International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


AMERICA
VEGETARIANISM - CHAIN REACTION IN AMERICA
DANIEL P. HOFFMAN

We are gathered here to consider Vegetarianism in its varying aspects, but more than that we are concerned with World Peace and better living for Mankind. My comments concern my land of America, principally because my experience is there. In America we believe we function on high social, economic, religious and political levels, and although we are not a vegetarian nation I believe an awareness of its virtues is growing in the United States.

I

Let us consider some very basic facts about American life. How is the meat industry faring? Americans now generally eat more than once a day and the meat industry is larger than in any other nation. Paradoxically, packing house profits are very small, with high risks according to the financial statement of the two giants in the American packing industry. Although these companies are making money, the present stability of their business is principally because they have other integrated products such as adhesives, dairy, ice-cream, soy bean and cottonseed oil, soap, investment income and other operations. The cost of production is rising and unless there is continual propaganda and colossal advertising meat sales falter. Further, the whole processed food industry in America is suffering, as the tobacco industry did, from a 'health scare". Meat liquor, tobacco and automobile advertising in all advertising media compose over 50% of said advertising space. This advertising is necessary in order to maintain sales. Recently a very interesting book has been written about this high pressure phase of American living. It is called "The Hidden Persuaders" by Vance Packard. If sales fell down only one or two percent in the meat industry with tremendous fixed production costs, losses could be very great, and the packers, despite volume, might well face disaster.

Degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and others are a big factor in the current American "health scare" (according to the Wall Street Journal). Cholesterol, the fatty substance in the blood, is now believed to be caused by saturated fat, or largely animal fats; the unsaturated fats being largely vegetable fats. Scientific information is veiled, or if presented to the public there is immediately a counter-blast of propaganda and advertising. The medical profession with the backing of drug concerns whop capitalize on animal pills and injections and the public are in some degree confused by quick cures which come and go, such as many of the antibiotics and tranquilizers, et cetera. The above might seem like conclusive statements, but we will examine a few pertinent facts relating to meat consumption and the reaction on American life which most of us will appreciate is principally caused by unhumane flesh eating.

Let us consider the result if the meat industry became unprofitable, which very properly could be the case within the next few years because of rising costs. The effect of the chain reaction could be tremendous.

(1) Erosion, dust bowls and conservation would be less of a problem in our great central states devoted largely to agriculture, and our American agricultural difficulties would greatly diminish. Gullies are formed by excess cattle grazing. Raising cattle for human consumption is principally the reason for depleting the strength of the land with resulting dust storms and other disastrous results. This is something which most of us should appreciate since me all know that it takes six or seven acres to produce enough food for an individual indirectly, or by meat eating, rather than by the direct method of a vegetable garden which takes one acre per person per year. For brevity sake I am not elaborating further on this and other points which I am sure, as a vegetarian audience, you can readily appreciate. Antibiotic feeding of animals to stimulate rapid growth for commercial reasons would cease along with a lot of peculiar new virus diseases which have descended upon America in increasing number.

(2) Another factor: I have never known a true vegetarian who has practised non-flesh eating for over four or five years who has ever smoked or used intoxicating liquor, certainly not habitually. General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army made the statement that when he wanted to take people away from liquor it was his practice not to feed meat to these helpless souls. At present it is estimated that America spends nine billion dollars annually on alcoholic beverages, which is the same amount spent on public education. Note that America is a country that has prided itself on public education and the right of the individual. Drinking is also the cause of about 60% of the fatal American car accidents which resulted in the deaths of 38,000 people in 1956. Chronic alcoholism has been a problem in America for years. The F.B.I. reports that 60% of all the arrests for the first six months of 1966 were alcohol related. Further, 4% of the American population has been estimated to be chronic alcoholics. There are about 137,608 more alcoholic beverage outlets in the United States as of this year than the combined total of churches, synagogues and other religious organizations. Alcoholism is also related to drugs, narcotics and juvenile delinquency as well as to insanity cases and the tremendous growth of psychiatry in America.

Smoking would undoubtedly decrease with less and less meat consumption, since as previously mentioned, true vegetarians do not smoke. At least half of the acre ago destroyed by forest fires every year would be saved and this amounts to millions in America annually. Neither the tax on alcohol or cigarettes begin to pay for the real costs to the public. The recent "health scares" in America and England in regard to smoking are well known. The filter propaganda has been exposed in both countries. No cigarette company can possibly afford to take the habit forming drug from its product by filter tips or otherwise. Incidentally, the Readers Digest in America had a long article in this regard, so at least one large periodical was willing to take a stand on the subject.

(3) The fear of war could not be held up periodically in order to confuse issues and principles if we Americans ceased to consume meat at our present rate. This sounds like an all-conclusive statement but to vegetarians it is intuitively felt to be a truth. Here I cannot refrain from proceeding without quoting the following poem by George Bernard Shaw :

We are the living graves of murdered beasts,
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites
We never pause to wonder at our feasts
If kine, like men, can possibly have rights.
We pray on Sundays that we may have light,
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread.
We're sick of war, we do not want to fight -
The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread,
And yet -- we gorge ourselves upon the dead.
Like carrion crows, we live and feed on meat
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so, If thus we treat
Defenseless animals for sport or gain,
How can we hope in this world to attain
The peace we say we are so anxious for.
We pray for it, o'er hecatombs of slain
To God, while outraging the moral law
Thus cruelty begets its offspring - War.

Not long ago in Life Magazine there was a picture of a docile vegetarian lion who was a favourite household pet; it showed the change in attitude and actions of an animal that has ceased to be flesh eating. Armaments are a big burden on the peoples of the world and America is no exception. Thinking in war terms and atomic fallouts with effect on future generations would be a thing of the past. If America would proceed along the vegetarian path we would certainly adopt all of the non-violent ideas of Gandhi. It is in teresting to note that the American Thoreau and Ballou had similar ideas in regard to non-violence in the early 1800's, and these were adopted by Tolstoi. I believe Tolstoi corresponded with Gandhi in early days (around 1908) in this regard.

(4) Crime would decrease since violence is related to killing and war. I am also sure that we in America would be more sensitive to the dangers of air pollution and smog in our cities and water pollution which is now taking place under our intense materialistic mode of living. One could go on and on as to the:chain reaction of a revolution in diet in America whereby there would be a reverence for the life of all living things. The psychological persuaders for evil practices would largely cease to have effect upon the public. At the time of President Eisenhower's heart attack he was alarmed and endeavored to sponsor a youth health conference to be held in Denver about a month after he was taken ill. Unfortunately, because of his illness, this health conference never materialized. However, at this time the Sunday supplement of most American newspapers published a study which showed American children physically subnormal as compared to European children.

We in America are alarmed and the thinking public is searching. It is only because we are searching in such desperation that wide publicity is now available for any solution which appears at all reasonable. Heretofore information relating to a subject such as vegetarianism was hardly recognized by the American press, but within my own experience I can state that the attitude of the Press is changing in this regard. We in America do not believe me have to learn by adversity, but such may be the road to the recovery of culture. As stated before we are a great nation and I am sure will rise to greater heights. I doubt if we will discover vegetarianism as a people in my lifetime, but we will make substantial progress. We are living in the day of the betrayal of materialism and are going to meet our problems until we can solve them. The pressure to solve them is tremendous. Meat-eating causes selfishness and a materialistic outlook which is eventually self destructive. We trust the democratic nation will not plunge headlong for materialistic answers, but will maintain the arts and crafts of India which Gandhi so ardently espoused. We are learning by the betrayal of materialism and many of our people are asking WHY. People in a materialistic country are actually treated like a machine, and you must not make machines out of men. If you are successful in some degrees in making men like machines then these men soon become incapable of making machines and are like dumb animals, since they have lost the skills and arts which are necessary for mechanical progress. Real progress will not make us slaves to machines, nor should an enlightened civilization be dependent entirely upon mechanical and material phenomena. A civilization based on materiality is like a house of cards.

II

One of the lessons of history is that when it is the darkest the stars shine the brightest. Before closing let us ask what are some of the bright signals on the horizon which point to an awakened future in America.

(I) Discoveries in science which dispute present theories, and broaden our outlook. This can be illustrated by continual medical research which actually supports the vegetarian way of life. For example, in America people are asking why Hunza people live so long, happily and well. Here meat-eating is the exception and not the rule and their diet and agricultural practices are considered the best in the world, and they are not mechanized either.

(2) Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological information is having a tremendous effect upon American spirituality. The Essene sect was vegetarian and appears to have been a different people than the Jews, and more responsible for Christian principles. This re-examination of Christian principles could reasonably result in favoring vegetarianism from a Christian religious viewpoint. Now sects may start up in the future with vegetarianism as one of their cardinal principles.

(3) The effect of non-violence, as espoused by Gandhi, on the American people, and as practised in certain states under that great negro religious leader Rev. Martin King, is another bright star in the sky. Gandhi's principles, including vegetarianism, are being studied by Rev. King and his followers. In this regard the lowly and the meek seem to be awakening on the American scene.

(4) In America there was recently published what was known as the Bridey Murphy story in practically all of the papers for a considerable period. This story was concerned with the reincarnation and the past life of an individual as brought to light under hypnosis. Accepted authorities argued the case and the theories of reincarnation in the public press. Naturally, the conservative and main elements of the church discredited the story. Some of their distortionism in so doing seemed to be rather apparent. Regardless of whether they were distorted or not the American public received a bath in the waters of reincarnation, which theory in itself teaches a love of the creatures and results in more responsible thinking so far as our actions and spiritual future is concerned.

Personally I think that these four points have laid the ground work for a growing spirituality and religious thinking in America. Our people are about to awaken in considerable measure, and certainly within the next hundred years with the aid of the Almighty we will have learned many lessons as a Nation and a people. Our intuition will awaken so that we can diagnose an earthquake just like the howling dogs in Mexico City did before it happened. Are we not greater? I am sure we will learn to love the creatures and to pray and fast in our redemption.

VEGETARIANISM IN AMERICA

If by vegetarianism, one means the use of vegetables, nuts and fruits in ever increasing quantities, one can say that America is increasingly becoming vegetarian. Though meat is a staple item of food among the masses there are many meatless days by choice in the average American family. So much has been written about diet since the days of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, Bernard McFadden, and other pioneers in dietary reform, that America is diet-conscious. The great fruit cooperatives, like the Orange and Avocado Growers both in California and Florida, the Almond Growers Exchange, etc. have sent forth a vast amount of material embodying their dietetic research not only throughout the United States but likewise throughout the world.

Great dietitians like Dr. E. V. McCollum and Dr. W. C. Sherman while not advocating an exclusively non-meat diet have stressed the necessity of making at least half the diet from vegetables and fruits, and have upheld milk and eggs as high quality body-building sources. Dr. Sherman stated in his last book that the fruit and nut was an efficient diet. (See Health Section) Others like Dr. D. E. Lane, and Dr. M. S. Rose, have worked on the possibility of substituting for the lacto-ovulo- vegetarian diet a completely vegan diet. The pages of the American Medical Journal and other orthodox journals are always open to any feeding experiments conducted by reputable scientific research workers. Hence Dr. Lane's work on feeding infants and young children with a milk derived from almondmeal, soybean flour and other blended whole-grain flours received wide publicity among the medical profession.

Even early in this century there were health-food shops and vegetarian restaurants in all the larger cities throughout America. Now it is possible in practically every fine restaurant to order a vegetarian dinner and have an attractive meal served, though only too often no adequate protein substitute is included.

Another factor in turning the country partially vegetarian was the development and sale in large quantities of excellent vegetable fats. So widespread did the use of these become that even twenty years ago the meat packers were making a desperate effort through strenuous advertising campaigns to gain back their trade for lard.

When meat became more scarce during the war great efforts were made to find substitutes throughout the world and particularly was this true in America. The following extract quoted from "Reader's Digest" in 1941 gives a typical experiment:

PROTEIN FROM YEAST

There's electrifying food news from St. Louis. In an Anheuser-Busch vat, a ton of good, rich meat-nearly as succulent as sirloin steak it takes two years to raise on the hoof-is being produced every twelve hours. This synthetic meat is so easy to make that its inventors look forward to performing a modern miracle of the loaves and fishes among the foodless peoples of the world after the war.

The new product is actually a new kind of yeast, with added flavours that make it almost indistinguishable from natural foods. Yeast surpasses meat as sheer food. It is the richest known source of B vitamins and contains twice as much protein as meat.

Three gears ago a British chemist, A. C. Thaysen, began to explore yeast's possibilities as a straight food. He developed a new strain with a pleasant nutty flavour that could be produced at ten cents a pound, and the British Government is building a plant in Jamaica to turn out 2,000 tons a year. Thaysen expected to serve his yeast in concentrated doses to supplement a poor diet. He did not conceive of it as a candidate to upset the world's food economy.

But that idea did occur to Carl Lindegren, a Young research geneticist at St. Louis Washington University. He thought of developing yeast in a variety of flavours resembling staple foods. By cross breeding yeasts he and Mrs. Lindegren finally produced some that were to the king's taste.

Place 125 pounds of this yeast in a vat containing 7,000 gallons of water, a ton and a half of molasses (on whose sugar the yeast feeds) and ammonia (which provides nitrogen that that yeast converts into protein). The mixture is stirred by 1,000 cubic feet of air a minute (without air the yeast would ferment the sugar.) After 12 hours, the prodigiously growing yeast, having multiplied its original weight 16 times, is a ton of flavoursome food. In its uncooked form it is a dry, brownish powder with a meaty, nutty, or celery flavour, depending on the variety! Anheuser-Busch has demonstrated its possibilities by serving meals including meat, soup, muffins, cheese sticks, even pie-all made from the powder.

* * *

Already Anheuser-Busch is geared to produce millions of pounds a Year. The Army and Lend-Lease are buying huge amounts of it. Since pound for pound of protein, yeast costs only a fifth as much as meat, its enthusiasts go so far as to fancy that the world's cattle may be heading for the last roundup.

It was also discovered by American scientists that there was no such thing as a meat flavour, but only that of fermented protein and it is interesting to note that manufacturers of so-called tinned "meat products" brought vegetable "glutamic flavourings" to step up cereal-meat mixtures, so that the consumer would think he was getting all meat. Also many health-food manufacturers put out tinned "nut-roasts" which could be sliced and served like meat. A sample formula of this commercial product is given in the article on "How to become a Vegetarian." Vegetarian cookbooks are now quite common and can be procured in any large bookshop.

All of this is to indicate that the people of America with their present emphasis on the vegetable salad, the high fruit diet, and their lessening consumption of meat are willy nilly becoming vegetarians, and the meat packers, positively alarmed at this trend of events, are doing more and more expensive advertising in a last effort to win back their old customers.

As for Vegetarian Societies, Mrs. Margaret Cousins, one of the pioneer workers for Vegetarianism in Ireland, found in 1931 that a former Vegetarian Society in New York had been extinct for about fifteen years, and, after a survey of the various vegetarian restaurants and health food stores, with the help of Mr. Manbach, a new Society was formed on 11 January 1932. An enthusiastic message has been received from Charles Knoll, a past Vice-President.

At the present time its officers are : President, Jules H. Blazes, Treasurer, Henry Raphew and Secretary, Meta Ferreira. Many of its members have become members of the International Vegetarian Union and more are expected to do 1ikewise soon.

Many religious movements in America advocate the elimination of flesh food, but credit for the pioneer movement must go to Rev. William Metcalfe, who with forty-one members of Rev. William Cowherd's Bible Christian Church at Salford, emigrated to Philadelphia, U.S.A. there to establish a similar Church. But now this seed, sown so long ago, has flowered into naturopath sanatoriums and health movements throughout the country which are largely responsible for making America health-conscious.