Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1481

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General Observations on Vegetarianism and Recipes for Vegetarian Soups, Savouries, Sauces, Farinaceous Foods, and Puddings and Pastry.

Vegetarianism.—As this book is designed to give useful information to all housekeepers, the present chapter has been added for the benefit of those who do not eat animal food, or prefer an alternative diet.

From the earliest ages the doctrines and practices of vegetarianism have been observed, from necessity, as a religious duty, or on the grounds of health. So long ago as the time of Pythagoras, vegetarianism was practised, while the Hindus from remote antiquity have subsisted on vegetable food. In England the question has come to the front on the ground of dietetic reform, and a number of persons known as "Vegetarians" abstain from animal food altogether, or take it only in such forms as milk, cheese, butter and eggs. The stricter adherents, however, abstain from the use of some or all of these products. Other people, while not classing themselves as vegetarians, consider that a less quantity of animal food than is generally eaten is sufficient to keep the body in health, and avail themselves of the various dishes tastefully served at the numerous vegetarian restaurants which are now common in London and other large towns.

It is not within the scope of this work to discuss critically pro and con the subject of vegetarianism. It may, however, be stated that the following constitute the principal physiological reasons for the use by man of a mixed diet. Every animal by natural selection and the nature of its environment is structurally adapted for the special kind of food which serves for its nourishment, such adaptation being determined by the nature of its teeth, the length and complexity of the digestive canal, the character of the climate of its habitat, and the particular constitution of the animal. Man, by the structure of his teeth and digestive organs, the latter standing midway in length and complexity between the plant-eating animals and the carnivora, is specially adapted for a mixed diet. Race and climate are, however important factors in determining the greater or less use of flesh as food. In cold regions fats or hydrocarbons are necessary, not only