Expressing my delight at attending a vegetarian conference for the
first time at the age of eighty-two (though having been a vegetarian
for most of my life), I would yet like to make one criticism. It
seemed to me that most of the delegates were placing almost all
their emphasis on the humanitarian case for the cause, whilst a
comparatively very small minority tended to concentrate on the
zoological case: our position in the tree of animal life. Now this
seems to me rather a pity. Surely every food reformer is also a
humanitarian, and every humane vegetarian a food reformer? I believe
this is so, but it should be more obvious.
The zoological argument has always been irrefutable - our teeth
are not made to tear live flesh nor our intestines to digest grass.
We are so obviously made to eat nuts and fruit. And since the advent
of factory farming surely every humanitarian, every
anti-vivisectionist, every opponent of bloodsports, ought to become
It was suggested at the conference that long before either the
humanitarians or the hygienists will have converted mankind, sheer
economic necessity will have abolished the carnivorous habit - the
production of protein for human consumption via the animal body
being so much more wasteful than its production by certain plants.
True enough, but how sad if sheer greed and lust for the fleshpots
is finally beaten not by kindness and reason but only by necessity!
Therefore it is surely up to every vegetarian so to insist on the
strength of the zoological case and of the humane case so that the
man in the street at least feels uneasy as he turns away!
When will the leaders of medicine talk about meat as most of them
now do about tobacco, as some of them still do about alcohol? It is
a stupid thing to poison your lungs with tobacco; it is a cruel
thing to cripple or kill someone with your car because there is beer
or brandy inside you. It is both stupid and cruel to eat meat. That
is the message we should all proclaim on every fitting occasion.
Rev Basil Viney
The Vegetarian August, 1974