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Title: Why I Am a Vegetarian
 - An Address Delivered Before the Chicago Vegetarian Society
Author: Moore, J. Howard (John Howard)
Language: English
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Why I Am a Vegetarian

An Address Delivered Before the Chicago Vegetarian Society

By J. Howard Moore

Frances L. Dusenberry
McVicker's Theatre Building


The human race is like a snake--it sheds. Ever and anon, as the
ages bloom, old forms of thought are superseded by intellectual
bran-news. Shrines at which one generation adores become to the
succeeding desolate and despised.

This little brochure has a mission. It is not a formidable one, but
it is. It goes out with the hope that it may help, if ever so
infinitesimally, in ridding the human of that terrific instinct of
_inconsideration_ toward the sub-human races. Solidarity is its
plea, human and universal.

It would be inexcusable to suppose it to be exhaustive. It is not
even defensive. It is a projectile, and projectiles do not apologize.

It intends to be followed.

J. H. M.

Chicago, May, 1895.

"What more advance can mortals make in sin?
Deaf to the calf that lies beneath the knife,
Looks up and from the butcher begs her life.
Deaf to the harmless kid, who, ere he dies,
All efforts to procure thy pity tries,
And imitates in vain they children's cries."


"No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by the Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them."


"It is a vulgar error to regard meat in any form as necessary to
human life."


"The anthropoids and all the quadrumana derive their alimentation
from fruits, grains, and other succulent vegetal substances, and the
strict analogy between the structure of those animals and that of
man clearly demonstrates his frugivorous nature."

-- OWEN.

"Does it not shame you to mingle blood and murder with nature's
beneficent fruits? Other carnivora you call savage and
ferocious--lions, tigers and serpents--while yourselves come
behind them in no species of barbarity. And yet for them murder is
the only means of sustenance, whereas to you it is a superfluous
luxury and crime."



I am not here to convert you to vegetarianism. I know too well the
nature of mind to commit any such blunder. I am here to talk English
and, if possible, give you glimpses. I can not hope in half a
hundred minutes to rinse from your brains sand bars that have been
ages in depositing. It is no holiday matter to emancipate one's
self from an old, inveterate slavery. It is a task so formidable
that few do it without help. It requires a courage and an iconoclasm
greater than most possess to make heroic initiatives. But after a
reform is accomplished and its principles become matters of course,
there are then few persons without the ability to look back and
wonder why idiots are so much like men.

Men are somnambulistic. Stupefied by the long night of instinct out
of which it arose, the human mind is only half awake. Washington was
the father of a country, but he held human beings as slaves and paid
his hired help in Virginia whisky. It took Americans one hundred
years to find out that "all men" included Ethiopians. Men who
risked their lives to achieve personal and political liberty for
black men deliberately doom white women to a similar servitude. Rich
men give millions to museums or universities, when they would know,
if they had the talent to stop and think, that the thousands who
make their wealth work like wretches from morning till night and
suffocate in garrets and feed on garbage, in order that they may be
munificent. Human beings preach as the cardinal of morality that
they should act upon others as they would be pleased to have others
act upon them, and then take the most sensitive and beautiful beings
all palpitating with life, and chop them into fragments with a
composure that would do honor to the managers of an inferno.

It has been said that when a proposition is presented to us for our
acceptance or rejection we treat it as we would treat an article of
furniture presented to us for our apartments. We try it. If it fits
in character and complexion, we accept it, and it becomes a part of
our paraphernalia. If it does not fit, we reject it. Every
proposition that comes to our intelligence is thus accepted or
dismissed, depending on the congeniality or uncongeniality of the
subjective and the objective. It is impossible absolutely for mind,
constituted as it is on the earth, to accept a proposition that is
antagonistic to it. And when a proposition is presented to the mind,
the only way in the world to win its acceptance is by coaxing and
modifying the mind itself. I come to you tonight with a proposition.
In a very feeble and fragmentary way I attempt to do what every
polemic attempts to do--to dynamite your minds, to havoc their
foundations and reconstruct them in harmony with the proposition I
champion. But there are so many attitudes of opposition possible, so
many objections that are thinkable, and so many things assumed by
those who pitch themselves against it, that I cannot hope in one
evening to accomplish more than a beginning. But if I can somehow
succeed in dilating your pupils a little, and enable you to realize
in some measure the infamy in which you and the rest of the
occidental world are today engaged, I shall feel better than if I
had spoken to stones.

I want to remind you and warn you that it makes no difference how
just a proposition may be and how universally and unreservedly it
may be ultimately accepted, its beginning is always a period of
interrogation and war. When Garrison first announced the proposition
denying the right to auction Ethiopians, the proposition was
assailed by the most formidable volleys of objection. Those
objections seem puerile today, but in the days in which this
proposition found few heads in which to hide, they were axioms of
ethical and political science. So when you take an attitude on this
proposition _remember_ there are future generations as well as this
one, and _be careful_ that you do not make the same spectacle of
yourself that poor old Webster and other blind men made when they
poured cold water down the spines of early Abolitionists.

I became a vegetarian by my own reflection. I did not know at the
time of the vegetarian movement, and, hence supposed myself alone
among republics of carnivora. It did not seem to me graceful or
ideal that I, an ethical being, should maintain my existence at the
incessant expense of misery and death to others. But the problem
that for some time tormented me was whether it were possible to keep
up a successful and at all interesting existence without ox-hips. I
wondered whether the universe were so constructed that it were
impossible for its most endowed children to live without the crudest
and most recreant egoism. There is now no remnant of a doubt about
the possibilities of a bloodless existence, nor even of its positive
hygienic advantages. I had been considerable of a vulture, and for
sometime after eliminating flesh from my menus I had desire for it.
But gradually that desire faded, and there came in its stead a
growing horror of flesh. The grinding of the tissues of my fellow
beings seemed horribly akin to the chewing of the emotions of my
friends. After a few weeks of fruits and vegetables there came over
me a feeling of exultation and superiority and crispness that was
truly novel. Today, I am thoroughly emancipated from the coils of
kreophagy. I shall go down to my grave and out into the darkling
hereafter with a bloodless digestion, if I am the only animal in the
universe to do so. The flesh-tearing performances which I am
compelled everywhere to behold seem to me to be the lurid deeds of
maniacs rather than the time and premeditated acts of sane beings.
And I can but pity, not only the creatures whose throats are severed
and whose skeletons are stripped, but the blind and reckless
cannibals who perpetrate these crimes. When the whole earth teems
with such a bewildering variety of beautiful and bloodless fruits,
it seems so strange and so sad and so frightful that man should
continue the barbarous, blood-sucking practices of the world's

Vegetarianism is the neglect by one being to suppress another for
nutritive purposes. I believe in it. I believe I should neglect to
suppress the interests and lives of _non_-human beings for
identically the same reason I should neglect to suppress the
interests and lives of _human_ beings. The exploitation of birds and
quadrupeds for human whim or convenience is an offense not different
in kind from the offenses denounced in human statutes as robbery and
murder. And the same logic which impels abstinence from one of these
offenses impels everyone who has the power to be consistent to
refrain from all of them.

There is, in fact, but one crime in the universe and all varieties
of impropriety whatsoever are aspects or phases of this crime. It is
the crime of _exploitation_--the suppression of the interests,
lives, or welfares of some beings for the whim or convenience of
others--the neglect to recognize the equal or the approximately
equal rights of all to life, consideration and happiness--the crime
of doing to others as you would that others would _not_ do to you.

I look back over the ages of this world--not the ages of human
history simply, for the history of the human species is but a little
section, the remembered chapter, in the history of the evolutions
which have been performed by mundane life. I look back to the
beginning of life on this planet--back 50,000,000 of years ago,
when the first protoplasmic specks sprawled in primeval seas. Life
originated in the sea fifteen hundred thousand human generations
ago. After ages of evolution it crept out upon the continents,
subsequently entered the forests, climbed and clambered among the
trees, became endowed with perpendicularity and hands, descended and
walked upon the soil, invented agriculture, built cities and
states--and here we are. Human civilization is but the van, the
hither terminus, of an evolutional process which had its beginning
away back in the protoplasm of primeval slime. The philosopher is
the remote posterity of the meek and lowly monad.

Now, the whole, enterprise, this entire process of biological
evolution, has been accomplished by the survival from age to age of
the fittest to survive; that is, by the subjection and elimination
of the weak and the simple by the more powerful and sophisticated,
And the disposition to exploit manifested by every animal that
breathes, from philosopher to fish, is a disposition which has been
implanted in the natures of living beings by the necessities of
evolution. The great task of reforming the universe, therefore, is
the task of eliminating from the natures of its inhabitants the
disposition to be inhospitable, egoistic and merciless, which has
been everywhere developed by evolution.

In the ideal universe the life and happiness of no being are
contingent upon the suffering and death of any other. And the fact
that in this universe of ours life and happiness have been and are
today so largely maintained by the infliction of indescribable
misery and extinction, is the most pathetic, the most stupendous,
and the most sickening contemplation that ever invaded human mind.
It is encouraging to know, however, that life in its highest forms,
that is, as represented by the most cultured aggregates of the human
species, is evolving rapidly and irrepressibly toward the ideal,
that is, toward a social state in which the interests and life of
each individual being are more and more equally precious. What are
civilization and morality? What do we mean by ethical progress? The
growth of consideration for others--nothing more--simply cessation
of, or abstinence from, exploitation. Courtesy, kindness, justice,
altruism, humanity, what are they? They are the qualities which
distinguish those who put themselves in the place of others, who
recognize the existence and the preciousness of others, and who act
upon others as they themselves would be pleased to have others act
upon them. Otherism is the antithesis of _laissez faire_. The growth
of civility in the earth is the growth of the principle or
consciousness of solidarity among its inhabitants.

Vegetarianism, therefore, that is, abstinence from non-human
exploitation or the recognition of universal solidarity, is related
from this exalted standpoint to the logic of the Magna Charta, the
Declaration of Independence and the modern movements of social
reform. The sympathies of the consistent vegetarian go out naturally
to the stricken and oppressed everywhere--to Cuba in her struggle
for autonomy, to Ireland in her misery, to the helpless quadruped
quivering under the pole-ax, and to the pitiable proletarian who
goes up and down the monopolized universe seeking in vain for
opportunities to earn honest nutrition. The vegetarian who is
conscious enough to be consistent is in love with the universe, not
simply with his wife or clan or species. He strives to be graceful
to every being whose destinies he contacts, however humble or
hopeless or eccentric that being may be.

I am a vegetarian because I believe that present-day ethics is
founded on that puerile, pre-Darwinian delusion that all other kinds
of creatures and all worlds were created explicitly _for_ the
hominine species. Vegetarianism is the ethical corollary of
evolution. It is simply the expansion of ethics to suit the
biological revelations of Charles Darwin. Evolution has taught us
the kinship of all creatures. The ancient hiatus between man and the
other animals has been effectually sewed up. Biology teaches us, if
it teaches us anything, that there is a solidarity of the sentient
world. Man is simply _one_ of a _series_ of sentients, differing in
degree but not in kind from the creatures below and around him. The
ox he enslaves and slays and the poor reptile that wriggles in his
pathway are his brothers, partaking of his nature and sharing his
destiny. Man is simply the adult of long evolution, and his
qualities are, of course, found among the juveniles and infants of
the sentient world. The industrious bee, the civilized ant, the
devoted steed, the mischievous ape, the irascible serpent, the
sagacious elephant, the beautiful gazelle and the great, honest ox
have within them in embryo all the emotions that roll through the
soul of man. Fear, love, fidelity, hate, jealousy, joy, selfishness,
curiosity, remorse, are all found everywhere, and they are the same
passions that heave your breast and mine. Chastity, sobriety,
obedience, personal cleanliness, industry, sympathy, self-control,
friendship, heroism, sagacity--many dogs and other semi-civilized
animals have all these qualities, and in a greater degree even than
whole races of men. And these faculties and capacities of the
non-hominine world are the same identical faculties and capacities
that you have and I have. Industry and ingenuity in the beaver are
just as genuine and just as commendable as the same qualities in
man. The faithful dog who stood over the lifeless body of his master
grieving for recognition and starting at every flutter of his
garments till he himself died of starvation, was just as noble as if
he had all his days walked on his hind legs and worn a cane. The
wild bird who takes her life in her wings to save her nestlings from
the voracious serpent, and the mother bear away on the Arctic snows
who allows herself to be murdered in order to save her child, have
just as genuine mother love and love just as sacred as that which
burns in the breast of woman. The ingenious ant, which tends its
fields, gathers its harvests, keeps slaves and armies and goes to
war, and performs about all the antics of civilized man except
maltreating the females and drinking gin, is not less civilized, and
its civilization is not less real, because it is miniature. And the
Christian who goes to church on Sunday and wails long prayers and
then goes home and stuffs his alimentary with the quivering vitals
of his naive fellows, and through the week lashes the flanks of his
overburdened horse till the strained tendons are ready to snap, is
not less criminal because he is strategic, and his crimes are not
less infernal because they have no penalty but his conscience and no
judge but himself. Whether we realize it or not the doctrine that on
mankind's account all the rest of the animal world came into being
and that all non-human beings are mere hunks devoid of all psychic
qualities found in man, is a doctrine not one whit more sagacious
than the old geocentric theory of the universe.

Man has defined himself as the "paragon of the universe." I do
not say that he is not. I simply say that if he is, the universe has
no cause for dry eyes. Man's treatment of his own kind especially
his conduct toward the forms of life differing from him have been
such as to brand him as a most ill-mannered and immodel organism.
Human beings have been sufficiently clever and sufficiently devoted
to each other to evolve into the masters of the earth, but instead
of converting themselves into preceptors for the conquered races,
they have become the butchers of the universe. Instead of becoming
the models and school-masters of the world in which they have
outstripped, and striving to repair the clumsy natures and regulate
the straying feet of those by means of whom they have been hoisted
into distinction, they have become colossal pedants and assassins,
proclaiming themselves the pets and gods of creation and teaching
each other that other races are mere fixtures to furnish food and
amusement for themselves. They inculcate as a rule of conduct--and
they preach it valiantly--that each should act upon others as he
himself would choose to be acted upon. This ideal of social
rectitude has been promulgated by the sages of the species for more
than 2,000 years. But with miserable pusillanimity they confine its
application to the members of their own species. No non-human is too
innocent or too interesting or too wonderful to escape the most
frightful humiliations, if by those humiliations human comfort or
human amusement or human whim is in any way whatever garnished.

Look at the horse! No nobler and more beautiful creature is found in
all the animal realm. A marvel of strength, speed and splendor. The
most useful and most consummate associate of man. What wonderful
possibilities of reciprocity! Man takes the horse from the plains,
where he is exposed to the inclemencies of weather, the
contingencies of food and the blunders of his own childlike nature.
He gives him regular meals, pleasant shelter, intellectual
surroundings, and a home. The horse in return gives man the benefit
of his superior strength and speed, bearing man and his burdens and
supplementing in a thousand ways the inadequate energies of his
mentor. These are the possibilities, the ideal--gigantic strength
supplementing superior wisdom. Beautiful reciprocity! What are the
actualities? Sad, indeed! The horse is not an associate but a
_slave_. He has no rights, and is seldom suspected of being entitled
to feelings or vanities at all. He is treated as if he had merely
existence and usefulness. He is neglected, overburdened and
overworked, beaten, insulted, starved, maimed, misunderstood,
deprived of leisure and liberty, unconsidered--doomed to an
environment out of which has been drained every element calculated
to promote his happiness and intelligence and perpetuate his
nobility and beauty. He is a mere suggestion of the might-have-been.
His regal neck has wilted; the splendid flanks are lean and drawn;
the ambitious face is sad. The proud galloper of the plains, the
companion of the winds, bearing fire in his nostrils and thunder in
his hoofs, has become a soured, impoverished, broken-hearted but
faithful _wreck_. The stars of heaven never looked down on a more
pitiful sight than that of a horse, after having drudged all his
days in the service of his lord, cast out in his helpless old age to
wander and perish.

Our own happiness and that of our species are believed to be so much
more important than that of others that we sacrifice without scruple
the most sacred prerogatives of others in order that our own may be
fastidiously trimmed. Even for a tooth or a feather to wear on our
vanity marauders are sent through the forests of the earth to ravage
and depopulate them. Beautiful beings which fill the woods with song
and juvenility are compelled to sprawl lifeless and disheveled on
the skulls of unconscionable sillies. Criminal and inconvenient
races are exterminated with eager and superfluous violence.
Thousands of innocent and helpless souls are caught up and carried
by unfeeling emissaries into foul dungeons and there doomed by
ghoulish clowns of science to the most protracted, useless, and
damning victimizations. It is enough almost to make villains
weep--the cold-blooded manner in which human beings cut the
throats, dash out the brains, and discuss the flavor of their
victims at their cannibalistic feasts.

Look at the scenes to be met with in all our streets and stockyards!
An army of butchers standing in blood ankle deep and working
themselves to exhaustion carving the throats of their helpless
fellows--unsuspecting oxen with limpid eyes looking up at the
deadly pole-ax and a moment later lying a-quiver under its
relentless thud--struggling swine swinging by their hinders with
their life leaping from their gashed jugulars--an atmosphere in
perpetual churn with the groans and yells of the massacred--streets
thronged with unprocessioned funerals--everywhere corpses dangling
from sale-hooks or sprawling on chopping blocks--men and women
kneeling nightly by their pillow sides and congratulating themselves
on their whiteness and rising and leaping on the bloody remains of
some slaughtered fellow--such are the spectacles in all our streets
and stockyards, and such are the enormities perpetrated day after
day by Christian cannibals on the defenseless dumb ones of this

Holy days, days above all others when it seems men's minds would
be bent on compassion, are farces of gluttony and ferocity.
Unfeeling ruffians cowardly shoot down defenceless birds or prowl
the country in rival squads massacring every living creature that is
not able to escape them--_and for no higher or humaner purpose than
just to see who can kill the most!_ This is egoism unparalleled on
the face of the earth. No species of animal except man plunges to
such depths of atrocity. It is bad enough in all conscience for one
being to suppress another in order to tear it to pieces and swallow
it, but when such outrages are perpetrated by organized packs just
for pastime it becomes an enormity beyond characterization. The
insectivora, the carnivora, and the reptile are cruel. It is
horrible to contemplate the enormous wickedness perpetrated on the
less offensive races by these relentless brutes. But the crimes
committed by the hominine species are the most insolent and
extravagant in the universe. Non-human murderers are ruthless, but
even serpents and hyenas do not exterminate for sport. A universe
is, indeed, to be pitied whose dominating inhabitants are so
unconscious, so irresponsible, and so ethically repulsive that they
make life a commodity, mercy a disease, and systematic massacre a
pastime and profession.

I am a vegetarian because I believe in the golden rule. _Act toward
others as you would that others would act toward you_, has been the
basic precept of the morals of the generations. This wonderful rule
has been mouthed and mouthed since the days of Confucius, 2,400
years ago. But it never has been _lived_. Do as you would be done
by. Certainly. _But to whom?_ Each class or clan has been its own
little clique to whom it after a fashion observed this rule. Slavery
and slaughter have been the rule toward everyone else. The
Troglodytes hunted the Ethiopians in four-horse chariots with as
little compunction as Americans hunt the wood-deer today. A Roman
could take the life of his Gallic slave with as perfect impunity as
an American can slay his bovine servant today. Yet to kill a Gaul
was as really murder as to kill a Roman. It hasn't been very long
since all the Christian nations hunted their dusky brethren in
Africa and sold and loaned and lashed them as we do the horse today.
All these crimes are now matters of course to us. It is the same old
story. We can see behind us but not around us. After so many
centuries the solidarity of _our species_ has dimly dawned on us,
but we can not discern the solidarity of all the animal world. We go
on daily committing crimes as horrible as those we execrate. And we
do it for the very same reason our long line of ancestors have done
it, because the human mind is too feeble to be conscious of all the
complicated relations which it is called upon to be conscious of.

The apology of the criminals has always been the same as it is
today--that the crucified creatures were of a different order of
being--that a chasm yawned between the persecutors and the
persecuted--that there was not a solidarity. The Gaul has no rights
because he was a "barbarian." The fact that he has a nervous
system and a love of life had nothing to do with it. The black man
had no rights that were inconvenient to respect because he had no
soul and because his subordination was God-ordained. And the honest
ox and the faithful dog have no rights today, _because they were
made to be murdered._

I am a vegetarian because I believe in justice. There is injustice
in the universe, because there are beings in it who monopolize its
sweets and opportunities. They want their own pleasures and also the
pleasures of others. They shuffle upon others their bitters, and at
the same time rob them of their sweets. Others live, not as ends,
but as means and conveniences. I do not eat my fellow creatures, for
the same reason I do not enslave my brother and treat my sister as
an appendage and otherwise monopolize the sweets and opportunities
of the planet. There are on this ball billions of beings. They are
my fellow creatures. So far as I can make out they have
approximately the same right to existence and to the enjoyment of
existence as I have. I do not want their pleasures and I do not want
them to drink my sorrows. I want simply my own and I am perfectly
content to rob no one. In the words of another, "I never want
happiness that gives another pain. I wish not happiness from
others--only happiness out of the bosom of the great ALL which
comes like the red flowers of the oleander."

I am a vegetarian because it is logical and natural to be so. The
vegetable world contains all the elements necessary to human
sustenance, and in a much more prime condition than they are found
in the diseased tissues of our mistreated servants. The belief that
we can not have peach in our dimples and diamonds in our brains
without dead bodies in our digestion is a belief having no
foundation except ignorance. Vegetal fibrin is identical with animal
fibrin, and vegetal albumen is identical with animal albumen. Even
in albuminoids, in the supply of which meat is supposed to be rather
exclusive, there are vegetables, nuts and grains that far exceed
chops and steaks. Fish, for instance, contains about 13 per cent. of
albuminoids, pork on average 16 per cent., and beef 17½ per cent.;
while nuts furnish from 8 to 25 per cent., grains 7 to 15 per cent.,
eggs 14 per cent., cheese 29 per cent., peas 22 per cent., lentils
25 per cent., and beans from 22 to 35 per cent. The vegetable world,
in fact, is the natural storehouse and the only original storehouse
from which animals may derive energy. No animal can produce
protoplasm, which is the basis of all life and energy. This is a
function of the plant, and of the plant only. All an animal can do
is to take it after it is produced and burn it up. Animals are
simply locomotives consuming the energy which plants slowly
accumulate from the sun. It is a graceful and perfect
process--plants storing up energy from the soil and sun, the
inorganic, and the animal using this energy and completing the
circle by sending the elements back again to the inorganic. And it
is a "barbarism" in nature for animals to violate this beautiful
arrangement by turning around and swallowing each other.

To one accustomed to obtain his supply of protoplasm chiefly from
the bones of other animals instead of from the kingdom of the plant,
the assertion that it is possible not only to sustain but to enhance
existence on a fleshless diet seems very strange. It is not strange
that such an assertion should seem strange. Anything is strange to
the uninitiated. And the amount of ignorance on this subject is
well-nigh pitiable. The delusion that flesh is the most genuine
source of human energy has become so fixed that it actually disturbs
the respiration of nineteen out of twenty to be told that flesh
compared with many foods is a dilute form of nutrition, and that
more than half the inhabitants of the earth today are practical and
prosperous vegetarians. There is no reason known to science or
experience why human beings may not keep up as profitable and as
interesting an existence without flesh as with it. In fact, after an
experience of four years and a rather careful contemplation of the
matter, I assert that physiological integrity may be more accurately
sustained by a judicious diet of fruits, grains, vegetables, and
nuts than by a diet in which carrion is a distinguished constituent.
Man is not naturally a carnivorous animal. He has evolved from the
frugivorous anthropoids, and has a long biological ancestry of
vegetarians. His mouth, digestive organs, skin structure, and modes
of life are all unadapted to a carnivorous life. Man has probably
adopted predatory habits almost within historic times. Not only the
student and the thinker but the manual laborer as well is benefited
by a fleshless regimen. A breakfast of oatmeal and cream, a couple
of eggs on toast, whole wheat muffins and butter, and a nice rich
apple or banana is much more civilized, nutritious and economical
than a breakfast in which bloody beef plays chief role. The most
successful burden bearers of the world today are vegetarians. The
Turkish longshoremen, perhaps the most powerful bipeds on the planet
(except the gorilla), are lifelong vegetarians. They will pick up a
burden of six or eight hundred pounds and walk away with it with no
more effort than is made by a meat-eating Englishman in carrying two
hundred. De Lesseps said that the Suez Canal, the greatest
engineering achievement ever accomplished on the earth, never could
have been finished, on account of the heat and the slavish character
of the labor, by meat-eating Europeans. It had to be done by the
barley-feeding Bedouins and Armenians. De Lesseps became a
vegetarian and remained one to his death, from his experiences in
the building of the Suez Canal. The peasantry of Russia, Italy,
Germany, Ireland, and even Norway and Sweden away from the coast,
are largely vegetarians. So, also, are millions in the Orient.

From the standpoint of economy alone vegetarianism ought to appeal
powerfully to everyone possessed of undoubted sanity. If men would
take the beautiful fruits of the soil, fresh from nature's hand,
instead of sitting down and devouring in the form of the accumulated
residuum of ruminants an acre at a meal, the problem of the
increasing density of mundane population would not be such a grave

I am a vegetarian, therefore, because cannibalism is unnecessary. I
can live just as well and be just as happy without drinking the
blood of my fellows, and why _should_ I slay them? Why _should_ I
not live and let live--especially when I can do it just as well as
not? It is not _necessary_ that ten thousand creatures should give
up their lives in order that I may keep mine, and if I make any
pretensions to morality why should I require them to do it? If you
say such a thing _is_ necessary in your case, I say to you it is
not--and further, that if it were, it would be your duty as an
ethical being to call on your undertaker. There is no sense in
carnivora talking about ethics and justice and mercy, for their very
existence is a travesty on such things. It makes me indignant and
sad when I hear men deplore sin and prate about justice and love and
mercy, when the very energy they expend in preaching justice and
mercy is obtained from the skeletons and sensibilities of their
fellows. It is a spectacle that ought to make the imps of netherdom
tremble for their laurels--man, the remorseless glutton, going
about with a tongue and a knife, with his tongue preaching peace,
mercy, and love, and with his knife making the very earth sodden
with blood.

It may seem irreverent, but I say it, that if Christians can do
these crimes and yet so act as to earn celestial ecstasies, hell
will be uninhabited. I would like to retain respect for the religion
of my boyhood, but when I see that religion look with equanimity and
even levity upon a hemorrhage wide as the continents and horrible
even to heathens, not only wink at it but actually perpetuate it,
and even scaffold those few emancipated souls who are trying to
curtail it--I almost despair of it.

Vegetarianism appeals not to the selfish but to the noble. It is for
beings who love justice, liberty, reciprocity. It teaches the Golden
Rule in its only sensible sense. It recognizes the moral progress of
the past and points to those still higher highlands toward which the
ages have ever heaved. It teaches to do as you would be done by.
"To whom?" Not to the black man and the white woman alone, but
to the sorrel horse and the gray squirrel as well. Yes, do as you
would be done by--not to creatures of your own anatomy or your own
guild only, _but to all creatures._ In a world like this, with its
tangles and irrationalities, it is impossible to act in every
particular at all times and to all creatures ideally. This is not an
ideal world, and if we are to judge of the universe by the clod we
root and ride on, the whole thing is not a flattering affair. Our
relations to our fellow _men_ are not ideal, and from the nature of
things _they never can be_. But we think we can do amply when we do
the best we can. The difference between him who attempts honestly
and faithfully to do just the best he can and him who knows little
and cares less is as great as the difference between January and

Enjoy and let others enjoy. Live and let live. Do more. _Live and
help live._ Do to beings below you as you would be done by beings
above you. Pity the grub and the ladybug, and have mercy on the
mole. Poor, defenceless, undeveloped, untaught creatures. They are
our fellow mortals. They are enmeshed in the same mighty processes
as we. They came from the same source and are destined to the same
end. They lived, moved and breathed on primeval land fragments when
the continents we creep over were sleeping in the seas. They are our
ancestors. They are the forms of being that have made you and me
possible. Let us be brothers and sisters to them, not ruffians; pity
them and help them and pray for their untaught natures. Let us be
consistent, for we have but one life to live. We are striving for
the amelioration of this suffering world. Let us be economical. Let
us not with one hand pour oil upon its agonies and with the other
inflict gashes. Let us vow allegiance to the principles of universal
courtesy and love, whether to the lone worm wandering in the
twilight of consciousness, the feathered forms of the fields and
forest, the heifer of the meadows, the simple savage on the banks of
the gladed river, the political slaves whom men call wives, or the
economic exiles of industry. The same spirit of sympathy and
fraternity that broke the black man's manacles and is today
melting the white woman's chains will tomorrow emancipate the
workingman and the heifer, and as the ages bloom and the great
wheels of the centuries grind on, the same spirit of leaven shall
banish _Selfishness_ from the earth and convert the planet finally
to one unbroken and unparalleled spectacle of _Peace_, _Justice and

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Why I Am a Vegetarian
 - An Address Delivered Before the Chicago Vegetarian Society" ***

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