Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/108

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
100
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

I, too, felt chilled and sleepy by day and night, so tired that I could hardly walk. The doctor said: “You have no pulse at all, and must give in; it does not suit you.” The winter was icy cold and depressing, and for the moment I followed Tennyson's example. Mais je ne reculais que pour mieux sauter, and with the first breath of spring, when all those delightful fruits and leaves and roots which Raphael did not disdain to paint as ornaments in his loggias reappear on our tables, I made my second methodical and successful attempt, eliminating week by week one kind of animal food only, and replacing it by some equally nutritious vegetable preparation.

The very strict ascetic sect of vegetarians who only live upon seeds and uncooked food look down upon their weaker brethren who eat eggs and milk and butter, in fact, everything which does not necessitate the taking of life, which appears to me to be the only reasonable standpoint. I will not, therefore, enter into discussions whether our teeth are those of a carnivorous or frugivorous animal, though the latter appears to me the most likely theory, as fruits are the only edibles we can eat and digest without cooking; everything else requires the aid of fire to make it palatable and wholesome. It is certain that the giving up of animal food cures many illnesses which no medicines can reach. Everybody knows the bad effects of butcher's meat in gout and rheumatism. In affections of the heart it is often the only remedy, and the wonderful results are not difficult to explain in a case where rest often means cure, if one reflects that while the meat-eater's heart has seventy-two beats in the minute the vegetarian's only has fifty-eight beats, therefore twenty thousand beats less in the course of the twenty-four hours. Insomnia and nervousness are affected in the same way; there is less wear and more repose in the constitution. I could enumerate many other illnesses in which vegetable diet does marvels, but will only mention those of the skin. Most vegetarians have unusually clear and often beautiful complexions. I need only remind those who know them of the old Carthusian and Trappist monks, who all have smooth white and pink Fra Beato Angelico kind of faces, which are not found among the orders that do not habitually live on Lenten fare. The splendid teeth of the Italian peasantry, who never touch meat, speak for themselves, and it is the same in other countries where the people live under similar conditions. It is foolish to associate vegetable diet with temperance, as so many do: they are quite astonished to see a vegetable-eater drinking wine or beer. One thing, however, is true, viz., that it is far easier to cure a drunkard if you deprive him of meat, because, as Dr. Jackson, head doctor of the Asylum for Dipsomaniacs, Dansville, United States, says: “It is clear that meat contains some not nutri-