Essays Archives


Part - I

This has been a topic of widespread discussion amongst doctors, health specialists and hygiene societies. In the past several years, mounting evidence has clearly shown that man is essentially a vegetarian. Let us see how?

After tobacco and alcohol, the consumption of meat is probably the greatest single cause of death in the western world especially the United States. World health statistics have consistently shown that countries consuming the most meat have the highest rate of diseases (heart, cancer, etc.).

What The Records Say
In Denmark during the Second World War when meat was scarce due to a food shortage caused by the British blockade the Danish government introduced food rationing. The Danes were forced to live on fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products. In the first year of rationing the death rate fell by 1.7%. When the Norwegians adopted a vegetarian diet due to the same blockade, there was a similar drop in death rate from circulatory diseases. However, after the war, when both countries were able to resume their meat diet, their death rate due to heart disease reverted to pre-war levels.

As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association had commented that, "A vegetarian diet can prevent 90-97% of our coronary occlusions." (blocking of blood vessels in the heart). This occurs when layers of cholesterol and other fats are gradually deposited in the walls of arteries, causing the diameter to get smaller and smaller thus allowing less and less blood to flow through. This places a great burden on the heart which has to pump harder and harder to send blood through the clogged vessels. This results in occurrence of high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Scientists at Harvard found that the average blood pressure of vegetarians was lower than that of a comparable group of non-vegetarians.

During the Korean War, 200 bodies of young American soldier's age, averaging 22 years, were examined after death. Almost 80% had hardened arteries, clogged with cholesterol from eating meat. Korean soldiers of the same age group were also examined and were found to be free of this damage to their blood vessels. Why the difference? The Koreans were basically vegetarians.

Experiments on mice have shown that a high-protein diet throughout their life span shortens life expectancy. Rapid growth and a shorter life go together.

Meat is a high protein food and when used in large quantities appears not to be conducive to long life. Dr. William Collins, a scientist at the New York Maimonedes Medical Centre found that meat-eating animals have an "almost unlimited capacity to handle saturated fats and cholesterol." But when half a pound of animal fat was added daily over a long period of time to a rabbit's diet, after only two months its blood vessels became clogged with fat and atherosclerosis developed. And man has got a similar digestive tract to the rabbit.

Process Of Meat Production
The animals reared for the slaughter-house are fattened with chemicals. Chemicals such as nitrates, hormones and antibiotics are given to animals in huge amounts to fatten them in the shortest time than naturally possible, and these chemicals are absorbed by the consumers. Incidentally, when animals are killed, their bodies undergo rigor mortis - a rock-like hardening of the whole body. Just to soften this takes about 2 weeks. Meat, which is several days old, turns a grey-green colour. In order to mask this discolouration, the meat industry also adds nitrites and other preservatives. These make the meat appear red. Nitrites combine with other nitrogen containing compounds found in innumerable foods in the natural state to produce carcinogenic agents called nitrosamines. These are known to cause cancer in the bladder as well. (ref. Pathologic Basis of Disease by S.L. Robbins, M.D., and R.S. Contran, M.D.). The U.S. Government is now limiting the amount of nitrites used in animal products. Just as our bodies become ill during periods of intense rage, anxiety, fear, etc., the biochemistry of animals which are going to be slaughtered, undergo profound changes. The hormone levels, especially adrenaline change radically, which remain in the meat and later poison human tissue. Just consider the statement made by the Nutrition Institute of America, "The flesh of an animal carcass is loaded with toxic blood and other waste by-products." A cancer researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, U.S.A., Dr. William Lijinsky, even went as far as to say, "I don't even feed nitrate-laden foods to my cat!"

Diseases Due To Meat Eating
Meat has been linked with processes which have a potential for cancer. It was found that in 1 Kg. of charcoal-broiled steak, there was as much benzopyrene (a carcinogen) as in the smoke from 600 cigarettes. When mice were fed benzopyrene they developed stomach tumours and leukaemia.

Other studies showed that Americans consuming a "Mixed Western diet" (high in meat) had four to five times more production of bile acids than did Seventh Day Adventist vegetarians and other American, Japanese and Chinese vegetarians.

And it has been shown that certain bile acids enhance colon tumour formation.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States and occurs 8 to 15 times more frequently than in countries where the population live on a largely unrefined (unprocessed) diet with greater fibre content. People in countries where there is a high colon cancer rate tend to produce more bile acids than those living in countries where colon cancers are rare. Legumes, Oats and pectin consist of fibres which help lower serum cholesterol thus reducing the potential for coronary heart disease. Dr. U.D. Register, Chairman of the Dept. of Nutrition at Loma Linda University, in California, performed experiments in which a diet rich in beans and peas actually reduced cholesterol, even while the subjects were eating large amounts of butter.

Visual inspection of meat is of no value and microscopic examinations are rarely made. If and when a cancer is found it is just removed and the remainder of the animal is sold for food. Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection derived from contaminated animal food products. In the U.S. an estimated 2,000,000 cases occur annually costing the people $300,000,000. Except for infants, the sick and the aged, who may die, the infection is not fatal. The American Academy of Science could only say, "Reluctantly, we are forced to recognise the impossibility of eradicating Salmonellosis at this time."

Trichinosis, another infection also occurs due to larvae of trichirae which originate in the pig. This has been shown to be transmitted by using the same knife used to cut beef that has been used to slice pork?
Hence, "From what is known about disease transmission in meat and meat products, and what is suspected but as yet unverified, renders meat a highly questionable food for use in a health-promoting diet," concludes Dr. John A. Scharffenberg, Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition at Loma Lindia University.

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