This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
That meat is an emergency expedient in the natural nutrition of man is pretty certain. Strictly speaking, we are all of us subsisting on meat all of the time, but it. is only one degree removed from the vegetable kingdom, when we ingest only the first fruits of the soil, as vegetarians do, and make meat of it within us. The vegetable nutriment is transformed into our own flesh and blood in the form of fat chiefly, and then is used to furnish whatever heat and repair material we happen to need. When second-hand, already dead and decomposing meat is eaten and thus used for life-giving purposes, it is really not only second-hand supply but third-hand material. For instance, we may subsist exclusively on vegetable or farinaceous material and get our repair or fuel supply from such sources only. The result is, in part, the forming of the walls of our own stomach. These walls are meat. Should we turn into cannibals, devouring each other as the Pacific (?) Islanders used to treat missionaries and enemies, the stomach walls become tripe and are easily digestible. While they were live walls, holding in place glands secreting powerful gastric juice, they resisted the digestive aggression of their own juice, but the moment they were separated from their own living combination, quite similar gastric juice digested them as quickly as it does the white meat of a pet chicken. It is physiologically possible to cut out a part or the whole of our own stomach, and then devour and digest it as tripe in the small intestines.
Hence it is that we are all meaters, perforce, but not all of us are third-degree-removed cannibals. What we call "pure vegetarians" are only secondhand meaters.
I am indebted to the distinguished champion tennis-player, diet-reformer, and restaurator Eustace Miles, for the name "Meaters" to designate those who eat meat; and I have coined the term "Mealers" to stand for those who take only first-hand earth-fruit products for their nutrition, disregarding the fact that all are meafcrs who take meals of victuals. To offset this addition to the vocabulary, it would do no harm to drop off the use of "Meals" and "Victuals," leaving "Meal" to mean only one thing; viz., ground cereals or vegetables.*
One of the details of carefulness in Fletcherism is expressed in the statement that we should not proscribe as food anything that Nature permits to be utilized as food; but the same carefulness prescribes that we do not prescribe it as food for everybody all of the time. Everything in its proper time and place is one of the common-sense rules of the system.
Captain Amundsen and his comrades, as I have already observed, were quite justified in devouring their faithful and friendly sledge dogs when necessary to preserve their own lives. I have the acquaintance of a collie dog whom I love devotedly; and I say "whom" appropriately because he is as intelligent as I am, and far more consistent in his habits of orderliness and naturalness. He is a real gentleman at all times and as good a Fletcherite when the food substance and occasion demand as I am. He has learned to eat and enjoy apples and no one could give more careful mouth-treatment to some sorts of food than Bruce. I am sure that he would want me to eat him if I needed him to preserve my life, just as unselfishly as the Japanese soldiers, and more recently the Balkanese soldiers, gave their lives for their causes. Whether I would eat him or not I cannot say, and I do not know if he would have similar consideration or otherwise for me.
* It is not outside the province of Fletcherism to Fletcherize our vocabulary and make it as single-meaning as possible in the interest of simplicity. The term "Fletcherize" is already commonly used to suggest analysis and digestion of crude raw material other than food, and has come into use in literary circles with especial usefulness. Young reporters on newspapers are often told by editors to take their "copy" in hand and "Fletcherize" it before handing it in for printing. Even such a judicial person as Mayor Gaynor, of New York, had recourse recently to such advice relative to evidence, but he called it by a name of his own not yet in common use.
I merely use this illustration as an aside in consideration of the question of flesh eating on emergency or sentimental grounds. Nature permits Bruce and me to eat each other, and if we managed it skilfully we could attack each other's extremities at the same time, as long as we did not encroach on our vital machinery, and really eat each other up, as young lovers would like to do.
Thus much for sentiment. We are subsisting on ourselves all of the time; we can nourish ourselves at the expense of each other if we will.
We can eat human flesh as nourish-ingly as we can a Spring chicken, and if we do not know what we are eating, Nature will say us never "No,"but there are other considerations more practical for every-day consideration. These are: physiological and economic expediency.