Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Great Minds Who Actually Thought First...

Famous vegetarians
by Dr. D. P. Atukorale
Many people throughout the ages have made the decision to forgo red meat and it is fascinating to follow the evolution of the vegetarian life-style from ancient to modern times, noting the varied reasons famous vegetarians had for their eating styles.
Gandi, the famous Indian leader and pacifist felt such a strong kinship with animal life he couldn't bear the thought of using innocent creatures for food. Said he: "To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of human body".
In ancient Greece, Socrates and Plato taught that vegetarianism was the ideal diet. The Buddha in India and Mohammed in Arabia also advised against meat consumption.
This diet also has been embraced by well-known artists, writers, and scientists including Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Sir Isaac Newton, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, HG Wells, Upton Sinclair and Charles Darwin.
Another legendary figure who was a vegetarian was Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer echoed Gandi's philosophy when he wrote "There slowly grew up in me an unshakable conviction that we have no right to inflict suffering and death on another living creature unless there is some unavoidable necessity for it, and we aught to feel what horrible thing it is to cause suffering and death out of mere thoughtlessness". (Colman McCarthy, Washington Post 13 Jan. 1976 p19).
George Bernard Shaw viewed meat consumption as "cannibalism with its heroic dish removed". He attributed his long productive life as a sociopolitical analyst and writer to this healthful diet".
"I flatly declare that a man fed on whisky and dead bodies cannot do the finest work of which he is capable" he wrote "I have managed to do my thinking without the stimulus of tea or coffee". Shaw boasted that he felt seldom less than ten times as well as an ordinary carcass eater" (James P. Garret, "George Bernard Shaw", Vegetarian Times July/August 1977).
Shaw felt so strongly about his vegetarian way of life that he published in 1918 "The Vegetarian Diet According To Shaw" in order to dispel the misconceptions about this dietary style. "An underfed man is no man who gets no meat or gets nothing but meat. He is one who does not get enough to eat, no matter what he eats.
The person who is ignorant enough to believe that his nourishment depends on meat is in a horrible dilemma". Shaw further believed that naturally harvested foods continuously nourished the life force within him.
He wrote "Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn. You bury it in the ground and it explodes into a giant oak. Bury a sheep and nothing happen but decay".
Philosopher Henry David Thoreau dedicated pages to the ideals of vegetarianism. He felt it is the destiny of the human in its gradual improvement to leave off eating animals as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with more civilized (Barbara Sarkesian, Vegetarian Times December 1976/January 1977, 20) Thoreau, like Shaw, felt that avoidance of meat improved his artistic endeavors (Daniel Wesolowski, Vegetarian Times, November/December 1977, 39).
In his masterwork, "Walden", he wrote, "I believe that even man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic facilities in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food."
Perhaps the best inspiration for a person on the brink of "going" vegetarian is a pair of modern day meat shunners Helen and Scott Nearing. Both wrote several books on vegetarianism. Both reaped the health benefits of the practice of living long and productive lives. Scott lived to be a hundred and Helen is now in her nineties.
Their meals consisted of wonderful concoctions of fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetable soups, nut butters and molasses. As newly weds in the thirties, the Nearings left busy city life and settled in the a rural area. Here they worked hard to become self-sufficient and rich "rich in fresh air, fresh water and sunshine".
Growing themselves most of what they ate, the Nearings enjoyed a freedom that no one dependent on commercially packaged meals and other foods could imagine: the freedom of "being master of your own destiny" (Helen and Scott Nearing "Living the Good Life at 95" Vegetarian Times 23, 1978, 38-39).
More recent vegetarians include well-known athletes, actors and musicians Oscar - winning Cloris Leachman attributed her youthfulness and vibrant health to her vegetarianism. The meat industry, she points out, has a very powerful lobby and its effects reach even our schools.
You will rarely hear about the value of vegetarianism in school. Moreover people have been led to feel that eating chicken, bacon, eggs, sausages and steak is a sign of prosperity because they have been indoctrinated to believe this by the meat industry.
Other vegetarian actors have included Dennis Weauer a veteran vegetarian over 20 years. James Coburn, Paul Newman, Cecey Tyson, Gloria Swanson and Susan St. James. Musicians include Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ravi Shanker, John Denver and now Slim Chubby Checker and Gladys Knight.
Susan Smith Jones, a health writer and a physical education instructor, incorporated vegetarianism into a holistic lifestyle including a ten-mile morning run and an hour of meditation every day. Susan says "If we don't take time for health, on whatever capacity that might be, we must take time for sickness".
Even athletes who once believed that top performance required them to pump iron" into their bodies with massive amounts of red meat often end up turning to vegetarianism.
These include vegetarian body builders like legendary Gilman Low who set nine world records in 1903 for his strength and endurance. Roy Hilligan the first vegetarian "Mr. America" and competitors including Ron Gleason a contender in the 1972 olympics.
John Marino, a vegetarian athlete, set a trans-continental by cycling record in August 1978 riding after 3 years of training from Los Angeles to New York in just thirteen days one hour and twenty minutes.
Describing his training he explained "the first step is detoxification of the body. Unnatural foods, chemicals, drugs, alcohol, artificial flavourings and preservatives bring on toxin build up in the body which can lead to disease, lethargy and in extreme cases-death.
Our bodies are designed to consume organic foods in the natural state (Robyn M. Grasing, Vegetarian Times Jan/Feb 1979, 30-31).
Another athlete who renounced meat is Norwegian Skier Arden Haugen, elected to the Skiing championships. Turning away from meat toward a diet of whole grain cereals and breads, vegetables, fruits and soy milk he upped his stamina and made breathing easier.
Longer life, clearer thinking, optimum body performance and even creative inspiration have all been attributed by famous vegetarians to their eating style and if you follow their lead, you may not become as famous as these celebrity vegetarians but chances are you will reap similar physical, mental and emotional benefits.
Reference : The Vegetarian Handbook by Gary Null.

1 comment:

Elefanterosado said...

Have you read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"? He writes about the horrors of the slaughterhouses. That book immediately came to mind as I read your post. Happy Thanksgiving!