Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/597

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593
VEGETARIANISM

directions, would result in quadrupling the yield of the present area of cultivation, and in transferring to the state of cultivation vast tracts now untillable or even waste. The difficulties would not be technical, but human. To accomplish them the present intelligence of the human race, the dependable intelligence of the working race of mankind, would be wholly insufficient; the race has not attained to-day the scientific stature necessary to reach and pluck these fruits of knowledge. For the present, therefore, it is certain and beyond speculation that to place the human race upon the basis of ethical vegetarianism would be to expose the race to the mercy of nature, just as the vegetarian population of India is yearly at the mercy of the yield of grain.

To dispense with the products of animal bodies would be a task trivial in comparison with the problem of feeding. With wools, cottons, linens and the other plant fabrics, with metals and woods, all could be accomplished without great technical difficulties, were preconceptions once obliterated. From the standpoint of ethical vegetarianism, the wearing of fur, kid gloves and leather shoes constitutes fratricide. The number of animal and bird lives sacrificed to-day for purposes of superfluous comfort and for compliance with the vanities of fashion makes a striking numerical showing contrasted with the number of animals slaughtered for the supply of food. The difficulties would lie in clothing the extremities of out-door workmen; but the problem would be solved without difficulty in a world rich in inventive devices though poor in large scientific conceptions.

The results of the world-wide installation of vegetarianism to the sociological and economic institutions of the world need but to be sketched to be appreciated. The race of swine, as a domesticated family would be obliterated, and the number of cattle regulated by the requirements for dairy products. On the other hand, the number of horses would need to be augmented to meet the needs of enlarged agriculture; and the number of sheep to meet the increased demands for wool. The population of the world would tend to shift in latitude, and the commerce of the world would be revolutionized to meet the alterations in the currents and articles of trade. Fashions in dress and house furnishings would be strikingly changed. There is no need to dilate further upon these features. Man is to-day a beast of prey. Just as the whole map of biology would be changed in the day when "the lion and the lamb shall lie down together," so the whole face of civilization would be given transformed features in the time when man regards the animal as a brother and not as a prey. Man is a beast of prey because thus the preservation of existence is made easy; vegetarianism would make it difficult, and will therefore not be adopted. This carries its personal lesson: I, the vegetarian, must not be vain; because it is the meat-eating of my brother that makes vegetarianism possible to me.