|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
17th World Vegetarian Congress 1963
DIET AND HEALTH
I would first of all point out some of the wonders of the human body. The length of the blood vessels in the human body, according to well-known authorities, is about 1,400 miles in the adult. The weight of the fusion of the ovum and spermatozoa is about one milligram, and at birth the baby weighs some three kilograms. In other words there has been an increase of three million times in nine months. The amount of blood that passes through the kidneys in 24 hours is no less than 45 barrels each several feet high.
The only food that we can be absolutely certain that the Creator, intends us to have is mother's milk, and mother's milk has a low percentage of protein, some 1.5 per cent. According to Lineas, one of Sweden's great sons, Man belongs to the mammalian group, and in that group belongs to the frugivorous secton.
Some of the main faults with regard to dietetics in the West as I see
them are: undoubtedly, too much protein is taken. During the first world
war Dr. Hindhede in Denmark, decided to do away with animals and feed
the population on the produce from the soil with the resultant that
the health of the nation increased immensely, in spite of the strain
and stress of the great war. Whenever the force is employed the pendulum
tends to swing subsequently in the opposite direction. Denmark then
became a great flesh producing count~v. It therefore seems to me that
the nations in the West do not take enough food from the vegetable kingdom
and too much food from the animal kingdom. Dr. Abernethy, a well-known
Scotsman, once stated-one third of the food you eat, keeps you alive,
the other two thirds keep the doctors alive,-and I think that this is
very probably true. The bulk of people eat far too much. The nations
in the West are grossly under-nourished but over-fed, they eat too much
of the wrong type of food. Dr. McCoy, of Cornell University, increased
the life-span of rats by decreasing their food consumption by some 50
per cent. Also, there is not enough raw food eaten. In the days of the
sailing ships people used to develop Scurvy due to the lack of Vitamin
C, but even in the West today very many people do not procure enough
of this important vitamin. It is important, where possible, to partake
of the raw food at the beginning of the meal, as is so commonly done
with hors d'oeuvre on the Continent. The doctor who especially stressed
the need for more raw food was Dr. Bircher Benner, at whose Clinic in
Switzerland such amazing results were and are obtained.
We are living under times of great strain and stress and there-fore
we need to take something to protect the nervous system, vitamin B plays
its vital part here. In the West there is a great lack of vitamin B
in the normal dietetic regime. You find that white flour is used instead
of wholemeal flour and even polished rice has taken the place of unpolished
rice. Even where a certain amount of vitamin B is found in the diet,
owing to the tendency of an excessive consumption of white sugar, the
thiamin is not absorbed, and once again we find that we have a deficiency
of vitamin B, leading to tiredness, depression and anaemia and other
symptoms one could name.
Excessive deficiency of vitamin B is found in the East and brings about
Ben-Ben. This dreadful Eastern complaint is over-come by the addition
of this important vitamin in the diet.
It is also very important to see that the soil is properly treated.
So great has been the achievement of the engineers that much of the
fertility, instead of being returned to the soil, is carcied away to
the sea. It is essential not to break the cycle of nature. There was
an interesting experiment carried out with two adjacent plots of land.
One section was treated with sulphate of ammonia and the other was treated
with compost. Cabbages were planted in both sections and it was found
that the cabbages where the sulphate of ammonia had been applied were
much bigger than on the other plot. These two plots were fenced in with
wire netting and rabbits were put inside each section. The rabbits that
ate the large cabbages that had been grown on the sulphate of ammonia
became ill, whereas the other rabbits maintained their health. This
is an example of how the soil can affect the plants and the plants can
affect the health of animals and humans.
In Switzerland, in a special area, there are French/Swiss and Gernian/Swiss, and the French/Swiss cook their vegetables, keep the water and make it into soup. The German/Swiss, on the other hand, discard the water, and the resultant is that the French/Swiss keep well, whereas the German/Swiss develop goitres due to a deficiency of iodine. The small quantity of iodine in the vegetables discarded makes all the difference between developing a goitre and keeping well. This shows how subtle influences operate in the dietetic regime and how important it is to have wholeness in food. An ostrich on its customary diet, without any sand mixed with the food, tends to have feathers that are not healthy, whereas with the same dietetic regime and with a little sand added the ostrich enjoys good health and the feathers look well and healthy. And yet we do not know quite how the sand operates. Here is an example of how subtle influences can effect the health of animals and man. It has been said that man does not live by bread alone and it is quite true that many factors govern health apart from food-such as heredity, environment, habits, accidents, mental functioning, mastication, spiritual functioning and other factors that one could name. Hippocrates stated-our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.
Man is very full of fear in the West today, he is fearful of death,
of disease, of poverty, of hunger, of war-fare, atomic bombs, etc.,
but it would appear that man's most terrible enemy, an enemy unrecognised
and unseen, and an enemy that brings about such tremendous suffering,
is faulty nutrition. Sir Robert McCarrison carried out some interesting
experiments in India. He observed various tribes and noted the food
that they ate, but particularly their characteristics. He fed these
sanie diets to various groups of rats and he found that when he fed
the diet of a race that was unhealthy, both mentally and physically,
to rats, they became the same. Whereas if he fed the diet of a really
healthy tribe to the other rats they remained well physically and mentally.
I think that this is a very important experiment indeed and much could
be done through dietetics to bring peace of body and peace of mind to
the distraught conditions that prevail in the West today.
These are just a few passing thoughts on nutrition, it is not our place to blame people but to try, where the opportunity presents itself, to show a better way of living, and I believe that a food reform vegetarian diet is one very definite step in this direction.