May 15, 1850
Rev. Metcalfe describes the tenets of the American Vegetarian Society
American Vegetarian Society is established
The Rev. William Metcalfe on taking the chair, addressed the Convention in a few appropriate remarks, expressive of the objects of the Convention. So far as he was informed, he believed the objects contemplated to be, to promote a knowledge of the principles, and an extension of the practice of a Vegetable Diet in the community; - to induce habits of abstinence from fish, flesh and fowl, as food; and secure the adoption of a principle which would tend essentially to promote a "sound mind in a sound body."
He observed that the subject was one of a deeply interesting nature. The preservation of health, and the attainment of longevity were objects of desire with every human being, whatever might be the tenure by which life was held. The subject of diet was confessedly one of interest to all, and one on whichall ought to have an accurate knowledge, especially as to its main principles, and their more immediate personal application. He had long ago laid aside the use of the flesh of animals, and had confined himself to the products of the vegetable kingdom. "It was nearly forty-one years since he had made use of any kind of flesh-food. He had raised a family, some of his children being present; and he had children and grandchildren who had never tasted flesh. The consequence of that system of dietetics had been altogether satisfactory. As a general thing they had enjoyed good health - better in fact, than their neighbours. When the yellow fever broke out in Philadelphia, in 1818, his residence was in the immediate vicinity of its appearance. He visited families afflicted with that disease, and yet neither himself nor his family were affected by the epidemic. The same exemption was experienced during the cholera of 1832 and 1849. All those facts went to confirm more fully, the sentiment in favour of vegetable food, long ago embraced, that the diet best adopted to health - best adapted to the true enjoyment of life, and to the development of all the higher powers of our nature, was that known as the Vegetarian Diet (Applause).
They had met there to endeavour to form a Vegetarian Society, composed of individuals favourable to the adoption and dissemination of principles advocating the Vegetable Diet. It would be for that assembly to consider whether it would be well to organize an association of that kind then, or not, and to act accordingly. Some discussion followed these remarks of the President.
That comaprative anatomy, human physiology, and chamical analysis of different animal and farinaceous substances, uniteldly proclaim the position, that not only the human race may, but should, subsist upon the productions of the vegetable kingdom.
That the Vegetarianm principle of diet derives the most ancient authority from the appointment of the Creator to man - when he lived in purity and peace, and was blessed with health and happiness - in Paradise.
That though the use of animal food be claimed, under the sanction of succeeding times, it rests only on the permissions accorded to man in his degraded condition, and is a departure from the appointment of the creator.
That if any man would return to Paradise and purity, to mental and physical enjoyment, he must return to the Paradisaical diet, and abstain from the killing and eating of animals as food.
That there is found in the vegetable world every element which enters into the animal organization; and that combinations of those elements in the vegetable kingdom are best adapted to the most natural and healthy nourishment of man.
That the approbation of man's unsophisticated and unbiassed powers of taste, sight, and smell, are involuntarily given to fruits, farinacea, and vegetable substances, in preference to the mangled carcases of butchered animals.
That flesh-eating is the key-stone to a wide-spread arch of superfluous wants, to meet which, life is filled with stern and rugged encounters, while the adoption of a vegetarian diet is calculated to destroy the strife of antagonism, and to sustain life in serenity and strength.
That as there are intellectual feasts and a mental being into which the inebriate can never enter, and delights which he can never enjoy - so there are mental feasts, and a moral being, which to the flesh-eater can never be revealed, and moral happiness in which he cannot fully participate.
That cruelty, in any form, for the mere purpose of procuring unnecesary food, or to gratify depraved appetites, is obnoxious to the pure human soul, and repugnant to the noblest attributes of our being.
That the evidence of Linnaeus, Sir Richard Phillips, Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, John Wesley, Swedenborg, Howard, Jefferson, Rouseau, Akenside, Pope, Shelley, Sir John Sinclair, Arbuthnot, and a host of others, living as well as ancient observers of nature, testify to the truth of vegetarianism.
That in the vegetarian cause, a new field of exercises is opened up to the moral reformer, in which he is most earnestly and cordially invited to become a co-worker with truth, by adopting its teachings in the government of his own life, and by diffusing its principles in all his efforts for the elevation of his fellow man.
That we will personally interest ourselves in promoting the circulation of publications calculated to advance our cause - such as the London Vegetarian Advocate, the water cure and phrenological journals of New York, and all publications having for their objects the promotion of a knowledge of the laws of our being.
That we hail with great joy the progress of the vegetarian cause in England, where large societies exist, which, in one or two instances, embrace nearly five hundred members.
That it is advisable to organize State and local vegetarian societies wherever practicable, with as littel delay as possible - lecturing and diffusing facts and principles in the science of man.