A wrong impression of the vegetarian diet is often received by those who would test it by trying an occasional meal without meat. No diet can be fairly judged in this casual way. In the first place, those who are accustomed to the stimulation of meat will most certainly feel the want of such stimulation on leaving it off abruptly for a meal or two. In the second place, the system that has become accustomed to digest principally flesh food, finds some difficulty at first in digesting other foods; hence it requires a little time to adjust itself to the change.
Another wrong impression in the minds of some, is the fear that in leaving off the high protein meats, they would have to eat far too much vegetable food in order to supply sufficient protein, and thus would have a preponderance of starch. One good woman understood that a person must take enormous quantities of haricot beans or other protein food to compensate for leaving off flesh meat, and was “quite beat to take four platefuls” ! But this is altogether a wrong idea; for all the legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) are exceedingly nutritious and heavy in protein, and their liberal use is almost sure to overload the system with nitrogenous material.
There are still. others who, having subsisted on flesh foods, claim that vegetable food does not satisfy the appetite. This is largely due to one of two factors, or to both. In the first place, the qualities in cereal foods that satisfy the appetite are their mineral salts, contained in the germ and outer coatings of the seeds. These having been almost entirely removed from our mod-ern flours, breads, etc., also from vegetables pared too thickly, the eater of such demineralized food is left with an unsatisfied craving for elements that the body actually needs. This craving leads to overeating, in a vain effort to satisfy the demands of nature.
A second factor is that flesh eaters usually eat rapidly, without thorough mastication ; and as starchy foods are dependent upon the action of the ptyalin of saliva for proper digestion, and consequently require more thorough chewing than flesh foods, they are likely to ferment in the stomach if eaten hastily. Entire meal cereals and breads, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, both cooked and raw, together with moderate amounts of nuts and dairy products, legumes, etc., satisfy the normal appetite without any “stuffing,” and without the sensation of “fullness” after meals which is so characteristic of many who partake largely of refined cereal foods and flesh foods.
In referring to the effect of improper diet on health and longevity, Seneca, the old Roman who attained eminence as a rhetorician under the early empire, is quoted as saying, “Man does not die; he kills himself.” It is when we scorn natural food, and follow after artificial gratifications and indulgences, that the body powers are weakened and sickness results. Natural, wholesome, and seasonable foods, when prepared and served in an appetizing manner, will be relished in the eating. “A good appetite needs no brush” it relishes good food that is well prepared and attractively served, and thus a minimum of work will be thrown on the system, the health will be promoted, and efficiency will be increased.