|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Why without meat?
Lecture by Dr.phil. Ljuba Macovicka (pictured below), held at the 5th European Vegetarian Congress , Bratislava, Slovakia.
from EVU News, Issue 1, 1996
Dear vegetarian friends!
Often I hear the question: "What are the main advantages of vegetarianism?"
I would like to answer it from my point of view - from the point of view of an inhabitant of a small country, in which one could neither talk nor write about these matters for half a century, and where the conditions were extremely unfavourable for us in this regard. Still we have held out. Under such circumstances you could certainly not talk of advantages but rather of disadvantages.
But we have comforted us with the known saying of Georg Bernard Shaw: "Death is better than cannibalism." The situation has changed however, as we have opened our country to the world again five years ago.
We now have freedom of speech and press - and finally may publish our books and magazines with vegetarian subjects. In comparison with the rest of the world we have remained however, behind and must struggle a lot, to find contact again. First of all however, we want to ask ourselves, why a person becomes a vegetarian. There are different reasons which one could sum up as follows:
Years ago I asked a known musician, about whom it was known that he had lived for 16 years as a strict vegetarian, why he had become a vegetarian and why he had stopped. He answered the first question laconically: "For ethical reasons" and the second: "For social reasons."
For what I knew about him it was clear that he still lived as a vegetarian at home while he had evidently great difficulties on the frequent tours which were connected to his artistic activity.
In the meantime I met several people, who have decided to live without meat in order to free themselves from different health problems, such as, from the beginning of arthritis of the hip, heavy rheumatism, or from resistant eczema. They ate almost or completely raw plant food and had success - how could it be otherwise?
At last there is still a remarkable group of protectors of animals and nature, of which several try to live vegetarian. They do it out of the consciousness, that many foods could be used better and more expediently without being wasted on livestock. Ecological reasons are not only linked to economy but also to the ethical point of view and thus our circle of the motives closes. That is to say, everything coheres. As I have said already there is still a reason worth mentioning, and that is, of course, the fashionable one. Vegetarianism of which there was nothing to be heard of for years is relatively new and for that reason has become at once very attractive. People hope to get a slender figure and to preserve a youthful appearance. The future will show who of these new born vegetarians will hold out.
On television I was once asked: "How do you become a vegetarian?" As I had thought about it, I had to answer: "You are born as a vegetarian". However I did not want to say, that one must be a vegetarian from birth.The human being is an immeasurably complicated being. In his subconscious there are stored knowledge and experiences of many thousands of generations.Only crucial knowledge and experiences are dominating.
There are individuals, which come into this world with certain premises, like the disgust to live on slaughtered animals corpses. Many people try involuntary to find a way of life in which their existence is not dependent on constant bloodshed and the torment of innocent creatures. If they have enough courage, to oppose the general spiritless convention, as well as the determination, to support certain social restraints, often a small shock can make them change their habits.
Many children are born with an innate disgust against the consumption of meat. The killing and the sight of blood provokes a feeling of horror in them. That is exactly the symptom, which distinguishes young frutarians from young carnivores. Sensitive children cannot stand the thought that they should eat the bodies of their killed hairy or feathery playmates. Their parents have great problems in how to overcome pedagogically the contradiction between the upbringing to the love for all creatures and the necessity to kill the animals brutally, to cook them and eat them.
Already a transient look back in history shows us that from old times each period had their reformers, thinkers and prophets which taught the people how they should live. The founders of the religions brought their internal and outer experiences not only into the religious prescriptions and rituals, but also customs and hygiene regarding everyday life.
From ancient times we know the names of the most important doctors whose experiences and knowledge basically agree with the results of today's research. All of them were however more or less single personalities and their knowledge did not have sufficient cogency for the official science. The educated people considered them as unscientific. Despite everything, the proofs accumulated on their accuracy, until they became the character of a serious scientific documentation at the beginning of our century.
Since you cannot mention them all in a short lecture, I will mention only two of the most well known personalities, which had the courage, to stand up in the name of the truth.
The first was the Danish doctor Mikkel Hindhede, who refuted the dogma of the protein indefinitely. During the first World War he saved Denmark, which was threatened at that time with blockade by famine, through the prohibition of pig breeding, making the products which were to be fed to the animals available for the inhabitants. They were only allowed to bake crude whole grain bread throughout the country. The results of this measure were surprising: All of a sudden there were sufficient foods for all, the diseases and the death rate went back strikingly and the doctors complained about the lack of work. The students of medicine unfortunately hear nothing about this experience, which we can mark as a successful experiment with a population of 3 millions.
The second was our vegetarian classic, the Swiss doctor Max Bircher-Benner, the pioneer for whole-wheat and raw food diet; Convincing results of his observations and treatments are written down in numerous publications. Nevertheless he was still counted as an 'Outsider'. He was followed by many others. Their knowledge increased and specialized. After the end the Second World War, there began the scientific research of the influence of food on our health, which was based on statistical statements of different countries. In view of their irrefutable proofs even the most dogged adversaries of vegetarianism will surrender, the same, who tried to convince us for many years, that one cannot live without meat, and that our status of health is dependent on the quantity of the devoured animal proteins. We have already got used to the fact, that each progress prevails only very slowly. Everything that is new, provokes in general a mighty wave of reaction.
People are not willing to change anything in their habits: for everything, they immediately find explanations and arguments, which usually are far away from the truth. Their thoughts in general pursue only one goal - namely to find the arguments so that they can go on believing what they have believed up to now.
The common knowledge of all these scientists is the settlement, that in the interest of general health, as well as for the salvation of our planet it is, absolutely necessary to convert to plant food. It is proven that meat is unfit for human beings. There were even entire populations, which used for their livelihood no meat, and not even dairy products. Only a few centuries ago the predominant part of the European population (90-95%) lived in the country and nourished were more or less from a natural plant diet. Meat was reserved to a small feudal society which due to such lifestyle however suffered from physical and psychic degeneration.
The meat consumption, - not to speak of the consumption of alcohol - has grown strongly and has been made accessible to all classes. During the years of communism it was even supported officially and raised to a fetish. It was believed, that the workers had the same rights as what previously had been the privilege of the governing class. Even the children learn at school that liquor and drugs are scourges of mankind. The public does not know however that meat consumption is very bad for health. People do not suspect, that they are consuming poisons day by day.
The wrong impression that meat consumption is harmless emerges because the influence emerges strikingly only in the second and third generation. The French lung specialist Paul Carton ascertained already in the first half of the century, how much the health status of the rural families got worse, if they moved to the town after having reached a certain prosperity and after having taken over the urban customs with ample meat consumption. The second generation of such previously healthy families would suffer from attacks of arthritis and in the third generation would appeared tuberculosis already.
Without doubt there were other conditions that co-operated which the public is willing to acknowledge, while meat consumption is not at all accused. There has been written indeed a lot already about similar observations. I could mention also similar cases from my circle of relatives and friends. The first generation that took to animal food was rather resistant and lived to quite an old age. which is often pointed out: "You see he ate meat his whole life almost three times a day- and he lived to be more than eighty years old!" The second generation of such families already has to fight against diseases, which often appear mysteriously. In the third generation, if members do not change their lifestyle in the meantime, there are already real cripples. I came to know also of other cases: The son of a village butcher's instinct of self-preservation won, so that he became a vegetarian while still young. Other quite well known examples of such reversals is the married couple Are and Ebba Waerland. Bircher-Benner has pointed out that the resistance against infections can be weakened already at the moment of birth due to wrong nourishment of the previous generation.
Children of parents, who eat a lot of meat, usually also regularly get meat dishes. Some suffer from frequent indigestion and remain strikingly thin despite abundant food. On the contrary, others perhaps even their siblings, fall prematurely to obesity. In both cases it is a clear proof, that their glands do not work well. The most frequent diseases of such children are asthma, hay fever and migraine, not to forget the heart, liver, kidney and other diseases in later years. Nowadays we even have children with cancer, already! Such patients expect with their whole confidence a salvation of a 'miracle working' medicine, which originates possibly from foreign countries and frees them from all their problems. There is however a 'miracle working remedy': It is merely a natural diet, joined with a healthy lifestyle. It can bring back the recovery of the body and can create a new love for life. Unfortunately however, not everybody is able to realise and understand this.
The so often discussed allergies are linked to a weakened immunity, and were already known in Bircher's time. He called them 'Idiosyncrasies'. According to his observations he could ascertain, that here, too, the wrong food co-operates: If the person affected ate in the right way for a sufficiently long time, its hypersensitivity disappeared. This way he has proven, that we must not consider the allergen as the cause, but the pollution of the organism. Today the cause is generally seen in the polluted environment. There surely is some truth in it, however, we must take as primary cause even today, the unnatural nourishment, for which we have irrefutable proofs. Our ancestors did not know much about right nourishment. They had however the advantage, that their foods did not become denatured through industrial treatment and that the economic conditions forced them to live in moderation. The present society of consumers does not have these advantages. Nothing limits them, and the advertising misleads them, to waste their money for useless products. The enormous waste of food forces us to ask, when mankind will start to use food economically, not in the meaning of own profit, but in the meaning of their expedient use for the benefit and welfare for all.
Our food today lacks very essential things like minerals, bases, vitamins and enzymes. It suffers from a hidden malnutrition. The needs of our organism are very modest, if we replace quantity with quality. The correlation between the nourishment and the emotional conditions has been known for a long time. Organs, that do not work sufficiently due to unnatural nourishment, often become the cause of psychic problems. Usually they are harmless disturbances, as depressions, different neurosises, melancholy, irritable mood etc. The psychiatrists say that the primary cause is either insufficient or excessive activity of the inner glands. They are completely right: the glands do not receive what they need, and cannot work efficiently. Today almost every second patient complains about their nerves and stress. Modern life always asks for more which cannot be overcome and supported by everybody.
The consequences are often to be addicted to the escape through liquor, drugs, gambling, sex and crime. Where is the dividing line between the normal and the abnormal?
Involuntarily we ask ourselves whether all this is not to be seen in connection with the poisoning through the unnatural and deteriorated food. We think of the law of cause and effect: First of all the treated main food, the grain. The result is hunger for meat and fat together with the help of liquor and drugs. How else could we explain the never expected increase of the negativism, intolerance, brutality, the sexual dissipation, the aggressiveness, fanaticism, destructiveness and the absurd war conflicts which have brought boundless grief over millions of people?
Tolstoi said "As long as there are slaughterhouses there will also be battlefields."
Now we can return to our first question: What are the main advantages of vegetarianism? The answer is very simple: A much better health, a good conscience, and from it an internal calmness, emotional balance and the feeling of freedom.
Although we are convinced of our lifestyle, we meet again and again discriminations, at least in our country. This shows not only in the social atmosphere but also in the economic way of thinking and economic strategies of our government. Our children suffer especially from this discrimination. They cannot visit the kindergartens, asylums and do not participate in holiday camps. They are forced more or less, to live in isolation. And the adults? Still today we have problems with the nourishment in hotels, guest houses, in vacation and in seminars. An absurd politics divides the healthy, natural foods into the class of the so-called 'luxury articles'. That is to say, they are burdened with 25% value-added tax, while the denatured foods are found in the class with only 6% value-added tax. We have got into a situation, where the ordinary wheat is more expensive than the flour. Young couples, who would like to nourish their children healthily, are forced, to buy them sweets instead of dried fruits and nuts, because they simply cannot afford these healthy products.
We must live in a destroyed environment, and suffer aggression of those people, whose psyche is disturbed due to unnatural food. We do not want to force anybody to live our lifestyle. However, we must not forget about our goal: Namely to change the social consciousness so that we are no longer considered as strange creatures but as knowing and conscious living people.
Translated by, S. De Leo.