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8th World Vegetarian Congress 1932

Berlin/Hamburg, Germany

From The Vegetarian News (London), September 1932:

VEGETARIANISM AS A BULWARK OF DEFENCE
AGAINST THE APPROACHING WORLD-CHAOS.

BY THE REV. PROFESSOR JOHANNES UDE
(Professor of Theology in the University of Graz, Austria).

Professor Ude, who holds doctorates in economics and philosophy, as as in theology, and whose oratorical gifts are likewise of the first order, was one of the speakers at the recent International Vegetarian Congress in Germany. This article is a precis of a translation of the principal speech delivered by him on that occasion.

The reign of law is everywhere and it is within man's power to reach perfection. The unreasoning creatures obey the eternal laws by instinct, and man, though he has freedom, has the moral law which he must needs follow. Through operation of this natural, moral law, he apprehends the unbreakable, unalterable claim of the commandment, "Thou shalt not," and by that alone is it possible that the right governing of the world can be made secure. And thus he comes to consider his actions. His one duty is to follow the moral law-which is also the law of nature-and this entirely wi thout compromise.

But woe be it to man if he acts contrary to nature, or if he transgresses the moral law Were it not for such transgression the bodily, spiritual and moral miseries of the world to-day would be impossible, nor should we have with us the state of economic and political chaos with which we are now encompassed, which, in fact, is none other an the result of the abuse of man's freedom, of his failure, that is, to live as nature intended. By inference, only through obedience is it possible for the present state of chaos to be resolved, and for a condition of harmony to be restored.

Man's true nourishment is to be found in the Edenic foods - not flesh foods, but "the fruit of the tree, and the herb yielding seed." In turning away therefrom he has lost his Paradise, and just in so far as he is even yet content to break nature's laws must his tearful experience prolonged. But equally, should he be content to return to a natural - which also is to say, the vegetarian - way of living, thus also must the reign of every fine and tender emotion that binds man to man in mutual understanding and consideration, and likewise to every living creature, be re-established. There is fundamental basis for the law, "Thou shalt not kill." Human life needs to be accounted sacred, and not less the life of those creatures whom man is now content to kill and eat.

Thus, vegetarianism and war are antithetical the one to the other. The vegetarian must needs be true to his inner and ethical convictions. For the vegetarian the military problem cannot be said to exist at all, and, for the same reason, the subject of animal protection is for him likewise of fundamental importance. If such spirit as this were world-wide, war would become impossible. Furthermore, the sciences of medicine, biology and physiology, coupled with a manifold experience, alike proclaim that the vegetarian way of living living lies at the very foundation of a healthy and useful existence.

If all men should choose to nourish themselves on flesh foods, the world itself would not be wide enough to fulfil their demands. Europe to-day feeds a population of approximately 452 millions, but were her space and energies devoted to a system of lacto-vegetable cultivation instead of to the breeding of cattle for slaughter, a population of 1,704 millions could quite easily be nourished. In the productiction of animals for food an enormous waste is involved, as may be instanced by the fact that, as has been calculated, in one year, in Austria, food to the extent of 804 millions of calories was fed to swine, of which no less than 618 millions must be accounted to have been wasted - which means (on a basis of 3,000 calories per day for each worker) that about 592,000 persons might have been provided for. Moreover, the enormous amount of labour involved in the breeding and feeding of the swine has also to be remembered. This single example may serve to show what tremendous significance is bound up with the practice of vegetarianism from the standpoint of the well-being of the people a whole. Broadly, it may be said that a given area of land sufficient to nourish one flesh-eater would suffice to feed ten vegetarians. In face of such eye-opening facts as these, it seems unnecessary to stress the enormous importance which the practice of vegetarianism must entail in the economic sphere. And if, as contingent advantages, with the coming of vegetarianism, the reign of militarism, of alcohol and of nicotine may also be taken as coming to an end there would also be enough saving, by means of these latter categories alone, to provide homes for 780,000 people, work thus being found for the six millions of German unemployed. Germany, indeed, has more than enough land for her own purposes. We must learn to look facts in the face. The product. of flesh foods demands, be it here repeated, more land, much more work and immeasurably more of financial resources than a corresponding amount of production on vegetarian lines - in addition to which, as already explained, the fodder needed for flesh-production consists of valuable foods of which 80 per cent., at least, may be said to have been lost.

And coupled with all this must be conceded the people's own right to the products of the soil. There can be no real salvation from the general chaos that threatens until the people, through adoption of the vegetarian way of life, become rooted and grounded in all that is summed up in the word "home." All else is mere waste of breath. He who elects to obey nature's laws without compromise thereby at once proceeds to mould chaos into cosmos. Our destiny, if we will have it so, is in our own hands and each man carries, both for himselfand for his fellows, a great responsibility, and the time to set to work is now.

Let each one listen to that voice which is within himself. Let him, at the same time, sharpen also both eyes and ears and take heed of what nature has to proclaim. The twin-processes of that inward peace and of the establishment of a bulwark of defence against the oncoming of world-chaos are one, and vegetarianism, with all that it implies of peace and harmony, as likewise of understanding, is an essential means to the desired end.