"Nor love, nor honor, wealth nor power Can give the heart a cheerful hour When health is lost. Be timely wise, With health all taste of pleasure flies."
IT IS a matter of no small importance that we well consider the subject - how can we best supply the human family with a food that will perform the mission of strengthening and at the same time the mission of enriching life?
Vegetarianism has, from the first, steadily pursued its way, making no loud boasts, but drawing converts to its theories until to-day there are hundreds in every state in the Union. Vegetarians build their theory on the single fact that all nutritive matter is formed by vegetables; that although animals appropriate nutrition they never form it, and that when men eat animal food, they take on the unhealthy conditions of the very animal they feed upon.
People say that man requires a certain amount of fat. Well, so he does, but here again comes the vegetarian who says that "the vegetable world furnishes it generously. Seeds and nuts have been found far superior to animal fats."
Flesh eaters also bring forward the argument that animal food must be more readily assimilated than vegetable, because the people who live upon it are generally fleshy. This the vegetarians claim is a false theory. To be well nourished is to replenish tissues, not to accumulate fat. The increase of flesh beyond a proper amount becomes a disease, and they ask if "it is not a fact that thin people will endure illness far better than those whose adipose tissue is extreme?"
From a humane point as well as a health point of view, vegetarianism has made many converts. Thousands who are not quite ready to declare themselves vegetarians have diminished their use of meat very materially within the last year. By this means, a demand for fruits, cereals, vegetables and nuts has sprung up that we hope will bring its reward in increased health and greater mental activity.
It is true that the whole earth teems with fine food and it will ever yield bounteously to her children. No article of diet supplies nutriment so cheaply and with less trouble than cereals and vegetables. Take, for instance Indian corn. At the time America was discovered the inhabitants lived almost exclusively upon this cereal. Rice furnishes more human beings nourishment than any other article in existence. In the vegetable world, there need be no adulterations. The articles can be produced in such quantities that they should continue to be pure and within the reach of all.
Fruits, of which there is a bewildering variety, have a large place in the list of health preservers. Every fruit contains substances designed to inspire and humanize its votary. The juices are cool and healing and greatly assist in digestion.
Nuts also are nature's choicest food products, and were doubtless intended by the creator to constitute, with fruits, man's chief diet. Man's greatest burden bearer - the horse - by nature lives solely on a vegetable diet. It hauls heavy loads with no seeming effort. DeLesseps said that the Suez Canal, a wonderful achievement, could never have been built by any meat-eating people in the world. The climate being hot, they could not have endured it. The work was accomplished by Armenians, who live most upon barley. DeLesseps himself became a vegetarian and remained so during his life. The elephant, the strongest of all animals, lives entirely upon plant life, and so we might go on, but suffice it to say that vegetarianism is bound to grow and the quicker we spare the blessed lambs and innocent calves, the healthier and happier we will be.
At first the change in diet from meats to vegetables will perhaps seem difficult but if persisted in one will be able to say with a prominent vegetarian, "I had been considerable of a vulture, and for some time after eliminating flesh from my menus I had desire for it. But gradually that desire faded, and there came in its stead a growing horror of flesh. After a few weeks of fruits and vegetables there came over me a feeling of exultation and superiority and crispness that was truly novel."
"Oh, to be strong! each morn to feel,
A fresh delight to wake to life. To spring with bounding pulse to meet
Whate'er of work, of care, of strife Day brings to me! each night to sleep
The dreamless sleep that health can give No weary ache, no wearing pain -
Ah, then indeed, 'twere joy to live.
What a ringing chorus of joy and ecstacy would swell up to heaven, if the many thousands who are suffering could toss aside their aches and pains and sing the glad song of returning health. Every woman desires to be beautiful, yet, where is beauty without health? Strange to say, health is within the reach of all if the simplest rules of every-day life be observed. Let us remember the adage: "We do not live upon what we eat, but upon what we digest." When we ignore our natural instincts, which are satisfied with the proper amount of food and continue to impose extra duties upon the stomach, the first step is taken toward destroying health. We can well learn a lesson from the animals - none of the animal kingdom ever eats except when it is hungry and as soon as it has consumed sufficient to gratify that hunger, it cannot be tempted to continue its repast.
The mothers, the real homekeepers, are coming to the front in that, as in all the other grand reforms of our progressive age. They are studying the subject of the relations of food, exercise and ventilation to health, and are becoming acquainted with the methods by which nutriment is best introduced into the system, and are exercising a sensible supervision over the food of their children. When an author makes the assertion and proves it - that the nature and character of the man or woman has a close relation to what the child was fed upon, it is a truth that will strike home to the mother's heart.
Every mother in the land should learn something of the chemistry of cooking. This knowledge would not only enable her to keep her family in health, but would teach them how to take care of themselves. How often it is true that a mother studies every other method of bringing up her children in a successful way, but neglects their food? A mother who looks well after these things may truly be called a Homekeeper. Home-keeping and housekeeping should go hand in hand - but it seems as Lillian Whiting says in the World Beautiful that the two "have gotten sadly taken, - one for the other. The finest and most liberal culture is none too fine to fit a woman for homekeeping; but mere industry and trained intelligence is the basis of housekeeping. The woman unlearned in art, literary or social culture, may be a most admirable housekeeper; but the highest and greatest gifts and the most exquisite cultivation are none too much for homekeeping."
We have here endeavored to pay some attention to food values, supplying the elements required by the system. Cream, butter and nuts furnish the fats to those who do not eat meat. Fruit gives the acids. Cereals and vegetables the brain and muscle.