V is for Vegetarianism, the Dangers Of

Every so often, I turn to EATING TO LIVE LONG, a book written in 1920 by William Henry Porter, M.D., for medical advice that is unrivaled in being almost invariably wrong.

In a chapter entitled “Food Fads and Foolishness”, he says, “Forcing one’s self to live for a protracted period upon an exclusive vegetable diet is an abuse that falls only a few degrees short of suicide–or slow murder.” He says it causes anemia and under-nutrition, “as well as being a frequent cause of tuberculosis”–charges he levels at just about anything of which he doesn’t approve.

A vegetable diet, according to Dr. Porter, causes nervous defects and cantankerousness. Vegetables are hard to digest, he says, and ferment in the digestive system, producing irritation and “intestinal catarrh”. We will not delve further into Dr. Porter’s detailing of the unpleasantness of a vegetable diet at the terminus of the digestive process, but he assures us that an excess of vegetables is “a source of danger”.

He considers vegetables an important part of a balanced diet, but compares vegetarianism to eating hay, and warns us that “we can’t afford to emulate the cow”. Apparently, emulating the wolf poses no intestinal threat.

Nuts are “squirrel food” and fruit is a “foodless food”. Vegetarians, he says, are almost always lean (like elephants? like me?) and usually have something wrong with them, even if the something wrong is only chronic grouchiness.

Ah, dear Dr. Porter! I am no true vegetarian, and yet I can be irritated into such a state of grouchiness that you wouldn’t want to meet me in a dark alley with an umbrella in my hand.

Or, come to that, a carrot. I could poke your eye out.

Maybe vegetarianism IS dangerous.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: How does your character feel about vegetables in general and particular ones in … particular?


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “V is for Vegetarianism, the Dangers Of

  1. Anita Lim

    April 25, 2012 at 7:08am

    Thanks for an interesting post! I’m not a vegetarian, but know people who swear by it as they have more energy & don’t seem to be grouchy :

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 25, 2012 at 8:45am

      I think maybe I’m not vegetarian enough, Anita. If I were any grouchier, I’d have to live in a garbage can.

      Thanks for stopping by: I’m coming to visit you, now. 🙂


  2. Jane

    April 25, 2012 at 8:46am

    This reminds me of my last attempt to do research in a physical library. Not only were the so-called permanent books I wanted NOT on the shelf, or anywhere else I could determine, but the few that were there were very OLD. Since I was researching for a historical novel, that actually was a plus, but I didn’t like it at all!

    However, I LOVE old books with all their wonderful “information,”

    Let’s say YAY for the Google!

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 25, 2012 at 1:41pm

      Yes! Google YAY! 🙂 I still love my paper reference books for things that don’t change, AND for information that I KNOW is outdated. When I’m unsure, there’s nothing like searching and finding a reputable source of current data.


  3. Rebecka Vigus

    April 25, 2012 at 10:40am

    I love this. Especially when we are all discovering the healthful benefits of those neglected vegetables.

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 25, 2012 at 1:43pm

      I’ve been trying out vegetables I’ve previously neglected, Rebecka, and I’m broadening my category of “I like this”. We won’t discuss what else I’m broadening….

  4. Laura Marcella

    April 25, 2012 at 2:35pm

    Hello, Marian! LoL, this is ridiculous. I’m not a vegetarian (I like chicken too much!) but I know people who are and they are perfectly healthy and happy. I love vegetables, though! Carrots and broccoli are my favorite, yum! I write about kids a lot, so even though I was a weird kid who liked veges, I know that most kids don’t and have to work in that food-pickyness. 🙂

    Have a lovely week and happy A to Z!!

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 25, 2012 at 2:47pm

      I was a VERY picky kid. My mother says I’ve more than made up for it since. 😉

      Happy last week of A to Z! Down to the hard letters now! 🙂


  5. Tim Moses

    April 25, 2012 at 4:45pm

    I’m not at all a vegetarian person and mostly prefer non-veg items on my diet plans. But I know how healthy it keeps people who regularly take veggies.
    I’m going to encourage my kids to take more and more vegetables in their meals.


    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 25, 2012 at 5:43pm

      Always a good idea, Tim! I get a big craving for meat now and then, but I’ve become downright addicted to fruit and veg. 🙂


  6. Nicholle Olores

    April 26, 2012 at 2:14am

    Hi Marian, glad to see you back! I am now turning into being a vegetarian because I am gaining weight and I don’t want to gain more. 🙂

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 26, 2012 at 8:11am

      Hi, Nicholle! Sweetie, don’t worry about the weight! As long as you’re healthy and strong, that’s all that matters. I went to an exercise class last night, and the instructor was, frankly, pudgy, but MAN could she work out! That woman did strenuous exercise for a solid hour and was barely breathing hard. I’d like to lose some weight, too, but if I had to choose between being thin and being fit, I’d choose fit. 🙂

      But I do encourage eating less meat and more non-meat food, partly because I don’t like the way industrial food meat is raised and processed, and partly because fruit and veg are so GOOD. 😀


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