This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
The universal consumption of meat by civilised man is of more recent origin than is generally supposed. McCulloch states (Statistical Account of the British Empire, vol. ii, p. 502) that " so late as 1763 the slaughter of bullocks for the supply of the public markets was a thing wholly unknown even in Glasgow, though the city had then a population of thirty thousand".
In the past decade or two the consumption of meat has increased enormously, especially in England, owing to the development of cheap refrigerating processes, canning, and increased facilities of transportation of live cattle. The beef from Australian and New Zealand cattle is obtainable in London, and that of Texan cattle in New York in a state of perfection and cheapness which far exceeds that of animals raised close at hand. In London during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century the per capita consumption of meat rose from 112 to 122 pounds. There is a popular belief that the eating of meat increases both bodily vigour and mental capacity, and that a man fed upon animal food is livelier, keener, and stronger than the exclusive vegetarian. (See Animal and Vegetable Foods Compared, p. 33.) This comparison may not hold in all cases, nor with all people and tribes of man - as, for example, the Japanese and many African tribes - but it applies very well to those who have to meet the exigencies of advanced civilisation.
Liebig, in extolling the advantages of a liberal meat diet, wrote: "It is certain that three men, one of whom has had a full meal of meat and bread, the second cheese or salt fish, and the third potatoes, regard a difficulty which presents itself from entirely different points of view".
It is true, however, that too much meat is eaten by many persons for maintenance of the best health. The annual per capita consumption of meat has almost doubled during the past half century. It is estimated in pounds as follows: In the United States, 120; England, 105; France, 74; Germany, 69.
Very large quantities of meat - much more than is necessary for sustenance - are absorbed when eaten, although a few undigested muscle fibres may appear in the stools.
A meat diet, if long continued, tends to produce scurvy, and the absence of meat favours the occurrence of anaemia in many persons. In general, those diseases in which an exclusive meat diet, or a diet composed almost exclusively of animal food, with perhaps a minimum of dry bread, is found beneficial, are the following: Flatulent dyspepsia, chronic gastritis and gastric catarrh and dilatation, diabetes, intestinal dyspepsia, phosphaturia, obesity, and some cases of chronic dysentery. Meat should also enter largely into the diet of consumptives and anaemic subjects.