|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Vegetarianism has been defined by different people in
different ways. But all are agreed that the major portion of the diet
should consist of green vegetables, roots and cereals. As far as I am
aware nobody prevents the inclusion of milk and milk products in a vegetarian
diet. Some will include eggs and even fish. It is not compatible with
health if a diet is deprived of milk and milk products. These constitute
what are called protective food factors.
People take to a non-vegetarian food by sheer habit and
tradition rather than by conviction that such a diet is more nutritious.
It was once thought that meat eating is associated with greater strength
and endurance, than a vegetarian diet. This has not been confirmed yet.
The excess of meat served at dinners in England before the great war
produced gluttons and even led to inefficiency. Gout was a common disorder
of excessive meat eating, and uric acid stones in the urinary passages
was a common complaint of those days. During the war when rationing
was adopted people became healthier and their capacity for sustained
The question whether meat is a necessity at all is to
be solved by proper statistical research not only through animal experimentations,
but by observations on mankind in the different regions of world where
owing to circumstances men have been forced to give up meat and take
to a vegetarian diet with the addition of milk and milk products From
evidence so far gathered it has been shown that a diet rich in greens,
roots and fruits and milk can sustain the body very well.
A table of nutritional essentials in the various food
sources is given below to show the relative importance of meat and milk
and greens and cereals. The table is one prepared by the League of Nations
Nutrition Research Committee, 2936.
HIGHLY PROTECTIVE FOODS
E = Foods of high energy value
Every nation takes to cereals for energy, of which wheat
is definitely superior to rice. With modern rapid transport and distribution
facilities wheat is available for the people in the rice producing countries
also. Of course, energy is obtained only when physical work is done.
Hard physical work makes up for many defects in nutrition essentials,
because very little of nutritional elements is wasted on account of
the good digestion resulting from hard physical work.
It will be seen that a non-vegetarian diet is not only
not essential, but is inferior to a vegetarian diet which includes milk.
It seems that meat is rich in iron, but green vegetables are richer
in iron - Cod liver oil is richer in Vitamins A and, but green vegetables
are good sources of Vitamin A and exposure of the body to the sun provides
Vitamin D requirements, Vegetable oils can be irradiated to contain
Researches carried out in India have shown that wheat
and milk and fruits taken in plenty by the hills tribes give them a
better physique than the people of the plains who eat rice and other
cereals and who drink less milk and eat very little of fruits. The ideal
of herculean physique or pugilistic constitution weighing 360 lbs or
so is not one aimed at by modern man. The days of the gnarled muscles
adorning the arms and the body capable of rolling down rocks, working
on galleys, or crushing enemies with one's arms in Bhima fashion are
gone, The ideal herculean physique is not obtained merely by eating
meat or other food so much as by developing one's muscles by hard physical
work. Take the case of the wood-cutter or the cart-puller ; he takes
very little meat, but the major part of his food is all calories and
pulses, which he converts into strong muscles and enduring health by
hard physical labour.
As for courage, it is not the monopoly of non-vegetarians. Courage may be mistaken for the exhibition of cruelty. Courage is the capacity to face real personal danger. This capacity is possessed by many vegetarians.
As for endurance, even the half starred Indian labourer
bronzed and darkened by the inclemencies of the weather has exhibited
endurance equal to, if not superior to that of well nourished, well
preserved members of other nationalities. The main source of sustenance
of the Indian labourer is the rice and pulses and not meat.
Nutritional research stresses the importance of milk and
fruits and vegetables in our dietary. It has been demonstrated through
more than two thousand years in our country that it is not incompatible
for a person to remain hardy, healthy both in body and mind on a diet
entirely free from meat.
We have no quarrel with people who have habituated themselves
to a non-vegetarian diet, but let it not be said that without meat man
cannot sustain a healthy body and mind.
Men of fine calibre have protested against the infliction
of pain and suffering to animals. To-day there is a considerable number
of eminent men who are giving deep thought and consideration as to why
vegetarianism should not be an ideal to be followed for simple living
and high thinking.