Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/595

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591
VEGETARIANISM

the meats must be free of decomposition and properly cooked. It is on the other hand, possible for a vegetarian diet to disagree, if, as is often the case, the attempt is made to derive the larger part of the needed albumins from the legumins, peas and beans. For the vegetarian above all others, bread is the staff of life, and cereal albumin must remain the chief dependence of the consistent vegetarian.

Modern physiology then teaches that there is no demonstrable basis for the so-called physiological vegetarianism. It teaches further, however, that the assumed distinction, made for the convenience of arbitrary vegetarians, between the flesh of animals and the albuminous products of animals (milk, cheese and eggs) is unfounded. The casein of milk and the albumin of the egg are as distinctive and specific biologically as are the muscular tissues of the animals from which they are derived. Every reason advanced, or assumed to exist, opposed to the use of beef as albumin for the human diet must hold with equal force against the use of casein of the cow's milk; every argument against the breast of chicken must hold against the egg of chicken. As a matter of fact, as stated above, there is no physiologically valid argument against either beef or casein, against second joint or white of egg.

Since it is apparent that physiological vegetarianism is merely a scientific error and that vegetarians from gustatory taste or from esthetic considerations are merely instances of arbitrary individualism, ethical vegetarianism alone remains to be considered. This is in its tenets and conclusions a logical system. Is it susceptible of consistent, world-wide application? We will not attempt to discuss the large question as to man's relations, biologically and ethically, to the lower animals, concerning which the Christian and Buddhistic teachings are diametrically opposed. Assuming that the system were rigidly and consistently applied to the entire population of the earth, two main problems would be presented.

Is the production of plant albumin on the earth sufficient to meet the albumin needs of the earth's inhabitants?

What transformations would result in the customs, industry and commerce of the world, in the sociology and economics of the nations of the earth?

Before these two questions can be discussed we must be clear as to exactly what would be demanded in the carrying out of consistent ethical vegetarianism. It would be permissible to domesticate animals, to employ them in service and to utilize the products of their life. It would not be permissible to kill animals either for food or for the products of their bodies. The use of milk, butter, cheese and eggs would be permitted; the utilization of fur and leather would be excluded. An exception might be claimed in the case of leather, that it would be permissible to use the pelts and hides of animals that had died of old age