This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
The influence of animal as opposed to vegetable food upon life and health has often been discussed. All readers are aware that certain theorists maintain that man as a species is a herbivorous or a frugivorous animal, and that he will never attain his natural term of life and exemption from disease until he renounces all flesh-pots whatsoever. With this extreme idea we have nothing in common. But we are nevertheless of opinion that altogether too much meat is consumed by the inhabitants of the United States. In no other country are three meals of meat a day served up, as is frequently the case with us. We believe that except under circumstances where there is arduous muscular exertion, once a day is often enough to consume much animal food.
From ancient times it has been well known that a wholly or chiefly vegetable diet favors the subjugation of the pas-sions, and hence it was recommended to persons of violent desires, and enjoined on celibate orders of priesthood. Particularly those vegetables which contain a large percentage of vegetable fibre and of water, as the cabbage, turnips, beets, melons, and carrots, and those which contain acids and some soporific principle, as sorrel, sour fruits, lettuce, chiccory, endive, and other salads, are reported to have especial virtues in this direction.
A too exclusive use of any such diet would, however, be apt to bring about physical debility, and for that reason it should not be recommended. A moderate quantity of fresh meat should be used daily, and when a choice is given, it should be taken proiled or roasted, as thus prepared it is more readily digested, and preserves the whole system in better health.
Fresh fish, shell-fish, such as oysters, and eggs, have a popular reputation in this respect, which they have obtained simply because they are highly nutritive and readily digestible. It is indeed possible, that the first-mentioned has some peculiar tonic influence, owing to a small portion of phosphorus which it usually contains, that chemical element having a powerful effect in maintaining nervous force. Islanders and sea-coast tribes, subsisting principally on fish, much of it eaten raw, are often reported in books of travel to be unusually salacious.
Those who oppose an animal diet, for a similar reason object to the use of condiments to any great extent. Here they are right. We eat altogether too much highly seasoned food. Our peppers and curries are too stimulating for our good, and we would be in the enjoyment of better health if we were exceedingly sparing in their employment. Like ether excitants, taken in quantity, they confer an ephemeral and deceitful energy, certain to be followed sooner or later by a reaction and a corresponding deficiency of power. In Spanish America, where the use of red pepper is carried to an astonishing extent, its injurious effects are often wit-nessed by the physician. In moderate quantities, however, it cannot be objected to, but rather approved.
In the matter of beverages, the one most to be recommended is chocolate. This is, or should be made from the fruit of the cacao tree, and is closely similar to cacao and broma. A most excellent and nourishing preparation is that known as racahout, a mixture of cacao and starch, flavored with vanilla. Both the cacao and vanilla have long enjoyed a reputation as fortifying the sexual system. Tea in limited quantities is not to be condemned, but coffee, except in great moderation, should not be indulged in. for reasons we Shall presently state.
Passing now to The Food And Drinks Which Weaken Virility