|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
F. Newman Turner, an English Agriculturist gives us a most valuable human document of his conversion to vegetarianism:
He does not hold there is any special pleasure in the eating of meat but rather that it is an illusion cast upon us by custom and a perverted palate that can cause man to relish "the boiled backside or fried stuffed 'pigs' intestines euphemistically called sausages' " and that "ten per cent of joy in meat-eating comes from a mixture of hope, the glory of battle with knife and fork. and the self deception which refused to accept as distasteful a dish in which one has placed so much anticipated pleasure and which carries all the strength of scientific stress on the value of its 'first-class protein.' "
While Mr. Turner had been a theoretical vegetarian for some years before he gave up the eating of the bodies of his fellow creatures, he tells of a Christmas day when it was his duty as a farmer to take the life of some twenty to thirty ducks and geese to sell to a nearby poulterer. "The price had been good - it was during the war when high prices were paid for poultry. by merchants who travelled from farm to farm outbidding one another for the victims of mass- slaughter by which Christian people celebrate the birth of their gentle Prince of Peace.
As I took these helpless pathetic creatures in my firm
grip and one by one violently squeezed their life from their beautiful
bodies, I suddenly released my mind and opened my eyes and I saw in
the eye which now pleaded with an expression I could hardly bear, the
power of the life which was in me and in the suffering bird, but which
was within the power of neither of us to create. From that moment when
I saw the soul of a fellow-creature, my mind was freed from the bondage
of a tradition which monopolized the God-given attributes of man. No
argument of man could stand for me against the question in those haunting
eyes ... I had eaten my last meal from the flesh of my fellow creatures."
Then came the struggle for this English farmer, whose very living depended on the sale of live-stock. First he rid himself of pigs even though some of his helpers "cast side glances at my sanity." He brought his "farming very near to the position where suffering and slaughter were not inflicted on the animals I loved." But the problem of the bull-calf remained, though he reduced to the smallest proportions by the building of a good pedigree herd. What to do with the very occasional calf? Mr. Turner's compromise is an interesting one. The cash he gets from the sale of such animals he sends to "an organization whose work is devoted to the establishment of a world in which man is revolted by the very sight of the decaying flesh of his fellow-creatures."