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.
Looking further, I perceived, what now seems strange had not before been dwelt upon by physiologists, that the process of digestion confirms and reaffirms the position that all starch foods are injurious, and furnishes the why and wherefore, in the fact that starch foods are not adapted to stomach digestion, and can only be made assimilable by protracted and difficult digestion in the intestines. I saw that this discovery - that starch foods, especially cereals, are an universal and unsuspected source of worldwide disease - is of the gravest possible importance to mankind. I was in America; my mind at once adverted to my Vegetarian friends in England, and I felt that I must call their attention to this new view.
I wrote a letter, which was published in the Vegetarian last November, stating that Mrs. Densmore and myself had noticed remarkable cures result from taking all starch food from patients, and confining them to a meat diet. Incidentally, I pointed out that these cures had occurred in a practice of the reduction of obesity; but asked that prominent Vegetarian physicians and hygienists would explain, from a Vegetarian standpoint, why it is that a meat diet quite uniformly works great benefits. My friends replied through the Vegetarian, utterly ignoring my question, with a deluge of free advice as to the best way to reduce obesity. I replied to these efforts, pointing out the fact that obesity and its reduction was not the subject of discussion; and appealed to them to devote their powers to an answer to my question. Then came a deluge of a different sort. Dr. Allinson, a prominent Vegetarian physician, likened my efforts to "orange-peel thrown upon the pavement, from which the wise steer clear, and by which the unwary are thrown upon their backs." * Mr. Wallace, also a prominent Vegetarian physician, charged me with "playing cards with both God and the devil." Mr. Hills, the distinguished President of the London Vegetarian Society, and the head and front of the movement, accused me of "playing fast-and-loose with principles." What these unseemly out. bursts had to do with a scientific discussion, is more than I have been able to discern. One writer, only last month, under a nom-de-plume, but commonly identified as the distinguished author posing as the well-known and especial friend of animals, designated - by implication - my poor self an ass, and likened myself to a cannibal, and my writings to cannibalism. One Irish gentleman (?), whose name is unknown to fame - perhaps with an inherited shillalah - early in the fray, said that I am no Vegetarian, that I am "an enemy, stabbing Vegetarianism under the guise of friendship"; and then, after my most earnest protestations, and after months for consideration, returns to the charge, and, in a recent issue of the Vegetarian, says that I am "laughing up my sleeve at the gullibility of Vegetarians"; while, as if to give piquancy to this true Hibernianism, he commenced his letter, from which the above quotation is taken, with a plea for Christian charity!
By frequent letters and rejoinders, which the Editor of the Vegetarian has been good enough to publish, I pointed out to my friends that my own shortcomings are not the subject of discussion; that epithets and assertions are not argument; and, by dint of that perseverance which is said to wear away stone, I succeeded in June in getting, from Mr. Hills and
* It is but fair to state that, since the above was i type, and months after Dr. Allinson made the above statement in the Vegetarian, he wrote another letter to that paper, from which I quote the following : "To Dr. Densmore I owe an apology; instead of saying his ideas are 'mere speculation, and unfounded on fact or experience,' I should have said that'his ideas are unfounded on experience, and unconfirmed by experiment,' and ask him to show me results which will justify his assertions. And instead of saying his articles were like orange-peel, that would throw unwary people down, I should have said they must be taken with a grain of salt." others, some consideration of the question I had asked the previous November.
In the Weekly Times and Echo, June 21st, Dr. Allinson says:
"I do not believe in the 'nut and fruit' theory, as it is not founded on fact, not supported by proof, nor borne out by experience. In cases of disease it would be very injurious."
Dr. Allinson is in error; the "nut and fruit" theory is founded on a most important and indisputable scientific fact, namely : nuts and fruits contain, as demonstrated by chemical analysis, all the elements of nutrition needed for the support of man, and some varieties contain those elements in about the needed proportions. "Not supported by proof, nor borne out by experience"! Many of the negroes in the West Indies live on a diet consisting only of a measured amount of bananas. At the moment of writing I am not able to lay my hand on the authority for this statement; but I have often seen it stated in accounts given by travellers, and I think the statement will not be challenged. I consider this as "proof," and that it is "borne out by experience," that the banana is not only a food adequate to keep up the heat of the body, and support the vital functions, but also - since these negroes were slaves, and performed regular tasks of manual labour - that the banana is a food furnishing ample support to the muscular system. A man may be careless about food for himself or his family; but, when his cattle or his slaves are in question, his pocket is involved; and man is a very conservative being, not at all given to fads or nonsense where his bank balance is in danger.
But let us look further. The promoters of the "nut and fruit theory" have never recommended an entire reliance upon those nuts and fruits which are usually obtainable in England, especially at a reasonable expense; on the contrary, we have laid great stress and urgency in pointing out that it is best to supplement a diet of fruit and nuts with as much milk and eggs as may be found necessary or advisable. Here we are on safe ground; we are "supported by proof, borne out by experience," that milk alone is an entirely adequate diet. Moreover, let us bear in mind that the "fruit and nut theory," just now agitating the minds of Vegetarians in England, is not that fruit and nuts, as here obtainable, are an adequate diet for man; the fruit and nut theory asserts that cereals, pulses, and vegetables, are an unnatural and disease-inducing food for man; the proof adduced, in support of this position, is the plain fact that patients afflicted with the diseases of diabetes and corpulency are always benefited and frequently cured by excluding starch foods from the dietary. The correctness of this assertion (the unwholesomeness of cereals) is further confirmed and "supported by the proof," and "borne out by the experience," of those patients of Dr. Salisbury, in America and England, who, exclusive of diabetes and obesity, have been greatly benefited, in all varieties of diseases to which man is subject, by an exclusive diet of beef and hot water, which is one way of excluding cereals, pulses, and vegetables from the dietary. This view is further confirmed by the "fact" that the foods which the promoters of the "nut and fruit theory" recommend, are adapted to stomach digestion, and are readily and easily digested and assimilated; whereas the cereals are largely composed of those substances which are not adapted to stomach digestion, and which must be subjected to a protracted and difficult digestion in the intestines.