November 2, 1930
The editors of a livestock industry paper mock the claims of a Dr Keller who complained about the exclusive-meat diet experiment done a year beforehand and call him a "dietary zealot."
The Producer - published Monthly in the interest of the live stock industry of the US by the American National Live Stock Association Publishing Company
THE INTREPID FOOD CRUSADER REFORMERS ARE A HARD-DYING LOT. Among the most persistent of the species is the dietary zealot. The man who conceives it to be his sacred mission to improve the eating or drinking habits of his fellow-beings will not accept defeat. Beaten at one end of the line, he immediately returns to the assault at the other.
A couple of years ago an experiment was conducted in New York City for the purpose of testing the effects of an all-meat diet on the human system under conditions as found in the temperate zone. The laboratory material was the explorers Stefansson and Andersen, who had lived in the Arctics for long periods on the food of the native Eskimos, which is practically nothing but meat, and thrived on it. After a year’s time, during which the twain were subjected to rigid scientific control, the most painstaking examination failed to reveal the faintest trace of injury, physical or mental.
Naturally, this did not “set well” with our food faddists. A number of alibis were at once forthcoming: The two men were exceptional specimens, of extraordinary toughness, inured to hardships and all manner of dietary irregularities; the period of trial had not been nearly long enough; anyway, what apparently had proved harmless in their case would not do at all for the average individual; etc., etc.
To this chorus of denunciation is now added a note that we have not heard before. In Glendale, near Los Angeles, is a sanitarium which publishes a little magazine called Glendale Sanitarium Health Exponent, “devoted to the interests of better and finer living,” as stated on the title-page. The “summer number” of this periodical contains an article from the pen of P. Martin Keller, M.D., entitled “Does an Exclusive Meat Diet Insure Health?” In this we read:
Recently in Los Angeles there could be found on the various large bill-posting boards the following statement: “Meat is the only single food which will sustain life for an unlimited time.” This, I suppose, was placed on the boards by the meat interests as a result of recent experiments of Dr. Lieb’s. He took as subjects Stefansson and Andersen, who have had experiences in the Arctic region.
But, says the author, the two gentlemen “did not live entirely on a meat diet—they lived chiefly on fat (!): One-half pound of tallow and a few ounces of meat was their daily ration.” Stefansson, who had been placed on “an exclusive meat diet,” was compelled to give it up after a while and mix it with fat, as the lean ‘meat created “digestive disturbances.” Consequently, argues the writer, the contention that “an exclusive meat diet” insures health was not proved.
Furthermore, Dr. Keller goes on, examinations have shown that the “intestinal contents of animals that live almost exclusively upon raw meat” harbor “large quantities of putrefactive bacteria” which, injected into guinea-pigs, kill. Not only that, but “a purely meat diet increases the work upon the heart.” This has been demonstrated by experiments on—cats. After a meal of meat, there was a rise in the rate of feline heart-beats “above the fasting level.”
Just what it is sought to prove by this sort of stuff is not clear. Is it the doctor’s thesis that man, in order to insure health and long life, must not forget to mix his fat with his lean? Or that lions and tigers could get rid of the obnoxious bacteria which inhabit their intestines by having their meat well cooked? Or that cats do not know what is good for them, and could reduce their pulse-rate to the “fasting level,” thus insuring their “better and finer living,” by turning vegetarians?
Effusions such as these could be ignored, or laughed out of court, were it not for the fact that too many people, in matters of diet, are in the habit of listening to, and being influenced by, anything, no matter how absurd or easily refutable, put out by quasi-experts in the name of science—especially if these have an M.D. handle to their names.
It should not need restatement that no sane person has ever recommended a diet for human beings consisting wholly of raw meat, lean meat, meat mixed with fat, or meat in any other shape or combination. To intimate that stockmen, or anybody else connected with the “meat interests,” hold an exclusive meat diet to be a guarantee of good health is too absurd for a moment’s consideration. To ordinary logic the food fanatic seems as impervious as he is devoid of a sense of fair play. Either he concocts his arguments out of thin air, or he attempts to twist a laboratory demonstration of an isolated phenomenon into a law of universal application. Having set up a dummy to shoot at, nothing is too grotesque to serve as pellets for his little popgun.
What live-stock men do stress is that meat, in the cold and temperate zones, is a natural, wholesome, and necessary food for man; that for the average healthy, active, human being, meat in even liberal quantities is an indispensable part of the daily diet, if full efficiency is to be maintained; that, under normal conditions, an ideal menu is one in which dairy products, vegetables, and fruits, in the right proportions (which everybody must determine for himself accord- ing to his individual needs) are grouped around meat as the central item; that, as an appetizing, tissue- building, strength-imparting food, meat has no equal; that the meat-eating nations throughout the centuries have been the nations of achievement; that among men noted for their accomplishments in war and peace, in art and science, in literature and music, the great majority in all ages have been meat-eaters; that in sanatoria for those of depleted systems—for those, for example, suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes, anemia, and other insidious diseases—chief reliance is placed in meat, meat and gland extracts, and other foods of high protein content, as an aid in building up the patient’s strength; that physicians, with few exceptions, testify to the faith that is in them by being generous partakers of meat themselves.
These are facts, easily verifiable. But if further proof is needed of the effect of a meat diet, as compared with one of nothing but fruit and vegetables, visit a convention of vegetarians, or go to one of their restaurants, and then attend a meeting of stockmen, or sit down with a bunch of cow-punchers around the chuck-wagon, and notice the difference!
Dr. Keller ends his discourse by painting a blood-curdling picture of the procession of innocent animals marching to the shambles to satisfy man’s cannibal appetite for flesh. The answer to this is that the sacrifice of lower forms in the interest of higher has always been, and always will be, a concomitant of organic life. As long as the destruction is not wanton, purposeless, unnecessarily painful, or likely to exterminate beneficial species, it is justifiable. Would the doctor extend his protecting hand of fellowship to the fly that drags its filthy legs over his Shredded Wheat biscuit, to the cockroach that devours his cracker, or to the mosquito that sucks his bacterium-free vegetarian blood? In his opinion, would it be less reprehensible to turn our herds of cattle out to die of cold or starvation, or to permit them to propagate their kind without check, until their numbers multiplied to such an extent as to spell wreck and ruin for every grain-and truck-farmer in the land? In that case, where would our vegetarians be?