ANNUAL REPORT OF THE VEGETARIAN SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA.
The Annual Meeting of the Vegetarian Society of Australia was held
at Melbourne, on Wednesday, 26th February, 1890. The Secretary read
the following report :-
The committee have much pleasure in submitting the Annual Report to
members and associates of the society. Public meetings have been held
monthly during the year, and the lectures and debates at these have
been of a very high standard.
The committee refer with pleasure to the accession of the society,
during the year, of several members who have since distinguished themselves
by their activity in lectures and debates. But the chief feature of
the year has been, undoubtedly, the establishment of the journal Progress,
by two members of the society, Messrs. Robert Jones and John Dun. This
periodical, the first number of which appeared in October last, reports
fully the Vegetarian meetings, besides publishing articles on the question.
The power of this medium in spreading Vegetarian principles is in some
degree evinced by the fact that the secretary has received letters from
many parts of Australasia, requesting information on Vegetarianism and
Vegetarian literature, these letters, in many cases proceeding from
subscribers to Progress. Two thousand (2,000) copies have been published
monthly, and Vegetarian ideas have thus been circulated very widely.
The committee, therefore, ventures to express the hope that the journal
will meet with the liberal patronage of our members.
Our principles have excited considerable interest in Ballarat, where
a society was formed in September last, with Mr. Aurelius Müller
as acting-secretary. The president and the secretary of this society
went to Ballarat in October, at the invitation of the local society.
Mr. Jones delivered, in the Mechanics' Institute, an exhaustive address
on the diet question, his remarks being followed by a short speech from
the secretary. Notwithstanding the gallons of ink poured out in the
correspondence columns of the Ballarat Courier against "Tom Touchstone's"
able arguments for the new diet, there was no opposition to the views
expressed by the lecturer.
The president, on a holiday trip to Tasmania, made it his business
inquire into the progress of diet reform, and was pleased to find that
a number of the citizens of Hobart had adopted Vegetarian principles
and practice. Before his departure he was instrumental in making many
of them known to each other And this may lead to the establishment of
a society in Hobart.
On the 27th March Mr. Robt. Jones translated the brochure of M. Philippe
Daryl, entitled "Plus de Viande" ("No More Meat").
Considerable interest was created by the introduction to an English
audience of this pamphlet, which presented in a clear, succinct manner
the arguments against flesh eating, and those for vegetarianism.
An experience meeting was held in May. The president opened the proceedings
by sketching the experiences of eminent Vegetarians like Drs. Allinson,
Kellogg, and Kingsford. He briefly referred to the fact that the children
of the Yuma tribe of North American Indians, who were brought up on
a Vegetarian diet, sickened when received into the missionary schools,
where a meat diet prevailed. In conclusion, he gave a short sketch of
his own career as a Vegetarian. Miss Samuel, Messrs. Higgins, Hughes,
Plough, and others then gave their experiences. This was followed by
a discussion as to the dietetic value of beef-tea.
A paper entitled "Dietetics considered philosophically was read
by Mr. John Dun, on the 27th June. He considered philosophy to be the
search after harmony. The true philosopher was simple in his habits,
and counselled simplicity in others. Nature required little; fashion
demanded superfluity. The number of cooks in a country was an index
to the number of its diseases. A great curse of the age was precept
without practice. Vegetarians were embryo philosophers inasmuch as they
practised what they preached. A thoughtless man might consider dietetics
of small value. This was wrong. An individual, like society, had to
be regenerated from beneath. Robust physical regeneration must precede
robust spiritual regeneration. This lecture has since appeared in full
in the columns of the London Vegetarian. In the discussion which followed,
Mr. Bain remarked that he knew Joseph Livesey, "the father of temperance,"
fifty years ago, and that Livesey was then a Vegetarian, although he
did not publicly advocate Vegetarianism.
On the 27th August, Mr. M. Miller delivered a powerful and instructive
address. He showed that vegetables contained all the elements necessary
for building up the body. He referred to the strength and physique attained
by nations wholly or partly Vegetarian and drew particular attention
to the fact that the pulse-fed followers of Mahomet had proved themselves
a match for the finest troops of their day. Numerous instances of the
longevity and activity of eminent Vegetarians were given. He also illustrated
his arguments by his own experience the Vegetarian diet. In conclusion
Mr. Miller inveighed in strong terms against the cruelty and barbarity
of the present system of diet, and stated his belief that Vegetarianism
was the diet the near future.
"The Curative Action of the Vegetarian Diet" was the title
of a lecture delivered by Mr. W. P. Bretnall, on the 25th September.
Mr. Bretnall considered the present age to be one of reform. Reforms
were good only so far as they appealed to common sense. Vegetarianism
did so appeal; for it both prevented and cured diseases. He gave an
instance of a lady who suffered from cancer, and whose husband had died
from the disease. The lady had been discharged from a hospital as incurable,
and two doctors whom she consulted were unable to relieve her. He (Mr.
Bretnall) prescribed a simple vegetarian diet, and the lady is now alive
and well in Melbourne. Anyone wishing to see her could do so through
him. He said that cancer and cancerous growth were so frightfully prevalent
in Melbourne, that one person in every five hundred suffered from one
of the two. Vegetarianism was in the hands of the ladies. Meetings and
lectures of men were useless without cooperation in the kitchen.
On the 13th of November, Miss Fanny E. Samuel delivered an address
on "The Influence of the Reformed Diet on the Senses." She
said that man's anatomical structure proclaimed him a fruit and grain
eater. This was the opinion of the highest authorities from Linnaeus
and Gassendi down to Haeckel and Darwin, who all classified man amongst
the frugivora, or fruit-eaters. The apes, which most nearly approached
man in structure, were non-flesh eaters, and developed prodigious strength.
Man was probably driven into eating flesh during the glacial period,
when grains and fruits had been destroyed by the intense cold. He was
now, however, emerging from that savage condition, and was destined
to develop powers of mind and body of which we could barely form a conception.
Food would play a great part in this development. Our bodies were built
up of the food we ate. Now, all experience showed that man lived a healthier
and a longer life on a non-flesh diet; for very many diseases had been
directly or indirectly traced to the practice flesh-eating. But there
was another benefit derivable from a reformed diet. This was the improvement
in the senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing all become more
acute under the new regimen. And this was something far more than a
mere addition to the pleasure of life. It meant increased protection
from disease. Thus a person with a weak sense of smell would go into,
and remain in, an atmosphere whose foulness would be recognised and
avoided by one with a keen scent. One great cause of disease was the
breathing of vitiated air. This was a matter on which the pure feeder
was very sensitive, and it generally happened that he lived I habitually
with windows open night and day. In the same way a person with a keen
taste often rejected food which another partook of heartily. He thus
avoided the painful consequences which the other endured. Man's intuitive
powers were also increased, even in course of his own life, and were
destined to increase much more during the progress of the race, by adopting
a simple dietary. Such people could tell instinctively whether a person
or a thing was dangerous or not, and thus escaped many dangers. But
it was irrational to expect that a state of health which was the outcome
of many years' practice of false habits of life could be entirely changed
by the adoption for a few weeks or months of the better habits. Poisons
accumulated for years in the blood, and time was required to expel them.
Unfortunately the great mass of people were so apathetic, and so bent
upon pursuing "pleasure," that they could not be induced to
consider diet until they had lost their health. Then they get alarmed
and become teetotalers or Vegetarians, or both, and the opponents of
these reforms pointed to their weak appearance as a strong argument
against the adoption of the new course. Thus the good habits were blamed
for the ill-health which had been produced before those good habits
had been adopted. Let no one be deceived by this false logic, but examine
our case fully and impartially. She had no doubt of the conclusion which
would then be arrived at.
At the meeting of the Society, Nov. 27th, Mr. Robert Jones lectured
on "The Reformed Diet and the Land Question." After demonstrating
the sufficiency and the aesthetic beauty of the new diet, he proceeded
to show that food reform was inseparably connected with land reform.
If there were a greater demand for fruits, grains, and vegetables, much
of the land now used for sheep and cattle runs would be put under cultivation.
Only a few men were required on the land, if used for pastoral purposes;
but if it were cultivated, a very much larger number would be employed.
This demand for labour in the country would certainly lead to the decentralization
of the people, and this would reduce the vice and crime which accompanied
the crowding together of the people in the slums of the great cities
of cities of the world. Then, the land being thrown open to the people,
their Vegetarian diet would enable them to live upon their land almost
independently. Mr. Jones incidentally referred to the late Dock Strike
remarking how much more powerful the labourers would be, if on the occasion
of a strike, they were prepared to subsist on a Vegetarian diet, which
could be made to be incredibly cheap. Being thus enabled to sustain
a much longer struggle than they could on an expensive flesh diet, they
would have a far greater chance of getting their grievances redressed,
and their employers would be more chary of provoking a dispute.
On the 29th Jan., 1890, Mr. John Dun read a paper entitled "The
Food Question in the Voluntary Socialisms of America. Mr. Dun said that
the character of a community was determined by the character of the
units which composed it. Given a society which had maintained a certain
character for, say, twenty-five years, we might safely infer that the
individuals in it also possessed that character. Now, Vegetarianism
was said to produce certain qualities in an individual. Granted this
to be a fact, then, if we took some communities making these very qualities
their aim, and found the members adopting dietetic habits tending to
Vegetarianism, we might safely conclude that the reformed diet had just
claims to our consideration. Mr. Dun then entered into an examination
of the habits of the Bible Communists, Shakers, and others. He showed
that all members of these societies were total abstainers, and most
of them were Vegetarians and non-smokers as well. Among the Shakers,
"Elder Evans" had by hygienic measures almost banished sickness
and drugs. His dictum was, "No man has right to be ill before the
age of sixty. The Shakers had been in existence for about one hundred
years and numbered about four thousand. The Rappists and Bible Communists
were also very simple in their habits, and many of them were Vegetarians.
Past efforts to realise a higher life had partaken of the nature of
a dreary struggle between the spirit and the flesh. This was due to
certain obstacles, and the tendency of the evidence he had produced
was favourable to the inference that a scientific diet reduces these
obstacles to a minimum.
Besides these regular monthly meetings, many open-air meetings have
been held on Sunday afternoons at Studley Park. Total abstinence and
Vegetarianism have been strongly advocated at these meetings by several
of our members, particularly by Mr. Geo. Hughes to whom belongs the
credit of having originated these open-air meetings. Mr. Hughes is continually
engaged in giving temperance lectures, and never loses an opportunity
of saying a word in favour of our principles.
The committee feel that the best thanks of this society are due to
the London Vegetarian Society for a generous donation of literature
which arrived here last year. This literature has been distributed at
the close of public meetings and otherwise. The committee note with
pleasure the election of the Rev. J. Higgins, one of the original founders
of this society, to a vice-presidency of the Parent Society, Manchester,
England. - Mr. Lang moved, and Mr. Hughes seconded, that the report
be adopted. Carried unanimously.
The folliwng ladies and gentlemen were then elected office-bearers
for the ensuing year.:- President: Mr. Robert Jones; vice-presidents:
Rev. J. Higgins and Mrs. E. Harvie; members of committee: Miss E. Jones,
Miss F. E Samuel, Mrs. F. W. Debney, Mr. J. Dun, and Mr. F. W. Debney.
- By an oversight the name of Thomas Lang, the first secretary of the
society, was not read out as a proposed members of committee. Wishing
to see one of the vice-presidents a lady, he proposed Mrs. Harvie for
the position which he occupied, and the necessity of proposing him as
a member of committee was overlooked.
THE FINANCIAL STATEMENT IS AS FOLLOWS
|To contributions and Subscriptions
||| By Balance from 1888
||| By Printing, &c.
||| By Rent of Rooms
||| By Advertisements
||| By Postage, &c.
||| By Secretary's Salary
||| Entertainment in February last
||| By Stationery
|| By Balance in hand