This section is from the book "The Natural Food Of Man", by Emmet Densmore. Also available from Amazon: How Nature Cures Comprising a New System of Hygiene.
I BECAME a convert to Vegetarianism from physiological rather than ethical reasons; more from its relation to the health of man, than to the cruelty to animals. At the same time, my instincts were always in the right direction. In childhood, reared on a farm, I always sought refuge in flight when a chicken or any animal was to be killed; I was greatly interested in fishing, but gave it up from the horror I felt upon seeing a fish torn from the hook; and I do not recollect firing a gun but once; when, a mere lad, I accompanied some boys hunting, I aimed at a meadow-lark, and wounded it, but was so horror-stricken that I have never lifted a gun since. But I ate flesh as a matter of course; and gave it up only when I became convinced that it is an excremental, poisonous, disease inducing food. Coincident with the espousal of Vegetarianism, I became convinced that man, through transgression of natural law, and especially through errors in diet, has greatly shortened his natural term of life on earth; that the "three score years and ten" is a statement of the term to which he has fallen, not been designed. Naturalists teach that the number of years which animals usually live is about six times the time required for maturity; 6 by 20 make up the 120 years mentioned in Genesis, and the term which I believe to be man's natural life-time on earth. I was (and am still) intensely interested in this subject of the longevity of man; and in the same year that I became a Vegetarian I learned of a book entitled, How to Prolong Life: an Enquiry into the Cause of Old Age and 'Natural Death' showing the Diet and Agents best Adapted for a Lengthened Prolongation of Existence, by Chas. W. De Lacy Evans, M.R.C.S.E., Surgeon to St. Saviour's Hospital, and author of several scientific works of great interest (Bailliere, Tindall, & Co., King William-street, Strand). I purchased a copy at once, and found it valuable for its extensive tables of the analysis of foods (I had a copy of the first edition, the tables have been condensed in the second), and for the numerous satisfactory and confirmatory instances of very great longevity - some of them almost rivalling the age of the patriarchs.
But at this time I regarded wheat as man's ideal food; and I was so disgusted, on a casual glance at the contents, to find Dr. Evans pointing out cereals as the most unfavourable food for man, and stigmatising bread as the "staff of death," that I threw the book aside, refusing to read it, concluding that, however great my possible longevity, life is too short to waste on what I, with complacent bigotry, had concluded, without reading and without investigation, to be a meaningless tirade. Mrs. Densmore read it at the time, and was enough interested in Dr. Evans' views to ask me to answer several questions concerning it; still, my precious life was too short, and I remained an entirely self-satisfied and owl-wise bigot. If my Vegetarian brethren refuse to read my recent contributions on the subject of flesh diet and cognate matters, and refuse to answer the question I have with some persistence pressed home to them, I am in no situation to complain.
Dr. Evans starts with the proposition that the ossification and deposit of earthy matter in the joints and tissues of the aged - with the resultant weakness and decrepitude - is not the result of "old age," but that old age is the result of ossification and the deposit of earthy matter in the system, and that this deposit of earthy matter is directly traceable to easily avoidable errors in diet. Dr. Evans acknowledges his indebtedness to "Patriarchal Longevity," by "Parallax," "in which," he tells us, "ossification as a cause of old age was first pointed out"; and also his indebtedness to "Records of Longevity," by Easton and Bailey, and to Hufeland's "Art of Prolonging Life," edited by Erasmus Wilson, F.R.S. The great interest attaching to this subject is my excuse for the following somewhat lengthy extracts from Dr. Evans' book:
"In every being throughout animated nature, from the most insignificant insect to the most enlightened, ennobled, and highly developed human being, we notice a deeply rooted love for one possession before all others, and that is the possession of Life. What will not a man give to preserve his life ? What would he not give to prolong it? The value of riches, titles, honour, power, and worldly prospects are as nought compared with the value which every sane man, however humble, and even miserable, places on the preservation of his life. . .
"The laws of life and of death, looked upon in this light, form the basis of a fixed science - the Macrobiotic, or the art of prolonging life. There is, however, a distinction to be made between this art and the science of medicine, but the one is auxiliary to the other.
"There is a state of body which we term health; plus or minus divergences from this path we call disease. The object of medicine is to guide these variations to a given centre of bodily equilibrium; but the object of the Macrobiotic art is, by the founding of dietetic and other rules, on general principles, to preserve the body in health, and thereby prolong life.
"In the present work the author has attempted to go beyond this, by enquiring into the causes which have a share in producing the changes which are observed as age advances, and, further, by pointing out a means of checking them. 'He who writes, or speaks, or meditates, without facts as landmarks to his understanding, is like a mariner cast on the wide ocean, without a compass or a rudder to his ship.' If he conceives an idea, a phantom of his own imagination, and attempts to make it a reality by accepting only those facts or phenomena which accord with his premature conception, ignoring those which contradict this shadow or idea, but which may nevertheless be demonstrably true, he creates a theory, which may be incorrect, and if so is doomed, sooner or later, to destruction. Although it possibly required but a few hours to construct, centuries may elapse before it is finally destroyed. The founder of an erroneous hypothesis creates a monster, which only serves to combat and stifle Truth. The struggle can last for a time only, for Truth must of necessity ultimately prevail. . . .