By Owen S. Parrett, M.D.
Is a person who does not eat meat peculiar or wise?
My mother told me that when I was a baby I refused to eat any kind of meat. She thought – as many mothers do – that I needed meat to make me grow, so she persisted in giving it to me until I acquired a liking for it. For the past fifty years I have chosen diet that does not include flesh, fish or fowl.
In my practice of medicine I have always told my patients the reason for what I asked them to do. I myself do not like to do anything without knowing why I am doing it, and most other people feel the same way. I am going to tell you why I am a vegetarian and why I believe you should be one to.
I love life and want to live as long as I can. These stirring and eventful days, and I want to know what is going to happen next. I have passed the Biblical three score years and ten, and am thankful to God that I still find the days too short for all I want to do. I still carry a full practice and like to dip into several outside activities, even if for only a few minutes a day.
Most of my patients at my age are retired, but I have no desire to retire so soon. I would rather spend the day helping the sick, many of whom have been forced to retire early because they lacked the knowledge I possess. I don’t want to hold back this knowledge from anyone.
After studying scientifically and observing sickness and its causes through many years, I have the conviction that If I had eaten largely of flesh foods during my life, I would now be too decrepit to carry on the practice of medicine. A doctor must be able to think clearly and have endurance and nervous energy to spare.
Aging and fatigue are hastened by flesh foods. Ages is the wearing out of the body. The process varies in different people. Within the past week I paid a professional call on two men, one in his late forties and the other in his early fifties. Both were on country welfare, and they certainly look unable to work. Although young in years, they were both old. Tobacco and liquor had played a part, but the part meat played cannot be overlooked.
The cells of the body are little units. Each must take on nourishment, give off waste, and breathe oxygen. When something interferes with this process, the cells and the organs they make up deteriorate.
The late Dr. Alexis Carrel, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1912, recognized that the cell’s efficiency in providing nutrition and eliminating waste was what determined the aging of tissue. He extended the life of a bit of chicken heart by bathing it in a nutritive fluid that also removed the waste. So successful was he that the bit of chicken heart was kept alive from 1913 to 1947. After 34 years it was thrown into a sink, where it died. Dr. Carrel proved that length of life depends largely on eliminating waste and adding nutrition to the cells.
If we could regularly remove all waste from our body cells apply adequate nutrition, we might easily reach great length of life. If the body fluid that bathes our cells is overloaded with waste, life is shortened.
The Bible indicates that for ten generations before the flood people lived an average of 912 years. After the Flood they began eating flesh. The life of the next ten generations was shortened to an average of 317 years.
A great many people think that if you are going to work hard and need a lot of endurance, you must eat a large beefsteak. The facts are the opposite.
Some years ago a well known Yale professor, Dr Irving Fisher, showed that when vegetarian rookie athletes were pitted against the best athletes of Yale, the untrained men had more than twice the endurance of meat-eating athletes.
Johnny Weissmuller, the Tarzan of the movies and world swimming champion, was invited to the dedication of a new swimming pool in the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Weissmuller had made 56 world records, but for five years had made no new ones. After several weeks on a well selected vegetarian diet, he was able to hang up six more world records in the swimming pool.
The vegetarian swimmer Murray Rose of Australia, world champion and a winner in the Olympic games, and his diet practice have become widely known. He has been a vegetarian since two years old. Not only does he swim fast but his ability to spurt ahead at the finish demonstrates that superior endurance accompanies fleshless diet.
Why should this be true? Meat contains waste products that the animal would have eliminated. A person who eats flesh loads himself with wastes of the meat. When these wastes reach the body cells, they bring on fatigue and aging.
Prominent among body waste products are urea and uric acid. Beefsteak contains about 14 grains of uric acid per pound. When steak is boiled, waste appears as a soluble extract in the form of beef tea, which closely resembles urine when analyzed. The uric acid accounts for the quick pickup a steak seems to give, much as a cup of coffee gives. Uric acid, or trioxypurin, closely resembles caffeine, or dioxypurin, both in chemical name and effect on the body. The solid meat takes several hours to digest, by which time the stimulant has worn off. A lowering of energy results.
The late Dr. L. H. Newburg, of the University of Michigan, called attention to the fact that when meat formed 25 percent of a rat’s diet the rat became bigger and more active than rats on a normal diet. But after a few months the kidney’s of the meat eating rat became badly damaged. Dairymen tell me that a high -protein diet for cows will bring up production of milk but will “burn them out” with eventually lowered production.
Another danger facing the meat eater is the disease in animals common to man. My secretary told me that the dairy where her husband is foreman had four cases of leukemia in one year among its 124 cows. One cow diagnosed as having leukemia died four hours after the veterinarian made the diagnosis. He suggested the cow be sent to the market, but she died before the truck that made regular trips through the dairies picking up nonproducing cows came along.
Many cows no longer able to produce milk are sent to the market, and the price paid for them indicates that they are not discarded or used for fertilizer. The wife of a foreman of a large ranch told me that they had a heifer with pneumonia. Fearing they might lose her, they quickly took her to the slaughterhouse and sold her for meat.
Gordon H Theilen, D.V.M., of the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine Agricultural Experiment Station, said, “We have found that this disease [leukemia in cattle] is seen more frequently on certain farms, and therefore it appears to be infectious or enzootic on these farms. The disease has doubled in incidence, as related by slaughterhouse condemnation reports over the past ten years, but what the real incidence may be is only problematical; however, I guess it will prove to be much higher as the disease is studied. It is easy for meat inspectors to identify the terminal clinical form, but the microscopic leukemic stage will be missed every time if there is no gross enlargement, since blood studies are not conducted before slaughter.”
The rapid rise of leukemia in cattle is of special interest when you remember that blood cancer, or leukemia, is now a major disease among children in the United States. Perhaps we will soon require blood testing for leukemia in dairy herds.
Cows with eye cancer may kept until both eyes are blind, then they may be sold for meat if the head is cut off and there is no gross evidence of disease spread to other organs.
The late Dr. John Harvey Kellogg said when he sat down to a vegetarian dinner, “It is nice to eat a meal and not have to worry about what your food may have died from.”
No one knows better than meat inspectors how much disease there is among animals slaughtered for food. A friend calling my office to sell audiometers (instruments to determine the degree of deafness) told me his wife attended a banquet and ordered a vegetable plate. At her side sat a stranger who also chose a vegetable plate.
The man said, “Pardon me, but are you a vegetarian?”
“Yes,” she replied. “Are you?”
“No,” he answered, “I am a meat inspector.”
When I was a medical student we were give glass test tubes to be used for growing bacteria that cause human disease such as typhoid, staphylococci, and bubonic plague. The professor had us make up some beef tea, pour a little into each test tube, and place a cotton cork on top. We sterilized the tubes and inoculated them with these dangerous bacteria. The germs all thrived on beef tea. It was a perfect medium for them.
I read in my pediatrics text book by the distinguished Dr. Emmett L Holt of New York City that if two dogs were put on a leash and one fed water and the other beef tea, the dog getting water would live longer, for beef tea does not contain any nourishment whatsoever if the fat is skimmed off, but does contain urinary wastes, which would quickly poison the dog.
Meat is the most putrefactive of all foods. When it “spoils” in the intestines it can make the person more violently ill than any other kind of food. This fact helps us to understand why the members of some African tribes in native life seldom have appendicitis or cancer, for they seldom eat meat until they move into the cities, where these disease are frequent among them as among Europeans.
When it comes to poultry, we face an alarming situation. Recently I flew to East Lansing, Michigan, and spent a day visiting a special research project started more than twenty years ago by the Federal Government in collaboration with 25 state universities to try to control malignancy in chickens. The problem has become so serious that it threatens the poultry industry of the United States.
We have learned that cancer in fowl has several forms. Besides the usual form in which cancerous tumors are found, there is a carrier form in which a chicken may live out its natural life with no sign of cancer but at the same time be infecting other fowls.
This form of cancer is so difficult to detect that the only way the research men can finally determine whether a chicken has the disease is to incubate an egg from the suspected fowl for 14 days. The egg is then sterilized on the surface, carefully broken, and the embryo removed. From it the liver is taken, and a small portion injected into the breast muscle of another chicken. If a cancerous tumour develops at inoculation, it is known then and only that the hen that laid the egg has the disease.
There is small chance that an inspector will cull out every diseased fowl, and still less chance that dad will be able to pick a healthy bird for Thanksgiving. So widespread is the disease among chickens that one of the scientists studying the project, Dr. Eugene F Oakberg, wrote in a poultry journal:
“The conclusions drawn must consider the possibility that all chickens show the basic microscopic lesions of lymphomatosis. Poultry Science.
Since the virus, or germ, cause of cancer has now been quite well established, the possibility or even probability that in eating meat, fish, or fowl a person is going to eat some of them laden with malignancy virus poses a problem. Dr. Wendell Stanley, eminent virus scientist who received the Nobel prize for this work in 1957, has pretty well convinced the medical world at long last that, like all other granulomatous diseases, cancer is no exception and has a germ cause.
This agrees with a statement by Mrs Ellen White recently discovered by the Cornell biologist Dr Clive M McCay to have been written fifty years in advance of medical science, in which she says:
“People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculosis and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal disease are thus communicated.” The Ministry of Healing, page 313
Because it is now know that leukemia is rapidly increasing among cattle and a cow may have the disease in her blood long before the appearance of tumors, I predict that erelong both milk cows and laws compelling this practice will be enacted as a public health measure to protect the consumers of milk and meat.
Once I was fishing in the cold waters of Yellowstone Lake. A man warned me not to eat the fish.
“They have worms in them,” he said.
I examined several and found it to be true. When halibut is fried, worms often crawl out.
Each winter in Florida a friend takes us twenty miles out into the Gulf in a fast boat. On the last trip out, as we returned to the dock our captain picked up a fish, split it with a sharp knife held the thin section up to the light, and pointed out worms embedded in the flesh. Although with its fins and scales it is classed as edible, or clean, fish according to the Mosaic law, those worms certainly didn’t look inviting.
On the desk in front of me is a clipping form a recent Lost Angeles Times entitled “Disease Causes Halt of Some Trout Imports.” The article tells of California Fish and Game Department turning back six tank cars of rainbow trout fingerling that were shipped into California to stock our lakes and streams but were found to be infected with liver cancer. The article says:
“Great numbers of trout are imported into the state by private interests, who sell the fish to owners of private ponds… Fish and game experts are trying to find the cause of the disease.”
Rabbits are susceptible to disease of many kinds. As a lad I had a friend who used to hunt rabbits and sell them. I often helped him clean them and noticed that nearly all cottontails were infested with tapeworm. One day I killed one and offered it to a neighbour, who remarked as he thanked me, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
I said, “I am missing a lot of tapeworms.”
Since President Eisenhower had his heart attack, the medical world has discovered the relation between diet and diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Now we are told to avoid saturated fatty acids, found largely in animals fats, Recent discoveries brought to light the fact that rimming off the fat of meats will gain little advantage, for even of the lean meats we know 75 percent to be in the saturated-fatty-acid column.
Dr. Newburg of the University of Michigan, who was called to Washington as an expert on nutrition during the last war, told me that he was very critical of the diet of the American soldiers. He said they were being fed too much meat and too many calories. This diet, he said, tended to make them too heavy, and it hardened their arteries. Autopsies performed in Korea showed 75 percent of American soldiers had hardened arteries regardless of their age. Korean soldiers, on a simple diet of vegetables, cereals, and very little meat, showed essentially no hardening of the arteries.
Without meat, how can people get enough protein? W.C. Rose of the University of Illinois, an authority in the field of protein, says that “less than 23 grams a day is all one needs.”
If a man were to eat meat, eggs, or milk he would still get on the average 83 grams of protein a day. A woman would get 61 grams a day. This fact was discovered by Dr Mervyn Hardinge of the College of Medical Evangelists under Dr Fredrick J Stare of Harvard, well known authority on nutrition.
Dr U D Registe, leading biochemist, and Dr Hardinge both active in the field of human nutrition, said to me that fruit alone, if amply supplied in sufficient variety, would provide people with enough protein to meet the actual body demand.
Probably neither scientist would recommend such a drastic program, but it serves to emphasize that the meat interests have oversold Americans on the high protein idea. It is well known that people may go for a number of days without protein, yet suffer no bad results.
Of course, a balanced diet is best, but the evidence goes to show that meat is an unnecessary factor in the eating program, and it may introduce substances tending to increase the chronic diseases, the degenerative diseases, the acute disease, and infections.
We have the example of a whole nation being forced by war onto a vegetarian program – Denmark during the first world war in 1918. Blockaded by sea and land, the nation was faced with a food shortage.
To fee a cow, kill the cow, and eat the meat meant a loss of 90 percent of the food fed the cow.
Dr Hindehede, a notable authority on nutrition, was called to the emergency by the King of Denmark.
He put the nation on a meatless program for a year. Many thought it would be disastrous; instead, it established a world record for lowered death rate – 34 percent among the male population and nearly as much lowering among the female population, with a marked decrease in the illness rate. Eating meat the next year sent the death rate back to its prewar level.
Careful observation of the effects of meat eating on thousands of my patients for 45 years has led me to agree with the leading writer on health, Mrs Ellen G White, who wrote in the book Medical Ministry, pages 266, 267.
“Meat is the greatest disease breeder that can be introduced into the human system.”
For those who like the flavour of meat, some very tasty foods made from grains and nuts are available. Dr Stare of Harvard wrote me that a diet which included mixed grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (peas, beans, soybeans, lentils) with some nuts was adequate when meat was left out.
Research carried out at the College of Medical Evangelists has demonstrated that a meatless diet can be adequate when it includes meatlike dishes made from nuts, grains, and vegetables. These vegetable “meat” dishes help to make the changeover to a nonflesh program easier.
I keep my table supplied with a variety of delicious foods, and the lack of meat never bothers my mind. After studying animal disease in the laboratory and observing the effect of a flesh diet on my patients these many years, I would find it difficult indeed to eat flesh again.
I quite agree with the leading nutritionist of John Hopkins University, Dr E V McCollum who gave it as his opinion that anyone who chooses to eliminate flesh food from his diet is better off.