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The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A., 1883

Adam Smith

Adam Smith 1723-1790
(text from the Appendix of the 1st edition, 1883)

The limits of this work do not permit us to quote all the many writers of the eighteenth century whom philosophy, science, or profounder feeling urged incidentally to question the necessity or to suspect the barbarianism of the Slaughter-House. But there are two names amongst the highest in the whole range of English philosphic literature, whose expression of opinion may seem to be peculiarly noteworthy - the author of the Wealth of Nations [Adam Smith] and the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

"It may, indeed be doubted [writes the founder of the science of Political Economy] whether butcher's meat is anywhere a necessary of life. Grain and other vegetables with the help of milk, cheese, and butter, or oil (where butter is not to be had), it is known from experience, can, without any butchers' meat, afford the most plentiful, the most wholesome, the most nourishing, and the most invigorating diet." (1)



    1. Wealth of Nations iii, 341. See too, Sir Hans Sloane (natural Hisroty of Jamaica, i, 21, 22), who enumerates almost evry species of vegetable food that has been, or may be, used for food, in various parts of the globe; the philosophic French traveller, Volney (Voyages) who, in comparing flesh with non-flesh feeders, is irresistibly forced to admit that the "habit of shedding blood, or even of seeing it shed, corrupts all sentiment of humanity;" the Swedish traveller Sparrman, the disciple of Linné, who corrects the astonishing physiological errors of Buffon as to the human digestive apparatus; Anquetil (Récherches sur les Indes), the French translator of the Zend-Avesta who, from his sojourn with the vegetarian Hindus and Persians, derived those more refined ideas which caused him to discard the coarser Western living ; and Sir F. M. Eden (State of the Poor).

Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet - index