This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
A distinction is to be made between animal foods, and flesh foods, which latter do not include milk, cheese, butter, or eggs, (each of which will be considered here under its proper heading). As to animal foods, when compared with those of a vegetable nature, it is to be noticed that while plants build up their contained nutriment by increase of growth, and by materials constantly added, animal flesh is always on the downward grade, by wear and tear of consumed tissue, and muscle, etc. Thus it happens that the flesh of animal bodies, when taken by us as food, still contains broken-down products such as were being perpetually excreted through the animal's skin, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and other emunctory outlets of its body. Therefore it cannot but happen that we eat some of these waste products, modified though they become by proper cooking, otherwise they are liable to provoke poisonous toxication of the blood, and to cause the retention therein of fermentative noxious elements. "Flesh foods," says Kellog, "of the animals we consume contain poisonous substances resulting from force-expending processes, such as brain, and nerve activity, and muscle activity, including that of the heart, and glands.
In fact, every vital process carried on in the animal's body produces poisonous material, to be thrown off by this or that extricatory channel. In the flesh of the healthiest animal there is always present a large, or small amount of broken-down products, which are on their way out of its body, to be removed by the liver, the kidneys, the skin, and other organs." But the plant, as far as we know, has no such waste products; neither does milk comprehend them.
The principal nutritive constituent of flesh meat is "proteid," this being characterised by the rapidity with which it can become disintegrated as to its cells, with the liberation of heat; in other words it is a quick fuel. "It is to such proteid that meat owes its heating qualities, as commonly ascribed; for which reason its use should be restricted in summer-time." "Again,"says Clouston, "the presence of much meat in the diet seems to act as an excitant of the animal passions, such 'flesh' being the incarnation of rampant, uncontrollable force." Moreover, we have to remember that the fundamental principle of our daily urine is urea, a waste product of the muscles and other bodily structures, which we are constantly expending in our daily life, whilst exactly the same conditions obtain with the animals whose flesh we eat. It will therefore be anxiously asked, Is the uric acid still in the meat when it comes to table? Yes, certainly! These waste "extractives of meat,"as Dr. Hutchison calls them, "have no nutritive value, but they are the chief cause of the characteristic taste of meat.
Whether or not they exercise bad effects, or the same effects which the like poisons cause when becoming formed in our own bodies, science does not say." "Together with the uric acid are found other poisons, e.g., creatin, creatinin, etc.; so that the flesh diet makes the excretions twice as poisonous from animals, as are the excretions of a person who lives on fleshless diet." "It is admitted." writes Dr. Haig, "that disease germs will grow with the greatest rapidity in beef-tea, and other preparations of animal tissue; whereas fruit juices will often actually destroy these germs".
When an animal is slaughtered for food, its tissues and cells before they are all completely dead still go on consuming the soluble food-elements which surround them, and they yet produce various chemical combinations just as during life; that is to say, they go on working, and giving off waste matters for a time after death. But no longer can the body remove these corrupt waste products through its several outlets; they accumulate as poisons after the animals' death, and tend to spoil the flesh, being no more washed away by a circulating stream of pure blood; and we can readily imagine how much worse the effect is when the carcase of the animal has been kept for several days before reaching the kitchen. "Concerning the eating of animals,"says the Buddhist Ray, a Hindoo journal, "In the mechanical arts the meat-eating nations of the West surpass, as to skill and ingenuity, the vegetarian nations of the East. Still, this does not make them healthier or happier. The vices, and diseases of the Western carnivorous nations have, within the century recently ended,, been the means of the extinction of whole races.
On the diet of animal flesh they will never realise the ' peace and goodwill among men' spoken of in the Christian Scriptures. The dream of a pearly-gated, peaceful, New Jerusalem on a carnivorous diet, is the delusory chimera of a fool, or a visionary".
Of animal foods, the most rapidly digested are those of soft consistence, such as sweetbread, and the like. The white meats, chicken, etc., are more digestible than the dark meats, for instance, the duck, or pigeon, or even the red meats; but their method of cooking greatly influences the result. Fresh fish is more rapidly digested than meat. Cauliflower is the most speedily digested of all vegetables.
It is remarkable with respect to the infirmity of stammering in speech, that several leading German physicians now maintain the opinion that a diminution in the amount of meat that is eaten should be insisted on with a view to lessening these difficulties of utterance; three weeks of abstinence from meat are said to marvellously improve a stammering sufferer. Again, in the strange case of Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde, as told by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1896, it is related how the former personage discovered by researches in the laboratory that man's nature is not truly that of a unit, but dual, - animal, and intellectual, - and that by a certain compound drug, or tincture, containing various salts corresponding to meat extractives, the two natures could be separated, the animal Hyde being set free to follow his unrestrained brutal indulgences. Other drugs could restore the former double nature in one, but the oftener the separation was practised the greater ascendancy did the low vicious animal nature acquire, until at length it got to possess the man altogether, body and soul.