January 1, 1932
Jarvis explains the Christian hygienic philosophy of Sylvester Graham's Bible oriented Garden of Eden lifestyle but explains why the vegetarian diet doesn't result in longetivity or good sources of nutrients such as B12, even describing a vegetarian RD who asked about getting B12 from vegetables.
Why I am not a vegetarian
East of Eden
It is possible to provide all essential nutrients except vitamin B12 without using animal foods. On the other hand, it is possible to provide all essential nutrients with a diet composed only of meat. Personal dietary appropriateness including the value of a diet as a source of essential nutrients and its value as a preventative for oneself and one's significant others is the foremost dietary consideration of pragmatic vegetarians. In contrast, the overriding dietary consideration of ideologic vegetarians varies with the particular ideology. Typically, their motivation is a blend of physical, psychosocial, societal, and moral, often religious, concerns.
A continual problem for SDAs who espouse the "back to Eden" ideology is the absence of a non-animal food source of vitamin B12. A vegetarian Registered Dietitian who wrote a column for a church periodical asked me if I thought vegans could derive vitamin B12 from organic vegetables that were unwashed before ingestion. I opined that it would be better to eat animal foods than fecal residues. She agreed.
A perennial assumption among vegetarians is that vegetarianism increases longevity. In the last century, Grahamites devotees of the Christian "hygienic" philosophy of Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) taught that adherence to the Garden of Eden lifestyle would eventuate in humankind's reclamation of the potential for superlongevity, such as that attributed to Adam (930 years) or Methuselah (969 years). I discussed this matter 25 years ago with an SDA physician who was dean of the Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Health. Although he admitted that lifelong SDA vegetarians had not exhibited spectacular longevity, he professed that longevity of the antediluvian sort might become possible over several generations of vegetarianism. SDA periodicals publicize centenarians and often attribute their longevity to the SDA lifestyle. However, of 1200 people who reached the century mark between 1932 and 1952, only four were vegetarians. 10 I continue to ask: Where on Earth is there an exceptionally longevous population of vegetarians? Hindus have practiced vegetarianism for many generations but have not set longevity records. At best, the whole of scientific data from nutrition-related research supports vegetarianism only tentatively. The incidence of colorectal cancer among nonvegetarian Mormons is lower than that of SDAs. 11 A review of populations at low risk for cancer showed that World War I veterans who never smoked had the lowest risk of all. 12 As data accumulate, optimism that diet is a significant factor in cancer appears to be diminishing. An analysis of 13 case-control studies of colorectal cancer and dietary fiber showed that, for the studies with the best research methods, risk estimates for dietary fiber and colorectal cancer were closer to zero.13 A pooled analysis of studies of fat intake and the risk of breast cancer that included SDA data showed no association. 14
A meatless diet can facilitate weight control because it is a form of food restriction. But one need not eliminate meat to maintain a healthy weight, and there are many overweight vegetarians. Surely prudence and selectivity overshadow mere abstention from consuming animal products.