Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/593

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VEGETARIANISM

body on food other than flesh and difficult to clothe the human feet without leather can have no bearing on the ethics or logic of the question. If man has the right to kill animals for his use, what is to constitute necessary use will always remain a matter of more or less individual judgment, as the movement for the protection of bird-life clearly illustrates. An aigrette may seem more necessary to the woman of fashion than are leather shoes to her less evolved peasant sister. From this point of consistency therefore no departure can be permitted. Here the consistent vegetarian and the consistent anti-vivisectionist meet, both resting the ultimate argument upon the broad proposition that man has not the right to nourish himself, clothe himself or save his life at the expense of the life of an animal. On the other hand, consistency does not demand of the ethical vegetarian, as of the physiological vegetarian, the exclusion of milk, cheese, butter and eggs from the diet. Although the slaughter of animals is from the ethical point of view condemned, the domestication of animals for their service is not excluded, since it can be easily shown that domestication yields to animals security from beasts of prey, protection from the elements and provision for food beyond the natural expectations, thus tending to prolong life as well as to promote the well-being of the animals. The ethical vegetarian is not concerned with physiological opinions bearing on the healthfulness of plant as against animal albumin, just as the consistent anti-vivisectionist is not concerned with the question whether vivisection has resulted in knowledge that leads to the alleviation of human suffering, the cure of human disease and the prolongation of human life; even though animal flesh be the most healthful of foods, even though vivisection lead to the cure of human disease, man has no right to these at the cost of animal life.

When now we turn to the modern science of nutrition, and ask the question: Is a vegetarian diet physiologically correct, adapted to the best purposes of a normal life, capable of sustaining the highest standards of growth, health, endurance and longevity? We receive a reply couched in no uncertain terms. Yes, a properly selected and prepared vegetarian diet meets completely the highest requirements of a diet. The technical reply to the question, stated in untechnical terms, would yield something like the following elucidation of the dynamics of nutrition. The three main classes of foodstuffs are sugars (including starches), fats and albumins, using the last word to correspond to what the physiologist terms protein. Since the fats and sugars, whose role is largely that of fuel, are interchangeable to a large extent, and since the vegetable fats are in every respect equivalent to the animal fats, the question of the adaptability of a vegetarian diet resolves itself into the concrete question whether plant albumin is the equivalent of animal albumin as tissue-builder. The chemical investigations into the con-