Here, for a moment, I would beg leave to refer to Maeterlinck's recent splendid appeal against meat and alcohol. In it he says, "A little fruit, or milk, a few vegetables, farinaceous substances .... are amply sufficient to maintain the ardour of the finest and mightiest life."
If anyone ignorant of food values should try to reform his diet by this statement, it is probable that he would come to grief, although a student of dietetics would avoid disaster by substituting and for or in the sentence above, and by taking all four kinds of food to make up his dietary. Fruit can hardly be made an alternative to milk, the respective albumen values being too disproportionate. One pint of milk = 262 grains albumen or proteid; but it would take over 2 lbs. of fruit to get this amount of nourishment, and so great a bulk of watery food would be likely to upset digestion somewhat seriously. If dried fruits such as figs, dates, raisins, and French plums were used, a much smaller quantity - 1/2 lb. - would give the necessary albumens ; but most people, when told to eat fruit, think of the fresh kinds, which are more tempting to sight, touch, taste, and smell. Only if "fruit " were read in its widest sense to include nuts, could it be fairly substituted for milk, and very few general readers would be likely to remember this. Milk itself is rather too bulky a food to depend on for the day's proteids, and should be supplemented by a dry form such as cheese or Plasmon, or by nuts - the following list showing roughly the order in which the simpler foods take rank as compared with meat, and with each other :-
1 1/2 oz. meat = 1 oz. cheese = 1 1/2 oz. almonds == 2 1/2 ozs.
oatmeal. = 4 ozs. bread = 4 ozs. dried fruit = 1/2pint
milk.= 17 ozs. vegetables or fresh fruit = 140 grs.
To return to our family of four. If it is obliged to live in London, milk at 4d. a quart is too costly an item to allow of the parents drinking it, and even if an effort were made to give the children 1/2 pint each every day, our 12s. would be seriously diminished.
A cheaper drink, and one which Professor Konig says contains 268 units per lb. more nourishment than fresh milk, is the Nut Butter, sold in 1 lb. tins at 8d. by the International Health Association of Manchester, which supplies all the nut and cereal foods invented by the Battle Creek Sanatorium group of American food reformers, headed by Dr. Kellogg. This nut butter is to be had from any vegetarian stores, and can be mixed with water to the consistency of cream or milk as desired. It is not at all greasy, and can be used as a substitute for milk in soups, puddings, &c. Children would prefer it sweetened. It has a roasted pea-nut colour and flavour, and next to Plasmon and Protene is the most highly nourishing drink I know, containing a greater proteid percentage than milk or raisin tea. Containing as it does a good proportion of nut fat in the finest possible emulsion, this nut milk would obviously be far more economical as a food-drink than cow's milk, and for half the cost - viz., 8d. a week - the children could be given twice the amount, or 1 pint each a day instead of 1/2 pint.
For breakfast, then, oatmeal or barley porridge eaten with bread and marmalade or treacle, the children being trained to drink their nut milk in sips bettoeen the dry food, instead of washing it down half chewed, which is the usual result of the common habit of pouring milk ovef porridge - a bad plan which effectually prevents the cereal from being mixed with the saliva necessary to its digestion. If the adults cannot at first manage the porridge, fried bread and potatoes, or rice rissoles with a little Plasmon powder mixed in them, will make a savoury and sustaining meal, and if well masticated with bread there would be no craving for drink till an hour or two later, when water, hot or cold, is all that is necessary for health; but as beginners often sadly miss the pick-me-up of the hot tea at breakfast, the following week's menus allow for Plasmon, hot bran tea, barley water, or any similar drink. To those who can afford it, Mellin's Food is an excellent substitute for tea, coffee, and cocoa, if made with a good deal of water, and not much milk. It is a malted food, and a great help to weak digestions.
For supper, bread with dried and fresh fruits, either plain or cooked into one of the many forms of pudding.
If the fruit supper be not liked, as is possible enough in the early stage of the diet (except by children who, if healthy, always enjoy it), some variety of vegetable with cheese or Plasmon may take its place. The week's mentis here given have been found successful, and the cost is not above 12s. a week for quantities enough for two adults and two children, the albumen values being calculated at 1,400 grains a day for the man at hard work ratio, 1,300 grains a day for each child at growing ratio, and 1,200 grains a day for the woman, supposing her to be thirty-five years old.