The following excerpts from letters which "swamped the editorial
office" of the Vegetarian Society were published in The
Vegetarian (February 1976) - in response to a letter in the
When Miss Martin quotes the Bible as upholding man's right to
kill, and slaughtering as being the will of God (provided it is done
humanely), I can only presume that she has engaged in the
unfortunate practice of choosing a sentence that suits her and
robbing it of its context. If so this is a dangerous and dishonest
thing to do.
The Bible is not only a vast history but also contains 613
precepts which formed the Hebrew Law. Every sentence must be
correlated to the remainder and it is obvious from her comments that
she has not done this.
Genesis contains all the origins on which all subsequent writings
must be based, and your correspondent might like to consider that a
vegetarian diet for man is commanded in detailed and absolute terms.
Dominion over the animals has been clearly interpreted as meaning
guardianship with the right to use their labour with the same
protection as is given an employee but without the right to kill.
Nowhere is there any reference to humane killing. This is a
contradiction in terms, but there is a definite command "Thou shalt
The reference to starvation in India is also based on a
misconception. Many of the sacred cows forage for themselves and the
milk yield gives a great measure of nourishment to the Indian
population. In addition the bull calves provide the 300 million oxen
vital to transport in India, and without which the import of
machines and oil would bring chaos to an already serious balance of
payments problem. India produces more food than she needs but lack
of expertise in conservation, and the export of grain for foreign
exchange are the two prime causes of starvation. The Eastern races
export sufficient grain to feed about 900 million people, but which
goes to sustaining the unnaturally begotten herds which provide the
flesh which Miss Martin feels she must eat. She should be aware that
every time she consumes such flesh she is directly responsible for
playing a part in bringing about the death by starvation of another
Philip L. Pick
Hon. Life President,
The Jewish Vegetarian Society
Miss Martin is a Christian but what she promulgates is certainly
not Christian. Nor is it wholly Judaism, but derives from paganism.
Moreover the greatest of the prophets was almost certainly an Essene
and it would obviously be entirely out of character for those
healing hands to take a knife and slit the throat of a lamb - or to
eat a corpse and thus condone the action by another. Jesus was no
Let Miss Martin consider carefully the splendid letter by a
modern Jew, Bob Pinkus, in the same issue ('Overkill'). God is love
and by no means upholds man's unnecessary slaughter of his fellow
creatures. Love, like peace, is indivisible.
I too am a Christian and a Bible reader. I should like to point
out that we are told quite clearly that we are given the herbs of
the field for food in Genesis chapter 1. Self sacrifice is a
Christian law of life, not sacrifice of defenceless creatures. There
is no necessity and no excuse for flesh-eating.
It is hardly surprising that your Christian correspondent, T.
Martin, and others like her should claim that the Bible upholds
man's right to slaughter animals for food, when the clergy do
nothing to dispel that delusion. True, the Old Testament priests
were anxious to perpetuate pagan rites which developed into a
lucrative trade with edible perks. But the prophets showed greater
vision - "I would have mercy and not sacrifice, saith the Lord." Are
our present priesthood less courageous than the prophets and afraid
to proclaim the truth? Once again, they attempt to compromise.
Apart from meeting her references to the Bible and religion - the
argument for the carnivorous habit in man is, essentially, a matter
of palate not of dietary necessity in the days of ample alternative
sources of nutrition. Miss Martin gives the will of God as
justification of the carnivorous habit - the real one, I think, is
anything I like to eat I will eat, at any price.