Soybean-and peanut-butter-eating Adventists have been the target of many a joke in the past. Literature such as the Corn-flake Crusade has directly or indirectly ridiculed the eating habits of those who have eliminated meat from their diet. Within our own ranks many have considered vegetarianism a rather nonsensical idea. Recent developments, however, support the vegetarian concept.
Those who have fervently believed and acted upon the counsel of the Lord relative to a nonmeat diet never dreamed that the day would come when nutritionists would talk about a time when meat eating would be a rare thing. They claim that our population explosion has produced history's most spectacular hunt for new and varied food sources since the Israelites found manna in the desert. It is predicted that many types of food common among us today will no longer be available, and unless some totally new and unconventional sources are tapped, the world may face starvation! "Steak may be a museum piece in twenty years at the rate our best farm land is being gobbled up for urban expansion," said Dr. Arthur D. Odell, of General Mills, as reported in the November 19, 1967, Sunday magazine supplement Parade. It has been shown that from an economy standpoint an acre of ground will produce far more vegetable protein products than animal products. It's a tailor-made situation for Adventists to take the lead. Parade's article gave no recognition to Adventists' performance in this field.
Alive With Flies and Vermin
Adventist motivation in developing vegetable proteins is not traceable to population explosion but rather to definite health principles. Time magazine of November 24, 1967, gave support to our stand by pointing out that America's meat inspection system leaves much to be desired: "Fifteen per cent of the slaughtered animals and 25 per cent of the processed meat do not cross state lines, and thus escapes federal regulations. . . . Only 29 states have mandatory meat-inspection laws, and most of those are considered inadequate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture." Some months ago the House of Representatives voted 403 to 1 to appropriate money in order to accelerate meat inspection programs. Behind this action was the stimulation of mounting evidence relative to filthy conditions existing in the meat-packing industry. Stories of meat-packing houses alive with flies and vermin were common. In 1966 Federal inspectors forced producers to throw out 250 million pounds of unwholesome meat. It is a rather nauseating thought to consider how many million pounds of undetected unwholesome meat found its way into the stomachs of meat eaters.
The epidemic sweeping through Britain's livestock is another strong evidence in support of vegetarianism. To date more than 200,000 animals on nearly a thousand farms have been slaughtered, and scientists are worried because there is evidence that they are fighting a new and more easily spread strain of the disease. Restrictive measures seem to be powerless to stop the spread of the disease. People have been urged not to travel unnecessarily in the infected areas, and special disinfectant pads have been laid on key roads leading to uninfected areas to prevent cars from carrying the virus on their tires.
Head or Tail?
What position will Adventists take now and in the future—the head or the tail?
Present and future opportunities are overwhelming. Our big problem is, Can we cope with the demand that is bound to come? We are thankful for our health-food factories, whether sponsored by the denomination or not, but their combined strength is totally inadequate to meet the needs. If time should last, and earth's population by AM. 2000 should reach 3 billion, vegetable proteins will undoubtedly be in vogue. The world will sit on our doorsteps, begging for food. Will we be ready to feed them? According to Parade's article, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is picking the brains of food, nutrition, and government experts from home and abroad in an attempt to find new sources for food. Multiplied millions of dollars are now being, and will be, thrown into a frantic development of new food products.
What would happen if a number of our dedicated Adventist businessmen would get together and really take the lead in marketing vegetable-protein meat substitutes? This writer cannot help feeling that a concerted action on the part of dedicated Adventist financiers would result in putting the Adventist health-reform program in the most favorable light. No longer would a vegetarian diet be classed as a whim or fad but rather as a sensible approach to maintaining health and even life itself. The rational health reformer, and this includes the vegetarian, need never apologize for his eating habits. He can be proud that he is in the lead, and that in one particular area at least he is ahead of his time!