And what happens in response to such intelligent appeals? Discerning people sense that the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is not only ideal for human needs, but that it can be enjoyed and practiced with gusto and enthusiasm. The vegetarian regimen is one that is better than that supplemented with flesh foods, from every knowledgeable viewpoint.
There is an abundance of scientific support for the view that the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is nutritionally adequate. One of the latest appeared in Today's Health for June 1, 1966. The author, Philip L. White, Sc.D., is secretary of the Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association. In answer to the question, "Is it possible for a vegetarian to obtain all of the necessary nutrients to maintain good health?" he replied:
It is possible, but somewhat difficult. Special care must be taken to include whole-grain cereals, legumes, nuts, and nut-like seeds as well as a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. This wide variety is necessary in order to be assured of an adequate intake of the more difficult to obtain vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin 12 as well as calcium and iron.
The lacto-vegetarian has an easier time since eggs, milk, and milk products may be consumed. These foods help assure adequate amounts of protein, calcium, and the B vitamins.
Some food companies produce a wide selection of meat substitutes which look and almost taste like the real thing but which are all-vegetable products. Unless there is some reason to avoid the use of imitation meats, their consumption will help assure an adequate protein intake and will add variety.
Vegetarians get into trouble when they depend to a large extent on starchy foods which provide little protein, minerals, and vitamins.
I have quoted more than was required to answer the question, in order that vegetarians who read this article might profit by all that Dr. White wrote.
Other aspects of the general question before us, besides the scientific, must not be overlooked. Actually there are potent reasons why the use of flesh foods should be avoided except in emergencies representing extraordinary situations.
Two potent reasons why flesh should not be used as food are as follows: (1) The blood content of flesh food consumed in the diet; (2) the tendency of flesh food to animalize the nature of the man himself. Let's look at the second one first.
Ellen White was divinely guided to declare that the use of flesh food was harmful and that its use tended to "irritate the nerves and to excite the passions, thus giving the balance of power to the lower propensities."—Education, p. 203. (Italics supplied.) The context of the statement appears as follows:
Tea and coffee, condiments, confectionery, and pastries are all active causes of indigestion. Flesh food also is harmful. Its naturally stimulating effect should be a sufficient argument against its use; and the almost universally diseased condition of animals makes it doubly objectionable. It tends to irritate the nerves and to excite the passions, thus giving the balance of power to the lower propensities.—Ibid.
The expression "balance of power" is apt and thought provoking. In military parlance this suggests an "equanimity of ability to wage war so that no one state can with impunity dominate the others." In the conflict between the physical and spiritual powers operating in man the use of flesh meats upsets the equanimity of ability to wage war so that "the balance of power" is lost in favor of "the lower propensities." When flesh foods are used the spiritual nature may become subservient and incapable of regulating desire and the physical as it should.
Even under ideal conditions all the intellectual and moral powers available are needed—and needed desperately—to control the "lower propensities." But when flesh forms a part of the diet the "balance of power" is thrown over to the lower nature, stimulating and prodding the flesh of the human body along to inordinate cravings, even sinful acts, and to the overthrow of the spiritual. This is an unhappy situation adversely affecting the moral character of man.
Note the following statements:
The intellectual, the moral, and the physical powers are depreciated by the habitual use of flesh meats. Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities. We say to you, dear brother and sister, your safest course is to let meat alone.—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 64.
In this same testimony, the servant of God wrote about the stimulating property of meat and mentioned that—
the sensitive nerves of the brain have been benumbed, and the animal appetite strengthened at the expense of the moral and intellectual faculties. These higher powers, which should control, have been growing weaker, so that eternal things have not been discerned. Paralysis has benumbed the spiritual and devotional. Satan has triumphed to see how easily he can come in through the appetite and control men and women of intelligence, calculated by the Creator to do a good and great work. —Ibid., p. 486.
And again in the same connection:
It is impossible for those who make free use of flesh meats to have an unclouded brain and an active intellect.—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 389.
It would be difficult to support the foregoing statements from the pen of Ellen White with scientific testimony acceptable to all nutritionists and psychologists. But the man or the woman who knows by experience the change that comes to the mind, the body, and the soul when meat is discarded as an article of diet can testify to the inspired counsel and endorse it. There are thousands upon thousands of men and women inside and outside the Adventist Church who are prepared to do this, and their testimony cannot and must not be ignored or depreciated.
But scientific evidences are beginning to take shape that unqualifiedly relate diet to conduct and behavior, particularly in teenagers. The relation of juvenile delinquency to the helter-skelter diet of the modern teen-ager has been pointed up by at least one rather convincing experiment.* So Mrs. White is not left at this point without some scientific corroboration.
But note what the Spirit of Prophecy says about this:
Nine tenths of the wickedness among the children of today is caused by intemperance in eating and drinking.—Temperance, p. 150.
Now what did Sister White mean by "intemperance in eating and drinking"? The following provides an answer:
When parents and children meet at the final reckoning, what a scene will be presented! Thousands of children who have been slaves to appetite and debasing vice, whose lives are moral wrecks, will stand face to face with the parents who made them what they are. Who but the parents must bear this fearful responsibility? Did the Lord make these youth corrupt? Oh, no! He made them in His image, a little lower than the angels.—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 568.
You should be teaching your children. You should be instructing them how to shun the vices and corruptions of this age. Instead of this, many are studying how to get something good to eat. You place upon your tables butter, eggs, and meat, and your children partake of them. They are fed with the very things that will excite their animal passions, and then you come to meeting and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do your prayers go? You have a work to do first. When you have done all for your children which God has left for you to do then you can with confidence claim the special help that God has promised to give you.--ibid vol. 2, p. 362.
Now, turning to the first point: the use of clean meats from which the blood has not been removed.
In the book Sons and Daughters of God, page 225, we have the following statement:
The Israelites were forbidden to eat the fat or the blood. . . . This law not only related to beasts for sacrifice, but to all cattle which were used for food. This law was to impress upon them the important fact that if there had been no sin there would have been no shedding of blood. . . .
The blood of the Son of God was symbolized by the blood of the slain victim, and God would have clear and definite ideas preserved between the sacred and the common. Blood was sacred, inasmuch as through the shedding of the blood of the Son of God alone could there be atonement for sin. Blood was also used to cleanse the sanctuary from the sins of the people, thus typifying the blood of Christ which alone can cleanse from sin. (Italics supplied.)
The prohibition against the use of blood and fat was not limited to the "beasts for sacrifice, but to all cattle which were used for food." In The Ministry of Healing we read that "of the meats permitted, the eating of the fat and the blood was strictly forbidden."—Page 312. Why was this? In Counsels on Diet and Foods, pages 393, 394, we read the following:
The meat is served reeking with fat, because it suits the perverted taste. Both the blood and the fat of animals are consumed as a luxury. But the Lord gave special directions that these should not be eaten. Why? Because their use would make a diseased current of blood in the human system. The disregard for the Lord's special directions has brought a variety of difficulties and diseases upon human beings. . . . If they introduce into their systems that which cannot make good flesh and blood, they must endure the results of their disregard of God's word." (Italics supplied.)
In the purchase of common flesh meats at butcher shops and chain stores and in their use today we have a health hazard that Seventh-clay Adventists and the world in general should ponder with care and prayer!
Is the clean meat purchased at the butcher shop acceptable for human consumption? Take one look at the steaks and choice cuts and note the blood that oozes from the flesh. Indeed, if it were not for this blood present in the meat the flesh food would be unpalatable and unappetizing. It is the blood in the flesh food that gives to it its flavor and also the distinctly stimulating quality. One has only to consult the laboratory scientist to discover the character of the elements in meat containing blood. These same sources provide the stimulating qualities.
Seventh-day Adventists who use flesh meats would not—nor would anyone else, at least from the viewpoint of flavor—choose to eat meat from which the blood had been drained as in the old Jewish kosher fashion. Yet was not such meat the only type acceptable for food in ancient times? Should it not be so today if indeed one is to use flesh foods at all? We are told—
Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us.—Ibid., pp. 380, 381.
And if the counsels of Ellen White represent "light which God has been pleased to give us," shall we not follow it? And who will doubt that this is light? The balance of power is needed today on the spiritual, not the carnal, side of our human nature. And in the Lord's counsel we have a way pointed out to Christ our Lord that will help us to be strong in God and in the truth in these times.
* Write for the document "The Scientific Character of the Ellen G. White Science Counsels" to White Estate. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Washington, D.C. 20012.