self-same flesh has already absorbed, in some degree, the life of which it was aforetime at once the habitation and the vehicle, thus acquiring for itself a character peculiarly its own, this character being the natural outer expression of that peculiar ensemble of appetites, passions and instincts which had characterised it during life. To some extent, indeed, these instincts may be said to have entered into the very flesh of the animal itself, and, on being introduced into the life of another organism, they find there a nucleus to which they can attach themselves and by means of which they become embodied in the new organism.”
That there is a connection between food and character is, I feel, amply proved, and Vegetarianism must
be regarded not merely as a factor in physical health, but above all as a potent means of developing the moral life, and of assisting the spiritual development, both of the individual and of the human race.
I will conclude with those noble and never-to-be-forgotten words – words that should be printed in gold – of Anna Kingsford who said: –
“I consider the vegetarian movement to be the most important movement of our age: I believe this because I see in it the beginning of true civilisation. My opinion is that up to the present moment we do not know what civilisation means. When we look at the dead bodies of animals, whether entire or cut up, which with sauces and condiments are served at our tables, we do not reflect on the horrible deed that has preceded these dishes: and yet it is something terrible to know that every meal to which we sit down has cost a life. I hold that we owe it to civilisation to elevate the whole of that deeply demoralised and barbarised class of people: butchers, cattle-drovers and all other who are connected with the deplorable business. Thousands of persons are degraded by the slaughter-house in their neighbourhood, which condemns whole classes to a debasing and inhuman occupation. I await the time when the consummation of the vegetarian movement shall have created perfect men, for I see in this movement the foundations of perfection. When I perceive the possibilities of vegetarianism and the heights to which it can raise us, I feel convinced that it will prove the redeemer of the world.”