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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/323

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

tarian. In a slaughter-house the sight of gory carcasses and puddles of blood will excite him with a horror naturalis. The same sight would excite the appetite of the omnivorous pig as well as of the carnivorous puppy. Artificial preparation, spices, etc., may disguise the natural taste of meat, as of coffee or wine, but they will not alter its effect upon the animal system. The flesh-food fallacy, like other errors of the civilized nations, has found plausible defenders, but their principal argument is clearly based on a misunderstood fact. The delusion originated in England, where the physique of the beef-fed and rubicund Saxon squire contrasts strongly with that of the potato-fed Celtic laborer. What this really proves is merely that a mixed diet is superior to a diet of starch and water, for the North-Irish dairyman, who adds milk and butter to his starch, outweighs and outlives the rubicund squire. The matter is this: In a cold climate we can not thrive without a modicum of fat, but that fat need not come from slaughtered animals. In a colder country than England the East-Russian peasant, remarkable for his robust health and longevity, subsists on cabbage soup, rye bread, and vegetable oils. In a colder country than England the Gothenburg shepherds live chiefly on milk, barley-bread, and esculent roots. The strongest men of the three manliest races of the present world are non-carnivorous: the Turanian mountaineers of Daghestan and Lesghia, the Mandingo tribes of Senegambia, and the Schleswig Holstein Bauern, who furnish the heaviest cuirassiers for the Prussian army and the ablest seamen for the Hamburg navy. Nor is it true that flesh is an indispensable, or even the best, brain-food. Pythagoras, Plato, Seneca, Paracelsus, Spinoza, Peter Bayle, and Shelley were vegetarians; so were Franklin and Lord Byron in their best years. Newton, while engaged in writing his "Principia" and "Quadrature of Curves," abstained entirely from animal food, which he had found by experience to be unpropitious to severe mental application. The ablest modern physiologists incline to the same opinion. "I use animal food because I have not the opportunity to choose my diet," says Professor Welch, of Yale, "but whenever I have abstained from it, I have found my health mentally, morally, and physically better."

Though a vegetarian on principle, I have eaten various kinds of flesh as a physiological experiment, and have often observed the influence of animal food upon children and invalids, and I have found that a pound of boiled beef or eight ounces of lean pork, after a month's abstinence from all flesh-food, will infallibly produce some or all of the following unmistakable effects: a gastric uneasiness, akin to the incipient operation of certain emetics; distressing dreams, restlessness, and a peculiar mood which I might describe as a promiscuous pessimism, a feeling of general irritation and resentment. I have also noticed that flesh-food tends to check intellectual activity, not so much by making us averse to all mental occupations as by muddling what phrenologists call the perceptives. By its continued use children