Sir, - Taking up this week's Vegetarian, I read Lady Coomara Swamy's
letter, under the above heading, as also Miss Beeby's letter.
It seems to me, the first thing needed is a true definition of the
word "consistent." I contend that even a butcher may be a consistent
Vegetarian. To me, the word means to act up to the principle professed;
e.g., if one says he is an abstainer from flesh, fish, and fowl and is
seen eating a ham sandwich he is inconsistent. To be consistent is to
make one's practice harmonize with one's profession. The second
definition needed is that of the word "Vegetarianism" - which for the
last forty years I have always understood to be the principle of
abstaining from flesh, fish, and fowl - no more and no less. The
Vegetarian Society (over half a century old), so defines it.
I have been a consistent Vegetarian all my life, but not a
Humanitarian. In my younger days I was fond of "sport" and was a fairly
good shot. I am now a Humanitarian as well as a Vegetarian. The July
number of the Danielite Star contains an article on this subject.
Lady Swamy used the word Vegetarian, but all the time she is dealing
In my opinion, one of the greatest drawbacks to the Vegetarian
movement is the everlasting forcing into our dietary-recipes of
quantities of milk, butter, eggs, &c, all of which are totally
unnecessary - though milk and its products are perfectly consistent with
a Vegetarian diet, for is not milk the food, and the only food, of
vegetarian creature in its earlier existence? Personally, I believe milk
as a food to be absolutely wrong for any matured creature, but it is
perfectly consistent with Vegetarianism. It is inconsistent with
"natural living"; and so are tea and coffee and all hot drinks.
Because I, as a Vegetarian, am also a Christian Sabbath-keeper (Sabbatarian
or Seventh-day Baptist), it does not make it right for me to claim that
Sabbatarianism is a part of Vegetarianism. Yet this is exactly what many
of our Humanitarian friends are doing with their side-beliefs.
A professed Vegetarian eating fish would be decidedly inconsistent,
the same as a Teetotaler drinking beer. The Vegetarian who takes milk is
like the Teetotaler who takes tea - both are perfectly consistent, but
in my opinion, both are decidedly unwise.
Miss Beeby amuses me much with her "impassable gulf between the
killing of fish and the killing of cattle." I fear the wish is father to
the thought. At one time I certainly thought there were many Vegetarian
arguments that could not be applied to fish, but that was dispelled by
an excellent letter or article in the Vegetarian a few years ago. I
should be glad if you, Mr. Editor, would look it up and reprint it, it
will bear repeating in your pages. After reading that article, with a
candid mind I think the "impassable gulf" will be found to be but a
hallucination, which has no real existence.
That fishermen are brave men I do not deny, but fishermen are no
braver than other sailors - thus it is not the fishing that makes them
brave. They simply "risk their lives" to obtain a living, just the same
as do other "brave" men - divers, soldiers, steeple-jacks,
engine-drivers, doctors, &c.
I am quite sure that even Vegetarians are a deal too Epicurean; we
are sadly too fond of "savoury" food, which is not a natural diet. We
need to turn more to fruit and seed - the divinely-appointed food - and
learn to give up the "many inventions" that man has sought out to his
T. W. Richardson.
Wood Green, N.
September 1st, 1899
From The Vegetarian, October 7th, 1899.
Reproduced with Thanks to the Vegetarian Society.
NB. T. W. Richardson founded The Order of Danielites in 1876 to
promote Christian vegetarianism within the Temperance movement.
Letters from History